View Only

IMPACT Plus - Multiple Measures

By Jeff Thies posted 08-17-2021 11:38:44


A decade ago Katherine Hughes and Judith Scott-Clayton, at the time with the Community College Research Center (CCRC), published an article describing the challenges of a single assessment for placement purposes. The work included a future research recommendation to review an alternative approach, one that would take advantage of multiple measures to place students into English and mathematics courses (Hughes & Scott-Clayton, 2011). As Hughes and Scott-Clayton noted back in 2011, creating a new model of placement has not been without challenges. How do you define multiple measures? How long are metrics valid as a placement tool? How do you collect and evaluate the metrics? How do you provide the same instantaneous placement feedback to students and advisors?

By 2014 statewide initiatives had started producing evidence of attempts to bring about change in the placement process. WestEd published a document in March, 2014 providing a summary of the efforts that helped institutions across the country gain insight into what others were experiencing. The authors (Bracco, et al., 2014)  provided four frameworks for Multiple Measures and included profiles from 7 states. The recommendations from the document included a topic that is significantly important as a result of the pandemic: “Take stock of what is happening during grade 12”. 

By the summer of 2015, the RP Group had released information about California Community Colleges’ plan to develop, implement and assess a multiple measures assessment statewide. The Multiple Measures Assessment Project (MMAP) provided evidence to support passage of California’s AB705. As California researched opportunities to improve the placement process, research focused organizations were creating documents to support the movement. 

MDRC and CCRC partnered to provide a Guide for Launching a Multiple Measures system. The authors (Cullinan, et al., 2018) led readers through six important questions to answer along the placement transformation journey. That same year the AMATYC IMPACT document was released. Chapter 6 in IMPACT includes a section focused on placement and includes six bulleted items that describe the efforts Math Departments should embrace to ensure an effective placement model. strongly recommend the last bullet, “Evaluate the effectiveness of the placement processes as measures for student success” (AMATYC, p. 55). A year later, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) and the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) published a short policy recommendations document highlighting the recent changes in California, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

The pandemic brought about changes, some more significant than others, depending on where an institution was in the transformation to Multiple Measures Placement. Colleges now need to consider not only the seniors who experienced the last 9 weeks of high school under pandemic conditions (2020 graduates), but the most recent graduating class who may have experienced a complete year of online learning and the option to enter a pass-fail grading system. CAPR released a brief in January of this year that describes how four state systems have navigated the pandemic and placement, and stresses the opportunity this provides to help reduce the equity gap and improve student success (Bickertsaff, et al, 2021).

If engaged in placement redesign and utilizing a Multiple Measures approach, how does your institution define and evaluate the effectiveness of Multiple Measures? Did you experience changes from the pandemic? If so, what are your next steps? Head over to IMPACT Live! to share and learn from others.


American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. (2018). IMPACT: Improving Mathematical Prowess And College Teaching. Memphis, TN: Author.

Bickerstaff,S., Kopko, E., Lewy, E. B., Raufman, J., Rutschow, E. Z. (2021). Implementing and Scaling Multiple Measures Assessment in the COntext of COVID-19. New York, NY: Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness.

Bracco, K. R., Dadgar, M., Austin, K., Klarin, B., Broek, M., Finkelstein, N., Mundry, S., & Bugler, D. (2014). Exploring the use of multiple measures for placement into college-level courses: Seeking alternatives or improvements to the use of a single standardized test. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

Cullinan, D., Barnett, E. A., Ratledge, A., Welbecky, R., Belfield, C., Lopez, A. (2018). Toward Better College Course Placement. New York, NY: MDRC.

Hughes, K. L., Scott-Clayton, J. (2011). Assessing Developmental Assessment in Community Colleges. New York, NY: Community College Research Center.

Document Links