Despite evidence suggesting that standardized tests are an imperfect measure of academic readiness, many community colleges across the country rely on them alone to determine student course placement. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced campuses to transition to remote operations in spring 2020, proctoring in-person placement tests became all but impossible. Though some institutions may have continued to administer the tests remotely, in many cases, the capacity to do so was significantly reduced. In response, systems and colleges sought out innovative ways to determine whether students need developmental education, with many adopting multiple measures assessment and placement systems that take into account factors such as high school GPA and noncognitive assessment results.
Based on interviews with system leaders and college administrators, faculty, and staff, this brief presents four short case studies on how community college state systems changed placement policies and supported new placement practices in the midst of the pandemic. The case studies—which focus on Indiana, Virginia, Texas, and Washington—address common multiple measures assessment implementation challenges such as facilitating buy-in, providing implementation support, combatting initiative fatigue, and establishing data-informed evaluation processes.