Preparing High School Students for College
High school students in Washington state take the Smarter Balanced Assessment to find out whether they will be ready for college or a career once they graduate. For college-bound students, the assessment helps identify whether they are on track to go directly into college-level courses in English and math or whether they might need additional course work to prepare.
Since 2015, the Washington community and technical college system has offered high school students who score at college-ready levels 3 or 4 the opportunity to use the Smarter Balanced score to enroll directly into college-level English and/or math courses without taking remedial courses or additional placement tests.
Legislation passed in 2017 made changes to the timing of the high school assessment, so the placement agreement language was updated to reflect the new circumstances (see below for June 2018 agreement update). Students with Smarter Balanced scores in Levels 3 and 4 are still eligible to enroll in college-level math and English courses at participating public Washington higher-education institutions —currently all of the community and technical colleges — without having to take traditional placement tests like ACCUPLACER. (In math, students also need specific course-taking in their junior and/or senior years to qualify.)
Students who do not score at a college-ready level on the assessments still have the opportunity to get college-ready while in high school with Bridge to College courses. Students who earn a B grade or above in a Bridge to College transition course are eligible for automatic placement into college-level courses at any community and technical college in Washington (and at Eastern Washington University).
The transition courses and placement agreement:
- Help high school graduates avoid needing to take and pay for pre-college courses and placement tests when they enter college.
- Improve alignment between K-12 and entry-level college math and English curricula.
- Develop and sustain college/K-12 district partnerships and faculty/teacher collaboration.
Courses taught to state learning standards
Collaboratively designed and developed by higher education faculty, high school teachers, and curriculum specialists from multiple colleges and school districts, Bridge to College courses teach to the state learning standards and are grounded in career and college readiness expectations. The project is funded by a College Spark Washington grant.
Helping students use the placement agreement
As of spring 2021 there is no statewide electronic process for students to submit their Bridge to College grades and use the placement agreement; it is up to schools and colleges to help students navigate the local systems for placement into college-level courses and avoid remediation. Students and school staff looking for guidance in the process can review the information about using the agreement available on the Bridge to College Courses website; we also worked with the Washington State Student Services Commission to compile a list of campus contacts for local questions about Bridge to College and the placement agreement. If no name is listed for a college and you have a question about a student trying to use the placement agreement there, contact Bill Moore or at 360-704-4346.
COVID-19 Impact on Placement Process
Given school disruptions due to the ongoing pandemic, the Bridge to College Placement Agreement has been adjusted for the 2020-21 year. See the Placement Agreement section below for details.
For more details, see the material below under the “Campus Implementation and Placement Agreement” tab.
The Bridge to College mathematics course is designed to prepare students for entrance into non-calculus pathway introductory college level mathematics courses. The course curriculum emphasizes modeling with mathematics and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice. Topics include building and interpreting functions (linear, quadratic and exponential), writing, solving and reasoning with equations and inequalities, and summarizing, representing, and interpreting data. This course must be taught using the Bridge to College mathematics curriculum. If you are interested in reviewing the actual course materials, please follow the instructions at this web page.
This course develops students’ college and career readiness by building skills in critical reading, academic writing, speaking and listening, research and inquiry, and language use as defined by the Common Core State Standards. Students read complex nonfiction and fiction texts focusing on issues of both current and enduring importance. Students learn to evaluate the credibility of information, critique others’ opinions, and construct their own opinions based on evidence.
By the end of the course, students are able to use strategies for critical reading, argumentative writing, and independent thinking while reading unfamiliar texts and responding to them in discussion and writing. The course also develops essential habits of mind necessary for student success in college, including independence, productive persistence, and metacognition.
- January 2023 Placement Agreement Update/Extension
- Placement Agreement Updates (March 2021)
- Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement (May 2018)
- Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement FAQs (August 2018)
- FAQs and process used to develop the Smarter Balanced agreement (revised June 2016)
- Smarter Balanced implementation memo to college staff (June 2016)
Bridge to College Resources for Educators, Students and Families
- Bridge to College website
- Bridge to College Transition Courses Q&A
- 2022-23 List of High Schools/Districts Offering Bridge to College Classes (by Educational Service District Regions)
- Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
- Bridge to College Impact Evaluation — Evaluation of the Bridge to College courses which includes students reporting on their Bridge experience in high school and after transitioning to college.
- BERC Group Evaluation Report Webinar Presentation
- College Readiness Math Initiative Year 6 Bridge to College Report
Last Modified: 2/2/23, 2:46 PM