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Using High School Data to Understand College Readiness in the Northern Mariana Islands

by Daisy Carreon, Nitara Dandapani, Phillip Herman and Spencer Scanlan

Over the period 2010-14 more than 80 percent of public high school graduates in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were placed in non-credit-bearing developmental English courses and more than 92 percent were placed in developmental math courses when they enrolled at Northern Marianas College, the commonwealth's only public institution of higher education. This study responds to a request from the Northern Mariana Islands Alliance for College and Career Readiness, which includes stakeholders from the K-12, college, and government sectors, to better understand the characteristics of students who are ready for college and those who are not. In addition, the alliance wanted to understand what can be done to better prepare students for college. Little is known about the characteristics of students who are more college ready and those who are less college ready when they enter Northern Marianas College. This study describes the high school academic preparation and demographic characteristics of public high school graduates attending Northern Marianas College. It compares these characteristics for students who are placed in credit-bearing English or math courses, which is one key indicator of college readiness (Conley, 2011), with students who are placed in developmental English or math courses. The study uses both high school and college data. Key findings include: (1) Few students were placed in credit-bearing courses: about 20 percent in English and about 8 percent in math; (2) Female students were more likely to be placed in credit-bearing English courses; students with less economic need were more likely to be placed in credit-bearing math courses; (3) Students' placement in credit-bearing courses and in different levels of developmental English and math courses was related to their enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, cumulative grade point average, scores on the SAT-10, and, for math placement, grades in Algebra 2 and highest high school math course taken; (4) Students who had enrolled in Advanced Placement courses in English and math were more likely to be placed in credit-bearing courses in those subjects; (5) Students who had a higher cumulative grade point average and higher Stanford Achievement Test, 10th edition, (SAT-10) scores were more likely to be placed in credit-bearing English and math courses; (6) Students who had earned a grade of A or B in Algebra 2 or had taken math courses beyond Algebra 2, such as precalculus, calculus, or statistics, were more likely to be placed in credit-bearing math courses; (7) Many students who had a high cumulative grade point average and high standardized test scores were placed in developmental courses. About 45 percent of students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 or higher were placed in developmental English courses, and about 73 percent of students with a SAT-10 math score at or above the 75th percentile rank were placed in developmental math courses; and (8) Students who had better high school academic preparation were more likely than their less prepared peers to be placed in higher levels of developmental courses. The following are appended: (1) Literature review; (2) Data and methodology; and (3) Detailed results for grades in Algebra 2 and highest math course.

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