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What is the COMPASS, and what is it all about? Those are a couple of excellent questions, but, in order to answer them completely, it’s going to be necessary to present some background information, which will help explain what the COMPASS is, how it came about, and why it’s in such widespread use. There are several factors involved in this equation, and none of them stand alone. Let’s talk about the two biggest factors that led to so many colleges and universities relying on the COMPASS.
The first factor is the increasingly widespread belief that everyone should earn a college degree. That is no exaggeration; President Obama recently voiced his belief that every child in America should get a college education, and many other prominent leaders have stated the same thing. This is an impossible goal to reach, for many reasons (which are beyond the scope of this article), but many people believe it can happen, and so more and more people are being pushed to attend college, even though they’re not even close to being capable of handling college level work. Just a few decades ago, most Americans would have been astonished by this attitude. Up until relatively recently, the standard view was that college was only for a select few, the cream of the intellectual crop among our young people. Only about one in ten high school graduates went on to college, and no one saw anything wrong with that. That view has now been turned upside down, and the process began several decades ago.
At about the same time the belief that “everyone should go to college” began taking hold among the public, our nation’s public schools began going downhill, fast. So, what happened was that every year our high school graduates were less and less educated, and at the same time more and more of them began going to college. This was creating huge problems, as colleges were being flooded with freshmen who weren’t ready for college level academics, many of whom went on to drop out in frustration. This is why placement tests like the COMPASS, which measures basic skills in reading, math and writing, were created.
By giving incoming students the COMPASS exam, schools can learn where students were strong, average, or weak. They can recommend that students take basic or advanced classes based on their scores, or they can require remedial work for students who have a long way to go before being ready for even basic level courses. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever return to the days when only a small minority of people went to college, so it looks like the COMPASS will be around for the foreseeable future.
COMPASS test breakdown | COMPASSTestQuestions.com
by Enoch Morrison
Last Updated: 05/08/2013
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