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ERIC Number: ED594092
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Apr
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Modernizing College Course Placement by Using Multiple Measures
Ganga, Elizabeth; Mazzariello, Amy
Education Commission of the States
Community colleges and open-access, four-year colleges admit nearly everyone who applies and enroll students with a wide range of skills. Many of these colleges run developmental education programs for students who they determine are underprepared for college-level courses. More than two-thirds of community college students are assigned to developmental courses -- sometimes for several semesters. Colleges have traditionally placed students into developmental or college-level courses based on their performance on standardized math and English tests. Research, however, shows that these placement tests are poor predictors of student grades in college-level math and English courses, resulting in inappropriate placements for as many as a third of test-takers. Most of the misplaced students are assigned to developmental courses that are below their ability level and whose credits do not count toward a degree, creating an unnecessary hurdle on their path to graduation and potentially blocking their progress altogether. Studies have found that alternative measures -- particularly high school GPA, which captures both academic strengths and relevant nonacademic characteristics like motivation -- offer substantially better predictions of which students will succeed in college-level courses. Combining high school GPA with other measures -- including state graduation tests, SAT or ACT scores, writing assessments, high school transcript information, years since high school graduation and noncognitive assessments -- yields more predictive power, according to the studies. This approach, often called multiple measures placement, is gaining traction at colleges across the country: More than half of community colleges now use measures besides tests to place students into developmental or college-level courses. This report defines types of multiple measures placement systems, reviews research on how they can improve placement accuracy and help more students pass entry-level math and English courses, reveals which states use these systems and includes policy considerations. [This resource is the third in a series about developmental education. The second installment is "Math Pathways: Expanding Options for Success in College Math" (ED590584).]
Education Commission of the States. ECS Distribution Center, 700 Broadway Suite 1200, Denver, CO 80203-3460. Tel: 303-299-3692; Fax: 303-296-8332; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: Education Commission of the States; Columbia University, Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR)
Identifiers - Location: California; New York; Minnesota; North Carolina
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305C140007