CPP suspends Graduation Writing Test requirement, seeks assessment alternative

Cal Poly Pomona has waived the Graduation Writing Test as a graduation requirement, reflecting the California State University Chancellor’s Office decision to suspend the assessment requirement until the 2021 fall term. In response, CPP has formed a committee tasked with drafting a new proposition for what will replace the Graduation Writing Test for the 2021 fall semester.

The Alternative GWT Committee is close to finalizing a proposal ready to submit as a referral to the CPP Academic Senate and hopes to include the change in the 2021-2022 University Catalog.

ASI President Lucy Yu will participate as a member of the Alternative GWT Committee and wishes to focus on how the writing assessment requirement will impact students. Action surrounding the Graduation Writing Test has not been taken by the CPP Academic Senate since 1978.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down with this committee and saying, ‘What is the mission statement?’” Yu said. “Something that I’m really interested in is figuring out why we have this (requirement).”

The Graduation Writing Assessment is a CSU systemwide requirement, though not every institution requires an in-person test. Most CSU campuses opt for students to meet the requirements through coursework rather than a standardized test.

This is most likely the path CPP’s committee will follow in planning a writing test alternative, according to Laura Massa, associate vice president for academic programs.

“The committee is looking at the idea of meaningful writing throughout the curriculum,” Massa said. “This could include a class that is already a requirement for each student’s major, such as a thesis class or a lab class that requires reports.”

For students who do not have a class already embedded in their major that would fulfill the writing assessment requirement, the committee could potentially put the requirement in a general education course or make CPU 4010 the replacement for the Graduate Writing Test.

CPU 4010 is a course that, under certain conditions, students can take in place of the traditional test. Students that cannot take the writing test due to high test anxiety have a higher chance of passing the requirement in a classroom setting, according to Maria Acero, Graduation Writing Test consultant and English graduate student.

Acero said, “At the time being, the committee is up in arms about either allowing the test to go on in some sort of socially distanced setting or having it substituted through classes.”

As a writing test consultant, Acero helped students through workshops and gave them a full breakdown of what the Graduating Writing Test was. The workshops were geared toward graduating students or students who had failed three or more times.

“Pre-COVID, we helped them develop new skills and see what kind of errors they were making,” said Acero. “Students still come to us asking us questions about the GWT.

Obviously, we tell them that it is suspended, but the catch is, yes, you’ll be able to graduate with your bachelor’s degree, but if you decide to enter into the CSU system again, you’ll still need to complete the requirement.”

Acero will continue to provide advice and assistance to students who will still need guidance in what will replace the requirement.

The Academic Senate’s process involves consultation — which is an opportunity for members
of the community, including students, to share feedback on the proposal. There will be an
invitation sent out for students to share their thoughts about the proposal.

Massa added, “We’ll make sure that every single student has a place to get this requirement.

The faculty and the administrators want to support students’ success and help get them to that degree.”

(Feature image courtesy of Thought Catalog)

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