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, or whether they might need additional course work to prepare.
As a result of a statewide agreement among Washington’s public colleges and universities, high school students who score at college-ready levels 3 or 4 may use the Smarter Balanced score to enroll directly into college-level courses without taking additional placement tests.
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. New legislation passed in 2017 made changes to the timing of the high school assessment, so the placement agreement language has been updated to reflect the new circumstances (see below for June 2018 agreement update). Students are eligible to enroll in college-level math and English at participating public Washington higher-education institutions — including all of the community and technical colleges — without having to take the traditional placement tests like ACCUPLACER.
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.
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.
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.
- Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement (May 2018)
- Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement FAQs (August 2018)
- Agreement: Smarter Balanced high school career and college readiness assessment for placement in Washington community and technical colleges (May 2017)
- FAQs and process used to develop the Smarter Balanced agreement (revised June 2016)
- Smarter Balanced implementation memo to college staff (June 2016)
- Smarter Balanced Assessment and Placement Agreement (spring 2016 update)
Bridge to College Resources for Educators, Students and Families
Last Modified: 9/12/18 3:22 PM