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Increasing Access to College-Level Math: Early Outcomes Using the Virginia Placement Test

By: Olga Rodríguez

Abstract

Increasing Access to College-Level Math: Early Outcomes Using the Virginia Placement Test

In spring 2012, the Virginia Community College System introduced a new math placement test, known as the Virginia Placement Test–Math (VPT).  The system also implemented a new placement policy, with different math competencies required for the entry-level college math courses in liberal arts and STEM programs. This brief examines differences in students’ college math enrollment and completion rates before and after the introduction of the VPT and the new placement policy.

After the VPT was implemented, a greater proportion of students placed into and enrolled in college-level math courses, and these higher enrollments boosted course completion rates for the cohort as a whole. However, pass rates among students who enrolled in entry-level math courses declined modestly. These findings highlight a tradeoff that should be acknowledged when planning reforms to reduce remedial placement rates using a placement instrument. Changes to how academic supports are deployed and changes to teaching and learning strategies used in college math courses could improve conditional pass rates over time.