Access to Success: Insights for Implementing a Multiple Measures Assessment System

By Elizabeth Kopko, Hollie Daniels, Dan Cullinan, Hanna Nichols, Ellen Wasserman & Sarahi Hernandez

Student studies in classroom

Multiple measures assessment (MMA) is an alternative placement system that involves the consideration of alternative measures of students’ performance—such as high school grades or GPA—in addition to or in place of standardized test scores to better place students. While the evidence for MMA is strong, placement reform has yet to spread to many colleges and states. Moreover, despite growing support for MMA, many colleges may not be implementing the most promising MMA systems, and some may shift back to standardized testing in the post-pandemic environment.

CAPR has sought to assist colleges and states nationwide with the adoption and implementation of MMA practices that place more students—and allow more students to be successful—in college-level courses. As part of these efforts, CAPR worked with colleges in Arkansas and Texas to adopt and expand MMA. The findings in this report are derived from interviews with personnel from 12 two- and four-year public colleges in those states that went through considerable effort to improve their placement systems and to make them sustainable on a large scale. The study focused on three questions: What was the design of the MMA system at each college? How were colleges adopting MMA practices and what were key facilitators and hindrances? And what was the average cost of implementation?

The authors found that adoption of MMA at each study college required collaboration among institutional leaders, administrators, faculty members, and advisors. The report highlights the roles of key actors in the adoption of MMA and the important role that state context and policies played in implementation. It also describes challenges that colleges had to overcome during implementation, such as obtaining staff buy-in, managing student data, and ensuring sufficient staffing.


Access to Success: Insights for Implementing a Multiple Measures Assessment System

Key Findings

Across colleges, MMA systems tended to use similar simple approaches, such as the use of decision bands or rules, and similar assessment measures, such as high school GPA.

The dissemination of context-specific data about the predictability and accuracy of MMA generated buy-in among faculty and staff members.

Personnel expenses were the predominant cost of MMA implementation, but the staff members involved—and the amount of time they contributed—varied by state.