Chesapeake College to focus on high school grade point average

WYE MILLS — Chesapeake College is implementing a substantial change in its admissions policies and will begin using high school GPA as the primary measure of college readiness for the majority of its students.

Beginning with the 2017 Winterim and Spring semesters, most individuals within three to five years of high school graduation will no longer be required to take the College Board ACCUPLACER tests used by Chesapeake and most community colleges nationwide.
Previously, students falling below the standardized placement exam cut-off scores were required to enroll in developmental classes at Chesapeake before they could take credit courses.

“It’s a real game changer in helping our incoming students get enrolled in the program of their choice immediately,” said Dr. Barbara Viniar, president of Chesapeake College. “Starting out closer to their goal makes it easier for them to achieve degree completion.”
A study based on nationwide student assessments conducted by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University has shown that GPA is a far better predictor of one’s success in the first year of college, according to Dr. Clayton Railey, Chesapeake’s new Vice President for Workforce & Academic Programs.

“Students often get lost in developmental classes that can be a significant roadblock to retention and degree completion,” said Dr. Railey. “We want to get them enrolled in the credit world without setting them up for failure.”

Under the new Chesapeake policy, students applying to Chesapeake within five years of graduating from high school are considered “college ready” in reading and writing if they had a GPA of 3.0 or better.

For math, students must still have a 3.0 GPA or better and have achieved at least a C grade in Algebra 2 or a higher-level course within three years of taking that math class. Requirements are stricter, according to Dr. Railey, because research shows math skills atrophy more quickly.

Students who have graduated from high school more than five years before applying to Chesapeake must still take the ACCUPLACER test.
Over two years, Chesapeake conducted two pilot tests to validate use of GPA vs. ACCUPLACER as a predictor of success. The first was held with 22 students in Talbot County Public Schools in 2015 and a second in the 2015 – 2016 school year with 57 students that also included the public school systems in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.

The results showed that a higher percentage of students in the pilots earned a C grade or better in credit-level math and English during their first year at Chesapeake than did students in the same courses who were not part of the pilot.

Mr. Railey then spearheaded the permanent change in admissions policy over the last six months.

“Thanks to the faculty’s Development Studies Committee chaired by Marc Steinberg and Melinda Baer and county educators throughout the region, we moved quickly to implement this change for students applying in our initial 2017 semesters,” said Mr. Railey. “The teamwork and support of everyone involved is commendable.”

Area school system superintendents praised the move:

“This program allows deserving students the opportunity to advance their educational careers in an efficient and equitable manner,” said Dr. Henry Wagner Jr., superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools. “We appreciate the added flexibility that is now being provided.”

“The use of a student’s GPA will allow more TCPS students to enter credit-bearing courses, which was proven to be most successful through our collaborative pilot last year,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, uperintendent of Talbot County Public Schools. “We will continue to work together to prepare our students for college and career by expanding their access to courses.”

Open registration begins Dec. 1 for Chesapeake College’s Winterim (Jan. 2-20, 2017) and Spring (Jan. 23-May 5, 2017) semesters. Students may apply online at

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