Self-Placement in Math Courses at U.S. Community Colleges : Contributing Factors and Impacts on Student Success

Kai ZHAO*, Toby J. PARK-GAGHAN, Christine G. MOKHER, Shouping HU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Self-placement in math is becoming increasingly popular in community colleges in the U.S., where students will decide for themselves whether to enroll in non-credit developmental (or remedial) math courses. To fully understand the factors associated with students’ math enrollment choices and the long-term effects of initial math enrollment choices, we use data from all first-time-in-college students in the Florida College System to conduct a multinomial logistic regression analysis and an inverse-probability regression adjustment analysis. We find that most students chose to directly enroll in college-level math, with significant differences by gender and high school math preparation. First-year math enrollment choices were significantly associated with likelihood of passing college-level math and the number of college credits by the third year.
Original languageEnglish
Article number215824402311736
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number2
Early online date20 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2023

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A160166 to Florida State University, and in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education, or the Gates Foundation.


  • community college
  • developmental education
  • placement policy
  • math enrollment


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