Pro/Con: Placement Tests

Pro: Put students on the right path

By: Samantha Neff

Almost everyone who enters college has different knowledge and skill levels.

Although college students are able to make important decisions for themselves, are they really in a position to decide what reading and math levels they are at?

Often, a passing grade is given in high school classes regardless of whether they have learned the curriculum or not. This eventually ends up hurting them more than benefiting because they haven’t actually learned the material to move up. 

According to insidehighered.com, while high school graduation rates are high, “only around 38% of seniors in high school scored at or above grade level on its reading test in recent years.”

This is why it is critical that they are placed in their correct comprehension levels when entering college. 

With the passing of Assembly Bill 705, these remedial students will be placed in transfer level classes where they are expected to gain the knowledge and skills that they are unprepared for. This can only drag them down in their educational process. 

Mandatory placement tests for beginning college students have proven to be beneficial for their learning experience. According to an article by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, these tests help gather an idea on what kind of help someone might need. 

“High school students may not come to college fully prepared, and the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that about 34% of public college and university students need at least one remedial class, while 43% of community college students do.” 

Overall, students are far better off taking placement exams so they can receive the education they need. 

Attempting to throw them into transfer level classes before they are ready simply so they can complete their education quicker is not going to be helpful for their future.

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Con: Saving time and money

By: Maja Losinska

Students tend to be more successful in school when they are provided with opportunities.

Community college is intended to be an affordable way for people to get a higher level of education than high school while also serving as a bridge to transfer to a four-year university.

That’s where Assembly Bill 705 creates that occasion. 

AB 705 allows students to fulfill their degree requirements by ensuring that they have access to college level transferable courses when they first enter a community college rather than wasting time taking remedial classes.

Instead of taking math and English placement tests, it uses high school grades as an indicator on whether a student is prepared. They get the chance to earn their degree and complete their requirements faster.

Remedial courses only hurts them by increasing the chances of them dropping out.

According to Student Success Scorecard, 70% of the student population are more likely to complete a certificate or transfer within six years if they are ready to be in college level courses, whereas only 40% finish in those amount of years if they are forced to take remedial courses.

It saves them time and money because it pushes them to finish in fewer semesters than prolonging their stay at a community college. 

Assessment tests often do not provide accurate results, which some students may have suffered from. Many of them were under placed in courses because of their scores. 

As a result, they’d have to take unnecessary prerequisites simply to work their way up to classes that actually matter in terms of being able to transfer.

College is supposed to provide everyone with an equal chance to get an education.

Students shouldn’t be held back because of a test that they had to take in the beginning of the year.