Directed Self-Placement at Two-Year Colleges: A Kairotic Moment
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Directed Self-Placement at Two-Year Colleges: A Kairotic Moment

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

As national reform efforts are reshaping community college policies with the goal of improving degree completion rates, many two-year colleges are rethinking longstanding course placement processes. Directed Self-Placement (DSP) has emerged as one increasingly visible and viable option for placing students into introductory English and mathematics courses. However, higher education researchers advocating placement reform demonstrate little familiarity with the extensive scholarly literature on DSP in writing studies. To date, that literature has focused almost exclusively on 4-year institutions, with few studies of DSP at two-year colleges. This article begins to address these gaps by (a) reviewing writing studies scholarship on DSP to identify key theoretical insights that are missing in the community college placement reform literature and (b) presenting findings from semi-structured interviews with implementation leaders at twelve 2-year colleges that have attempted DSP. These findings demonstrate a more extensive record of DSP for writing placement at 2-year colleges than has previously been visible in published scholarship, and that DSP can be successful in these institutional settings. These findings also demonstrate distinctive considerations, challenges, and opportunities for DSP at open admissions 2-year colleges that warrant greater attention from placement reformers and writing assessment scholars.

Keywords: two-year colleges, placement, directed self-placement, developmental education reform

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