The Next Phase of Placement Reform: Moving Toward Equity-Centered Practice

Test-only placement systems are often associated with inaccurate placement determinations that can perpetuate college achievement gaps by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In response, colleges across the country are increasingly experimenting with and adopting alternative placement strategies that reduce the number of students assigned to prerequisite developmental education and increase access to college-level courses.

While these reforms benefit underserved students, they are not enough to eradicate long-standing disparities by race and ethnicity in outcomes such as introductory college-level (or gateway) course completion and credential attainment, says this report from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness. For placement reform to be both effective and equitable, the report says it is best coupled with additional related reforms, including improvements to curriculum, instruction, and student supports.