Most students are neither perfectly prepared nor woefully unprepared in key math and English skills; instead, they exist in a murky middle zone where placement tests are likely to misclassify their readiness levels. Peer-reviewed studies show that a student who’s referred to developmental or remedial coursework has little chance of eventually earning a valuable credential or degree. What’s more, poor students and students of color are disproportionately harmed by these outdated high-stakes approaches.
A holistic placement approach that incorporates personalized learning, immediate feedback, and short summative assessments can help most students master the math and English skills required to enroll in credit-bearing coursework. Adaptive learning technology makes this approach logistically feasible and empowers administrators to identify students who would benefit from additional wrap-around supports.
The NROC Project created EdReady, an adaptive math and English learning platform, to make it easy for institutions to move away from high-stakes college placement tests. EdReady is being adopted across the country to significantly improve college placement practices, ensuring that students and institutions both benefit.
Texas College Bridge is a personalized, self-paced college math and English readiness program powered by EdReady. Students who successfully complete the Texas college Bridge program earn a TSIA (Texas Success Initiative Assessment) exemption accepted at nearly 70 partnering colleges and universities across the state. The exemption allows students to immediately enroll in credit-bearing courses without having to take a high-stakes placement test.
Early efficacy data from Dallas College show that students who enrolled in Dallas College after successfully completing Texas College Bridge had a higher overall passing percentage than college students who did not participate in Texas College Bridge.
“I was thrilled to see the passing rate of 76.5% for students in English and 89.1% for students in math. It is rewarding to see such high success rates in a population that is considered at-risk, academically speaking. It was nice to be part of a project that produced results to be proud of.”
— Ivan Dole, Dallas College, Professor of English and Developmental English
Nevada State College implemented EdReady as an initial placement diagnostic and as an independent-study remediation option for students to use before they arrived on campus. The placement of new students into college-level math courses increased from 24% to 42%.
"The goal is to remove all of the bottlenecks and give students at least one successful math experience in their lives. Needless to say, we, and our students, are thrilled."
— Dr. Serge Baliff, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Nevada State College
At the Maricopa Community College District, EdReady is used as a secondary placement measure (the primary measure is high school GPA). The platform is credited with increasing the percentage of students placed into college-level courses from 71% (2018) to 83% (2021) and notable college readiness gains were made among students of color.
Jacksonville State University (JSU) was the first institution to partner with NROC to utilize EdReady as a low-stakes placement tool, designed to replace high-stakes testing and dramatically reduce the number of students required to take developmental math courses. Recently, JSU implemented EdReady to assess and address students’ college English readiness. Since its inception, JSU’s learning-centered placement model has accelerated student readiness and improved retention and degree completion.
Because students could improve their readiness and placement using EdReady, the number of students taking developmental courses declined by over 70%, saving most students substantial time and money.
Ivy Tech Community College (Ivy Tech) is the singly accredited community college in the state of Indiana (45 campuses and sites). To date, greater than 45,000 Ivy Tech students have used EdReady to support their academic trajectories and tens of thousands of students who otherwise would have been deemed underprepared have placed into credit-bearing math and English courses. In fact, Ivy Tech recently won an award recognizing the institution's critical college readiness work.
In this report, Dr. Ahrash N. Bissell, President of The NROC Project, describes a different approach to "placement" that avoids most of the pitfalls and mistaken assumptions that have called into question current placement-testing practices, and even whether placement testing should occur at all.
In 2015, Alabama's Jacksonville State University (JSU) replaced traditional high-stakes testing and a developmental course structure with a simple, well-mapped placement diagnostic and personalized study path. Subsequently, students have been able to more quickly enroll in credit-bearing courses, saving them money and streamlining the route to degree completion.
Pandemic-related learning disruptions have created new college-readiness challenges. With longitudinal data now in hand, JSU leaders are evaluating how their model for placement and review is impacting student success and retention.
Based on the lived experiences of students who successfully completed developmental and college-level courses, the Maricopa Community College model for ensuring college readiness illustrates the importance of collaboration among administrators, faculty, and staff to create success for all students.
Nationwide, colleges are improving recruitment and retention by reducing barriers to gateway math and English courses. Join us for a conversation about the power of multiple measures placement as a portal to student success. We examine how colleges are harnessing the adaptive capabilities of EdReady to create more equitable learning opportunities, often in lieu of high-stakes examinations.
EdReady is an adaptive math and English learning platform that personalizes a student’s path to subject mastery.
If you’re looking to modernize your placement practice, we want to work with you. Complete our contact form and a knowledgeable NROC staffer will reach out.