Executive Summary: The Math Placement Tests have been used by all four-year institutions in the state of Washington to aid in the placement of students into their first college-level mathematics course since 1984. This report was prepared in response to concerns of Western Washington University's Mathematics Department regarding the usefulness of. the placement tests in correctly placing students in mathematics courses. The relationships of the math placement tests to final mathematics course grade and other indicators of academic achievement, including high school GPA, WPCT-Q score, and SAT-M score were evaluated. The math placement tests were found to be moderately positively related to final grade and each of the three indicator variables. The math placement tests were not, in most cases, superior to high school GPA andjor WPCT-Q score in prediction of final mathematics course grade. The percentage of students who passed (earned a grade of c¬ or better) their mathematics course varied depending on the course in which they enrolled, which placement test they took, and the score they received on the placement test. The probability of receiving a c- or better among those who took the Intermediate Algebra Test ranged from a low of 48.2 percent in Math 103 to a high of 72.4 percent in Math 155. The chance of passing a mathematics course for those who took the Pre-Calculus Test ranged from a low of 63.5 percent in Math 103 to a high of 90.9 in Math 104. In general, the probability of receiving a passing grade increased with higher Math Placement Test scores. For a number of courses, the current cut-off score on the Intermediate Algebra Test may be too low. students who enrolled with scores below, at, or slightly above these cut-offs had, in many cases, only a slim chance of passing the course. Conversely, cut-off scores on the Pre-Calculus Test for admission to many courses were too high. Students who had a reasonable chance of passing these courses would be denied admission based on the current cut-off points. It is suggested that the current cut-off scores be re-evaluated and when new cut-offs are decided upon, that they be more strictly adhered to.
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Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Mathematical ability--Testing; Mathematics--Examinations, questions, etc.; Educational tests and measurements
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Institutional Assessment and Testing) ; 1991-06
Thorndike-Christ, Tracy; Andrieu-Parker, Jacqueline M.; and Trimble, Joseph E., "The Math Placement Tests: Relationships to Mathematics Course Performance, Mathematics course Selection, and Other Predictors of Academic Achievement" (1991). Office of Survey Research. 387.