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The Effect of Special Instruction Upon Test Performance of High School Students in Tennessee PSAT

Oppenheim, Don B.; Roberts, S. O.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, Black Students, Coaching, College Entrance Examinations, Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Tennessee


Specially prepared linear programmed materials, designed to foster an analytic approach to the tasks required on college admission tests and to be used in conjunction with classroom instruction, were developed in the verbal and the mathematical areas. Instruction in either of the two areas was given to eleventh grade students in 18 predominantly Black high schools. Alternate forms of the PSAT, administered as pre- and posttests, were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the special instruction. While there were statistically significant differences in gain scores between some of the experimental groups and their controls, the outcome of this study, like the outcome of earlier studies, was generally negative. In fact, the gains in the experimental groups were more than offset by reductions in posttest scores in the control groups. The magnitude of the gains observed in the experimental groups were so small that it does not seem reasonable to expect that similar short-term instruction given on a wide scale would be of significant benefit to disadvantaged students.

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