By Samantha Ortiz
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Students wonder why Camden County College offers four-day reviews for scoring inadequately on the math section of the placement test, but not for the reading and writing section.
ACCUPLACER is the test that Camden County College uses to measure the skills of entering students in reading, writing, and mathematics. To prevent confusion among students, said Eve Highstreet, the director of testing, the specific numbers for cut-off scores are not published, “not that they are a secret.”
Nevertheless, students are given an Individual Score Report after taking ACCUPLACER. In addition, if students do not pass a specific section, if not all sections, of the placement test, they have the opportunity to re-test. However, if students are close to passing the Elementary Algebra section, they are eligible for a four-day math review. If they pass the review, they can move up to college-level math courses.
The math reviews have been successful for Camden County College students. The one-credit course consists of three days of instruction, and the fourth day is scheduled for the final exam, which decides if the students move up a level or have to take the basic skills class. The passing rate is over 90 percent for the course.
“Many of our students have been using a calculator for so long or have been away from math for so long that their computational skills by hand are rusty. They don’t really need a full-blown semester-long course, they just need to get the rust off,” said Kelly Jackson, a CCC professor of mathematics.
More than 700 students move up a level by enrolling in the refresher course annually.
“Some students need a semester or more to get their skills to where they need to be to take the next level in math. Others don’t need as much time. We try to be flexible.”
So why can’t students take a similar review for English deficiencies? Portfolios with a variety of writing samples are essential for assessing college-level writing skills.
“Portfolios are our exit criteria for all three levels of writing,” said Donna Armstrong, the chairperson of the Reading and Writing Skills Department. “Writing is a skill that a person develops over a lifetime and it’s not something that can be learned in just a few days.”
Therefore, a portfolio would be difficult for students to develop in a four-day review.
“At this time, there aren’t plans for a four-day review course,” said Armstrong.