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Validation of the Descriptive Tests of Mathematics Skills SAT DTMS

Bridgeman, Brent
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-80-06, RDR-79-80 No. 02
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Freshmen, Descriptive Tests of Mathematics Skills (DTMS), Mathematics Tests, Placement Tests, Predictive Validity, Validity Studies, SAT


A variety of techniques was used to assess the validity of the descriptive tests of mathematics skills (DTMS) for making placement decisions. The DMS is a group of four tests (arithmetic skills, elementary algebra skills, intermediate algebra skills, and functions and graphs) that was designed to help colleges place each admitted student in the appropriate mathematics course. The DTMS were administered in freshman level mathematics courses at 36 institutions that represented a broad spectrum of two-year and four-year colleges. A pre-post design was used in seven institutions, with a pretest only in the other colleges. Results indicated that the DTMS were: (1) sensitive to gains from instruction in a single semester; (2) highly correlated with course grades obtained concurrently; (3) predictive of end of course grades when the DTMS were administered at the beginning of the course; (4) a better predictor of course grades than SAT-mathematical scores for remedial courses; (5) related to course difficulty as perceived by students; (6) capable of demonstrating a trait-treatment interaction in a precalculus-calculus sequence; and (7) related to the content of mathematics courses as judged by mathematics faculty members.

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