JSU removes English Competency Exam as graduation requirement

Student writing in an arts and humanities classroom. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)Student writing in an arts and humanities classroom. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Miranda Prescott, Correspondent

Jacksonville State University announced on Tuesday, April 14 that the English Competency Exam, or ECE, will no longer be required by students to graduate from the university. This change in requirements will take effect as of the summer term this year.

“Beginning Summer 2020, the ECE will no longer be given at JSU, nor will the ECE be a graduation requirement for any student in Summer 2020 and beyond, no matter the year of the catalog for that student’s academic program,” said the JSU Office of Clinical Experiences in a Facebook post. “Students in ECE remediation are not required to retake the ECE.”

The ECE was a writing skills test administered by the English Department to ensure that the student has a basic understanding of literacy. Students were originally required to pass the exam the semester before they intended to apply for graduation.

According to the ECE proposal, written by Dr. Andrea Porter, this has been the department’s “ultimate plan”, but has been accelerated due to COVID-19. 

“If we were to continue with the ECE now, it would have to be administered 100% online this summer and possibly in subsequent semesters as well,” the proposal read.

Instead of offering the ECE, the university has intentions to implement a “Writing Across the Curriculum” platform. According to the Facebook post, plans for the new platform are “forthcoming” and “will better equip students with the writing skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow”.

“I appreciate the collaboration and cooperation of the English Department, Learning Services, and upper administration as we move JSU away from the ECE and towards a Writing Across the Curriculum model,” said Staci Stone, the dean of the JSU school of arts and humanities. “Writing skills are essential for JSU students and alumni, and this new approach featuring writing-intensive courses in the major will better prepare JSU graduates for success.”

According to the ECE proposal, specific classes would be marked with a “W” to designate the class as a part of the new writing intensive. These may be new courses or existing courses that are developed to include the criteria needed within each department and major offered at the university.

“We’ll work with every department on campus to understand these criteria so they can develop that curriculum in several of their upper-level courses for their majors,” said Porter. “This work will be done over the coming year and beyond.”

Porter also said that students will not have their graduation affected by the new changes and that the new model will be available in the 2021-2022 Catalog for general curriculum.

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