Placement testing and the students who struggle

Placement tests are common for many universities.

By Jennie Tanner

All students who get accepted and decide to come to Fitchburg State are required to take a math and writing placement test before they may choose their classes to determine where they belong in the University. But are these tests really fair to all students? Some students, for instance, excel in math while others struggle. Those who struggle typically fail and are placed in a basic math course. If they do not pass this course then their GPA is dropped, however if they pass, they receive no credits for it but are permitted to move onto a math course that will count for credits.

According to Tom Rousseau, the man in charge of administering the placement tests, there is plenty of help available for the freshmen who are incoming and need that extra push of help. He says there are “math center tutors available 37 hours a week” and that all freshmen are “provided 16 weeks free access to to help them prepare for the algebra placement test. Unfortunately only some of the students complete the diagnostic tests choose the “Study Plan” and work on the indicated tutorial exercises which include the ‘View an Example’ and ‘Help me Solve This’ features that provide step by step instruction.”

For many students who choose to not use these sources and say “you can’t study for a math test,” this is not enough to spark them to seek help. Tom Rousseau is available to speak with anyone who wishes to receive more help and students are encouraged to seek him out. Does this make the school’s policy fair? Probably not. In my own opinion, the fact that my GPA can be dropped for bad work in this course that I am paying for to receive no credits for good work is pretty crappy. I was not able to determine when this policy was put in place and by whom, but I think the University should reconsider the set-up of this policy before all students use their hard earned money for an educational course that will not even earn them any credits.