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Developmental Education Assessment, Placement, and Progression Thomas Bailey Based on Research by Katherine Hughes, Shanna Jaggars, Judith Scott-Clayton.

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Presentation on theme: "Developmental Education Assessment, Placement, and Progression Thomas Bailey Based on Research by Katherine Hughes, Shanna Jaggars, Judith Scott-Clayton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developmental Education Assessment, Placement, and Progression Thomas Bailey Based on Research by Katherine Hughes, Shanna Jaggars, Judith Scott-Clayton

2 National Context For many (most?) entering CC students, assessment center is one of first places they will visit For the majority of students sitting for these exams, the result is placement into developmental education Yet research has not consistently found that this process actually improves student outcomes

3 CCRC Literature Review (Hughes & Scott-Clayton) Examined three questions: 1.Is there consensus regarding the proper purpose and role of assessment in CCs? 2.Are the most commonly used assessments valid for their intended purpose? 3.Are there alternative models of assessment that may improve outcomes for underprepared students? CUNY study brings new data to bear on similar set of questions

4 No Consensus on Meaning of College Ready Many assessments Many cut off scores Many policies with respect to –Mandatory Testing –Mandatory Placement

5 Figure 3: Educational Outcome by Math CPT Score and Estimated Discontinuity

6 Are Dev Ed Assessments Valid? CUNY uses COMPASS math & reading tests (published by ACT, Inc.; one of two most common assessments) There are lots of different ways to think about validity: –Construct validity: does the test measure what you think it does? –Predictive validity: does the test predict some measure of later success? –Argument-based approach to validity: “It is the interpretation of test scores required by proposed uses that are evaluated, not the test itself” (Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing) Focus here is on predictive validity –This is a necessary, but not sufficient component of overall validity of the test –“[U]ltimately, it is the responsibility of the users of a test to evaluate this evidence to ensure the test is appropriate for the purpose(s) for which it is being used” (College Board, 2003, p. A-62) –Broadest analysis of validity eventually requires a program evaluation: when students are assigned to some treatment on the basis of a score, do better outcomes result?

7 Predictive Validity Analysis Research questions: –How well do placement test scores predict “success” in the relevant gatekeeper course? –How well do other measures (such as high school performance) predict success, either instead of or in addition to placement test scores? –How many students are “correctly placed” using current placement test cutoffs to divide students, versus assigning all students to the same level?

8 What is “Gatekeeper Success”? “Gatekeeper” course: first college-level course We look at three measures: –Completed course with B or higher –Completed course with C or higher –Passed course (D- or higher) These measures of success are all conditional upon actually enrolling in a gatekeeper course

9 Research Method Overview Focus on first-time 2004-2007 entrants at two-year colleges only, who have CAS and placement test data First, estimate statistical relationships between placement test scores (and/or other predictors) and gatekeeper success –Restrict sample to students who took gatekeeper without taking developmental coursework (“estimation sample”) –Then, regress gatekeeper success on placement test scores (and/or other predictors) to estimate relationships –Examine two summary measures: R-squareds and correlation coefficients Second, use logistic regression to predict which students are likely to be “correctly placed” using different placement criteria

10 Methodological Concerns Restriction of range –R-squareds, correlations are measured only for those who were placed directly into gatekeeper course –In general this tends to depress r-squareds and correlations Extrapolation –For placement accuracy analysis, we must use relationships estimated on about 25% of the data to predict likelihood of “success” for the other 75% –So we must hope that the other 75% aren’t that different (not totally implausible)

11 Table 1 (R-squareds)


13 Table 1 (Correlations)

14 Placement Accuracy Rates We know who will be placed in dev ed or gatekeeper based on test scores We can estimate whether or not given individual is predicted to succeed based on test scores Can then assign each person to one of four cells Placement accuracy rate is sum of bottom left/upper right cells Can also compare this to accuracy rates without using test at all Predicted to Succeed in GK Not Predicted to Succeed in GK Placed in Dev Ed“False negative” (Type II error) Accurately Placed Placed in GKAccurately Placed“False positive” (Type I error)

15 Figure 1 False positives Accurately placed Acc. placed False neg.

16 Figure 1

17 Figure 2 (By Writing Score)

18 Table 2





23 Caveats Maximizing placement accuracy rates may not be the goal Our computation treats false positives and false negatives equally, but may care more about one than the other Values about which type of error is worse can be inferred from where the cutoff is placed –Ex: Pr(passingGK) for math at cutoff is 67% –This means those that are just below cutoff are wrongly placed— false negatives—67% of the time –Could increase placement accuracy by lowering cutoff –But if we think failing someone in GK is 2x worse than making someone take developmental unnecessarily, then cutoff is in the right spot

24 Figure 1

25 Predictive Validity: Take-Away Messages Placement tests are much better at predicting who is likely to do well in gatekeeper than at predicting who is likely to fail Placement tests are more predictive of gatekeeper success in math than in english High school academic measures are almost as predictive as math test scores, and more predictive than english test scores Placement accuracy rates are only modestly higher in some cases, and substantially worse in others, than what would result if no tests were used –But weighting false positives and false negatives differently may change this conclusion Analysis of effectiveness of remediation still to come

26 For more information: Please visit us on the web at, where you can download presentations, reports, CCRC Briefs, and sign-up for news announcements. CCRC is funded in part by: Alfred P. Sloan foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, The Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF), Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education Community College Research Center Institute on Education and the Economy, Teachers College, Columbia University 525 West 120th Street, Box 174, New York, NY 10027 E-mail: Telephone: 212.678.3091

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