According to recent reports from the University of Guam, more than half of incoming freshmen who take the required placement tests score below college freshmen proficiency in Math and English.
Guam – Every student who wants to attend the University of Guam has to take it and it seems like almost all have the same outcome. What we’re talking is about is taking the placement tests and according to recent reports, most incoming students place in Math and English remedial classes, which they don’t get college credit for.
UOG’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Associate Dean Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba says, “When we give these statistics and share it with the community, these are not just students from GDOE, these are students from the private schools, they’re from the outer islands, they’re from Asia and the mainland.”
According to UOG’s 2015 Fall Semester Student And Course Enrollment Reports, in the Fall 2015 semester, 135 students were taking remedial English and 589 students were taking two levels of remedial Math…that’s compared to 749 new undergrad students that semester.
Bamba says, “On average, we’re looking at about 70% of students who place into a class below freshman composition which is EN-085 and EN-100 which is our bridge course.”
UOG’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences Associate Dean Dr. Alicia Aguon says, “Altogether for those who take the tests we get 50-53% place in developmental mathematics classes, either the two levels, but for new freshman that’s generally about 60-65% if they are new freshmen.”
In an effort to help those college freshmen who place in developmental courses, both the English and Math departments had to restructure their program. Santos-Bamba says they provide tutors to help students with homework, they developed an online reading component, and they even have a writing center.
She explains they also reach out to the island’s high schools. “We’ve also got this early placement program that we’re trying out right now. George Washington was the first school to do it. For this year we’re working with Tiyan and Southern High School. We’re testing freshmen with the UOG placement tests and what we do is we give the schools the feedback, these are where your students are, these are what skills they possess and these are the skills they need in order to be placed appropriately at the university level,” she says.
Meanwhile, Aguon says before the program reform, students who place in MA-085 on average take about three to four semesters to test out and complete the course. Now, that they’ve changed that class to a lecture-based and workshop format, she says there has been steady improvement over the years. Aguon says, “The passing rate before this restructure was about 28% now with this new program we have a passing rate of about 68 to 70% so that’s good news for our students.”
As for English…”We have about a 70% pass rate, in terms of 085, so our students get through our developmental program in a timely manner,” she says.
Aguon says, “We’ve seen about 6 percentage points decrease in terms of placement in 085 and we see movement towards the middle, which is half of the students placing in EN100. We want them to be in EN110 freshman composition but now we’re seeing fewer and fewer students every semester is placing in EN085 which is good news.”
Here are some tips they provided us for those who are taking the placement exams.
Santos-Bamba says, “It’s a basic algebra test so if they google basic algebra, go over that take a few days, go over the problems, if you look for basic algebra you’ll be in good shape. It’s basic essay writing. We look for an introduction, we look for points and support, we look for a conclusion. Are the ideas tied together and are they cohesive and concise?
Santos-Bamba explains that to see further improvements, all stakeholders have to be informed about what college expectations are. Her advice: prepare for college early. She says, “Start thinking about college early. Don’t think about college just in the senior year. We need to start thinking about attending college earlier on. There are a lot of preparations that need to take place before matriculation.”
For those who are taking the UOG placement exams, check in for the tests begin at 8 am on Saturday. Students must bring a photo ID and receipt for their admission in order to take the test. For more information, call 735-2214.