The design of the Excellence for All program required that we determine what it actually takes to be successful in the first year credit-bearing courses of the typical community college program, stated in terms of the specific level of mathematics and English literacy required. To make this determination, and to use the information to set the qualification scores for the lower division examinations, NCEE recruited some of the world’s leading experts in curriculum, testing and assessment. The list of our Technical Advisory Committee members (TAC) can be found here. The TAC set preliminary qualification scores for mathematics and English literacy in 2012 based on two sets of research studies:
NCEE identified eight of the most popular programs in the nation’s community colleges, among them nursing, criminal justice, information technology and business administration. The research focused on the reading, writing and mathematics demands of introductory credit-bearing courses in these programs and in the two-year college-transfer programs in seven randomly selected community colleges from seven states. Evidence of the demands of these courses were gathered in the form of texts, exams, student work and consequential assignments. NCEE also recruited two additional groups of technical experts in connection with the community college research project described below, one to supervise the research on reading and writing in community colleges, the other to supervise the research on mathematics in community colleges. The lists of the members of those committees are also below. The final report on this work was released in May 2013. Click here for more information.
Ideally, the qualification scores for the lower division examinations would be set by seeing what scores on those exams were achieved by students who had taken them and gone on to their local community colleges and achieved grades of B or better in their initial credit-bearing courses. But there are no such students, because the program has only just begun. It is, however, possible to estimate what such scores would be by doing certain correlational studies, as follows:
These initial studies were completed in 2012. The TAC examined the analyses on these three sets of data, weighed the findings, examined the properties of three QualityCore exams (Algebra I, Geometry and English 10) and three IGCSE exams (Mathematics, English Literature and English First Language) and came to a set of reasoned judgments on the qualification scores for each of these six examinations. More information can be found here.
The TAC re-examined and modified qualification scores in 2015 based on an analysis of new data from the first few cohorts of Excellence for All students and other international student performance data. The TAC will continue to adjust the qualification scores as necessary in coming years based on additional program data.
In addition to the work to set qualification scores for mathematics and English literacy, NCEE convened panels of subject experts to analyze the exams in the sciences and history to make recommendations to the states as to qualification scores in these areas. The panel reports can be viewed here. For the arts, NCEE’s recommendation is that students should pass an art course to meet the art requirement to be eligible to earn a proficiency-based diploma as early as the end of their sophomore year.