Delaware Colleges Say Smarter Balanced Assessments Are A Good Measure Of College Readiness

Delaware Department of Education logoFour institutions of higher education in Delaware—the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University—all have said students’ scores on the state’s new 11th grade Smarter Assessments are a good measure of college readiness and will be accepted in lieu of a separate placement test, Gov. Jack Markell announced today.

High school juniors started taking the Smarter English language arts (ELA) and Smarter Mathematics assessments Monday and all students will complete them before June 4. The colleges’ decisions mean that students who score 3 or better on the tests’ 4-point scale now will be able to enroll in credit-bearing English and mathematics classes, as long as they meet certain other conditions, and can avoid taking costly remedial classes that not count toward graduations. They also will not need to pass a separate placement exam.

Those placement exams are offered during the summer before students’ first year in college, at a time when they have not been engaged in studying the subjects, meaning they may be more likely to be placed in remedial courses that they do not need.

The criteria colleges used for accepting students are not changing. Admitted students will still have the option to choose to take placement tests to qualify for credit bearing courses.

In 2012, more than half the Delaware public school graduates who enrolled in in-state colleges had to take remedial classes because they were determined to be not ready for college-level work, according to Delaware’s State Report: College Enrollment, Remediation, and Performance (https://www.delawaregoestocollege.org). National data shows that less than 50 percent of students who take remedial classes will complete the class hindering their ability to receive a college degree.

Smarter Assessments emphasize the importance of a deep understanding of subject matter, critical-thinking, problem-solving, writing and reading more complex materials—all skills necessary for success in college. Those skills are stressed in the Common Core State Standards that Delaware teachers have used in their classrooms in recent years. The standards are not a curriculum but are a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should be able to do at each grade level in math and ELA.

Delaware is one of 19 states and territories that are members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which created the assessments. “This is a game changer,” said Tony Alpert, Smarter Balanced Executive Director. “In the past, most state tests had no linkage to higher ed. Smarter Balanced has worked with states and higher education to give meaning to high school exams.”

To learn more about Smarter Balanced Assessments, visit the Delaware Department of Education.

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