Effective Mathematics Placement Testing Strategies: A Study of Mathematics Placement Test Retake Policy at a Two-Year Public Community College in Florida




Geraci, Sanford

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Placement testing in college is important partly because initial placement recommendations may be followed by further placement recommendations based on retakes of the placement test. This study examines a particular mathematics retake policy at a community college in Florida which allows students to retest on the mathematics placement test every 90 days. As a result, students may be placed into a particular course and then retake the placement test before the semester ends. It is an increasingly known practice among students that if their retake placement scores place them in a higher course, students sometimes withdraw from their current course and take the higher level course the following semester – without finishing the course into which they were originally placed. Analysis of the data collected reveals that students who retake the placement exam and test into a subsequent developmental course do worse in the subsequent course than those students who initially placed into that higher level course. Although a relatively small number of students retake the placement test, the study further shows that most of those students do not perform better as a result of the placement retake, and the number that performs better is insignificant. These findings are based on analysis of the sample proportions. Recommendations include changing the college's retake policies. The most significant recommendation permits retakes only before initial enrollment, suggests placing students based on the average of their pre-enrollment placement and retake(s) scores, and defines a stricter time limit on how long placement scores are accepted. The recommendations can serve as an example for other colleges nationwide.



Mathematics, Placement, Test, Retake, Assessment, College