The Relationship of High School Preparation in Mathematics to the Enrollment of College Freshman in Postsecondary Developmental Mathematics Courses
Degree awarded: Ph.D. School of Education, Teaching and Health. American University
A student's mathematical preparation is important in readiness for postsecondary study and ultimately success in a global job market. Nationally, a significant number of students are leaving high school unprepared for college-level course work in mathematics. A 2008 National Center for Educational Statistics report on Community Colleges indicates that 15.5 percent of first-year postsecondary students reported taking developmental courses in mathematics during the 2003-2004 academic year (Provasnik & Planty, 2008, p. 39). Data at the state level, and specifically for community colleges, are more unsettling. For example, a Maryland Higher Education Commission (2011) study found that 61 percent of students who entered community colleges, after having completed a high school core curriculum, required remediation in mathematics. The remediation rate in mathematics for graduates who did not complete a core curriculum was 69 percent (p. 13).With national data showing the United States lagging behind other countries in mathematics achievement, and significant numbers of students annually enrolling in developmental course work, it is important to increase the number of students entering postsecondary study ready for college-level course work. Decreasing the need for remedial course work in mathematics will lead to a higher postsecondary retention rate, an increase in the number of degree confirmations, and potentially a stronger workforce.This study investigates the articulation of students from Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland to Montgomery College, the school district's feeder community college. Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, D.C., has the 16th largest public school district in the nation. Approximately 33 percent of each year's graduating class attends Montgomery College and more than half of these enrollees require developmental course work in mathematics. Utilizing data from the Montgomery County Public Schools 2009 graduating class, this study employs logistic regression to analyze the records of 2,821 students who entered Montgomery College in the 2009-2010 academic year. The study identifies specific factors, including high school mathematics course attainment and final course grades that predict placement in developmental mathematics courses.
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