Faculty Perspectives on Using High School Data in an Era of Placement Testing Reform

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Community College Review


Objective: Community colleges across the country are making dramatic shifts away from traditional reliance on placement testing for developmental education and toward using high school measures to assess college-readiness. Yet the views of faculty dealing with these changes, including their perspectives on the quality and usefulness of high school data, are not well-understood. We explore faculty views of high school transcript and placement testing data, attributions made with the data, and beliefs about the extent to which these data are useful for instruction. Methods: We conducted a survey and semi-structured interviews with math faculty in one community college math department (n = 21). We used real high school records to develop a Personalized Student Profile of student math backgrounds to engage faculty in sensemaking about high school and placement testing data. Results: Faculty did not appear to readily trust high school data, tending only to do so when it fit their existing understandings of student ability as measured by placement tests. Although faculty described opportunities to use the data to inform instruction, they noted the challenges of actually doing so. Conclusions: The findings reveal significant faculty concerns about high school measures and point toward shifts in faculty attitudes and beliefs that may need to be addressed in order for reforms that upend traditional approaches to remediation and instruction to be successful. We discuss critical future research directions for this new paradigm of developmental education in community colleges.


Curriculum and instruction; Faculty; Government funding; Or legislation; Policy; Qualitative methods; Remedial/Developmental education; Research methods


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Secondary Education



UNLV article access

Search your library