ACT, Compass, or prerequisite course: which is the better predictor of student success in a college-level credit

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University of Alabama Libraries

Student success is a hot topic in higher education, especially around the issue of students placing into mathematics courses using different types of assessment tests. Currently, there are two nationally known assessment placement tests: the ACT and the COMPASS. Students are either placed into a college-level course or a remedial mathematics course based on their placement test score. The students placing into remedial mathematics courses are increasing at a large rate. Using Astin's IEO Model as a conceptual framework, this research study used quantitative methodology to consider the influence of the input variables including age, race, gender, instructor status, and placement as inputs on the outcome of success defined as a final course grade of C or higher for students at Snead State Community College in Boaz, Alabama from Fall 2008 through Spring 2013, excluding summer semesters. Logistic regressions were employed to investigate the likelihood of success of students placed into MTH 100 (Intermediate/College Algebra) or MTH 112 (Pre-Calculus Algebra) according to the input variables. This research study found that students placed into MTH 100 or MTH 112 based on the successful completion of the prerequisite course were not as likely to successfully complete MTH 100 or MTH 112 as compared to students placed based on their ACT or COMPASS mathematics score. Furthermore, this research study demonstrates that the COMPASS placement is the better indicator of student success at Snead State Community College, compared to the ACT placement, or successful completion of the prerequisite mathematics course.

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Education, Mathematics education, Educational tests & measurements