Characteristics of students placed in college remedial mathematics: using the ELS 2002/2006 data to understand remedial mathematics placements
More than 30% of college entrants are placed in remedial mathematics (RM). Given that an explicit relationship exists between students' high school mathematics and college success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) fields, it is important to understand RM students' characteristics in high school. Using the Education Longitudinal Survey 2002/2006 data, this study evaluated more than 130 variables for statistical and practical significance. The variables included standard demographic data, prior achievement and transcript data, family and teacher perceptions, school characteristics, and student attitudinal variables, all of which are identified as influential in mathematical success. These variables were analyzed using logistic regression models to estimate the likelihood that a student would be placed into RM. As might be expected, student test scores, highest mathematics course taken, and high school grade point average were the strongest predictors of success in college mathematics courses. Attitude variables had a marginal effect on the most advantaged students, but their effect cannot be evaluated for disadvantaged students, due to a non-random pattern of missing data. Further research should concentrate on obtaining answers to the attitudinal questions and investigating their influence and interaction with academic indicators.