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Andrew LaManque, Associate Vice President of Instruction at Foothill College and Chair of the CAI Steering Committee, discusses assessment portability.Portability of student assessment results has been a goal of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Common Assessment Initiative (CAI) since the initial 2011 legislation, AB 743, mandated the development of a common assessment system.

With plans well underway for CCCAssess, a statewide assessment portal, college representatives see portability as a benefit of the new assessment system.

Portability Defined

According to Andrew LaManque, Associate Vice President of Instruction at Foothill College and Chair of the CAI Steering Committee, portability of test results will help students, which research shows are increasingly attending multiple institutions in completing a program.

“At the recent CAI Steering Committee meeting, we discussed portability at length,” LaManque said. “We reached consensus that portability means a student should only need to take an assessment test once.”

“Student test results will be made available to each college through CCCAssess and move with the student,” LaManque continued. “This might also include any other types of assessment information such as high school GPA and non-cognitive survey questions.”

“While each college will continue to make placement decisions locally, they will have available a common set of assessment results,” he said.

Current Challenges

Right now, individual community colleges in California use different assessment tests to place their students into math, English and ESL coursework, explained KC Greaney, Director of Institutional Research at Santa Rosa Junior College.

“In some cases, colleges within the same district used different tests,” Greaney said. “This is a burden to students as they would have to re-take placement tests if they enrolled at a different college. It is also inefficient for the system of California Community Colleges to administer multiple placement tests to students unnecessarily.”

Online Assessment

CCCAssess is being designed on a web-based platform that students, faculty, counselors, assessment teams and researchers will access through the Internet. Students will get to the assessment through the student services portal system. With the centralized, integrated technology, results and reports will also be available online, LaManque explained.

Student Convenience

For students living in areas where they can take classes at multiple colleges or who move from one part of the state to another, the new common assessment will be an advantage, according to LaManque.

“Assessment results will follow the student,” he said. “Each college will be able to get the scores off the statewide system to make local placement decisions.”

Greaney noted that using the same assessment tool across the state has other benefits for students as well. “The standardization of the assessment instrument will make it easier for students to understand and interpret results, in contrast to the current practice where they could be taking different assessments at every college they might attend,” she said.

Increased Efficiency

Colleges will benefit from a common assessment in two primary ways, according to Greaney. “First, costs will decrease as fewer students will need to be assessed,” she explained. “Second, standardization of the assessment instrument means colleges will easily be able to interpret the test results, no matter where the student took the test.”

Greaney concluded that common assessment is a win-win situation. “Placement for students is streamlined systemwide, throughout all 113 California Community Colleges, and costs go down, saving taxpayer money,” she said.

Colleges Prepare for CCCAssess

Currently, 12 colleges are piloting the implementation process and will be testing a version of the CCCAssess tool this spring. Plans to provide professional development and support materials are underway as well.

Interested college representatives may arrange to attend the pilot colleges’ professional development sessions scheduled for February in Los Angeles, March in Sacramento and April in the San Francisco Bay Area. Materials and information will also be posted online at

Karen Fraser-Middleton is a marketing consultant for the
California Community Colleges Common Assessment Initiative