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"Informed Self-Placement" At American River College:
A Case Study


"Informed math self-placement," a program implemented at American River College in Sacramento, California, to determine students' readiness for college-level math, has been in place for three years. This case study describes the development and implementation of math self-placement at American River. Math self-placement consists of a Web-based testing and information site that allows students, or potential students, to gauge their level of math proficiency prior to talking with a counselor or enrolling in classes. Math faculty members and administrators are hopeful that self-placement, as an alternative to traditional placement, will provide students with concrete knowledge and experience about math standards, since self-placement includes actual self-assessment instruments (tests), developed and approved by the college's math faculty.

American River's experience in math self-placement is noteworthy in its potential to clearly communicate with current and prospective students about college-level math expectations. It is also noteworthy that it serves as the mechanism to bring faculty members together in order to agree upon math standards and link them to the placement process and to the courses that students are expected to take for college-level mathematics.

The National Center would like to thank the administration, faculty, and staff at American River for discussing their program with us and for sharing the data available on its effectiveness. We would also like to thank The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their support of the case study research at American River College.

Joni Finney
Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education


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