Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Students enrolled in Florida public colleges and universities are required to pass a test of college-level communication and computation skills (the CLAST) prior to receiving an Associate in Arts Degree or entering the junior year. Evidence from a variety of studies, however, seems to indicate that students from low socio-economic strata perform less well academically, and especially on standardized tests such as the CLAST, than do students from average to above average socio-economic strata. If this evidence is marginally representative of true population proclivities, lower socio-economic students in Florida are at a disadvantage in terms of completing a four-year degree. This study was designed to determine if students from lower socio-economic classes score as well on the CLAST as students from average to above average socio-economic strata. The study utilized the Pell Grant eligibility index to determine socio-economic strata, and also controlled for prior academic achievement to ensure that any difference in CLAST scores between the socio-economic classes can be attributed to factors associated with standardized tests alone, rather than with the generalized academic performance characteristics of low socio-economic students. The sampling distribution consisted of forty-four first-time CLAST takers at Pasco-Hernando Community College. Twenty-two of the CLAST takers were full Pell Grant recipients and the twenty-two remaining test takers were selected at random from among the non-grant recipient test takers. An analysis of covariance was utilized to compare the means of the grant and non-grant recipient groups on the four CLAST subtests with cumulative grade-point average functioning as the covariate and the measure of prior academic achievement. The analysis indicated that non-grant recipient students scored significantly higher on the writing subtest than the grant recipient population. No significant mean differences were found for the reading, math, and essay subtests. A post-experimental t-test (elimination of the covariate) yielded similar results. Because of an inherent positive skewness to the sampling distributions in terms of the covariate that could not be controlled, the effects of the covariate were minimal. However, the significant difference in means on the writing subtest was cause to recommend that the writing competencies of grant recipients be monitored closely in terms of CLAST requirements. It was also recommended that special programs be developed to assist low socio-economic students identify and improve writing deficiencies.

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