Successful multiple measures reform at the campus level is supported by both leadership to support the initiative and collaboration across offices and departments involved in the initiative. The implementation of a multiple measures placement policy goes well beyond simply looking at data to place students. As a result, such policies require a clear vision and a more comprehensive, coordinated effort in multiple parts of the institution. Further, both faculty and staff, not just the administration, need to be aware of and included in the planning and implementing of placement reform.
Higher education institutions commonly use a distributed leadership model that includes a degree of decentralization; for reform to be successful, there needs to be leadership from the administration and collaboration among faculty, administration and support staff. Multiple measures initiatives at several case study institutions provide examples of this type of distributed leadership that have helped to develop support for these reforms:
- Leadership: At College of Coastal Georgia, a central member of the administration has been a leader in multiple measures reform at both the institutional and system levels. In his role as a member of the system team designing the reform, and as the primary point person at the college, he has been able to both champion and coordinate the reform at the local level and provide feedback from the college to the system office. At Highline College in Washington, institutional leaders empowered a new Placement and Testing Center Director to undertake significant placement reforms.
- Collaboration: Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts created an intra-departmental working group tasked with making decisions about the state multiple measures placement pilot and institutional placement policies. Strong collaboration between admissions, advising, and academic affairs staff on the task force helped achieve buy-in across faculty and the administration for policy change. Highline College’s Placement Advisory Board has representatives from academic, student services, and administrative departments and provided a space for dialogue, built buy-in, and helped to keep key stakeholders informed of policy changes.
- For any reform to be successful, especially those initiated by the state or system office, there must be a strong institutional champion. Multiple measures placement reform is a complicated process to implement and may require adjustments in the measures included, the college-readiness threshold scores used, and the academic supports provided as student outcomes resulting from the reform become clear. For this reason, campuses need a strong institutional leader to champion the reform and sustain implementation over time.
- Multiple measures reform requires higher levels of collaboration, communication, and support at the campus level. Using multiple measures for placement presents additional challenges to simply administering a single placement test; distributed responsibility and leadership are required. For this reason, collaboration across administrators, faculty members, and student services staff, as well as training on the reform and support for the reform, are needed.