The Equity Cost of Inter-Sector Math Misalignment: Racial and Gender Disparities in Community College Student Outcomes

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of Higher Education

First page number:


Last page number:



Using linked high school and community college records for students in a large metropolitan area in California, we explore what happened to students who experienced inter-sector math misalignment (ISMM). These students were deemed "college ready" by high school standards but were placed in remedial/developmental math courses when they enrolled in a local community college. We disaggregate ISMM by gender and race/ethnicity, and we conduct analyses to determine whether certain students are more likely to experience ISMM than others. We find an equity cost to ISMM, with female students, Black students, and Latina/o/x students significantly more likely to encounter ISMM, even after controlling for academic achievement in high school. Inverse probability weighting analyses indicate those who experienced ISMM may have been discouraged by the experience. They were less likely to complete transfer-level math courses and 30 degree-applicable credits, and completed fewer degree-applicable credits overall. ISMM was particularly detrimental to Black students, indicating an equity cost to math misalignment. The findings suggest improving alignment between high schools and community college standards may reduce racial/ethnic inequities in the transition to college and college outcomes.


Community colleges; Developmental education; College transition; College readiness; Math standards


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education



UNLV article access

Search your library