The CUNY Assessment Testing Program:
Policies and Procedures
All students pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree program at CUNY must satisfy the reading, writing, and mathematics basic skills requirements of the University. These requirements govern admission to baccalaureate programs and placement into and exit from remedial and ESL course work. The policies and procedures related to the CUNY Proficiency Examination (CPE) are summarized in a separate document, The CUNY Proficiency Examination: Policies and Procedures 2005-2006.
Admission to the University
The policies governing admission to baccalaureate and associate programs are as follows:
- Applicants for freshman and transfer admission must demonstrate minimum proficiency in reading, writing, and math in order to be admitted (some students are exempt; see below).
- Proficiency may be established on the basis of the SAT, ACT, or the New York State Regents examinations in English and math. If proficiency is not demonstrated in this way, an applicant may do so by passing the appropriate basic skills assessment test or tests.
- Applicants who do not demonstrate minimum proficiency in all areas may enroll in the University Skills Immersion Program (USIP), the Winter Immersion program, or the Prelude to Success program if they qualify. They also may opt to matriculate in an associate program and take the necessary remedial instruction there.
- To be admitted to an associate program as a freshman or transfer, students must demonstrate their level of basic skills proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics. Proficiency can be established on the basis of the SAT, ACT, or the New York State Regents examinations in English and math. Individuals who do not document proficiency in a skill area on the basis of one or more of these tests may do so by taking CUNY’s basic skills assessment test in the appropriate areas. Based on these tests, the student is either exempted from remedial instruction or placed into one or more courses in reading, writing, math or ESL.
- Currently the University requires students who have demonstrated minimum proficiency in mathematics on the basis of the SAT, ACT or New York State Regents examinations to take the COMPASS math assessment to be placed properly in credit-bearing math courses. While placement testing for these exempted students before the beginning of classes is desirable, not all colleges are prepared to do so at this time. Therefore, colleges have the flexibility to establish appropriate placement testing schedules for exempt students. Currently, placement testing in mathematics is not scheduled for two groups:
- transfer students from outside CUNY who have completed 45 or more credits, and
- intra-CUNY transfers who are math proficient
Students applying for readmission are subject to the skills policies in place at the time they apply.
Non-degree students who wish to register for courses that require skills proficiency are subject to the same pre-requisites as degree students. Examples of such courses are freshman composition and credit-bearing math courses. A college may waive this requirement for visiting non-degree students who are matriculated at a college outside the CUNY system. All non-degree students who wish to apply for admission to a CUNY degree program are subject to the same skills requirements as transfer students.
Exit From Remediation
- In order to enroll in a college-level English composition course students must have achieved minimum proficiency in both reading and writing.
- To enroll in a credit-bearing mathematics course, students must have demonstrated minimum proficiency in mathematics. The colleges may set standards for placement in these courses that are higher than the minimum established by the University.
Certification and Graduation
The CPE has replaced the skills assessment tests as a requirement for graduation from associate programs and for entry to the upper division of baccalaureate programs. All students must demonstrate proficiency in reading and writing before they can sit for the CPE.
Students who are eligible for the SEEK program may be admitted to a baccalaureate program without first demonstrating basic skills proficiency. SEEK students enrolled in baccalaureate programs must achieve proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics within one year of initial enrollment. The one-year time limit is interpreted as consisting of the required pre-freshman immersion program, two regular semesters, the winter immersion program, and a final summer immersion program.
Under Board policy, students “who received a secondary education abroad and who otherwise are not in need of remediation” may be admitted to a baccalaureate program without first reaching proficiency in reading and writing in English. The University currently implements the policy as follows: ESL students are those who have received a term or more of instruction in a foreign high school (language of instruction was not English) and can demonstrate minimum proficiency in mathematics, on the basis of the SAT, Regents, or the COMPASS math assessment test. In Spring 2002, the University established a second procedure for identifying ESL students. CUNY/ACT essays that have received an ESL designation during the scoring process and other essays that have received a score of 2/2 or above may be reviewed by college ESL program chairs or directors to determine whether these students should be classified as ‘ESL’. ESL designations by faculty must be relayed by the college to the University Application Processing Center to be incorporated into the student’s application. Note that ESL students identified in this way must also be proficient in mathematics. ESL students pursuing a bachelor’s degree must pass the reading and writing assessment tests by the end of their fourth full semester of attendance. They may not repeat an ESL course after receiving either no credit or a failing grade twice previously in that course. These limitations on time and attempts do not apply to ESL students pursuing an associate degree.
Transfers from outside CUNY
At this time, students transferring from outside CUNY into a CUNY baccalaureate program and who have 45 or more credits in progress are considered skills proficient. This exemption does not apply to students transferring into associate programs, which may not accept more than 30 transfer credits.
ESL students who are eligible for the 45-credit exemption will be scheduled for placement testing in reading and writing in order to assess their English language needs. In this context, ESL students are those who have
- spent one or more semesters of their secondary education in a non-English-speaking environment and
- accumulated fewer than 30 credits (earned and in progress) in an English-speaking post-secondary environment.
Colleges may test ESL students who have completed a baccalaureate to assess their proficiency in English. The criteria for identifying ESL students are the same as those described above for transfer students. If the assessments indicate a need for ESL instruction, the college may require the student to take it and set standards for proficiency in English. Students who matriculated at CUNY Prior to 1978. Exemptions from the skills requirements for students who initially had matriculated at CUNY prior to September 1, 1978, are no longer in force.
Minimum Proficiency in Basic Skills
There are several ways in which minimum proficiency may be demonstrated
Reading and Writing
Individuals are deemed proficient in reading and writing if they meet any of the following criteria:
- Score 480 or higher on the SAT verbal
- Score 20 or higher on the ACT verbal
- Score 75 or higher on the New York State Regents examination in English.
Individuals who do not show proficiency on the basis of any of these examinations must sit for the CUNY/ACT essay and the COMPASS reading assessment. Minimum passing scores on these exams are currently 7 or higher and 65 or higher, respectively. Effective fall 2005, the cut point on the reading assessment will rise to 70 for students applying for Spring 2006 admission or exiting from remedial instruction in December 2005.
Individuals are considered minimally proficient in mathematics if they meet any of the following criteria:
- Score 480 or higher on the SAT math
- Score 20 or higher on the ACT math
- Score 75 or higher on the New York State Regents Mathematics A or B examination or the Sequential II or III Regents examinations.
A documented passing score on a CUNY skills assessment test, no matter when completed, qualifies the individual as proficient. Similarly, there is no time limit on SAT, ACT, and New York State Regents examination scores that qualify the individual as skills proficient. However, applicants for admission or readmission who have not met the basic skills requirements should be re-tested if the most recent assessment test result will be more than two years old as of the date the individual wishes to matriculate.
- In the years before the implementation of the Board policy of September 1999 mandating the use of common objective tests to qualify students for exit from remediation, CUNY colleges did not consistently administer assessment tests to students in top-level remedial and ESL courses. Consequently passing test scores may be not available for some students who successfully completed their remedial or ESL instruction before the policy was first implemented in fall 2000. Such students (that is, students who satisfactorily completed their remedial course work before fall 2000) who wish to transfer from a CUNY associate program to a baccalaureate program without the degree will be considered skills proficient in math if they have successfully completed a credit-bearing math course at CUNY. They will be credited with proficiency in reading and writing if they have successfully completed freshman composition at CUNY. Those candidates who have completed a CUNY associate degree will be considered skills proficient. All other students must take the appropriate skill assessment tests at the CUNY college which they attended most recently.
- Workshops and other intensive instructional programs preparing students for the CUNY basic skills tests must offer a minimum of 20 hours of instruction (15 hours for math instruction, on a pilot basis, at the discretion of the chief academic officer).
- Students may participate in an intercession workshop and be re-tested at its conclusion, after a minimum of 20 hours of instruction (15 hours for math instruction, on a pilot basis, at the discretion of the chief academic officer).
- Students in June workshops may be re-tested once, at the conclusion of the workshop, after a minimum of 20 hours of instruction (15 hours for math instruction, on a pilot basis, at the discretion of the chief academic officer).
- Students in Summer Immersion Programs may be re-tested twice. Re-tests must be preceded by a minimum of 20 hours of instruction (15 hours for math instruction, on a pilot basis, at the discretion of the chief academic officer).
- Matriculated students may enroll in skills workshops only at their home college and they may be re-tested only at their home college, except with written permission from the testing office (or other designated office) at their home college. On completion of the workshop, students will be retested at their home college.
- Colleges may re-test outstanding students registered in top-level ESL or English or mathematics developmental skills courses during the first 10 days of the semester to re-evaluate their course placement.
- Re-testing of this limited group of students should occur only after diagnostic testing in the course, faculty recommendation, and consultation with program directors have been completed.
- Re-tested students who pass the appropriate basic skills test(s) may be placed into the suitable college-level course.