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Improving Developmental Education Assessment and Placement: Lessons From Community Colleges Across the Country

By: Michelle Hodara, Shanna Smith Jaggars & Melinda Mechur Karp

Abstract

To understand current approaches that seek to improve the traditional assessment and placement process at open-access, two-year public colleges, the authors conducted a scan of assessment and placement policies and practices at open-access two-year colleges in Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. This paper describes the variety of approaches that systems and colleges employed to ameliorate poor course placement accuracy and inconsistent standards associated with the traditional process.

We find that most colleges we studied adopted a measured approach that addressed a single limitation without attending to other limitations that contribute to the same overall problem of poor course placement accuracy or inconsistent standards.

Drawing from the study’s findings, we also discuss how colleges can overcome barriers to reform in order to implement approaches that hold promise for improved course placement accuracy, more consistent standards of college readiness, and, potentially, greater long-term academic success of community college students.