CAAP exam shows degrees have merit

Emma Dejong

Emma Dejong

Simply having a degree is useful when writing résumés and filling out job applications, but the Board of Regents wants to make it clear to students, employers and the Legislature that the degree has merit.

More than ten years ago they implemented the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) examination as a requirement for all Regental universities. The exam evaluates students in writing, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. ACT calculates the scores, and the results show students’ progress by measuring the growth between the ACT testing and CAAP testing.

“It’s become a function of accountability,” said Paul Turman, associate vice president for academic affairs at the Board of Regents. “The data shows that we are doing a good job, and we’re always above the national norm in these four areas.”

Unless they have already earned a bachelor’s degree, all students must take the exam at some point during their academic career. For those pursuing a bachelor’s degree, they must take it after completing 48 credits, and for those pursuing an associate’s degree, it is required at 32 credits.

This semester, the CAAP exam will be held March 23 and 25. Matthew Allison, a sophomore physics major, said that because he does not know what will be on the exam, he hasn’t devoted much time to preparation.

“Besides the core subjects, I know not what to expect,” Allison said.

Jo Ann Sckerl, director of academic evaluation and assessment, said that in many areas, students do better than they expect.

“Students have the most anxiety about mathematics, but very few students fail mathematics,” Sckerl said. “About 92 or 93 percent of our students pass the exam every semester.”

Students have three opportunities to take the exam.

“If you fail one of the tests, you retest the next semester,” Turman said.

Alternate certification methods offer students a last resort of passing the CAAP exam, and depending on which section students failed, there are different options that include portfolio assignments as well as alternate tests.

If students fail all three tries, they are ineligible to be registered for classes for a certain period of time and must retake the CAAP exam on their own before they are readmitted.

“Typically you can’t enroll for two semesters if you fail the alternate certification,” Turman said.

Students have mixed feelings about the CAAP exam; while some feel frustrated, some feel that it gives them a good perspective of where they’re at academically.

“It felt like it was the ACT all over again except I was less prepared,” SDSU graduate Luke Christie-Perkins said. “It definitely made me realize I needed to raise my standards.”

Allison also said there are positive ways of looking at evaluating students.

“I think (testing) is necessary, even if the students themselves find no benefit in it,” Allison said. “Good statistics for grades are nice to see on brochures, also.”