In California, high school exams that are aligned with the Common Core are being accepted as proof that high school students are ready for college level work. These exam results are also saving students from having to take individual placement tests and remedial not-for-credit courses before being allowed to take for-credit classes.
One of the key elements of Common Core is that the standards were developed based on what students actually need to know and do to be successful in college and a career. In other words, passing the Common Core-aligned high school exam should mean that a student has shown she’s prepared for college. But a test showing you’re prepared for college only matters if your college actually trusts the results of the test.
In California, every one of the California State University campuses and California community colleges has decided they do trust the tests. So if you’re one of the 400,000 11th-graders who took California’s new test last spring and are thinking about attending one of these 101 campuses next fall, your college or university will use the results to determine if you need remedial work.
And if high schools know which students aren’t meeting the benchmarks in 11th grade, they can make sure that these students have the support they need in 12th grade to close the readiness gap and avoid remedial classes in college. This early support can save students and their families thousands of dollars in remedial courses that don’t even count towards college graduation.
California isn’t the only state showing leadership in this area. Over 200 institutions in seven states using assessments from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – along with more than 30 institutions in three states using assessments created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – have committed to using the results for placement decisions. Unfortunately, these colleges and universities represent less than 5 percent of the 4,700 degree-granting postsecondary institutions across the country.
In a world where concerns about overtesting are dominating the discussion, it makes no sense for colleges to ignore the results of a rigorous high school exam and instead test students again before they arrive on campus to determine course placement.
So why not invest in better quality tests now rather than increase costs tomorrow?
For more information, see Tests Can Be Golden