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Early-College-Readiness Assessments for High School Students Growing

Concern over high school graduates being unprepared for college-level work has educators and policymakers looking for ways to identify learning gaps earlier.

A new review by the Community College Research Center finds some form of early-college-readiness assessments are offered in 38 states, and 29 states have structured interventions to help reduce the need for remedial coursework for incoming college freshman. The paper, Reshaping the College Transition by Elisabeth A. Barnett, Maggie P. Fay, Rachel Hare Bork, Madeline Joy Weiss of Columbia University suggests that the number of state and local initiatives employing these tactics is widespread and growing.

To measure college readiness in 11th grade, schools are using a variety of assessments: ACCUPLACER or COMPASS, commonly used for community college placement; ACT or SAT college-admissions exams; and state-developed accountability tests, such as California's Early Assessment test. Many states not testing now are expected to use the new assessments developed for the Common Core State Standards, the researchers note.

When interventions, or transition curricula, are needed to get students up to speed, schools are using both in-person instruction and online tutorials. In 21 states, courses were developed by individual high schools or districts, sometimes in partnership with local colleges. Another eight states had statewide efforts with transition curricula, more often led by K-12 state agencies than postsecondary agencies, according to the paper.

It includes a chart by state of early assessments, transition curricula, and whether the initiatives were led by the state or districts, or if the program is in progress.

The analysis of states was done by a combination of scanning information online and conducting a survey of 53 state agency officials in 46 states in late 2012 and early 2013.

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