Biology placement tests (BPTs) have most often been used to determine whether well-prepared students can “test out” of foundational coursework at the college or university level. However, not all high school students are equally prepared for majors-level introductory Biology. Consequently, we developed and tested an in-house diagnostic BPT that assesses preparedness for “testing in” to introductory majors-level coursework (BI 211). We found that BPT scores were significantly correlated with final course grades. Following implementation of this benchmark, we documented short-term enrollment patterns of BPT-taking students (n = 313 over 3 years). Approximately half of these students passed the BPT, with 63 percent continuing in Biology. The other half did not pass, with 25 percent continuing in Biology. The implementation of the BPT decreased the overall percentage of F/Drop students in this course. These benchmarks have not affected the first generation college (FGC) or underrepresented minority (URM) enrollment in BI 211, nor have they introduced demographic biases among F/Drop students in this course. Given these data, we argue that diagnostic BPTs have an effective place in advising and retention strategies.

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