Proficiency Exam standards change

Starting this spring, students’ ACT scores will help with more than getting accepted to college. Students with a composite ACT score higher than 24 will be waived from taking the proficiency exam.

As of the December Board of Regents meeting, new waivers were approved by the board allowing certain students to be exempt from the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Assessment (CAAP) exam, or proficiency exam.

“We’re going to have significantly less people taking the test. The idea was to get the group of students taking the test down,” Provost Laurie Nichols said.

According to the CAAP waiver in the BOR policy, students may be exempted for four different reasons. If students receive a composite score of 24 on their ACT, earn a verbal-mathematics score of 1250 or higher on the SAT, meet the four sub category benchmarks on the ACT sections or have “earned an associates or bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited post secondary institution in the United States.”

For example, if a student receives the benchmark ACT score of 22 in reading, 18 in English, 22 in math, or 23 in science, it’s possible the composite score will be less than a 24, however they would still be exempt from the proficiency exam, Nichols said.

Making the decision to exempt students from the exam has been in talks for two years, Nichols said.

“I think it really recognizes students’ achievements,” Nichols said. Evidence showed that students who met one or more of the exemption requirements were already passing the test, Nichols said.

“For a lot of the students it’s very stressful…it’s taking a load off these students…and organization-wise, when you’re comparing 500 versus 1,000 students, it’s stress off the office too,” said Maria Ramos, interim director of Academic Evaluation and Assessment.

The amount of students taking the test has approximately been cut in half after sorting students out based on the waivers, Ramos said.

Students who have yet to take it, like freshman Paige Hinton, animal science major, are relieved that the waiver happened before she took the exam.

“[The waiver] is nice, especially since you’re in college and you should be specializing in a field, to take a standard test doesn’t really make sense,” Hinton said.

To avoid confusion, all students received an email—either stating that they needed to sign up for the exam or that they were exempt.

“We had some students calling, like every time there is something new,” Ramos said.

Even though the amount of students taking the test has decreased, as of now the test will still be administered both fall and spring semesters as normal,” Ramos said. “Looking at the registration for the sections, accommodations will be made.”

Other than the exemptions, no other policies regarding the exam have changed. Students will still have to take the exam following the completion of 48 credit hours at or above the 100 level, and if a section is failed, they will need to re-sit that portion of the exam, Nichols said.

Since the policy is under the BOR, the change affects all of the schools in the BOR system.

According to Nichols, the conversation started among the Academic Affairs Council and the data it looked at supported the change.

Generally speaking, students seem to support the change Nichols said.

“I shared it with the student senate and they applauded. In general it has been very well received…I think probably those students who aren’t as happy are those that still have to take the exam,” Nichols said.

Some students who already took the exam, such as junior Katy Mattress, exercise science major, were frustrated with the timing. According to Mattress, taking the exam was much like taking the ACT, therefore seemed like a waste of time. 

“There’s no reason having every single student take it if not every single student needs to take it,” Mattress said.