CSU System Adopts New Approach to Assessment and Remediation  

The California State University system recently announced a major shift in their approach to college readiness assessment and placement in remedial coursework. CSU Chancellor, Timothy P. White, issued an Executive Order directing the nation’s largest public university system to drop placement exams in math and English. The order also eliminates the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall.

Campuses have been directed to revamp their approach to remedial education and assess new freshmen for college readiness and course placement by using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, previous classroom performance and other measures that administrators say provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of students’ capabilities.

This decision comes at a time when educators and policymakers across the nation are questioning the effectiveness of traditional remedial education and placement exams, which research has shown is more likely to derail students and prompt them to drop out, than help them to succeed.

At Cal State Universities, about 40% of freshmen each year are considered “not ready” for college-level work based on placement exams with no proven indicators of success, resulting in additional years of school for the impacted students. According to the research report Charting the Course: Using Data to Support Foster Youth College Success, foster youth have been assessed under placement exams as twice as likely to require remediation in either English or math than the overall student population. Foster youth should therefore benefit even more significantly from this change.