Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


In Florida, there is the anomaly of a student successfully completing a prescribed curriculum leading to the associate in arts degree and having the degree and access to the upper division delayed or denied because of an inability to pass a four-hour exam. The exam is called the College-Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST), and recent studies postulating biases within the Competency standards of the test et concern about statistically significant score differences between certain populations have raised issues about the test performance of nontraditional students. Succinctly, this study utilized quasi-experimental techniques to isolate the performance of adult students. female students, successfully remediated high-risk students, part-time students, and low-socioeconomic students in term of the standards established for the test, mean score comparisons with and without controls for purportedly intervening variables, and pass or fail comparisons with more-traditional eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-old full-time, academically able students. The sample population included 359 first-time examinees at Pasco-Hernando Community College during six consecutive administrations of the test. With minimal reservations, the various statistical tests supported the notion that significant subtest mean differences between the more-traditional cohort and select categories nontraditional cohorts do translate in terms of disproportionate passing percentages under most standards to the disadvantage of the nontraditional cohorts. The predominant exceptions to this trend involved the twenty-four-year-old-and-older cohort. This cohort scored significantly lower on the math subtest when compared to the eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-old cohort, but the lower math subtest scores did not translate to disproportionate passing percentages between the cohorts under any of the standards using the criteria of passing all four subtests (writing, reading, essay, and math) on the first attempt. Likewise, the twenty-four-year-old-and-older male cohort scored significantly lower on the writing subtest than the respective female cohort, but the mean differences on the writing subtest were not evident under any of the standards when the passing percents of each cohort were compared. Under all standards, the percentage of part-time students and successfully remediated students passing all four subtests on the first attempt was significantly lower than the respective percentage of full-time students and nonremediated students passing all four subtests on the first a tempt. Concomitantly, the part-time cohort's mean subtest scores on the reading, math and essay subtests were significantly lower than those of the full-time cohort, and the remediated cohort's mean writing, reading and math subtest scores with grade-point average controlled were significantly lower than those of the nonremediated cohort. The percentage of students from the lower socioeconomic class passing all four subtests was significantly lower under the 1986 standards, and under the 1984 and 1989 standards was not significantly different, when compared to the remainder of the sample population. The mean comparisons yielded a significant difference only on the writing subtest to the disadvantage of the lower socioeconomic cohort. When nontraditional students, classified as either/or successfully remediated, part-time, twenty-four years of age or older, or lower socioeconomic. were compared to all others in the sample, the percentage nontraditional students passing all four subtests on the first attempt under all standards was significantly lower. In terms of subtest score variances. grade-point average was not a major source of variance for the remediated cohort or the older cohort. Likewise, age and length of time in school to meet degree requirements were not major sources of variance in test scores for part-time students. However, entry-level skills were a major source of variance in test scores for the successfully remediated cohort. The performance of nontraditional students on the test when compared to more-traditional students suggests that the competency development of the nontraditional student has not progressed as well. Attention needs to be given to curriculum frameworks and other college practices in an effort to more adequately assist the nontraditional student in developing the competencies necessary to pass the test. Transcript analysis should be performed on a sample of older students to determine achievement in math competency courses relative to the rest of the curriculum. A study should also be initiated that compares the test achievement of students taught by full-time faculty with that of students taught by part-time faculty, and the grading policies of the college need to be revisited. Finally, it also seems imperative that the college request test skill-level performance reports for successfully remediated students to determine if there is commonality in terms of basic skills that are not being demonstrated.

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