Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Wendy Edson


Although traditional college students are more prepared for college-level math based on college admissions tests, little data have been collected on nontraditional adult learners. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships between math placement tests and community college students' success in math courses and persistence to degree or certificate completion. Guided by Tinto's theory of departure and student retention, the research questions addressed relationships and predictability of math Computer-adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS) test scores and students' performance in math courses, persistence in college, and degree completion. After conducting correlation and regression analyses, no significant relationships were identified between COMPASS Math test scores and students' performance (n = 234) in math courses, persistence in college, or degree completion. However, independent t test and chi-squared analyses of the achievements of college students who tested into Basic Math (n = 138) vs. Introduction to Algebra (n = 96) yielded statistically significant differences in persistence (p = .039), degree completion (p < .001), performance (p = .008), and progress (p = .001), indicating students who tested into Introduction to Algebra were more successful and persisted more often to degree completion. In order to improve instructional methods for Basic Math courses, a 3-day professional development workshop was developed for math faculty focusing on current, best practices in remedial math instruction. Implications for social change include providing math faculty with the knowledge and skills to develop new instructional methods for remedial math courses. A change in instructional methods may improve community college students' math competencies and degree achievement.