Guided Placement

Guided placement tools support Equitable Placement by helping students without a U.S. high school GPA determine which courses they will need to pass transfer-level math or English within the first year of enrollment. Guided placement should only be used for students who do not have transcript information available, are not able to report their transcript information because they did not attend a U.S. high school, or cannot remember their high school information.

A Model Guided Placement Process

Start Here

This slideshow presents the elements of an online guided placement
process. It can be used as a template or guideline for colleges
creating or refining their own processes.

Carefully consider which students are
directed to guided placement systems. This will be one of the first
experiences they have with the California Community Colleges. The
process should be simple and clear.

Processes requiring students to meet with counselors for placement
may create an unnecessary obstacle and exit point. This challenges
equity goals by disproportionately affecting both lower income
students and students of color.

This mock-up is a generalized template.
Colleges should incorporate its elements using their own branding
and aesthetic guidelines.

Basic Information

Begin the process by collecting basic information. Provide clear
instructions on how the student can find their college student ID
number. New or returning students may not have this information
handy. If they are asked to enter information that they do not have,
or do not have easy access to, they may not continue with the
process.

Keep the process quick and easy. Students increasingly use and rely
on mobile devices for accessing online services. Be sure your
process is mobile friendly and consider integrating this process
into an existing app or even creating one specifically for this
purpose.

High School Status

All students, regardless of high school status, have the right,
opportunity and ability to succeed in transfer-level courses. This
is a chance to reinforce students’ abilities and their capacity to
succeed.

These questions also offer an opportunity to integrate retroactive
placement processes.

For example, students answering, “Yes, but it has been 10 years or
more since I graduated,” could be redirected to questions for
retroactive placement. While creating this may not be possible for
all colleges, it remains a useful consideration.

Year and GPA

While seemingly straightforward, the way in which prompts are
worded and ordered may create or reflect implicit biases. These
biases have a greater impact on historically underrepresented
students, creating an impediment to equity.

For instance, if the first question posed here simply asked for a
high school GPA, it would mark out and exclude students who did not
graduate. Worse, it could create confusion for students without
GPAs, presenting a barrier to the process and subsequently
preventing that student from finishing and matriculating.

Math

Even if they are not used for evaluation or placement, sample math
problems and placement tests require Chancellor’s Office approval
within one year. If they are used, they should be carefully worded
to avoid discouraging students.

English

Even if they are not used for evaluation or placement, sample
assignments and placement tests require Chancellor’s Office approval
within one year. If they are used, they should be carefully worded
to avoid discouraging students.

Confirmation

Confirmation pages reiterate student information. Provide a simple
mechanism for making changes or corrections.

Placement

Most placements can be made immediately. For students who need
further assessment or to meet with a counselor, placement should
occur as soon as possible.

Student who disagree with their placement should be clearly
directed to contact the assessment office so they can resolve their
placement and begin their education without undue delay.

New placements must be updated in the college’s Student Information
System (SIS). Manual entry of placement results can be much slower
than automated results.

Students assigned to a corequisite course that might be replaced by
or made equivalent to another should be notified as soon as
possible.

Next Steps

Consider including a question upon course enrollment asking
students to identify which factors affected their choice. Using
fixed responses and allowing students to check all that apply can
help colleges understand what guides student choice.

Consider how well you are set up for continuous self-improvement.
Collect data on the courses students choose to take after completing
the Guided Placement process and student success in those courses.

Analyzing this data can help you understand how well your placement
processes are working to support student success. Your research
department can be a valuable resource for collecting and interpreting
these data.

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website
Mock-up of guided self-placement process website
Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Mock-up of guided self-placement process website

Guided Placement Resources

Guided placement is crucial to implementing AB 705. The model presented here is an example designed to demonstrate one possible online process while providing reasoning for the promising practices within.

Practical considerations that can inform the development of your own process are outlined in a PDF document. Feel free to share it with colleagues or college committees developing their processes.


Download the Document

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has developed a resource about guided placement built in a Canvas shell.


Learn More

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