Trustees Approve Landmark Remediation Exit Test Chancellor Calls Move Profound Step Forward for CUNY

The City University of New York Board of Trustees, for the first time since it adopted an Open Admissions policy 30 years ago, has overwhelmingly approved the use of tests based on national standards to determine when CUNY students in remedial classes are ready to do college level work.

The “Exit From Remediation Policy,” which was recommended by the Board’s Committee on Academic Policy, Program and Research (CAPPR), chaired by Trustee Dr. NildaSoto-Ruiz, was strongly backed by CUNY Board Chairman Herman Badillo and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. The policy was adopted by the Board on September 27 and is the latest in a series of measures designed to strengthen academic standards atthe University.

“This will be a profound step forward and will give us a sense of confidence that we have thought through, over a period of many years, the appropriate testing environment for our students, ” Chancellor Goldstein, said in reference to the new policy.

In his remarks at the meeting the Chancellor also called for the inclusion of nationally recognized tests in admissions criteria at CUNY’s senior colleges.

Trustee Soto-Ruiz was equally enthusiastic in recommending the adoption of the policy, saying the resolution “moves the University one step closer to the ultimate goal of the Chancellor’s plan: to ensure that students are accurately placed in college level or remedial work.”

The University expects to select a proposal for a reading and writing remediation exit test from among those submitted by national test development companies by the end of October. CUNY will continue to use its own mathematics exam.

“The request for a proposed test has been thoughtfully designed,” Chancellor Goldstein told the Trustees. “All of the concerns that we have experienced over the years as we have tested our students are embedded as a set of criteria for a successful test to be embraced by this University.”

Determining when students are ready for college-level work is an integral part of a process to establish new senior college admission standards, and reinforces the University’s determination to begin phasing out remediation at its senior colleges in January. In addition to the new policy on “Exit From Remediation” the Chancellor submitted plans to require applicants to CUNY senior colleges to take standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT to be considered for admission.

“The SAT is almost ubiquitously taken by baccalaureate students at this university and a number of our campuses have SAT averages that exceed the national average. It indicates that our students are doing a lot better than they are profiled as doing in the media,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Stating that “it has always been my belief that one indicator of college readiness is insufficient,” Chancellor Goldstein said that students applying to CUNY baccalaureate programs will be judged in several areas including: high school grades in specific academic subjects, the number of academic courses taken, and scores on nationally or state standardized exams. Students will have a menu of assessment instruments through which to demonstrate readiness for college work. The SAT is already offered free of charge to potential applicants at five CUNY campuses.

In discussing the changes, Chancellor Goldstein told the Trustees, “Universities are always challenged on how to best assess student preparation. I am persuaded that there is a need to take a fresh look at the process.”

Chancellor Goldstein urged senior college presidents to engage faculty bodies on their campuses in establishing specific admissions criteria for their colleges.

Under the new policy, applicants who score below a prescribed cut-off score on the SAT, ACT or Regents exams will have to take CUNY’s own nationally normed assessment tests. If they pass all the tests, they will be admitted to senior colleges.

Students who fail one or more tests will be able to enroll in free summer or inter-session immersion courses and then retake the tests. If they fail again, they will be able to enroll in aPrelude to Success transition program, a year-round immersion program, or an associate degree program.

In reference to CUNY’s more rigorous requirements for admission and exit from remediation, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Louise Mirrer said it is “important to promote serious thinking in high schools about what it takes to be ready for college.”