Community college chancellor makes more user-friendly assessment test

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California Community Colleges Chancellors’ Office has changed the way students are assessed for their classes by replacing the Compass Test, which has been used throughout the United States.
“The state of California has put together a Common Assessment Initiative, so they’re going to bring all the Community Colleges under one testing platform. It will afford continuity and help with portability throughout the state for students,” said Michelle Hollingsworth, who is a program specialist for the last 20 years.
Before this change, students all over the state were assessed with a variation of assessments. Supporters of the change argue the need for continuity. They advocate for a singular, streamlined test for all students.
The assess center will be using multiple measure factoring for students says Hollingsworth, such as: looking at high school transcripts and high school grade point average which is weighted at a low percentage with 10% of your score is attributed to your high school grade point average and that’s self-reported.
“I wouldn’t say that [the old tests] weren’t working. A lot of colleges in California and throughout the United States use Compass. There have been studies that using Compass – or using an Assessment Placement tool alone – isn’t completely accurate. The main reason we’re changing – number one, it was mandated. The state has decided they’re going to go to this assessment. It’s something that’s been in the talk for three or four years. But, the company who puts out Compass – they’re taking that tool off the market so we’re not the only college that’s affected by that. There are almost 60 colleges in the state that use Compass. So, we were all going to have to go to a new tool anyway,” said Hollingsworth.
Currently, the Compass test takes a big chunk of time to complete. Some students can take up to two to three hours to complete the assessment.
“It was long, but I didn’t mind,” said Tiara Johnson, who took her test in 2015.
The Chancellor’s Office is looking to change the length of the test to make it easier for students and are also making it more user friendly.
“The state has put the test together in what they call “test-lets”. It could shorten the test for many students. Right now, when a student comes in to take a math test, everybody starts at Basic Skills Math and then they have to work their way up to the higher skills math, so it’s an adaptive test,” said Hollingsworth.
According to Hollingsworth, the first part of the test asks you about your academic career and grades, and then it asks you what kind of math classes you have taken.
Based on the information given, the test will automatically put you into a test-let that the system feels you are ready for.
What about those who are returning students or those who have been out of school for several years?
“For some of us who’ve been out of school for a while, do we remember [our grade point average]? No. So there will be allowances for that and those are questions that will be built in to the first informational test-let,” said Hollingsworth.
The state must do a validation study on the new tests, so they have asked 12 different schools to give a certain number of tests.
Delta will be one of the first schools to participate when it opens in April.
The assessment center has asked faculty members to announce the opportunity to take the test to their class and is looking into offering incentives for people who do.
With a standardized test across all community colleges in the state, it makes it easier for portability of test results.
Meaning that you can move from Delta to another community college and still have your current results without having to take a completely different assessment.
“I think it’s a plus because like myself, I transferred from one school and I had issues. Some things that when I got here to Delta, that I felt like could have been done on a state level that it would be easy to transfer from one school to another. But, it turned out to be a bigger hassle than it needed to be, so this is only a plus,” said Christopher Carr, a Delta student.