Can Placement Test Score Predict Success for a First-semester Community College Student in Their First Online Course?

Philip C. MacGregor, Frances L. O’Reilly, John Matt


This study examined the following question: What is the relationship, if any, between COMPASS placement scores and the student success in the first online course during the students first semester? Discriminant function analysis was used to examine the relationship.

This study used existing data from new students, who took the COMPASS placement test, and were enrolled in an online course at community colleges in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington over 5 academic years from 2010 to 2015. Data collected from the participating community colleges included COMPASS placement test scores for reading, and writing, any of the four math sections, online course(s) attempted in the first semester, age, gender, course grade, and number of credits attempted during the student’s first semester.

Statistically significant relationships were found between reading and writing COMPASS test scores and success in online humanities, natural science, and social science courses. For the math COMPASS scores, pre-algebra had a statistically significant relationship to success in online math courses and natural science courses. College algebra had a statistically significant relationship to success in an online natural science course. Prediction model results were just above and below 70% for each of the statistically significant relationships. The models included students who were predicted to be successful but were unsuccessful.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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