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A Placement Validity Study for Freshman Composition and College Algebra Gary Greer University of Houston Downtown (greerg@uhd.edu) Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience February 22, 2004 1:45-2:45 PM Addison TX

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Purpose of this study To check the validity of our cut scores. To be able to translate our student’s placement score into a probability that the student will succeed. At U. of Houston Downtown we used grades and placement scores to check ACCUPLACER’s accuracy in forecasting student performance.

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Setting Cut Scores NCME recommends in The Code of Fair Test Practices in Education that test users monitor the behavior of cut scores in placement. (see www.apa.org/science/fairtestcode.html) Documentation should include measurement of the relation between predictor and criterion.

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Measurement An Accuplacer placement score is a predictor. Course grade is the criterion. Course grade can be predicted by placement score. Success is defined as a course grade B or grade C. A probability is associated with the grade predicted.

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Samples 844 students (405 Males; 439 Females) took the placement test and Freshman Composition. 1089 students (432 Males; 657 Females) took the placement test and College Algebra. Findings from these samples generalize to future students taking Freshman Composition and College Algebra. Probability of making a B is related to a certain placement score.

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Grade Distributions and Placement Scores ABCDFTotals Freshman Composition Avg SS Score 184 21.8% 98.5 270 32.0% 93.3 178 21.1% 90.7 39 4.6% 88.4 173 20.5% 92.3 844 100% College Algebra Avg EA Score 89 8.2% 79.4 193 17.7% 67.9 220 20.2% 62.3 161 14.8% 60.6 426 39.1% 54.9 1089 100%

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Research Questions - Freshman Composition 1. 1. What is the probability that a student with Sentence Skill score “X” will make a B in Freshman Composition? 2. 2. What is the probability that a student with Sentence Skill score “X” will make a C in Freshman Composition? 3. 3. What is the correlation between placement score and course grade?

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Research Questions – College Algebra 1. 1. What is the probability that a student with Elementary Algebra score “X” will make a B in College Algebra? 2. 2. What is the probability that a student with Elementary Algebra score “X” will make a C in College Algebra? 3. 3. What is the correlation between placement score and course grade?

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Placement Score and Probability of Success Probability of Success Sentence Skills score for C or better Sentence Skills for B or better Elementary Algebra score for C or better Elementary Algebra score for B or better.80114.7594.7077.6562.6047119104.55339686.50207269.4564951.402533.35115103.3072.2539

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Decision Probabilities To both maximize correct decisions and minimize incorrect decisions, place students who have probability of success>.50 (1 success out of 2) Or choose.67 to get 2 successes out of 3 or.75 to get 3 successes out of 4

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True and False Decisions Correct Decisions determined by Placing a student into a course who succeeds – true positive Denying placement to a student who would not succeed – true negative Incorrect Decisions determined by Placing a student into a course who will not succeed – false positive Denying placement to a student who would succeed – false negative

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Biserial Correlations and % of Correct Placements Predictor Correlation between predictor and criterion % correctly placed for C or higher % correctly placed for B or higher Sentence Skills.0975 Sentence Skills.0554 Elementary Algebra.1461 Elementary Algebra.0974

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Conclusions We present statistics of Accuplacer’s placement accuracy to faculty every three years. We are satisfied when faculty are satisfied. Data collection and submission for a V study has never been easier.

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Thank You

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