This REL Northwest study of developmental education (remedial, noncredit bearing courses) and college readiness of first-time students at the University of Alaska (UA) found that high school grade point average (GPA) was more predictive of students’ success in college English and math courses than SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER scores. The study also sheds light on which student groups at the UA have the highest developmental education placement rates and may benefit from college readiness resources and programs at the high school or college level.
Results show that developmental education rates were higher in math than English for students pursuing any degree type and increased as the gap between high school exit and college entry grew. Among students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, developmental placement rates were highest for Black students from urban areas of the state (in math) and Alaska Native students from rural areas (in English) compared to all other student groups.
Almost half (47 percent) of students placed in developmental courses eventually passed college English and almost a quarter (23 percent) passed college math. Secondary and postsecondary stakeholders can use the findings to help identify students in need of support to be college-ready and to consider further conversation and additional research regarding whether and how to use high school grade point average as part of the placement process.