The ACT® Compass, a popular placement test that many colleges use to assess a given student's need to be placed into general education courses, will be entirely phased out by December 31, 2016. The ACT Compass products include ACT Asset, Windows Compass, eCompass, and Compass 5.0.
Much like its competitor, the Accuplacer, the ACT Compass has been used since 1983 by colleges across the nation to place kids in remedial general education courses like math, science, and English.
"A thorough analysis of customer feedback, empirical evidence, and postsecondary trends led us to conclude that ACT Compass is not contributing effectively to student placement and success as it had in the past," says the ACT Compass Team. Their studies showed that a large number of students who took the placement test were inaccurately placed into remedial classes, increasing the student's chance of dropping out and lowering the school's retention rates. Studies show that students placed into remedial classes rarely make it out of remediation and into college-level classes, due in part to these classes not counting towards a degree and costing up to as much as for-credit classes.
Though placement tests are meant to provide a student the best chance for success, many students, especially nontraditional and adult students, simply need a brief refresher to the material in order to succeed in a college-level course. Determining readiness for a college-level class is a difficult task, considering each student has different needs and circumstances contributing to their success.
After the ACT decision to phase out Compass, colleges are looking for other ways of assessing student's college readiness. Some community colleges are experimenting with how well GPA can be a factor when placing students. Other colleges will continue to use the Accuplacer, and will consider using GPA, ACT, and/or SAT scores to place students in classes that fit their skills.