Agenda, Scope, and Goals
As several large-scale studies have shown that placement tests are a blunt instrument for assessing students’ college readiness, many colleges have responded by incorporating other criteria into their placement process. Even some state systems, such as North Carolina and California, are using multiple measures for placement. Yet the impact of these new placement systems has not yet been rigorously tested. MDRC and the Community College Research Center (CCRC) began evaluating multiple measures experimentally through the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR). The Multiple Measures Assessment Project builds on this work in a few ways, most notably by including noncognitive assessments in addition to test scores and high school grade point average.
In the first phase of the project, the study team provided technical assistance to five Minnesota and five Wisconsin colleges to design and pilot multiple measures placement systems. Each college was given guidance on how to select measures, support in creating new placement rules, and technical advice on setting up internal systems that would generate the new placement results.
During the second phase of the project, four Minnesota colleges and one Wisconsin college are randomly assigning students to be placed using either the new multiple measures placement system or the traditional test-only system. This will allow MDRC to measure how the new system changes students’ placements and whether it has impacts on students’ academic outcomes. Phase II also includes a case study of the scale-up from the pilot to learn how these systems can be implemented and expanded to all test-takers.
These findings, along with those from the CAPR evaluation, will be useful for colleges across the country considering the implementation of multiple measures for placement.