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-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Frances Loeffler
Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 10:30 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: computerized placement testing

I am researching computized placement options for a urban communnity
college that is currently using ASSET.  If you are using either COMPASS
or ACCUPLACER, I would appreciate your input on the following:

1.  What test do you use?

COMPASS

2.  Is it effective in placing students in developmental and college
level mathematics courses?

I'm in ENG, so I can't answer authoritatively. I can say that we've used
COMPASS for about 10 years, and the math placement cutoffs have not been
changed significantly in that time.

3.  Do you administer a Writing Sample in addition to the placement test
in writing skills? 

Yes.

4.  Is the placement test effective in placing students in developmental
or college level English courses with and/ot without a writing sample.

We found that the COMPASS grammar (writing) test is satisfactory for
identifying some students who do not need developmental writing
instruction. It does not adequately identify students who do need
developmental writing. In other words, students who score well on the
COMPASS grammar test are likely to have adequate writing skills, but not
all those who perform poorly on the COMPASS grammar test are poor
writers. That is why we rely on a writing sample to place about half of
our incoming students.
COMPASS offers e-Write: a computer-scored writing sample. We tried this
and found that we couldn't use it in its form at that time (2004)
because the score range was too narrow--it tended to bunch students'
scores in the midrange. Since then, ACT has revised the score range from
an 8-point to a 12-point scale. We haven't tried the new version yet.
The COMPASS reading placement test is reasonably effective, but students
often score lower than they should. If you use a follow-up reading
evaluation as a check on ASSET, I recommend that you retain it even if
you do adopt COMPASS.

Thank you for your assistance.  I am willing to share the information I
receive, if you are interested. 

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