Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege changes ad­mis­sion poli­cies

Dorchester Star - - Regional -

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.

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