THE USE OF HIGH SCHOOL GPA FOR COMMUINTY COLLEGE PLACEMENT THROUGH A SOCIAL JUSTICE LENS

Date

2019-10-23

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Abstract

In order to help increase access and still help students find success in their college pathways, those working in higher education institutions have been exploring different ways to better assess the needs of incoming, new-to-college students. This study was designed to compare the mathematics placement and success rates for students across various demographic groups placed through the use of high school GPA and those placed through the use of ACCUPLACER©. This retrospective study was a nonexperimental quantitative study based on a secondary-data analysis. Chi-squared (χ2) tests were run to look for relationships between the placement method, initial mathematics placement, and students’ success in the first prescribed mathematics course. The variables examined in this study included the following: (a) student mathematics course placement (i.e., introductory college-level or developmental), (b) placement method, (c) mathematics course success, (d) student ethnicity/race, and (e) student socioeconomic status. The placement methods explored in this study were the ACCUPLACER© mathematics assessments and high school cumulative, unweighted GPA. This study was completed utilizing data from colleges within the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) in Arizona, which includes 10 individually accredited colleges. This study found a statistically significant difference in placement method when comparing placement into introductory college-level mathematics by socioeconomic status and ethnicity/race. More students with lower socioeconomic status were placed into introductory college-level coursework through the use of high school GPA than the use of ACCUPLACER©. The same results were found for Black and Hispanic students who were placed into introductory college-level mathematics. Students placed through the use of high school GPA had a statistically significantly lower rate of successful completion in introductory college-level mathematics than those students who were placed through the use of ACCUPLACER©. These findings suggest that while the use of high school GPA may allow for more students to begin in college-level mathematics, students placed through high school GPA alone may not be as successful in these courses than similarly placed students who were placed through the use of ACCUPLACER©.

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Keywords

College placement, College readiness, Multiple-measures, High school GPA, Developmental mathematics, Introductory college mathematics success.

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