Adams State one of nation's first two "PARCC Pioneers"

(03-09-2015)

Adams State University is one of two Colorado colleges to become the nation's first "PARCC Pioneers." The university is committing to use high school PARCC assessment scores for placement into college courses beginning in 2016, according to Dr. Frank Novotny, vice president for Academic Affairs at Adams State.

Aims Community College in Greeley is pledging to collect PARCC scores to assess the test's validity in predicting student readiness for college-level coursework. Both commitments will save students money on remediation courses, reduce unnecessary testing, and reflect a closer correlation between what students learn in high school and in college.

The Colorado Department of Higher Education worked with PARCC and the two institutions to develop letters of commitment signed by the schools regarding the use of PARCC scores.

"We're proud to be the first state with institutions making a bold step toward relying on PARCC assessments to determine college readiness," said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who oversees the Colorado Department of Higher Education. "This marks a significant shift towards streamlining the testing process for students and helping them identify earlier whether they are prepared for higher education success."

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. The PARCC assessments are Colorado's new English language arts and mathematics assessments that are aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards. The new tests are being administered this month for the first time. The culminating assessments, typically given in 11th grade, are intended to provide an indicator of readiness for credit-bearing college coursework.

Adams State will give students the opportunity to use their PARCC scores as a metric of readiness for credit-bearing courses, though the school also reserves the right to look at other test scores in its first year of accepting PARCC. Students who receive top scores of 4 or 5 on PARCC math and English tests will be enrolled into courses that carry credits.

"By pursuing the PARCC option, students can reduce the number of tests they have to take and experience a more seamless transition to college," said Adams State President David Svaldi.

The use of PARCC also will allow K-12 teachers to intervene earlier if students need additional support to be ready for college. Students currently take placement exams to determine their readiness for credit-bearing courses shortly before they begin their college freshman year. PARCC tests, by contrast, are typically administered to high school ninth- through 11th-graders, so students can determine while in high school the gaps they need to fill to be prepared for courses that carry credit.

This early detection and intervention will help to reduce the number of students requiring remedial courses in college, and thereby help to increase the number of students completing college on time. In Colorado, fewer than one in 10 students who begin in remedial courses at community colleges graduate with an associate's degree or certificate in three years, and fewer than a quarter of students who begin in remedial courses at four-year institutions complete a bachelor's degree in six years, according to data analyzed by Complete College America.

"With this commitment to the new state tests, Adams State and Aims have taken a leadership role toward providing a more seamless connection between high school and college," said Robert Hammond, Colorado's Commissioner of Education. "We're hopeful other institutions will follow the lead of Aims and Adams State, and that more states nationally will look to Colorado as an example."