Letter to the Editor
I am writing to respond to some misleading and inaccurate statements in The Sundial article March 5, 2019 titled “Students displaced after EO 1110 implementation.” The article suggests that more students are failing the single semester version of GE University Writing (115). In fact, the percentage of students passing 115 is about the same as in previous years: 86 percent in 2018, as compared with 87-88 percent in the previous three years.
The confusion may be a result of the increased enrollment in 115. Because more students enrolled in 115 than in previous semesters, more students (by headcount) passed the class, and more students (by headcount) failed the class. But, as I said, the same proportion of students (86 percent) passed 115 as in prior years.
No content or curricular change was made to the freshman writing sequence in fall 2018. The implementation of EO 1110 on our campus did not change or alter the writing courses; we had already been using college credit-granting courses for all levels of writing, since 2009. To be clear, the 115 course is not accelerated, as was implied in the article. Rather, the “stretch” versions of writing (113 and 114) are slowed down.
I also want to further clarify what is meant by “Multiple Measures.” Prior to 2018, students were placed based on the single highest metric they achieved, which could include their score on the EPT test or SAT or ACT scores (among others). Multiple measures, as implemented by EO 1110, eliminated the EPT, but added High School GPA and High School English course grades as measures. Since there was no change to writing curriculum as a result of EO 1110, there was nothing for faculty governance to approve. Placement and admissions criteria for every Cal State campus are set by the CSU system (and have been since the 1980s).
The English Placement test and the Entry Level Mathematics test were not offered in 2018. In 2017 only 15 percent of students were placed in writing based on their EPT scores. That means that 85 percent of students would have been required to pay for and take a test that wasn’t used to place them. The EPT cut-off score change cited by Dr. Spencer-Walters in the article actually happened seven years ago, in 2012, not in the past three years. Failure rates in the writing courses did not and have not increased since 2012. Finally, it is important to note that there is no evidence that the writing courses in their current form are an impediment to graduation. There is no correlation between grades in writing and graduation outcomes.
The “numbers don’t lie” is certainly true, and we want to help ensure that the numbers are reported accurately. The Office of Institutional Research is working on a series of brief reports from their “Inside Counts” series that gives more details about these numbers; their first report is already available at: https://www.csun.edu/institutional-research/inside-counts/alternative-remediation
Stella Z. Theodoulou
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs