Standardized Entrance Exams No Longer Lone Factor

The entrance exams for community colleges will no longer be the lone factor determining whether or not students can enroll in credit-bearing courses. The validity of these standardized tests, named Accuplacer, have long been criticized by educational providers and students alike including Columbia University's Teachers College just recently.

Approximately 70% of students fail these placement exams each year and only 13.6% of full-time students who take the required remedial courses after failing actually earn an associate's degree in four years, which is twice the time it should take. The Board of Regents passed a law on June 20th to require a dozen colleges and the four Connecticut State Universities to use multiple indicators. These indicators can include a high-school transcript, senior portfolio, or anything else that can predict a student’s preparedness for college-level courses.

If students fail these entrance exams under the current system, many are forced to take and pay for non-credit remedial courses that may hinder their ability to graduate in the expected number of years.

This policy change is only one of many steps that must be taken in the next 15 months to improve Connecticut’s higher education system.

The law passed in 2012 also limits remedial enrollment to one semester beginning in the fall of 2014. However, many believe that students will then begin to fail introductory courses they are not ready for.

The current plan, which has not yet been finalized, would allow fewer students to take one semester of remedial non-credit courses before being allowed to take college-level courses. The flow of students that would then be able to take credit-bearing courses will need an updated support system that may include small class sizes, tutors, and computer-assisted technology. A draft budget has shown that it could cost $8.9 million a year to decrease class sizes, $2.9 million to hire tutors and counselors, and $1.6 for intensive technology.

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