Where to Begin? The Evolving Role of Placement Exams for Students Starting College

At a Glance

Research has cast doubt on the validity of using placement tests to determine if incoming students are college ready, and the nation has since debated whether such tests are actually a barrier to college completion. This JFF report offers clarity.

For years, colleges have used placement exams to determine whether to deem incoming students “college ready” or assign them to developmental education. But emerging research has cast doubt on the practice, sparking national debates over whether the tests are fair and if their traditional use constitutes a barrier to college completion. 

JFF brings clarity to the discussion in this report. Where to Begin? helps state and college leaders understand the latest research, make sense of the contentious debate issues, and most importantly, evaluate their own options for moving forward.