The Chancellor of California State University System, Timothy P. White, issued an executive order on August 2 that seeks to revamp the university system’s matriculation system. The executive order states that the CSUs will no longer require remedial classes that were mandatory for students who were not fully prepared for college level classes.
Currently, students are required to take a matriculation exam that assesses which classes students can take through the English placement test (EPT) and the entry-level mathematics exam (ELM) before signing up for classes. The current system requires those students who fall below the standard of being college ready to take up to three remedial classes that are noncredit before they can take classes that count towards a degree.
However, students are more likely to drop out before students can start to take classes for credit towards their degree, according to PPIC, a non-partisan research group. The time it takes to get remedial classes out of the way and the cost of these classes that students need to pay deter students from continuing to pursue a degree.
“The English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry-Level Mathematics (ELM) Test shall not be offered, and the EPT and ELM committees are discontinued,” according to the executive order.
Instead, placement into general education courses will be based on “multiple measures of academic proficiency,” such as “high school English and mathematics/quantitative reasoning course grades, high school grade point averages, grades in collegiate courses, ACT scores, SAT scores, Advanced Placement scores, International Baccalaureate scores, SAT subject test or Smarter Balanced Assessment/Early Assessment Program scores,” according to the executive order.
“The movement toward multiple measures is a better one, and having one high-stakes test … is inefficient. Students’ abilities can’t be appropriately measured by one aspect, and testing them on multiple measures should be the approach," Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, stated.
James Minor, senior strategist for academic success and inclusive excellence at CSU also added that “placement exams are not the most reliable indicator of how students will perform in the classroom.”
Additional support to help students that remedial classes aim to achieve will be incorporated into existing for-credit classes that students take, along with the introduction of the Early Start Program that offers students the skills they need to be successful in their academic career.
The executive order stated that the “Early Start Program participation is required for students needing skills development, as determined by the systemwide placement standards. Students needing skills development in both general education written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning shall be required to enroll in a written communication or mathematics/quantitative reasoning course but not both during the Early Start Program.”
However, not everyone is thrilled with the what the new executive order hopes to achieve.
”CSU is mandated to take the top one-third of graduating [high school] students," stated Steven Filling, an accounting and finance professor at CSU Stanislaus State.
Filling added: "Our population is pretty broad, but it's still the top third. We're interested in our students being able to successfully process what is going on in the university system, but placement exams are there in the first place because high school grades don't give you all the information you need. There's a lot of variability out there."
These motions to reshape the California State University System will be effective from the fall of 2018, with the Early Start Programs offered counting for credit being effective the summer of 2019, stated to the executive order.