California’s Early Assessment Program: Remediation Reduction

At least that’s what they’re after according to this article in Education Week:

The Early Assessment Program draws praise for doing something few thought possible: It brought together K-12 and higher education and got them to agree on the knowledge and skills that constitute college-level mastery. They created a test that sends rising high school seniors an early signal about their readiness in mathematics and literacy, and allows those who meet the mark to go right into credit-bearing coursework as college freshmen, skipping remedial classes. To complete the picture, they crafted a suite of courses to bring lagging 12th graders up to college-level snuff and added training for preservice and in-service teachers…

“We’ve gone from a system [of state tests] that looks backward, asking how well we did, to one that looks ahead, asking if we have really gotten students ready for college,” said Douglas McRae, who helped design the state’s tests in the 1990s. “That’s a big mindset shift.”

It’s not all cherries and sunshine, though.

Critics note that a crucial question about the EAP—whether it is a valid measure of college readiness—hasn’t been fully answered. CSU has not yet completed its study of how students fare in credit-bearing work after EAP exemptions from remedial courses. One small study, from Santa Rosa Junior College, did find that students with EAP exemptions had higher grade point averages in their college coursework than those of the college’s general population.

William G. Tierney, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, urged policymakers in a 2008 paper to “suspend the extensive accolades the EAP has gotten based on sketchy evidence” of its success.

It’s an interesting model, though, and Burnham-esque in its ambitions. Definitely worth reading about.

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