This study explores developmental education placement rates and how well high school grade point average and exam performance predicted performance in college-level courses among first-time students who enrolled in the University of Alaska system from fall 2008 to spring 2012. Like other colleges and universities, the University of Alaska, the state's public higher education system, is reexamining its course placement policies with the goal of lowering its developmental education placement rate (University of Alaska, 2013). The study draws on student data from the University of Alaska and a qualitative review of university placement policies from each of the three universities in the University of Alaska system for each year in the study. The four key findings are: (1) developmental education placement rates were higher in math than in English for students pursuing any type of degree. Developmental math placement rates increased as the time between students' exiting high school and entering college increased; (2) among bachelor's degree students, developmental placement rates were highest for Alaska Native students from rural areas of the state (in English) and Black students from urban areas (in math) compared with students of other racial/ethnic groups and lowest for White students from rural or urban areas compared with other groups; (3) among bachelor's degree students who enrolled in developmental education, 47 percent eventually passed college English and 23 percent eventually passed college math. In contrast, more than 60 percent of students who were placed in developmental English or math but who instead enrolled directly in college English or math passed these courses; (4) among students who enrolled directly in college-level courses, high school grade point average was a stronger predictor of performance in college English and math than were SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER scores. This study informs high school and college stakeholders in Alaska about which student groups at the University of Alaska have the highest developmental education placement rates and suggests which students might benefit most from college readiness resources and programs at the high school or college level. The study also shows that high school grades are better predictors of college academic performance than are standardized exams. Although this analysis is limited to students who enrolled directly in college-level courses, the findings may prompt conversations and further research among college stakeholders regarding the benefit of using additional measures to more accurately predict readiness for college coursework. The following are appended: (1) Student assessment and placement process; (2) Data and methodology; and (3) Student characteristics and detailed study results.
ERIC DescriptorsAcademic Achievement, Achievement Gap, African American Students, Alaska Natives, American Indian Students, College Entrance Examinations, College Readiness, Comparative Analysis, Developmental Studies Programs, English Instruction, Ethnic Groups, Grade Point Average, High School Students, Higher Education, Minority Group Students, Postsecondary Education, Predictor Variables, Public Colleges, Racial Differences, Regression (Statistics), Remedial Mathematics, Remedial Reading, Rural Areas, Scores, Student Characteristics, Student Diversity, Student Placement, Tests, Undergraduate Students, Urban Areas, White Students
Northwest | Publication Type: Descriptive Study | Publication
Date: May 2016