Chesapeake College changes admission policies
WYE MILLS — Chesapeake College is making a substantial change in its admissions policies and will begin using high school GPA as the primary measure of college readiness for the majority of its students.
Beginning with the 2017 Winterim and Spring semesters, most individuals within three to five years of high school graduation will no longer be required to take the College Board ACCUPLACER tests used by Chesapeake and most community colleges nationwide.
Previously, students falling below the standardized placement exam cut-off scores were required to enroll in developmental classes at Chesapeake before they could take credit courses.
“It’s a real game changer in helping our incoming students get enrolled in the program of their choice immediately,” said Barbara Viniar, president of Chesapeake College. “Starting out closer to their goal makes it easier for them to achieve degree completion.”
A study based on nationwide student assessments conducted by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University has shown that GPA is a far better predictor of one’s success in the first year of college, according to Clayton Railey, Chesapeake’s new vice president for workforce and academic programs.
“Students often get lost in developmental classes that can be a significant roadblock to retention and degree completion,” Railey said. “We want to get them enrolled in the credit world without setting them up for failure.”
Under the new Chesapeake policy, students applying to Chesapeake within five years of graduating from high school are considered “college ready” in reading and writing if they had a GPA of 3.0 or better.
For math, students must still have a 3.0 GPA or better and have achieved at least a C grade in Algebra 2 or a higher-level course within three years of taking that math class. Requirements are stricter, according to Railey, because research shows math skills atrophy more quickly.
Students who have graduated from high school more than five years before applying to Chesapeake must still take the ACCUPLACER test.
Over two years, Chesapeake conducted two pilot tests to validate use of GPA versus ACCUPLACER as a predictor of success. The first was held with 22 students in Talbot County Public Schools in 2015 and a second in the 2015-16 academic year with 57 students that also included the public school systems in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
The results showed a higher percentage of students in the pilots earned a C grade or better in credit-level math and English during their first year at Chesapeake than did students in the same courses who were not part of the pilot.
Railey then spearheaded the permanent change in admissions policy over the last six months.
“Thanks to the faculty’s Development Studies Committee chaired by Marc Steinberg and Melinda Baer and county educators throughout the region, we moved quickly to implement this change for students applying in our initial 2017 semesters,” Railey said. “The teamwork and support of everyone involved is commendable.”
Many area school system superintendents also have voiced their praise for the change.