Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

K. B. Melear

Second Advisor

Joel Amidon

Third Advisor

Thomas J. Reardon

Relational Format



The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if a relationship existed between success in elementary algebra and a set of predictor variables including COMPASS score and high school GPA. Relationships for intermediate algebra and college credit accumulation over three semesters were also examined with COMPASS score and high school GPA as predictor variables. The study was conducted in a multi-campus regional rural community college in the southeast United States. The sample included 527 community college freshmen placing via COMPASS score into elementary algebra. Cases were sorted and 216 case level files were selected for study inclusion, 85% of which were traditional students and predominately female (69%). A series of multiple regressions yielded two significant models. A statistically significant relationship exists between elementary algebra score, COMPASS score and high school GPA. High school GPA was significant to the prediction model but COMPASS score was not. The same findings were true for college credit accumulation over three semesters. No significant relationship exists between intermediate algebra score, COMPASS score and high school GPA. Findings from this study support the use and effectiveness of high school GPA as a predictor of short and long term success. Furthermore, study results support previous studies suggesting that standardized testing did not contribute to the strength of a prediction model. This study investigated two primary questions. First, who belongs in developmental mathematics and secondly, what is the nature of the relationship between current placement methodology and community college student success in developmental mathematics courses? In this study the researcher examined the relationship between single measure course placement methodology and success in developmental mathematics. Findings support current research on an emerging avoidance model to reduce the number of students placed into developmental coursework. Results from this study do not clearly answer who belongs in developmental mathematics but findings do question the use of single measure standardized testing as a method to determine who does belong. Study results offer insight into the relationship of single measure placement methodology and student success.



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