Placing students on the failure track

Not-very accurate placement tests are starting students in remedial classes that rarely lead to a degree.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  “Commit to complete” is asking community college students to take the pledge to complete a certificate or degree.

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  1. Are the placement tests inaccurate? Or are the college instructors under extreme pressure to pass students? In other words, which indicator is more reliable, a standardized test, or grades awarded by an adjunct?

    Depending upon a student’s skills and career plans, deciding not to complete a certificate or degree could be a rational choice.

  2. I’d bet the latter; grades aren’t trustworthy. Just look at the pressure to increase HS graduation rates; grades look fine, but kids can’t read their diplomas.

  3. Mark Roulo says:

    The placement tests aren’t perfect. But the kids who skipped the remedial classes aren’t a random selection of those who were placed in the remedial classes. From the article:

    In 2010, Bailey and colleagues Dong Wook Jeong and Sung-Woo Cho led a study that looked at tens of thousands of community college students who scored low on placement tests and other measures but ignored the advice or instruction to take remedial classes and instead enrolled directly in a for-credit course.

    The kids who skipped the remedial classes are self-selected. To find out if the remedial tests are mostly correct, you need to take, say, 5000 kids who the tests would place in a remedial class and assign them to credit bearing classes. Then see what happens.

  4. I had to take the COMPASS here in Texas, because my undergraduate degree was from out of state, and I was enrolled in a teaching certification program. Obviously, I passed, but as I recall the reading and math portions appeared to be at the 9th to 10th grade level.

    In fact, I was worried about it and spent most of the night memorizing math formulas. Since I was just spent 10 years in the Army, I didn’t understand what the words “supplied formula sheet” meant. Well, at least the math was much easier with a cheat sheet.