A Plan to Build an Open Source Tool to Assess Student Skills and Predict Success

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

This was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

Higher education for most students begins with proctored high-stakes placement exams that may not be the best approach, according to Jason Bryer, director of research and project evaluation at Excelsior College.  Proctored exams can be intimidating, especially at open-enrollment institutions where more than half of students are directed into non-credit remediation courses at an estimated cost of $4 billion per year.

Excelsior College hopes to improve students’ early college experiences by developing an open-source assessment tool to measure student skills in academic and non-academic areas. They will use the $1.9 million First in the World grant to address the problem of placement and remediation, and to allow institutions to better target resources and services to students. We talked to Bryer to learn more about the system and their goals for the project.

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