In this study, researchers compared the standards embedded in the community college placement exams with the standards measured by the augmented 11th grade CSTs in English language arts and mathematics.

English Language Arts

In English language arts, the study found that the placement tests most widely administered by the community colleges were comparable to those given by the high schools in what they require from students. Specifically, language skills such as sentence structure, grammar, syntax and usage, punctuation, organization, and style are well-represented on the high school tests, as are reading skills like vocabulary, comprehension, main ideas, supporting ideas, and inferences. And these skills are tested similarly on the community college placement exams.


In mathematics, however, the study found that there are significant gaps between the CSTs and the community college placement exams, suggesting that more work needs to be done to make these exams more comparable. Researchers found consistency on some mathematical concepts, such as algebraic expressions and operations, equations and word problems, and geometry. However, they found inconsistency in other basic mathematical concepts, such as whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages. There were also inconsistencies between the exams in higher-level mathematical functions such as trigonometry. Some content areas tested for on community college placement exams, including concepts that determine whether or not students are college-ready, are not found on the high school exams in Algebra 2 or summative mathematics.


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