You probably need to get started now.  It takes time to load the software
and set up your management rules, cut scores, etc.

Do you know what test you're using?  Get tech support involved from the get
go.  Do not accept responsibility for installing the system.  Reason:
problems will occur.  If you install it, the tech person may think you own
the problem.  It will be easier for the tech person to fix problems, if they
understand the system.  But, not only does he/she need to understand the
technical parts, he/she needs to understand how you use it, the management
rules, etc.  If they don't have the full picture, when they fix a problem,
they will likely create a new one.

Oh, gee. Where to begin.  There are so many things you have to look forward
to.  (incorrect ending)  You will be faced with whether to allow students to
retake the test.   You'll have to decide whether to charge students to take
the test and whether to charge them for retakes.  You'll have to decide how
many retake tests each student is allowed.

You'll have to decide what you're testing.  Is it math, English, and
reading?  Are the placements mandatory?  Does the ACT test (or SAT) affect
placement?  The math, English, and reading departments will have to research
cut scores and determine appropriate cut-scores for each class.  Then,
you'll have to input those cut scores into the management system.

You'll have to decide what you're going to do with the students when they're
finished with the test.  Do they just get up and leave?  Do they go to a
special person for an "exit" interview that explains their placement and
what will happen next?  Is your counseling/advising center going to be

How long does a whole test (math, English, and reading) take?  When and how
often will you scedule the test sessions?  Will they overlap with any other
activity that is going to cause a problem when the students finish the test?

Having the testers located in the same room as regular center users would
create a problem in my view, though I know other centers that do that.  But,
if it were me taking a test, it would bother my concentration to have to
tune out Instructional Specialists/faculty helping other students in the

You'll have to decide if you are going to test by appointment or by drop in.
  (We do appointment until the day classes start, then we do drop-in testing
until the end of the drop/add classes date.)  If you do appointment, you'll
have to decide you will take the appointments. Will you do it over the phone
and walkin or only walkin.  What are you going to tell students when they
make appointments.  (We tell them:  the physical location of the test; to
bring a picture ID; to know their social security number; how long the test
will take; and to come about 5 minutes early.)

During the test session, you'll have to give instructions.  Will this
disturb the rest of the students in the lab?  What will you tell them? (We
tell them what keys they'll be using, that the program has a tutorial at the
beginning, what to do when the test is finished, any generic information
that is required to be typed in, etc.)

THEN, and this part is very important, we either type in their name and
social security number ourselves, or we have them type it in and verify the
information is correct before they hit enter.  Why?  If their social
security number is input incorrectly, the registrar won't know they took the
test, and they can't register.

Another problem we encounter is that students like to play on the computer.
I've found students playing solataire and some on the internet.  This
usually occurs while the students are entering the test room (in our case)
and some are seated, while others are just sitting down.  Their little
fingers are fast.

Some students will not know how to use a computer or how to type.  Even
though there is little need for either's knowledge, you may have to help
some.  (Some actually shake, they're so scared of computers.)

Gosh, I could go on and on.  We continually discuss placement testing, even
though that's just a part of what we do.

So, far, I've only talked about computerized testing, so if you're
considering paper testing, that opens another can of worms.  Let me know.
If I have time, I'll see if I can help (but, I can't guarantee it,
unfortunately; we're having to spend a lot of time right now on computer
problems associated with our testing).

In fact, my gut reaction was to advise you to run as fast as possible.  :)

Jelaine McCamish
Instructional Specialist
Learning Skills Center
Owensboro Community College
4800 New Hartford Road
Owensboro, KY  42303
[log in to unmask]
(502) 686-4469

>From: Elizabeth Lee <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
><[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Placement Testing in LAC
>Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 14:02:49 -0600
>I am wondering how many of you provide placement testing in LAC.  I have
>learned that
>our learning center will provide placement testing beginning in January.
>What advise
>would you offer?  I have only limited space and not enough to call my own.
>I am curious about how you went about setting up the testing, where you
>test, and what
>problems you have encountered. I presently offer tutoring, writing
>assistance, and
>multimedia-based instruction in a center of 1200 square feet where the
>testing  will
>also occur.

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