Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Christopher Glass

Committee Member

Anthony Perez

Committee Member

Mitchell Williams


In recent years, student completion in the first-year college mathematics curriculum has become a significant barrier to student success and retention. Many states, such as North Carolina and Virginia, have been innovative in developing new strategies for placing students into an appropriate mathematics curriculum. A centerpiece of these strategies is to use student performance in high school, as measured by high school grade point average, as a predictor of course success and completion. However, in each system, what is largely absent from their placement models is an attempt to account for the quality of the institution that issued the high school graduation credential. The purpose of this study was to examine the application of high school grade point average as a predictor for success in a first-year mathematics course as modified by characteristics of the high school that issued the credential using multilevel modeling.

For this study, student-level data was obtained from randomly selected two-year institutions in the North Carolina Community College System and was matched with descriptive data of North Carolina high schools that issued credentials for students selected at the college level. Logistic regression was then employed to ascertain what characteristics of high school quality explained additional variability in student course completion beyond high school grade point average. After exhaustive analysis, application of group-level performance indicators for faculty with advanced degrees and student performance on the Math 1 end of course examination, modified the use of high school grade point average as a predictor for success in mathematics at the community college. Practitioners can use these findings to inform placement strategies and student success interventions at the community college level.