Placement reform

Student retention and completion has been linked to lack of equity and effectiveness in college intake placement testing.  Our intervention modified placement policies that blocked students from moving efficiently to completion in Math and English.  First, the college uses multiple measures for placement into English and Math, accepting unofficial high school transcripts, the Smarter Balance Test (used in Washington State by high schools to determine college readiness), high GED scores, all of which prove more reliable than placement test scores.  The placement and testing center uses a conversation model to help students identify what placement tools they have, and the college makes this process explicit to new students.  For students without other measures, there is a test.  In English, Highline used ACT data for all students who take ACT English placement tests, which predicts those who will earn a C or better.  Applying this analysis to our own placement data showed our placement was not effective.  The English Department thus dropped the ACT Compass Writing test, using only the Compass Reading test, which improved placement equity and effectiveness.   The majority of students now complete college English in one quarter, placing into either English 101 or English 101 with extra support.  Placement equity greatly improved while completion rates remain steady.  With the ACT Compass closing in 2016, the college piloted directed self-placement for English which will begin winter 2016 in lieu of placement testing; there will be a rough sort of students for English language learners to guide them.

In Math, a College Spark Grant from 2015 allowed us to re-design Math placement so that it begins with a conversation rather than a test.  Students explain their educational pathway and prior experience with math, then have a conversation with placement staff about which course they need and how they can place in.  The staff ask for unofficial high school transcripts, courses from other colleges, other institution's placement tests, the Smarter Balanced assessment for math, or high GED scores.  If any of these apply, the student can be placed without the math test MyMathTest (MMT). For those who must take MMT, they are educated to take brush-up workshops and learn about the test first.  They are also encouraged to re-test after more brush-up in math.  An embedded math faculty communicates between the Math Department and the Placement and Testing Center.

ID 15195

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #15195, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

Please note that for security purposes, contact information can only be provided to known contacts at active Achieving the Dream institutions.

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