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A Butte College student takes the common assessment.CCCAssess, the common assessment tool developed for the California Community Colleges (CCC), was put into the field in March as the 12 CCC Common Assessment Initiative (CAI) pilot colleges started using it with students.

The current version of CCCAssess is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) developed to get the assessment content into the field and collect student responses to validate the data. Through the experiences of pilot colleges, the full version of the product will be refined for rollout to the next group of colleges in the Fall 2016 term.

Field Experience

Not only are students reacting to the assessment, asking questions and giving feedback, assessment center staff are getting an opportunity to see how the system works, explained Amy Beadle, CAI Program Manager.

“We’ve received excellent feedback already,” Beadle said. “At some of the pilot colleges, currently enrolled students in certain classes are taking the assessment. When we realized that students couldn’t complete the series of questions during a class period, we developed a slightly shorter assessment to collect the needed data for validation within a class period.”

Although there have been some unexpected problems—as would be expected with a rollout—Beadle is very encouraged by the progress.

“Certainly with a brand new product, there will bumps along the road," she said. “Unicon, the vendor developing the platform, has been very responsive in fixing problems that arise. The pilot colleges have been fantastic in communicating with us about what they are experiencing while putting CCCAssess into the field. As a result, we’ve already made improvements before other pilot colleges roll out CCCAssess.”

College Perspective

Jeff Long, Senior Matriculation Specialist at Saddleback College, indicated that being a pilot college can be challenging but they are excited about what the new assessment will mean to students.

“Test piloting the new common assessment is not easy, but it’s worth it when you consider the impact this will have on all of our future students,” Long said. “John Hadad [CAI Product Manager] and his team leading this effort are super responsive to all of our emails; we feel supported and not alone.”

Michele Hollingsworth, Student Programs Specialist in the Assessment Center at San Joaquin Delta College, is also participating on a pilot college implementation team.

“Implementation has not been without some issues, but CCC staff has been amazing,” Hollingsworth said. “Their support has been awesome. They are responsive to issues and problems have been addressed quickly.”

Assessment Validation

There are 12 colleges participating in the piloting of the initial assessment product. Each college will conduct 1,350 assessments for a total of 16,000 responses. Nearly 2,000 responses had been collected by March 31.

William Fisher, a psychometrician working with the CAI, is looking at the data as it comes in daily.

“I am really encouraged by the early results,” Fisher said. “The responsiveness has been fabulous and the data delivery system is working well. I have been looking at the linkages between testlets to be sure that the data sets connect as we expect, and watching for broken links. Calibration studies will be used as part of the validation process once more data is collected. We’ve been able to review 398 of the math items and 540 of the English items already, so we are getting a good sense of how it is working.”

Milestone Achieved

Getting the CCCAssess MVP into the field is a major milestone for the project according to Jennifer Coleman, CAI Statewide Program Director.

“It is so exciting to see it all come together,” she said. “When we’ve had problems, like when a server went down last week, Unicon quickly got it back online. Since it is the MVP, it isn’t the same user experience as we expect with the final product, and proctors have worked with us using a less than ideal temporary log-on system.

“We are making adjustments as we go, so the product gets better and better, the more experience we have out in the field,” Coleman continued. “Pilot colleges are sharing their experiences with each other and helping us document best practices that will benefit the colleges participating in the fall-semester rollout.”

CCCAssess team leaders from each of the pilot colleges are also meeting weekly to share best practices and troubleshoot issues that have arisen in the previous week. Additionally, CAI project staff is visiting pilot college campuses to see what is happening in the field, answer questions and gather additional input.

Product Refinement & Rollout

The pilot colleges are using an assessment without all the bells and whistles that the next version of CCCAssess will have, Hadad explained.

“The early adopters have the burden of working with a very narrowly defined Minimal Viable Product,” he said. “Through their experiences, we are tackling issues and working through bugs to develop a very usable platform and validated content. The feedback from the pilot colleges is essential to identifying opportunities to enhance the user experience for the next generation of users in the fall.”

The rollout schedule for colleges will be announced by the CCC Chancellor’s Office in April, and posted on the CAI website at

Professional Development

To support colleges in planning for the rollout of CCCAssess at their campuses, a regional professional development session is being offered on May 12 in San Diego. Whether you work for a college piloting CCCAssess or will be implementing the Common Assessment this fall through 2018, you are welcome to come. It will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Del Mar Hotel from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is no fee to participate. Breakfast is included at 9 a.m. and lunch is at 12:30 p.m.

Please RSVP by April 19 if you will need a hotel room, and by April 29 to attend. If the venue reaches capacity, you will be placed on a wait list. To learn more, go to the registration site at

See CAI At These Conferences

There will also be sessions about CCCAssess at several upcoming conferences:

April 7-8
Spring RP Conference
San Diego

April 21-23
2016 Spring Plenary Session

May 1-4

May 13

June 16-17
Online Teaching Conference
San Diego

Learn More At CAI Website

Additional information about the CAI can be found at You may also contact Jennifer Coleman directly at 530-879-4165 or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Karen Fraser-Middleton is a marketing consultant for the
California Community Colleges Common Assessment Initiative