About Testing

Assessment is an essential tool for evaluating the educational skill levels of students and assisting students in their selection of courses that lead to achieving their educational goals.

Assessment is used to generate placement recommendations only, and not to advance students to higher-level courses. Once students officially enroll in an English, ESL, or math course, they are not permitted to undergo assessment again as a means for advancing to higher-level courses. Students who believe they already possess the educational background and skills needed to succeed in higher-level courses must meet with a counselor to discuss exemption from prerequisites. In some cases, students will be referred to the appropriate department (English, ESL, or math) to seek a Challenge Exam. See the College Policies section in this catalog for details on challenging prerequisites and corequisites.

Computerized Placement Testing

The English, ESL, math, math proficiency, and the Ability-to-benefit test are all computerized and adaptive tests.Adaptive testing is a test administration process in which test items are selected dynamically from a collection of test items. The items are selected based on the examinee's ability to correctly answer items during the exam. For example, an examinee who succeeds with a given item will be presented next with an item of greater difficulty. An examinee who does not do well with the given item would next receive an item of lower difficulty. After each response (correct or incorrect), the computer program will automatically select the next item in such a way as to provide you with a reliable estimate of your performance on the entire test.

Older testing procedures, such as paper-and-pencil tests are typically "fixed-item" tests in which all of the examinees are given the same items within a test. The tests offer little information about an examinee's ability level due to the set difficulty or ease of the fixed items.

Computerized adaptive tests allow an examinee's ability level to be estimated and new items can be selected based on the current ability estimate. Relatively few items are needed to be administered to maximize the information about their ability levels from the item responses. This leads to better and more accurate testing results.

Advantages to taking a Computer Adaptive Test:
  • Use of computer for those familiar with computers
  • Flexible testing times offer testing at more than just a few select test dates
  • Computer test center offers smaller, quieter testing environment
  • Fewer test takers at each testing time
  • Fewer test questions to generate the same score
  • Greater amounts of time to spend on each question
  • Each question is dependent on your test ability and skill
  • Scores are immediately calculated and presented
  • Reporting is conducted much faster to schools
  • Easy selection of school score recipients

quoted from http://www.smc.edu/EnrollmentDevelopment/AssessmentCenter/Pages/About-Assessment.aspx