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Points of Interest

Misplacing Students in Developmental Math

This Points of Interest shows that high school graduates were placed in developmental math courses in community college despite achieving top scores on the California Standards Test.
June 3, 2020
Vilan Odekar
Tags: Accurate Placement, 2. Enroll in college-level math and English., Transfer and Course Applicability

Prior to Common Core implementation in California, the California Standards Test (CST) measured a high school student’s mastery of the state’s content standards in various subject areas, including mathematics. For math, the 11th grade cumulative math test could be an indicator of a student’s readiness for college-level math. Yet, for some students who tested at the highest levels of the CST, it was not enough to avoid developmental education in community college.

A study of California high school graduates who enrolled in the state’s community colleges showed that a proportion of students who scored either proficient or advanced on the math CST were nonetheless placed in arithmetic, pre-algebra, or Algebra I. “[O]ne may expect the top math students in the state to avoid college math remediation,” but 15% of the students who scored proficient and 7% who scored advanced ended up in developmental math. This Points of Interest shows that high school graduates were placed in developmental math courses in community college despite achieving top scores on the California Standards Test.