Another Big Test Error: Misplacing Students into Remedial Classes

I have been keeping an eye on data for a few years now and I fully recognize how a single score can open or close doors for kids.  I take this fact seriously; I have no interest in doing anything that prevents a student from getting into the colleges and programs he or she desires. It breaks my heart to witness lost opportunities.

And so when the community college gave me the list of those from our school who were placed in remedial classes, I cried.  Those were my students, ones I could picture in my classes, right down to where they sat.  I know that students placed in remedial classes have far less chance of making it through, and I know those who don’t make it through are less likely to earn a decent wage.  My department is working to raise English scores on placement tests, sometimes compromising our beliefs about the classroom to make sure we get these tests/ test skills in more.

But today a colleague of mine sent me this:  Colleges Misassign Many to Remedial Classes.  I am both utterly stunned and completely not surprised.

It would seem that there should be more reliability  in placing students given the potential consequences.  It seems like every measure should be taken to be accurate on this.  I am stunned that the problem is so pervasive.

But then again, I’m not.  America puts faith in these multiple tests and their numbers despite significant evidence of their lack of reliability.  We pillory teachers like Pascale Mauclair when in reality we should be honoring her.

We are going backwards.   Testing could be an amazing tool for intervention, but right now it is blood sport.  We go after teachers.  We trap students.

It needs to change.


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