Admissions and Standards Committee


Placement Testing for Entry Level Chemistry 1211K Courses

The department of chemistry would respectfully ask for permission to initiate required placement testing in the General Chemistry course (Chem 1211K) for science majors. Students with an AP chemistry score of 2 or a SAT subject score of 600 will be exempt from the testing. A grant has been received from the provostís office to facilitate this process. The rationale for this change and the procedure to be used is described below.

Need for Placement Testing

1. The DFW rate for Chem 1211K often ranges between 30 and 40% in any given semester. One of the main reasons for this high DFW rate is the studentsí lack of basic background material when entering the course. The department has been giving the California Diagnostic Test (CDT) on the first day of class for several years. This test is an American Chemical Society (ACS) generated test which is designed to test for skills that a person exiting a high school level chemistry course should have. The statistics show that ė 80% of students who score below random on the CDT and continue on in the 1211K course do not succeed in the course (receive a D, F or W). Students who score at random or below are required to drop the 1211K and instead to take Chemistry 1050, a class designed to give students the needed background to succeed in Chem 1211K. The test is a good indicator of success in the course. Students that score on scale have a substantially higher pass rate.

2. The department has only 480 spaces for Chem 1211K students due to lack of laboratory space including the extra 100 the provost provided funds for several years ago. In the fall semester between 700 and 800 students wish to enroll in 1211K. This course is essential to the progression of students academic program, not only in chemistry but also in biology since biology majors may not take a course in their major without first completing Chem 1211K. Recently we have had between 10 and 20% of students who do not score above random on the CDT. Having these students register for Chem 1050 would free up between 48 and 96 spaces for students who possess the background skills to succeed in the course.

Procedure for Placement Testing

1. The Department of Chemistry would initially handle all administration of the CDT and the authorization of students to register for Chem 1211K through grant funds. This will not be a part of the INCEPT process, but rather an independent placement evaluation. Students would sign up for the test online and all testing would be administered by a department of chemistry faculty member and proctored by Department of Chemistry students. The department will be responsible for entering all registration approvals. During spring and summer semesters the test will be given 3 to 4 times or until the 200 available slots are filled. In the fall semester the test will be administered 7-8 times until the 480 slots are filled. The testing will be held in room 218 NSC and /or 576 Kell Hall. Extra Chem 1050 sections will be scheduled at appropriate times to allow students to switch to that course and not have to reorganize their schedule. We are in conversations with the testing center as to what, in the future, they may be able to help us with.


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Revised 4/19/00