By Nick Vasquez, Oct. 5, 2021

The California State University Chancellor’s Office extended the suspension of the Graduate Writing Test requirement through the spring 2022 term. This extension comes after the CSU first suspended the Graduate Writing Assessment requirement in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chancellor’s office also formed a CSU-wide committee to determine the future of the writing requirement which has been in effect since 1977.

Cal Poly Pomona’s Associate Vice President for Academic Programs Laura Massa, who serves on the committee, discussed its goals.

“The chancellor’s office has formed a committee to look out for whether this requirement, which is really old and quite dated, should be evolved to reflect more modern approaches to teaching and learning,” said Massa.

The 10-person committee consists of faculty and administrators from Cal Poly Pomona, Humboldt State, Sonoma State, Sacramento State, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Monterey Bay and Chico State.  The committee also consists of a sole student representative: Prabhat Jammalamadaka, ASI president at CPP. Jammalamadaka could not be reached for an interview prior to the deadline.

While the GWT is CPP’s way of fulfilling the CSU’s writing requirement, other campuses fulfill this requirement through a course rather than an exam; a possibility for CPP moving forward.

The committee is in the early stages of formulating a plan, as it has only met once so far.

“My biggest concern is assuring that all Cal Poly graduates have those essential skills: critical thinking, information literacy,” said Massa.  “That you understand how to consume and think critically about information that’s out there,” added Massa, explaining the skills that she values when considering changes to the writing requirement. “There are certain core and essential skills that every student should have.”

For seniors graduating this year, there is no alternative requirement for the GWT; however, if students who graduate without completing the requirement reenter the CSU system, they will be asked to fulfill the requirement.

The exam’s suspension has elicited mixed responses from former students who took the exam. Some believe the GWT should be a fixture moving forward, while others are excited to have their graduation requirements reduced.

Alumna Natalie Kassar (’21, political science) believes the requirement should remain.

“I think that some people have this image that the skillset necessary to pass the GWT shouldn’t apply to everybody,” Kassar said. “I don’t think that’s true; I think that all writing and reading skills will come in handy and are very valuable.”

Other former students like alumnus Julian Villamante (’21, management and human resources) are more enthused about the suspension.

“As a business major, I am in favor of the GWT being abolished,” Villamante said. “Writing is not a skill that I feel will improve my chances for a job or benefit me in the long run.”

Though no decision has been made on the GWT, Massa shared her goals for the committee going foward.

“Whatever comes out of this, my biggest concern is that the faculty tries their best, which they always do, to ensure that all students, regardless of their major, have the knowledge and skills in order to be successful in life,” said Massa.

The committee hopes to form a plan for a permanent requirement for the 2022-23 academic year.

Feature image courtesy of Green Chameleon 

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