Community and technical colleges throughout Washington, as well as the six public four-year institutions, are partnering to use students’ high school Smarter Balanced assessment scores in fall 2016 in lieu of their campus-based placement tests.

Students who score at levels 3 or 4 on their 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessments will be able to enroll directly in credit-bearing college courses. Students who score below those levels will be enrolled in newly designed “Bridge to College” courses that will quickly raise them to college-level readiness rather than taking remedial courses that effectively copy high school courses they have already taken. These new courses are being collaboratively designed and developed by higher education faculty, high school teachers, and curriculum specialists from around the state.

“The Smarter Balanced Assessments will give 11th graders a much-needed heads up on whether they’ll place into math and English language courses in college, or whether they’re headed toward remedial classes instead,” said Bill Moore, director of K–12 partnerships at the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. “Students then have their senior year to either catch up or take even more advanced classes.”

This new program, according to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, will:

  • Allow more high school students to avoid remediation and placement testing when they enter college
  • Improve curricular alignment between K–12 and entry-level college courses in math and English
  • Develop and sustain local college/school district partnerships and faculty/teacher collaboration

In addition to reducing remediation in college and standardizing entry placement tests, using the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessments will

  • Offer high school students an early opportunity to know whether they are ready for college-level academic work
  • Create alternatives for high school students, if necessary, to use their senior year more effectively in getting ready for college-level work

In their announcement of the program, Paul Francis, executive director of the Council of Presidents, said the agreement urges students to stay ambitious their senior year. “Students who score higher on the Smarter Balanced Assessments shouldn’t stop there. This agreement urges these students to aim high and take courses in high school that qualify for college credit, like Advanced Placement or other college-credit courses.”

For more information about this new program, visit the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges website.

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