“Super” Public Universities and Community Colleges Waive Placement Exams

Hi All!

Here are some changes that will impact working with college bound 2016 seniors.

Good afternoon,

We wanted to share the following announcement which was just released by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. To access this announcement in their newsletter, click here. For an Education Week article on these policies in Oregon and other states, click here.

Public universities and community colleges waive placement exams for students who meet college readiness standards 

New agreements align Oregon public college and university course placement with Smarter Balanced test scores and continued 12th grade rigor

High school juniors in Oregon taking the Smarter Balanced exam this spring may have an added benefit from the test when they reach college. For at least the next two years, students entering Oregon’s 17 community colleges and 7 universities may choose to waive placement testing if they score a 3 or higher on Smarter Balanced tests and meet requirements for continued academic rigor during 12th grade.

In adopting these agreements, Oregon’s higher education system leaders are signaling that Smarter Balanced can play an important role in indicating whether high school students have the mathematics, reading and writing skills needed for college success.

These new agreements were adopted in February 2015 and will be piloted for the next two academic years, starting with the graduating high school class of 2016. Under the agreements, students who score a 3 or higher on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment in Math and English, demonstrate evidence of continued learning through grade 12 coursework, and enroll in a public postsecondary institution in Oregon the year immediately after graduation can choose to use their scores to exempt them from placement testing for college level Math and English/Language Arts when they arrive on campus.* The Oregon community college agreement requires that students successfully complete college-level credits in Mathematics and/or English during 12th grade (which could include dual credit, early college, local accelerated credit models, and exam achievement in AP or IB courses), and the Oregon public university agreement requires that students complete an appropriate mathematics or English/Language Arts course in grade 12 (with a grade of B of better for those scoring 3). The agreements do not affect college admission, only first term placement in college level coursework, since eligible students will be exempt from taking the placement tests.

Additional work is currently being done on the 12th grade coursework requirement and information and details to be used for advising high school students will be provided as it is available on the Core to College website and through publications to the field.

Through the adoption of these alignment agreements, Oregon’s community colleges and universities have affirmed the goals of both the Common Core State Standards and the new Smarter Balanced assessments—improved student learning throughout K-12 education that truly prepares students for success in college and/or career—and provided an incentive for students to take rigorous courses during the senior year. Continued learning in the senior year, preferably in college level courses for those students who are ready, and in appropriate transition options for students who are almost ready, helps students to enter college with confidence and skills necessary to be successful.

Ben Cannon, executive director for the HECC said, “These agreements are a strong step forward in 11-14 alignment and signal to students that their hard work on the Smarter Balanced assessments and their coursework rigor in the 12th grade have concrete benefits at a college level. Thanks to the community colleges and universities who collaborated on the agreements, to Lisa Mentz, administrator of the Core to College grant, Lisa Reynolds, Smarter Balanced higher education lead, as well as our K-12 partners for the increased attention on college and career readiness.”

These agreements were developed through collaboration among secondary and postsecondary leaders and stakeholders, spearheaded by administrators of Oregon’s Core to College Grant. Oregon was one of 10 states awarded this three-year grant (funded in 2011 by the Lumina, Hewlett, and Gates foundations,​ and the Carnegie Corporation of New York) to improve alignment between the postsecondary and K-12 sectors and to provide more seamless educational transition opportunities. Next steps include data system technical work, which must be completed in the coming year in order to implement the policies, and continued review of student outcomes. Statewide review will take place in 2018 to evaluate the agreements’ effectiveness and determine whether any adjustments are needed to better support student transitions and success.

See campus agreements or contact individual institutions for  on eligibility. For more information, also see contacts below.

Media Contact:

Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist, HECC, endi.hartigan@state.or.us

State contacts:

Lisa Reynolds, Smarter Balanced higher ed lead for Oregon, Community College Education Specialist, CCWD, lisa.reynolds@state.or.us;

Lisa Mentz, Core to College Alignment Director, CCWD, lisa.mentz@state.or.us

Cheers, George

George A. Letchworth, Ph.D.


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