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More Community Colleges Using Multiple Measures for Readiness

February 28, 2018

A new study from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness has found that an increasing number of public, two-year colleges are using multiple measurements beyond standardized tests to place students in college-level math and reading courses. 

Figure 1: Use of measures other than standardized tests for assessment among public two-year colleges. Bar chart compares percentages of colleges using other measures in 2011 compared to 2016. For math, 27 percent of public two-year colleges were using other measures in 2011, increasing to 57 percent in 2016. In reading, 19 percent were using other measures in 2011, increasing to 51 percent in 2016. Source for 2011 data: Fields and Parsad (2012). Source for 2016 data: CAPR institutional survey. Note: The Fields and Parsad reading statistics are for reading placement only, whereas the CAPR survey data are for both reading and writing. Because many colleges are combining reading and writing course, the CAPR survey grouped them together.

Research has shown for years that using multiple measures, such as high school performance, to determine college readiness provides colleges with a more accurate measurement to determine college success. The survey found that in 2016, 57 percent of two-year colleges used multiple measures for math placement, compared to 27 percent in 2011. When it comes to reading and writing placement, 51 percent of colleges used multiple measures in 2016, compared to 19 percent in 2011. 

The report also examined the types of developmental education two-year institutions offered. For instance, 76 percent of colleges reported offering traditional remedial math courses, and 53 percent reported doing the same in reading and writing. However, more than half the colleges surveyed reported using a reformed type of developmental education, like compressed courses, flipped classrooms and corequisite remediation. 

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Ashley A. Smith

Ashley A. Smith, Reporter, covers community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed. She joined the publication in 2015 after covering government and K-12 education for the Fort Myers News-Press in Florida for three years. Ashley also covered K-12 and higher education for three years at the Marshfield News-Herald in Wisconsin. She has interned with The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. 

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