Testing Ground: How Florida Schools and Colleges Are Using a New Assessment to Increase College ReadinessPamela Burdman, September 2011
Across the nation, state governments and private foundations are pursuing the long-elusive goal of improving college completion rates. Driving these efforts is a growing awareness of the large proportion of students who come to college—especially community college—unprepared for college-level coursework. This challenge is one that the states and colleges involved in Achieving the Dream and its Developmental Education Initiative have been addressing for several years.
Now states are turning to a familiar tool in education reform—assessment—as a valuable lever to improve college readiness. Testing Ground describes how Florida’s Division of Colleges worked with K-12 partners to design, plan, and launch an ambitious college-readiness agenda with a new college placement test as its centerpiece. By using data to create a sense of urgency, making faculty central players, and ensuring that prominent champions keep the efforts alive, Florida’s education system is well on its way to implementing major college-readiness reforms.
While the outcomes of this work will be unknown for several more years, the process that Florida undertook in developing its recent reforms stands out for its clarity of vision, strength of leadership, and responsiveness to evidence. Florida has emerged as a national leader within federally funded assessment consortia, largely because of its background in developing college-readiness policies. If the state begins to see the kinds of improvements in student success that its officials expect, its role as a place to emulate will only be solidified.