As research continues to show that students placed more than one level below college level have almost no chance of completing their degree math requirements and there is a persistent achievement gap for students of color, colleges have focused on providing shortened pathways that align with students goals and offer meaningful student supports. Colleges have also started to understand the role that placement can play in keeping students from succeeding.

As colleges work to ensure that the student onboarding process is one of learning from the students about their goals and what they will need to be successful, of offering students a sense of belonging, and of providing an equitable experience for all students, they have begun to rethink their current placement practices.

Math placement work is not new in Washington, but the upheaval that colleges were faced with in 2020 due to the Coronavirus and the increasing awareness of racial inequities have combined to fuel a new urgency in rethinking math placement.

Materials from previous work

Fall 2021 Placement Series

Washington CTC staff and faculty met for a three part webinar series focused on Placement. These webinars asked colleges to reflect on what they have learned from the changes that they have already made, what it would mean to default to college level placements and what to consider when implementing multiple measures.

  1. Slides – September 13 – Defaulting to College Level
  2. Slides – September 14 – How Covid-19 Changed Placement in Washington
  3. Slides – September 15 – “Using Multiple Measures” May Not be Enough

August-September 2020 Rethinking Mathematics Placement

A FOUR -PART SERIES of webinars focused on helping colleges thing broadly about their use of placement

  1. Multiple Measures – Occurred on August 25, 2020 Power Point Presentation
  2. Using High School Transcripts – Occurred on September 1 Power Point Presentation
  3. Directed Self Placement – Occurred on September 8 Power Point Presentation
  4. Using Data – Occurred on September 15, 4-5pm Power Point Presentation

May 1, 2020 A Guided Discussion

Looking Forward – An online guided discussion with Washington CTC faculty about Math Placement; facilitated by Laura Schueller  


Zoom Recording

2017-2018 Placement 360

Starting in the Summer of 2016, a group of colleges hoping to redesign their placement policies participated in a one year community of practice called Placement 360. Much of the learning from this group acts as the foundation for placement redesigns being considered today. It should be noted that this work was not limited to mathematics placement and is directly responsible for many of the guided self placement processes that have been developed and implemented in English.

2015, 2018 Smarter Balance and Bridge to College Math

A statewide agreement has offered students, since 2015, an opportunity to use their success on the high school Smarter Balance exam as an automatic college level placement once they arrive at a Washington CTC. The agreement was updated in 2018 to reflect changes in the timing of the Smarter Balance test and to include an opportunity for students who were not successful on the Smarter Balance test but who then enrolled in and were successful in the high school Bridge to College Mathematics Course. For more information about Bridge to College Math, visit their website.

2013 Placement Reciprocity Agreement

A recognition that students who had been placed in one of our Community and Technical colleges (CTC’s) and then needed or wanted to attend a different CTC should be able to use that same placement without resubmitting high school artifacts or retesting. This lead to a statewide Placement Reciprocity Agreement.

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