Students take new standardized test through Johnson County Community College


Lynlee Hutchison, Editor in Chief

With many alterations in the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing global pandemic, some dual-enrollment students experienced a new change this semester when applying for college credit.

In order to qualify for dual enrollment through local Johnson County Community College, students in the past were required to take a standardized test, known as the Accuplacer, before being admitted into a course. This test was typically required to be taken on the JCCC campus, but due to social distancing guidelines, the college came up with a new solution. 

This new placement test, called the “Aleks,”  was required to be taken by College Algebra students. De Soto High School math teacher Susan Coffee compares and contrasts the two models of testing. 

“The Accuplacer is a multiple choice exam where you can have questions go back and forth from harder to easier if you are missing questions, and there are no set number of questions,” Coffee said. “Whereas the Aleks test has a set 30 questions no matter what and [students] have to go in and type in the answer how they want it.”  

Students quickly realized that this application was very easy and convenient to use from their own home.

“It was step by step. As you went along it [Aleks program] told you exactly what to do,” said senior test taker Connor FitzSimmons. “‘It was also nice having the test be accessed from home and not having to worry about going out anywhere and getting sick.” 

The Aleks application also gave students more opportunities to qualify for the class than the previously used testing system. 

“Students get more attempts on [the Aleks than on] the Accuplacer. On the Accuplacer you were only given two attempts, where on the Aleks each student gets four,” Coffee said.

Aside from many differences, one of the most noticed by students was the required “study hours” one had to complete before attempting to retake the exam. 

“If you don’t get the minimum of a 46 then they make you study [the material] for three hours before you can take it again,” Senior Riley Harmon-Moore said. “I once got a practice question that was literally the exact same as one on the test, so I was like ‘oh, I know the answer now.’”

Students also felt that after the unexpected extended period away from school due to the virus, the Aleks test was a great way to kick themselves back into gear.

“As annoying as [taking the placement test] was, it really did help start my math brain all over again. During COVID with all of the breaks, I didn’t really know what I was doing when I got back to math class,” Harmon-Moore said.

Following this year of testing, JCCC will make a decision if after the pandemic, the Aleks test will remain the required way of standardized testing.