Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

College Math Assessment: SAT Scores vs. College Math Placement Scores

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

College Math Assessment: SAT Scores vs. College Math Placement Scores

Article excerpt

Many colleges and university's use SAT math scores or math placement tests to place students in the appropriate math course. This study compares the use of math placement scores and SAT scores for 188 freshman students. The student's grades and faculty observations were analysed to determine if the SAT scores and/or college math assessment scores are better or equivalent indicators of the proper math level at which students should be enrolled in the first year. The data revealed that the SAT scores were not the best indicators of the math level course the student should select, and that the college math assessment scores may have been better indicators according to initial midterm grades.

The intention of the college math assessment and math SAT scores is to help determine the level of preparedness for mathematics and math-related courses for incoming first year students at a Private College in New England. Scoropanos and Coletti (2006) stated forty-eight percent of 3.04 million 2006 high school graduates took the SAT, and nearly 81 percent of non-profit colleges and universities without open admissions policies use SAT scores in admissions (p. 1). The present research was designed to determine if the SAT scores and/or college math assessment scores are better or equivalent indicators of the proper math level at which students should be enrolled in the first year. The aggregate data, according to the Guidelines on the Uses of College Board Test Scores and Related Data (The College Board, 2002) are considered useful in assessing the academic preparation of the individual.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to determine if college math assessment scores for incoming students were better indicators than SAT scores for proper math placement. This initial study used student SAT scores, college math assessment scores, midterm grades, and college faculty assessment of students enrolled in math courses. According to Angelo (1995) "assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving student learning." Astiti (2002) further suggests the usefulness of assessments depends on how effectively students are assessed. The faculty's ability to assess, analyze and interpret the student's success in his or her classroom will allow the researcher to determine proper course selection (Erwin, 1991; Astin, 2002). The research presented is an ongoing process. The data presented for this paper is part of a longitudinal study.

Methodology

The archival data obtained included SAT scores and math placement scores of the incoming first year students for 2005. The 2005 incoming students were asked to take a math assessment test at home via the internet. The math placement test consisted of three parts. The first part consisted of general basic math skills. The students were required to answer at least eight questions correctly or they were placed in level 1 math. The second section tested the students' algebra skills. If students answered ten or more questions correcdy they were placed in level 2. If twelve or more answers were correct in this section students were placed in level 3 or 4. The third section of the exam consisted of advanced algebra and pre-calculus problems, if students answered eight questions correcdy they were invited to take an advanced placement exam at the school. Students were allowed to use a non-scientific calculator during the advanced placement exam. If a student arrived on campus without taking the exam at home they were allowed to take the exam during specified testing time and were given a nonscientific calculator for dieir use. Math placement scores were used to identify math course placement for incoming students.

Questionnaires were given to math faculty four weeks after the start of school. Faculty were only asked to fill out the questionnaire and not informed of the study in order to avoid testing bias. The questionnaire asked faculty to assess students in the classroom (see appendix A). …

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