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Student Advising

As institutions implement multiple measures reforms, many find an increased need for advising services to communicate with and support students before, during, or after the placement process.

Campus Practice

Institutions we visited are emphasizing the role of advisors by relying on them to support students by:

  • Communicating initial placement options: At Washington’s Highline College, a team of “placement advisors” at the Placement and Testing Center speak one-on-one with students on a walk-in basis. These advisors review each student’s educational background and help them decide if they need to be assessed with Compass Reading or MyMathTest, or can be deemed college-ready based on Smarter Balanced or AP scores, high school transcripts, GED honors, or previous college course work.
  • Assessing non-cognitive measures of college-readiness: At Brazosport College in Texas, students who score below the cut score on the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSI) but within a five point range are considered in the “bubble” and referred to an advisor for further assessment. To determine if such students are ready for college course work, a Brazosport advisor meet with each individually to discuss the student’s past experiences, current responsibilities, and motivation level. This holistic advising approach allows the college to make placement decisions for those students who might be under-placed based on their test scores on a broader array of non-cognitive measures.
  • Explaining placement decisions and their consequences: At Davidson County Community College in North Carolina, all students are required to meet with an advisor after placement exemption or testing to discuss their future course trajectory. Advisors help those students who have been tested to interpret their Accuplacer scores and help all students to understand what their placement results mean for their course schedule this semester and beyond.

Lessons Learned

  • An increased emphasis on advising in communicating placement options, determining placement decisions, or explaining placement results must be matched with increased training and resources for advising staff. As advisors take on larger roles in the placement process, they should be provided with both the professional development and technology to manage and support students effectively.
  • Institutions need to prioritize advising when implementing a multiple measures placement process. The use of additional placement measures provides students with additional opportunities to place into college-level courses, but it also requires additional advising resources to work with students on their course placement.
  • Advising sessions can provide an opportunity to explain placement results to students and discuss their consequences. Concerns have been raised that multiple measures placement is more confusing for students and that they may not understand why they were placed in their courses. Students will be better able to plan for college success if they understand their course placement and what it means for their academic and financial future.