CLEP Placement Validity Study

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This customized study will help you evaluate the success of your institution’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam placement policies. It gives you information on how well your current policies for granting CLEP credit for introductory courses are working for each higher-level course you choose to study.

To assess whether a particular policy is working as intended, the study will compare the performance of students who entered the higher-level course through CLEP credit to the performance of students who entered the course by completing the introductory CLEP-equivalent course(s) at your institution.

Designing Your Study

In this section, get an overview of how to design your study. For detailed step-by-step instructions, download the ACES CLEP Placement Validity Study Guide in the Resources section of this page.

Choosing a Criterion and Predictors

In an ACES study, a criterion means a measure of student success that can be used to validate your admissions or placement policies. The standard criterion for an ACES placement validity study is an end-of-course grade in a specific college course. For a CLEP placement validity study, you should use the course into which you place your students rather than the course out of which you will place students.

A predictor means a data point that you’re using to make your decisions and whose effectiveness you want to analyze. The standard predictors for an ACES CLEP placement validity study are CLEP exam scores or final grade in the course for which your institution offers CLEP credit.

Submitting Your Student Data

Which Students to Include

To be included in the sample, students must have valid course grades on the criterion. Your results will help you make more accurate predictions if you keep these rules in mind:

  • The sample of students used for the study should be similar to the group of students whose success you want to predict. Characteristics of the population such as gender, ethnicity, and age should be represented in the sample. We recommend including at least one entire cohort of students and two academic years of course grades.
  • The data from the predictor must have been collected before the criterion. That is to say, CLEP exam scores or prerequisite courses must have been completed before the student took the criterion course.

For help in analyzing the validity of a predictor for a sequence of courses, contact the ACES staff.

Which Data to Include

You’ll need to supply information on the CLEP credit and placement policy at your institution, data on the predictors (e.g., students' CLEP scores or course grades in courses for which your institution offers CLEP credit) and data on the criterion (e.g., their final grade in the relevant course at your institution).

Submitting Your Data File

You’ll be prompted to submit a data file when you design a new study. You can upload a new data file or reuse one from a previous study.

Your data file format must be Microsoft Excel, Comma Separated Value (CSV), Tab Delimited (.txt), or SAS Transport (XPORT).

For detailed information on preparing your data file, see the ACES Data Preparation Guidelines in the Resources section. You can also download an Excel template with the correct data layout for the CLEP placement validity study.

Getting Your Report

When your study is complete—within 20 business days of your completed request—we’ll notify you that your report is available on the ACES website and you can sign in to access it. You’ll get two deliverables:

  • A complete, printable report in PDF format that shows the strength of your chosen predictors of success—alone and in combination—with charts, tables, and detailed explanations.
  • A report in HTML format featuring interactive graphs. You can click to display or hide data, compare data, zoom in and out, take a snapshot, sort table columns, and more.


Can we get placement information for our math and English courses at the same time?

Yes. ACES provides for analysis of up to 10 courses for any placement study request.

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If my institution primarily gives Pass/Fail grades, can we conduct a placement validity study?

In order to effectively evaluate how well a predictor is working, ACES requires a range of at least four points on a scale for the criterion. Students with Pass/Fail grades cannot be analyzed in the study.

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What’s the minimum number of students needed for a placement validity study?

An AP placement validity study requires a minimum of 15 students whose AP scores and course-taking records indicate that they entered the higher-level course with AP credit. It also requires a minimum of 15 students without AP credit whose course-taking records indicate that they entered the higher-level course by completing the required introductory AP-equivalent course(s) at your institution.

A CLEP placement study requires a minimum of 15 students whose CLEP scores and course-taking records indicate that they entered the higher-level course with CLEP credit, and a minimum of 15 students without CLEP credit whose course-taking records indicate that they entered the higher-level course by completing the required introductory CLEP-equivalent course(s) at your institution.

For SAT and ACCUPLACER placement studies, course data for at least 30 students are required for a course placement analysis involving a single predictor measure. If one to three predictors are used, a minimum of 30 students is required; for four predictors, a minimum of 40 students; and for five predictors, a minimum of 50 students.

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Can we include other commercial exams as a predictor in my ACES study?

No. ACES cannot be used to validate non-College Board commercial products.

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Which College Board testing programs are supported by ACES?

ACES supports the SAT, Advanced Placement Program (AP), ACCUPLACER, and the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

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How do I analyze and articulate my institution’s CLEP credit and placement policies within ACES?

The CLEP Placement Validity Study Detailed Documentation below provides useful information on how to specify different placement policies for a CLEP Placement Validity Study, the information needed to conduct a study, and
the logistics around getting started.

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Are grades required for a CLEP Placement Validity Study?

Yes. CLEP Placement validity studies rely on course performance in sequent or subsequent courses to compare CLEP-credited students to native course takers. However, grades do not need to follow a traditional scale. You will map course grades in the study design process

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