Common Placement Procedure for English * 101 Connecticut Coalition of English Teachers (CCET) James Gentile and Ken Klucznik Co-Chairs
Overview In the context of common course numbering, CCET understands the proposal for a common assessment procedure. Further, CCET appreciates this opportunity to propose a procedure rather than have one imposed by the legislature.
Up to this time, the colleges have maintained autonomy in placing students into English 101, and any change in the procedure will clearly impact the distribution of students into developmental and college level English courses. It will also impact students’ eligibility for courses that use English courses as prerequisites.
Any change must be a viewed as a pilot and research will have to be conducted to determine the full impact of changing the assessment procedure.
Process • Steering Committee representatives took the Accuplacer test for a greater understanding of the process and the test. • Representatives from the 12 colleges met to develop a proposal. • Representatives went to their departments and solicited feedback. • CCET Co-Chairs collected concerns expressed and re-sent proposal for further review.
Proposal • Initial placement will be based on Accuplacer combined scores of Sentence Skills 88 and Reading Comprehension 83. • There will be a process for a challenge through an essay prompt. Prompt proposal: read, summarize and respond to a text. The essay will be assessed using the New Jersey rubric. • 450 SAT scores as an alternate benchmark for placement in English* 101.
Review • Tie the proposal to a requirement that there be State dollars for implementation (such as administration of test, grading of essays, norming of readers) and research to determine if the identified cut scores effectively determine student success. • The process will be thoroughlyrevisited and evaluated in a year or two’s time, and scores and / or protocol possibly changed if research indicates problems.
Outcomes CCET will consider implications for course outcomes in English * 101. At this time, CCET has not formally addressed outcomes for English * 101 in the context of this proposal. Outcomes might take a form such as these currently used at MCC.
the writing is text-based • it demonstrates an ability to understand and interpret challenging texts • it is expository and thesis-driven • it conforms to the specific requirements and standards of academic writing, including essay format, voice, and organization • it follows the conventions of grammar and mechanics • twenty pages of polished prose should be produced (at MCC, that is three essays)
Concerns This proposal was developed by CCET Steering Committee representatives from all twelve colleges. The representatives, in turn, returned to their colleges and reported feedback from their departments to the CCET Co-Chairs (James Gentile and Ken Klucznik). Common concerns included:
Impact of Changing Scores Based on preliminary research at three colleges, the change in Accuplacer cut scores will have a substantial impact on the distribution of students into developmental and college-level English.
At MCC, nearly half of the students who would place into English* 101 under current scores would not qualify based upon the proposed scores alone. (A challenge test or SAT scores may still place the students in English* 101.) • Conversely, at QVCC, on average, 64% more students would be eligible for English * 101.
At Northwestern, 22% of students showed a 20 point discrepancy between SS and RC scores, 6.5% a 30 point discrepancy. We don’t know how that discrepancy would affect placement under the proposed scores.
Need for Research The availability of institutional research across the system varies, thus we do not have much information about the impact of this proposed change at most of the twelve colleges. That is why we have made funding for research so prominent in the proposal.
Periodic Review of Proposal Research might show that Accuplacer does not guarantee effective placement. Thus, we would like the option of revisiting our proposal periodically over the next several years with the assumption that we can propose alternative placement protocols.
SAT Score Several departments are concerned about the SAT score proposed and recommend that the SAT be set at 500 rather than 450 – though some thought we should take into account that CSU sets the SAT at 450, others felt that CSU should reconsider their SAT cut score.
Essay Challenge Development of the challenge essay is an important component of this proposal. At least one college advocates inclusion of the essay as a required part of the placement process.
Impact of Implementation Implementation of this proposal has to consider students who have already been assessed. Will we honor current placements? Will we be able to change all past placements in Banner so that they would favor students (some colleges will be lowering their scores and so some students who were placed into developmental courses would now be eligible for English* 101 under the proposed scores).
What impact will the discrepancy on placement procedures have on instruction in the classroom? That is, by honoring past scores, some colleges in particular can expect widely varying student abilities for at least several semesters, thus complicating research on this issue.
When can the colleges uniformly begin this proposed placement procedure? For example: should a semester be identified for implementation so that students are not being placed using two different processes for that semester?
Funding Concerns Several colleges were concerned about the kinds of funding to be made available for increased reading of “challenge” essays. Effective grading of challenge essays will require system-wide identification of readers and norming.
Next Steps The Steering Committee of CCET will be meeting again to refine the current proposal based on concerns expressed by departments and / or by the community college system.
CCET gratefully acknowledges the support of the Council of Deans. CCET recognizes the contributions of Corby Coperthwaite, Susan Huard, and Mark Kosinski to this effort. CCET also acknowledges the contributions of Institutional Researchers and Test Administrators.