May 5, 2017
Testing, Assessment Alterations Made to Create More Equitable Outcomes
A progress report on Equity and Excellence efforts over the last two years, Part II
This article is a continuation of the Equity and Excellence story from May 1, 2017.
One of the first steps in reaching the goal of becoming the leading college of equity
and excellence was looking at the system of testing and assessment for students to
be placed in English classes.
“We thought testing and assessment was a way to really understand our students because
the majority of our students place into basic skills,” Hands said. “A high portion
of African American, Chicano and Latino students are overrepresented in their placement
in basic skills. Our data shows that students that start off in courses below college
transfer level very rarely make it out of basic skills, so we’re starting people in
stages and we know that they’re not going to successfully come out of that.”
A change agent team of about 40 faculty and staff conducted action research (research
used to solve an immediate or progressive problem) to “look at the conditions that
exist – not make any assumptions about them” as far as taking an English course at
Mesa is concerned, according to Luster. Members of the team looked at the college’s
website, the method for applying to Mesa College, the English placement exam, the
syllabi for English courses and actually sat in on English classes to fully experience
the process. What the team found were inequities in the assessment for level placement.
Since then, the department has changed its curriculum so that students who have placed
below college-level English can take the 101 course concurrently with an Academic
Literacy course (ENGL 031) to brush up on their basic skills. In doing so, it eliminates
the process of having to take English courses for a couple of semesters or years before
taking a class that is at the transfer or graduation level.
The San Diego Community College District as a whole is currently participating in
the Multiple Measures Assessment Project pilot. Instead of solely relying on placement
exams to evaluate students at Mesa College, MMAP factors in high school transcripts,
grades and non-cognitive variables in the creation of education plans for students
to complete college level courses.
“Relying exclusively on standardized tests for placement is a weak predictor of students’
performance in college,” said Ailene Crakes, Acting Dean of Student Development. “MMAP
will help create equitable outcomes for students at Mesa by overcoming the under placement
phenomenon that is occurring among students who take the assessment tests. This pilot
will allow us to implement pathways to English and math courses that will hopefully
result in increased student access to transfer level courses.”
Outreach Coordinator and Assessment Supervisor Genevieve Esguerra added that, “by
utilizing transcript data, many students will have the opportunity to bypass the assessment
test and receive a placement that is truly commensurate with their knowledge and ability
in both English and math.”
In April 2017, Mesa College tested the new MMAP system at James Madison and Kearny
Stay tuned for a continuation of this story and weekly articles highlighting students,
faculty and staff who are working toward the goal of making Mesa the Leading College
of Equity and Excellence. For more information about Student Success and Equity at
Mesa College, contact Dean Larry Maxey at (619) 388-5940, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Equity and Excellence