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High school grades vs. placement tests

High school grades are a better predictor of success in college courses than placement tests, argues Eloy Oakley, president/superintendent of Long Beach City College (LBCC) in California. He testified at a Senate education committee hearing on improving minority students’ college success.

A few years ago, when LBCC relied on placement tests, 90 percent of new students were placed in remedial courses, reports Community College Daily. In 2012, under the Promise Pathways initiative, the college shifted to assessing high school transcripts.

The college — where more than 83 percent of students come from minority ethnic groups and 62 percent are first-generation college students — also provided these students with clear, first-semester education plans and registration priority to ensure that they enrolled in foundational courses right away.

As a result, the completion rates of transfer-level English in the first year jumped from 12 percent to 41 percent, according to LBCC. For transfer-level math, it rose in the first year from 5 percent to 15 percent. Students in these programs had the same success rates as those who were directed in several semesters of developmental education.

LBCC works closely with the city’s school district to determine whether students can handle college-level courses.