• Early college placement testing: Outcomes and impacts of the Early ACCUPLACER partnership

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-03-31)
      The Early ACCUPLACER Program was administered in partnership between the University of Alaska (UAA) and Anchorage School District (ASD) between 2006 and 2013. Using the UAA placement test (ACCUPLACER) as an instructional tool, the program intended to help students understand the differences between high school graduation requirements and college-level coursework. Test scores were used to advise students to take more rigorous high school curricula so they would be better prepared for the academic expectations of the college environment. In its seven years of operation, the program served thousands of ASD students. This report reviews Early ACCUPLACER test scores and subsequent academic performance for high school juniors and seniors who tested in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years. The data show that, at the time of testing, many of those high school students’ test scores would place them into developmental classes in college. This analysis was unable to examine high school transcripts to see whether or not students heeded advice to take additional and more rigorous high school courses; however, by following the participants who subsequently attended college in the UA system1, the data show: • Students who participated in the program did not exhibit substantively higher college placement test scores than other incoming students who did not receive the intervention. • Most students who participated in the program performed better on the test at the time of college matriculation than when they took it in high school, but the increases in performance, on average, were not large enough to change their recommended course placements. For approximately a quarter of students, test performance decreased between high school and college. • Upon matriculation, more students needed developmental coursework in math than in English or reading. • Upon attending college, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Early ACCUPLACER program participants performed well enough in their first year to meet eligibility requirements for federal financial aid. • Persistence rates for Early ACCUPLACER participants were slightly higher than the overall UAA rates; however they were similar to other recent high school graduates, who tend to have higher persistence rates than nontraditional-aged students. The data suggest that the program did not significantly impact the college readiness or later college performance for its participants who later attended UA. However, the data and literature suggest opportunities to use high school-college partnerships as part of a robust outreach agenda. Recommendations include evaluating the relationship between high school course-taking behavior and college readiness, and broadening the definition of “college readiness” to include other attributes known to promote success.