California State University System Chancellor Timothy P. White signed an executive order Wednesday removing previously required English and math placement exams and remedial classes for freshman students across the state's 23 campuses. The order will go into effect for new students beginning in the fall 2018.
According to the executive order, the CSU System will no longer rely on placement exams to determine a student's placement. They will now look at the student's high school grades in math and English, high school GPAs, grades in college-level courses, ACT and SAT scores, Advanced Placement scores, International Baccalaureate scores, SAT subject tests or Smarter Balanced Assessment/Early Assessment Program scores.
As of now, around 25,000 students across the state are placed in remedial classes every year, the Associated Press reported.
James Minor, CSU's senior strategist for Academic Success and Inclusive Excellence, said this is a step in the right direction.
“I think there is a growing body of evidence nationally that suggests that over-reliance on standardized exams does not serve as a valid or reliable predictor of how well students are likely to perform in college classrooms,” Minor told the San Jose Mercury News.
Chancellor White's move is part of a larger effort to increase the CSU's four-year graduation rate. Currently, the world's largest university system's four-year graduation rate sits at 19 percent. They're hoping to double that to 40 percent by 2025, the Los Angeles Times reported.
As it currently stands, students who are required to take remedial classes must do so without receiving credit toward their degree. Depending on the number of remedial classes students must take, this can put students significantly behind on the four-year degree-seeking path.
According to the Times, students who do not pass their remedial classes their first year are removed from the roll.
Under the new executive order, all students will be able to take classes that count toward their degree beginning the moment they step on campus. To help students who struggle in math and English, the CSU System will offer an Early Start Program that will provide "primarily baccalaureate credit-bearing general education written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses, and those courses shall be offered in sufficient numbers to meet student demand," the executive order stated.
Remedial classes will still be offered but will carry a maximum of two units and will be offered concurrently with college-level, credit-earning courses.
Students who are determined to need remedial courses based on the new assessments will be required to partake in the Early Start Program, which will launch next summer. CSU campuses across the state are looking into partnering with community colleges so students can still work towards their bachelor's degree.
“This will have a tremendous effect on the number of units students accumulate in their first year of college,” Minor told the Times. “It will have an enormous effect on college affordability, on the number of semesters that a student is required to be enrolled in before they earn a degree, and it will have a significant impact on the number of students that ultimately cross a commencement stage with a degree in hand, ready to move into the workforce, ready to move into graduate or professional school."
As of now, the chancellor's office has dedicated $10 million to the change, the Mercury News reported.