Approved by the:	Student Senate February 24, 2000

Resolution Regarding the Removal of the Graduation Proficiency Test for Second Languages as a Requirement of Graduation

Whereas, IT Students are required to take four semesters of calculus, and then are allowed to progress, as long as they have passed all of the calculus classes with a minimum C-, without being forced to test what knowledge they have accumulated. It is assumed that the faculty have taught the students what they needed to learn and it is assumed that the students have accumulated enough knowledge to proceed to the next level. Only the College of Liberal Arts requires any kind of a Graduation Proficiency Test.

Whereas, two years of class time should be enough of a time commitment for students.

Whereas, the University of Minnesota requires a two-year second language requirement for students who wish to receive a Bachelor of the Arts degree. Although eight of the eleven "Big Ten" institutions require two years of second language study, we are the only "Big Ten" institution to require a graduation proficiency exam after completion of the fourth semester of a second language.

Whereas, many students are anxious about standardized tests, which lowers their test scores.

Whereas, the final of each second language consists of oral, writing, grammar, and listening portions. These are the same portions that appear in the Graduation Proficiency Test.

Whereas, the final of the fourth semester of the second language IS a culmination of everything that a student has learned for two years. It is redundant to have students take another test to prove themselves.

Whereas, there should be a proficiency test for students who wish to test out of the requirement and for those who wish to say that they are "proficient" in a second language. In addition, many Law Schools require that its applicants are "proficient" in a second language, but, the number of students who need this type of "proficiency" are very small in numbers. Having this test as a requirement of graduation when the fourth semester final tests the same criteria is not a good use of funds, resources, and time.

Whereas, in theory, the test was designed to gauge a student's knowledge regardless of where it was learned. If the test were to be incorporated into the fourth semester of the second language it would not seem to undercut any arguments in favor of this standard.

Whereas,
currently the Graduation Proficiency Test is being administered during the fourth semester of the second language, which was tried under the previous quarter system. This arrangement was canceled during the quarter system because of several reasons:

Whereas, having to pay for a test beyond the normal course requirements is not justified, especially not for the following reasons given by the Director of the CLA Testing Program.

The first justification offered by the Director of the CLA Testing Program is:

1. "Students were previously required only to sit through five or six quarters of a language class, while now they are held accountable for their language ability. They must produce and comprehend their chosen language at a determined level."1

Whereas, students are already being held accountable by having to complete each individual class with a passing grade. If a student does not pass the class they cannot move on to the next level and if a student does not pass the fourth semester, the student does not graduate with a Bachelor of the Arts degree.

Whereas, as far as producing and comprehending at a determined level, it is up to the departments and faculty members to ensure that each individual student is at that determined level by the end of the semester.

The second justification offered by the Director of the CLA Testing Program is:

2. "Instructors could previously teach whatever they wanted, rather than teaching what the students needed to learn. It was typical to see a class focused on translating literature and reciting grammar rules. Instructors are now held accountable to provide students the opportunity to develop all of their language skills to the expected level of the GPT."1

Whereas, this is a curriculum issue that needs to be decided upon in the departmental Faculty Consultative Committee. The students would hope that our instructors are teaching us what we need to learn.

Whereas, classes are not geared toward translating literature and reciting grammar rules; they are geared toward developing all language skills. You don’t need a Graduation Proficiency Test to maintain this level of teaching. It is up to the faculty members to maintain this level so that the students may pass the fourth semester final exam and course.

The third justification offered by the Director of the CLA Testing Program is:

3. "Departments were previously known simply to hand new TA's the textbook: "Here it is. End of new-teacher orientation." They are now held accountable for providing appropriate training and on-going support to instructors. Each language is also given a prescribed proficiency level for the graduation requirement, so that no language is ‘easier’ to get through than another."1

Whereas, if this is the case, OBVIOUSLY there must have been some SERIOUS problems with orienting teaching assistants in the past. The students would hope that ALL departments and faculty members would help in providing the appropriate training and on-going support to instructors and teaching assistants.

Whereas, as far as each language having a prescribed proficiency level, it should be up to each department to decide what that level is. You don't need a Graduation Proficiency Test to have a proscribed proficiency level. No language should be "easier" to get through than another. Each language is as difficult and requires as much time and effort as the next.

The fourth justification offered by the Director of the CLA Testing Program is:

4. "Administrators are held accountable to keep class sizes to a level appropriate for language learning."1

Whereas,
administrators are mandated to make sure that every student has an equal opportunity to learn. Obviously in a second language a smaller class size is needed to insure that every student is getting the attention that they deserve.

Whereas, this resolution has an impact on the ability of students who are enrolled in colleges other than the College of Liberal Arts to pursue language study at the University of Minnesota.

Therefore, Be It Resolved:

(1) The Twin Cities Campus Assembly strongly urges that the University of Minnesota, especially the College of Liberal Arts, eliminate the Graduation Proficiency Test as a requirement of graduation for University of Minnesota students.

(2) The Twin Cities Campus Assembly strongly urges that the University of Minnesota, especially the College of Liberal Arts, retain a proficiency exam like the current Graduation Proficiency Test. This proficiency exam would be for students who wish to test out of the second language requirement, who wish to be "proficient," and for those who need to be proficient for other purposes, such as, but not limited to, admissions to various Law Schools.

(3) The Twin Cities Campus Assembly also strongly urges that the University of Minnesota, especially the College of Liberal Arts, require the fourth semester of a second language be the culmination of two years worth of learning and class time, which shall be the requirement of graduation with the exception of receiving a passing grade on the Proficiency Test beforehand.


(1) http://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/newsletter/pastissues/ss96/whygpt.html

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