Information Brief 2013-12

Accuracy of Student-Reported High School GPA

In this brief, we compare student-reported high school GPA (HSGPA) to GPA data provided by schools. As part of an ongoing longitudinal study, HSGPA and other data were collected from multiple school districts.1 Many of the students in the study also took the ACT® Test and reported the grades they earned in core subject area courses, which are then used to calculate student-reported HSGPA.

In the table below, we summarize the relationship of actual and student-reported HSGPA values. The results are aggregated by actual HSGPA level so we can determine if accuracy level depends on actual HSGPA. Unlike previous studies, we did not study self-report accuracy for individual courses. It is possible that some of the differences we see between actual and student-reported HSGPA are due to differences in which course grades are included in each average.

Accuracy by Actual HSGPA Level

Actual HSGPA Level N Mean HSGPA Mean difference Accuracy
Actual Student-
reported
% within 0.25 % within 0.50
0.00–1.49851.031.850.8214%35%
1.50–1.991721.772.040.2730%55%
2.00–2.492652.242.350.1140%73%
2.50–2.994082.812.760.0547%82%
3.00–3.494513.243.23–0.0160%90%
3.50–4.005993.793.75–0.0487%98%
Total1,9802.953.020.0758%83%

The results suggest that the accuracy of student-reported HSGPA increases with actual HSGPA. At the lowest level of actual HSGPA, only 35% of students accurately reported their HSGPA within 0.50 points, and students over-reported their course grades by 0.82 units, on average. At the highest level of actual HSGPA, nearly all students (98%) accurately reported their HSGPA within 0.50 points, and students slightly under-reported their course grades.


1 Casillas, A., Robbins, S., Allen, J., Kuo, Y., Hanson, M.A., Schmeiser, C. (2012). Predicting early academic failure in high school from prior academic achievement, psychosocial characteristics, and behavior. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2): 407-420.

2 Sawyer, R., Laing, J., & Houston, M. (1988). Accuracy of self-reported high school courses and grades of college-bound students (ACT Research Report No. 88-1). Iowa City, IA: American College Testing Program.

3 Valiga, M. (1987). The accuracy of self-reported high school course and grade information (ACT Research Report No. 87-1). Iowa City, IA: American College Testing Program.


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