Education Commission Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D, wants an in-depth analysis conducted on the data gathered by Northern Marianas College which disclosed that a high percentage of students entering college failed their placement tests.
Most of these students ended up enrolling in non-degree units for remedial courses.
Sablan acknowledged to Saipan Tribune that the Public School System and the Board of Education were informed and provided data showing how students performed in the placement test and their retention rate for remedial education.
The commissioner described these statistics as “key” to PSS, but pointed out the importance of an in-depth analysis of the data so that PSS would know what it needs to articulate and teach students so when students leave PSS, they will be successful in college placement examinations.
Before the end of every school year, PSS conducts assessment examination called Standard-Based Assessment test to also measure the knowledge gained by students in the whole school year. Sablan described the SBA results as high, satisfactory, and improves every year.
When asked about the possible reason behind the failure of many high school students in college placement tests, the commissioner admitted being unsure of the factors, but she hinted some other reasons that probably contribute in the performance of students.
She said that students may be nervous while taking the test, others maybe are taking it not seriously, students may not also totally understand the importance of the placement test, and the long gap when the student last attended high school.
“If the data is saying that 30 percent of our students [are] not passing the test, we need to do our job in doing an in-depth analysis so we will have better idea what are the factors [of their failure] and which area we need to improve,” commissioner told Saipan Tribune, adding that there are an estimated 200 to 300 PSS students who enter NMC every school year.
Sablan added that a better way to help address the problem is for PSS to be fully informed about the “kind of tests” to be conducted by the college so they can better prepare the students.
“Besides having an in-depth analysis of the data, interview among students could also be an important factor to determine why they are failing,” she said, adding that the “gap” between when they graduated high school and the time they took the placement test must also be known for better planning.
When asked if the quality of teaching received by high school students impacts their failure in the NMC placement test, the commissioner cannot immediately say, citing several variables that need to be looked at in conducting an assessment.
But Sablan is confident that with the implementation this school year of “common core state standards” in public schools, this would help address the concern. She described the common core state standards as rigorous instructions that are considered college-career standards and are also research-based.
“I do hope that now that we're implementing the common core state standards which is actually college-career standard, we hope to see our students continually progress in math, English, and language arts as they go to college,” she told Saipan Tribune.