As I reported in November, placement was the number one issue among mathematics departments when comparing self-evaluation of importance to the program with confidence that the department is doing it well. Figure 1 shows that most PhD-granting departments rely on internally constructed instruments for placement.
|Figure 1. Percentage of respondents using specific placement tools for precalculus/calculus.|
Respondents could select more than one.
Figure 2 shows the overall degree of satisfaction of the department with their placement procedures. Note that the bars above the placement tools represent degree of satisfaction with the entire placement procedure among those institutions that include this particular tool. Thus it does not necessarily reflect the degree of satisfaction with that particular instrument. Nevertheless, this does indicate that there is no single instrument that guarantees satisfaction.
|Figure 2. Number of universities (out of 223) using each placement, with degree of|
overall satisfaction with placement procedures.
Perhaps the most interesting and potentially alarming result is that only 43% of respondents (45% of PhD-granting departments and 41% of Masters-granting departments) reported that they regularly review adherence to placement recommendations. It is hard to know how well your placement is working if you do not monitor it.
 Hsu, E. and Bressoud, D. 2015. Placement and Student Performance in Calculus I. pages 59–67 in Insights and Recommendations from the MAA National Study of College Calculus, Bressoud, Mesa, and Rasmussen, editors. MAA Notes #84. Washington, DC: MAA Press. www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/cspcc/InsightsandRecommendations.pdf