Washington State is one of twelve states that received a Core to College grant to promote greater alignment between the K-12 system and colleges in implementing the CCSS (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors). One of the recommendations that has arisen from this work is to use the Smarter Balanced Assessment for college placement.
Placement has been an area previously targeted by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges for improving system-wide efficiency and student achievement. In spring 2013, a “Placement Reciprocity Agreement” was approved, which allows students to transfer their actual placements (rather than their test scores) from institution to institution. In other words, if a student receives a score that places him into college-level writing at the testing institution and transfers to a college that has higher cut scores for entry into ENGL 101, his or her placement will be honored as ENGL 101 at the transfer institution. Word is that students on the more populous west-side of the state may “shop around” for the two-year colleges that have the most generous placement policies (lowest cut scores, fewest courses in the developmental sequence). My recollection is that early efforts for “statewide effeciencies” included the recommendation of a single placement tool and cut scores used statewide; however, the new Smarter Balanced assessments may fill that role.
The current recommendations, outlined in the attachedPowerPoint, suggest that students who score 3 or 4 on the exam in Math and/or English be automatically considered college-ready and be allowed to enroll in any college-level course work. Those who score a 2 on the exam will be required to take “college-readiness” math and/or English during their senior year of high school, but will not be required to retest for college placement; they will enroll in college-level course work upon entry into college. Only those who score at the lowest level, level 1, will be required to remediate and retest.
According to aNational Center for Postsecondary Research Working Paper on the CCSS, published in early 2013, in Washington State, one of three states whose implementation of CCSS is being studied, higher education was minimally involved with the adoption and early implementation of CCSS, and the K-12 and postsecondary systems are not well aligned; however, greater collaboration has occurred recently with the exploration of utilizing the Smarter Balanced assessment as a placement tool. My impression is that there is very limited understanding of CCSS or the Smarter Balanced assessment or awareness of its implication for higher education among college faculty, including its use as a placement tool.