Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Rhetoric, Writing and Discourse Studies

Committee Director

Louise Wetherbee Phelps

Committee Director

Michelle Fowler-Amato

Committee Member

Daniel Richards

Committee Member

Jessica Nastal

Committee Member

Laura Smithers


Community colleges are trying to reform their placement procedures from use of a single placement test score to a system that collects multiple measures to be used either as a replacement solitary measure or in conjunction with other measures for more accurate placement into writing courses than what occurred with the placement test, which often resulted in disparate impact for students of color. In this study of multiple measures placement assessment for writing courses, I critique several large studies of community college multiple measures assessment for the lack of a community college perspective. The studies largely supported use of high school grade point average as a replacement for placement tests, but I found some of the reasoning to be faulty or unsupported by the data in the studies.

I offer my own study of students at a community college in the Midwest as evidence of why high school grade point averages cannot be used fairly and accurately for all students in a community college system. In this study, I collected and analyzed multiple measures variables from 34 students and then supplemented it with qualitative data collected during student interviews to assess why for some of the students in the study, their paths were predictable and college credits were earned successfully but for others, the path was less linear, less predictable, with the collected measures not predicting success with any reliability. In a paradigm shift from most multiple measures research, I center qualitative data, particularly from the students who were not college-bound while in high school, as a means to explain the gaps in the quantitative data findings. In the final chapter, I interviewed four students from the initial study, where their stories built on my early conclusions regarding why high school transcripts and test scores are insufficient as solitary measures for writing placement for some community college students and suggest that we should also broaden our definitions of and measurement of success at community colleges.


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Copyright, 2022, by Nicole L. Hancock, All Rights Reserved.