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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Cal State set to drop placement tests

California State University, which recruits from the top third of California graduates, plans to stop using placement tests to decide whether students need remediation in English and math, reports Emily DeRuy in the San Jose Mercury News. Instead, CSU schools will analyze high school grades and SAT or ACT scores.

Students in a summer math prep class at CSU, San Bernardino. Photo: Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSB

Currently, almost 40 percent of freshman start in no-credit remedial courses.

The chancellor’s executive order also directs CSU schools to create for-credit “stretch” courses that move more slowly and include extra support.

It also expands a summer prep course for students who aren’t quite ready.

The CSU’s goal is to get 40 percent of students to a bachelor’s degree in four years by 2025. That’s double the current four-year completion rate.

Some faculty members fear the changes will pressure them to lower standards to help unprepared students pass their classes.

“Some of California’s community colleges are also phasing out placement tests and moving more students who would have traditionally gone into remedial courses into credit-bearing classes with extra support,” reports DeRuy. “A bill in Sacramento would require all of the state’s community colleges to adopt a similar approach.”

When Las Positas College relied on a placement test, 80 percent of students passed introductory college-level English, writes DeRuy. Now students who earned a 2.5 in high school English can start at the college level: 77 percent pass the course. The overall success rate is 79 percent.

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