Enhancing the College Algebra Advising Process Through a Dynamic Interpretation and Application of the ACT Sub-Scores

  • Johnathan J. McEwen Jones College
  • Richard Mohn The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Kyna Shelley The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Sherry Herron The University of Southern Mississippi
Keywords: math placement, education policy, college algebra advising, academic advising


The standard placement model using the ACT mathematics sub-score to place students in college algebra suffers from a low specificity, 31%. This causes a large number of students to be placed in remedial coursework despite many of them having the skills necessary to succeed in the college-level course. Students have a considerable probability of success in college algebra when English proficiency is demonstrated, contrary to the predictions of the standard placement model. A holistic view of general college readiness in the context of the mathematics and English sub-scores provides a secondary placement mechanism for these students and gives college administrators a potential tool in their efforts to better place students. By further reducing erroneous failing predictions, administrators can develop policy for the use of ever-decreasing government funding sources and dedicate remediation resources to students demonstrating the clearest needs in this area.


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