There is uncertainty on how to maximize freshman performance in an English course when they 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 cutoffscore 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 de-identified 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.
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 Dr. Floralba Arbelo for your support and guidance during this dissertation phase. 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 is unchanging (Hatano, 2009; Makiguchi, 1964; Toda, 1953).
Chapter 1: Introduction to 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' level of competencies in reading, writing, and math to determine placement into college-level or developmental courses (Scott-Clayton, 2012; Fields & Parsad, 2018). 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. The authors shared that in 2010, the National Assessment Governing Board reported that community colleges used standardized tests for math placement 100% of the time and 94% of the time for reading placement. Furthermore, Barnett and Reddy indicated that four-year public institutions used standardized testing for math placement 85% of the time and 51% of the time for English placement.
Numerous studies (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-time 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 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 and 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.
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 on performance and cumulative GPAs and can placement decisions be standardized based on quantitative data. 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 a means of deciding placement for students.
This section closely examine how institutions determined cut scores on tests, the predictive validity of cut scores set by institutions in terms of first-year student grades and degree completion, the relationship between academic knowledge and postsecondary education skills institutions view as required to qualify for entry-level credit bearing courses, the knowledge and skills represented by the cut score on the test, and the characteristics of institutions with higher and lower cut scores that use multiple alternative measures for student placement. Colleges are responsible for deciding whether each student is ready to take college level coursework. However, interpretation and accuracy of placement decisions remains to be a concern as stated by a recent paper by Scott-Clayton (2012) that addresses many of the validity issues.
Belfield and Crosta (2012) indicated the validity of placement tests depends on how and who are interpreted the results. Belfield and Crosta questioned what information are colleges using to make this determination? Both authors (2012) found that it is the use of the placement test and not the test instrument itself that is question. In fact, Belfield and Crosta found that the actual placement score is important and has a continuous relationship between scores and outcomes. Basically, students who has higher scores are more prepared for college than those who scores lower on the placement test. According to Belfield and Crosta (2012) claimed placement test and performance in college is endogenous.
Although professionals in student affairs contribute to these concerns with the daily ethical choices that they make. These can result in significant consequences for students, other professionals, and themselves (Kitchener, 1985). Academic administration has ethical challenges at its core. For example, a student with low placement test score will need to take remedial courses that can slow down the progress in reaching college level course to earn a degree. Does placement decisions matter? Kane (2006) argued that it is not the test that is validated and it is not the test scores that are validated. Kane argued that it is the decisions based on the test results that are validated. According to the preamble of the ethics code of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), advocates are enhancing "the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of each individual" and, as a consequence, serving society (n.p.). Every college and university, public or private, church-related or not, is in the business of shaping human lives. Dewey and Makiguchi asserted that the purpose of education must be the lifelong happiness of learners (Ohira & Yabusaki, 2006, p. 3). Makiguchi (as cited in Ohira & Yabusaki, 2006) argued, "Humanistic education guides the process of character formation, a transcendent skill that might best be termed an art" (p. 3). Bethel (1994) argued, "These goals to benefit students and to shape their lives are by their very nature ethical ones, since they involve making judgements of value about people and their lives" (p. 3).
According to Kitchener (1985), the model of ethical decision-making is designed to help practitioners understand and define the choices they face. It does not offer absolute answers. Instead, it illustrates how professionals can make reasoned and ethically defensible judgements. Kitchener's (1985) ethical decision-making focuses on a situation and how the facts of that situation dictate the ethical rules, ethical principles, and ethical theories that have relevance for a decision, and how the process of ethical justification is hierarchically tiered (p. 18). How are administrators assessing first-year...
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