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Post-secondary placement tests

Hello colleagues, As programs seek to support adult learners to transition to post-secondary, the application process often includes passing a placement test. What placement tests are used by the post-secondary institutions in your area? In my area the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is used by the career and tech school that offers LPN training. Some schools require COMPASS while others require Accuplacer. I know many schools require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for English learners.

Is your program involved in supporting students to pass placement tests? What have you learned about effective practices? What challenges have you and students faced?

Thanks for anything you can report.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP



Kathy_Tracey's picture

The community college where I teach an English 099 course uses the Accuplacer. Prior to the beginning of each semester, the college offers a boot camp, a one week free course for students which focuses on very specific targeted instruction. After the boot camp, students are tested again. Ultimately, the goal is to help the student move up a course so they do not need to spend time in developmental education courses. 

An additional strategy that has been very successful is running companion courses in Eng 099. Students are dually enrolled in Eng099 and Eng101. The Eng 099 is a support course designed to provide students with the individualized instruction to be successful in the credit bearing course. With a combination of these methods, students are spending less time in developmental education courses. 

Are there any other models being used like this? 


Kathy Tracey



Leecy's picture

Susan, San Juan College (NM) and Utah St. U-Eastern use the Accuplacer. Students fail it all of the time and usually get too discouraged to try again or start a two-year remediation process.

Kathy, your mention of taking two courses at a time reminds me of a great article in our LINCS Collection: Approaches to Teaching ALP [Accelerated Learning Program]: A Sourcebook 2014. In that program at Community College of Baltimore County, students enroll in English 101, which is combined with an English 052 class. The 101 has a mixed population of credit and developmental students, while the 052 includes only the developmental students. Assignments are matched between both classes. The results appear to be very, very promising. The resource provides good detail and examples of how assignments are matched. I am a huge proponent of examining and applying effective accelerated instructional models, and this is a good one. The sooner we can get them past the Accuplacer, the more likely they are to persist, of course! Leecy



Kathy_Tracey's picture

Yes, this process is exactly what we are doing with our courses. The benefit of this process is that the 099 (developmental education students) have the extra support and are also in credit bearing courses. We are seeing tremendous success with this method and students feel supported. In addition to aligning the instruction with the needs of the college English class, I also work with students to help in writing assignments in other college classes. For example, I have a student who is taking an anatomy class and is struggling with writing her short responses on her tests. She knows the content, but can't correctly formulate the answers. This extra support will ensure she has the foundation for success beyond the English 101. Are there any other programs using models like this? I'd love to hear what your challenges and successes have been.