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Points of Interest

Moving Beyond Placement Exams

This Points of Interest highlights the growing trend of colleges using multiple measures to improve student success in college-level courses.
May 8, 2019
Maxine T. Roberts
Tags: Accurate Placement, 2. Enroll in college-level math and English., Transfer and Course Applicability

Community colleges enroll large proportions of traditionally underserved students with a wide range of skills and knowledge that prepare them for college-level courses. Historically, colleges have relied on standardized placement tests as the sole measure of a student’s college readiness. However, research has consistently shown that this approach underestimates students’ ability and results in misplacing students into developmental education courses. Today, colleges are using multiple measures to assess student readiness, primarily high school GPA, to improve the accuracy of placement decisions.
As shown in the graph, the number of colleges using multiple measures for math and reading placement grew dramatically from 2011 to 2016: 30 percentage points and 32 percentage points, respectively. The authors also provide an overview of different multiple measures systems and state-level policy recommendations. This Points of Interest highlights the growing trend of colleges using multiple measures to improve student success in college-level courses.