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Common Assessment

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As part of the Board of Higher Education's accountability for the quality of education in the public higher education system, each institution is required to assess the basic academic skills of entering students. Common testing instruments and identical cut-off scores are used by all state and community colleges and University of Massachusetts campuses to ensure comparability of performance across the system and that all students are academically prepared to be successful in college level work. Common entry assessment occurs in three areas: reading, mathematics, and writing.

The College Board’s Accuplacer Computerized Placement Test is used to test reading. The cut-off scores is 68. Students who score over 500 on the SAT I-Verbal exam are exempt from the reading test.

The College Board’s Accuplacer Computerized Placement Test (CPT) is used to test mathematics basic skills. Cut-off scores are 40 on the College Level Math test or 82 on the Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test.  All students take the math test.

To test basic writing skills, colleges require an impromptu writing sample that is evaluated by college faculty using common scoring guidelines. Students who score over 600 on the SAT I-Verbal exam are exempt from both reading and writing tests.

*Note: In Fall 2013, the Board of Higher Education (BHE) allowed for a period of experimentation and authorized the use of new criteria for placement in developmental education and college-level courses (AAC 14-12: Receipt of the Report from Commissioner’s task Force on Transforming Developmental Education).  Campuses began piloting the use of GPA and other placement methods in Fall 2014 and will continue to do so until Spring 2016.  The Department of Higher Education is collecting data and will make a recommendation to the BHE in late Fall 2015 to consider modifying existing policies as necessary.