Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Davis, James

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The purpose of this study was to improve the mean scores on the COMPASS college placement test after guiding students through a PowerPoint presentation referred to as COMPASS orientation. Scores obtained from college placement tests indicated a large number of entering college students were not prepared for college-level classes. During the 2006–2007 academic year, 1,427 COMPASS placement tests were administered to students enrolling in the Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC). Of that number, over 70% produced scores at or below the level requiring developmental education. Data showed that only 28% of the students taking the COMPASS placement tests required no developmental course work and could enter college-level general education classes and receive college credit. This study proposed that a short orientation immediately preceding the COMPASS placement test would increase COMPASS placement test scores. Findings from the study showed that a 5-minute pre-test orientation did not significantly improve the mean test scores in reading, writing, or pre-algebra on the COMPASS placement tests. The study showed that algebra scores had a significantly improved mean score on the exam after intervention with the COMPASS orientation tutorial PowerPoint presentation. Recommendations from this study suggest that orientations and workshops should be mandatory for all college applicants. Online web sources should contain materials and web links for COMPASS study questions, COMPASS Web site addresses, and college pre-test workshops and orientation dates. Stakeholders such as local advisory committees, community businesses, and high schools should be involved with college application requirements. How underprepared college students impact the available workforce pool and the local economy should be discussed, and these businesses should be enlisted to suggest avenues for improving testing outcomes and college success.



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