OTC drops Compass, changes to student self-placement

Senior Brandy Bumgarner studies for her upcoming ACT Test. Starting this spring semester, OTC students will not need any particular test score in order to enroll in certain classes.

Senior Brandy Bumgarner studies for her upcoming ACT Test. Starting this spring semester, OTC students will not need any particular test score in order to enroll in certain classes.

By Ashton Rose

Ozarks Technical Community College decided earlier this year to eliminate the ACT Compass test as the method for placing students into remedial classes rather than into credit-earning courses, college officials said.

Instead, the college is going to a self-placement procedure starting in the spring semester.

Prior to now, OTC used the ACT Compass test as an on-campus testing tool to guide the placement of students into their coursework. If students tested too low, they would be required to take and pass remediation classes before getting to take the actual degree-earning courses.

OTC will still use ACT scores from high school students to help students get an idea of what classes they are ready for, said Steven Bishop, provost vice chancellor for academic affairs. However, students will not be forced to take lower-level classes like it was in years past.

According to an Oct. 23 interview with The Springfield Business Journal, OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said that OTC is the first community college in Missouri to go to a self-placement system.

“We are doing a huge, bold experiment,” Higdon said in the interview. “We know the ACT, the SAT, none of them are indicative of how well you will do in college. It may be chaos at OTC for the first week of January.”

Bishop made clear, however, that the college still plans to help students make good decisions now that they can decide for themselves. “We are not saying jump in the deep end by yourself.”

Instead of using the Compass test to screen out supposedly unprepared students, going forward professors will have to give an assessment at the beginning of the semester to see if students are ready to take the class.

“In the first week of school, you will be given an assignment to test you,” Higdon told the SBJ. “We are going to let you transfer the first week. If I sign up for Steve’s class and do my one essay and it has no punctuation, then I’m going to be sent to [the developmental course].”

Bishop also is hoping that students will use the Student Learning Center more to help them with their homework.

These changes may make things harder for Middle College counselors to put their students into college classes.

“The Compass test wasn’t accurate, but it was a score,” said Jeanine Atwell. Now students and counselors may feel less certain about a student’s ability to succeed in higher-level college courses.

Middle College is hoping that the adjunct college teachers will email the office to let them know if they believe a student isn’t ready to take the course.

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