Essay on Maximizing Freshman English Course Performance: ACCUPLACER Cutoff Scores and GPA

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  984 Words
Date:  2023-04-05


There is uncertainty on how to maximize freshman performance in an English course when students have competing placement scores. Students who have scored above the cutoff score on one of the English placement tests (either reading or writing) and scored below the cutoff score on the other are not systematically placed. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ACCUPLACER placement cutoff scores in reading and writing predicted performance in first-semester English courses and first-semester cumulative GPA among incoming students at a community college in the Pacific Northwest during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. Two research questions guided this study: How do administrators maximize freshman performance in an English course when students have competing placement scores? What are the differences between remedial and entry level course grades for students who have competing placement scores? The sample consisting of 2722 deidentified archival data of reading and writing placement scores, first English course grades, and first-quarter overall grade point averages. The multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) model was used to analyze the data. The key findings of this study showed that there were no significant differences in either remedial or entry level English course grades that had competing placement scores. However, there was a statistically significant difference in academic performance based on a student's cutoff scores who scored above the cut-off for both reading and writing with higher cumulative GPAs than students who scored below the cutoff on both the reading and writing.

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Keywords: Placement cut scores, community college, new student, unified validity theory, assessment literacy


This accomplishment is dedicated to every single individual who has the right to be happy and be successful in this world. "A great human revolution in just a single individual will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind" Daisaku Ikeda SGI President


My very depth of appreciation goes to Dr. Jillian Skelton dissertation chair and the committee members for your support and guidance. I wish to thank Dr. Judith Clayton-Scott for her unconditional care, insights, and encouragement at the start of my data research. I would like to thank Dr. Terry Halfhill who provided strength and insights that allowed me to infuse my internal connections to deeply understand the quantitative research. Kevin Schwandt who supported and walked alongside with me in bringing out my own voice in the written language.

I would like to first thank my husband, Mark for his unconditional love and strength that helped me through the ebbs and flows of this dissertation journey. I dedicate this accomplishment also to my three children, Jasmine, Maelani, and Albert III and my best friend Albert Jr who are my love and soul. To my deceased parents, Mario and Luana (I Did It!). To my parent in laws, Frank and Kazuko Tomaszewski, hanai parents, Charles and Mitsue Schillings, family and SGI-USA family, friends, and colleagues. I love you all with all my heart.

I want to thank Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi both an educational reformist and philosophers who instilled within me in carrying on his values on humanistic (value creating ) pedagogy that focuses on context of time and place in protecting humanistic educational values and beliefs to realize the upmost happiness of the learner within the set of circumstances and conditions he or she is in. Value is therefore subject to change according to the learner, time, and environment whereas truth or fact are unchanging (Hatano, 2009; Makiguchi, 1964; Toda, 1953).

Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction to the Problem

Ninety-two percent of community colleges use standardized placement such as the ACCUPLACER and COMPASS exams (the latter no longer offered since the end of 2016) to assess students' levels of competencies in reading, writing, and math to determine placement into college-level or developmental courses (Fields & Parsad, 2018; Scott-Clayton, 2012). Other researchers, such as Barnett and Reddy (2018), strongly argued that it is crucial to have an accurate placement device to determine whether a student can enroll at college level. Barnett and Reddy (2018) shared that, in 2010, the National Assessment Governing Board reported that community colleges used standardized tests 100% of the time for math placement and 94% of the time for reading placement. Furthermore, Barnett and Reddy (2018) indicated that 4-year public institutions used standardized testing 85% of the time for math placement and 51% of the time for English placement.

Multiple researchers (Belfield & Crosta, 2012; Scott-Clayton, Crosta, & Belfield, 2012) have found that student scores on entry assessments are not highly correlated with performance success for first-semester college courses when used as a sole measurement for course placement. Barnett and Reddy (2018) also argued test scores are not highly correlated with success in first-year college-level courses when used as a sole measurement for course placement. The authors strongly believed that more information is needed on which placement mechanism or additional measures would be able to predict success in first college courses (2018). A majority of community colleges and universities administer these placement tests, then calculate and create their cutoff scores. Barnett and Reddy believed that having an accurate placement mechanism is vital for making placement decisions but found that placement tests are not a good predictor of course grades in remedial courses and agreed that more research is needed to highlight what many educators, students, and policy makers do not know.

Background, Context, History, and Conceptual Framework for the Problem

The following conceptual framework provided the foundation for exploring relationships between students' competing cut scores in reading and writing entering into their first English course and performance and cumulative GPAs and whether placement decisions can be standardized based on quantitative data. How colleges interpret cut scores can have a significant impact on student success. Contemporary researchers (Belfield & Crosta, 2012; Scott-Clayton, Crosta, & Belfield, 2012) have encouraged educators and policy administrators to use high school grade point averages (GPAs) and college GPAs as means of deciding placement for students.

This section closely examines how institutions determined cut scores on tests, the predictive validity of cut scores set by institutions in terms...

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Essay on Maximizing Freshman English Course Performance: ACCUPLACER Cutoff Scores and GPA. (2023, Apr 05). Retrieved from

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