Expanding the Adoption of Multiple Measures Assessment and Building the Research Base

Students walk together on campus

January 2021–December 2024

Multiple measures assessment and placement (MMA) relies on performance metrics such as high school GPA and other transcript information, rather than a single standardized test, to determine whether students should be placed in college-level or developmental courses. MMA can increase the number of students who place into and succeed in college-level courses, but implementing it is a challenge in the best of times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed colleges to experiment with new and untested practices with little support. In this project, CAPR researchers will engage states and colleges to help them adopt and scale effective MMA practices, expand the field’s knowledge of which MMA practices are most effective for which types of students, and examine emerging practices that may warrant more rigorous research.

Project Design

Field Engagement and Scaling

CAPR will work intensively with two states to build their capacity to adopt and scale MMA placement systems. Researchers will also study how these systems can be implemented given the widespread adoption of reforms, such as corequisite remediation and math pathways, that require different types of MMA criteria and information for placement. CAPR will also conduct implementation, cost, and descriptive research in the two states to provide the latest information on the affordability of different designs; document the best implementation practices in a diverse set of state and college contexts; and provide descriptive data analyses to further the field’s understanding of the relationship between placement systems and student outcomes.

Finally, CAPR will help states and colleges across the country adopt effective MMA systems that support more students’ placement into and success in college-level courses. Researchers will create resources to address critical gaps in policymakers’ and practitioners’ knowledge about successful MMA systems; help them consider what measures and placement criteria are important; and provide lessons on how MMA can be adopted in diverse institutional contexts. Toolkits, practice guides, research briefs, and interactive virtual learning sessions will be used to support the wider adoption of effective MMA practices nationally.

Knowledge Building

As part of this project, researchers will examine how MMA, in combination with other reforms, can improve outcomes for students of color, low-income students, and students who have not yet benefitted from colleges’ developmental education reforms. This work will be framed around the following questions

  1. What new practices are colleges adopting, such as directed self-placement, to place students into courses? What models are being implemented, and which show the most promise?
  2. What MMA criteria work for whom, and what groups of students are benefitting or not benefitting from these systems? Can MMA reduce the underplacement of students into developmental courses and help more students of color succeed in college-level courses? What are the long-term effects of MMA placement designs on students’ credit accumulation and graduation?

CAPR will examine the existing research evidence about emerging models of developmental placement and conduct a national scan of colleges’ current implementation practices and their potential promise for improving student outcomes. The research will focus on directed self-placement, including the types of models being used, how they may be integrated with other reforms, and the correlation between these practices and student outcomes.

To identify which MMA criteria work for whom and to better understand the long-term effects of MMA placement designs on students’ outcomes, data from two random assignment studies of MMA will be combined to create a large database that can support the analysis of MMA’s effects for different student subgroups. The analysis will help identify practices that increase the number of Black and Latinx students that are placed into and complete college-level courses.

This research is funded by Ascendium Education Group.