GPT must go

For most classes at the University, it is accepted that completing coursework and receiving a passing grade proves a student has minimal comprehension. After all, it would be ridiculous to doubt proficiency after students pay for, attend and pass a course. This is not the case, however, with the College of Liberal Arts language requirement, which demands all students seeking degrees in CLA not only take and pass four semesters of foreign languages but also prove their skill by passing the Graduation Proficiency Test.

This University policy is counterintuitive, considering the new focus on four-year graduation rates. Although students are encouraged in their freshman year to take foreign language courses and complete the GPT, many students still put this off until their senior year, opting instead for courses more useful to their degrees. Then spring rolls around and the GPT can become the determining factor in whether they can graduate, even if they have fulfilled all other requirements, including four semesters of a foreign language. If they fail even one portion of the GPT, which includes reading, writing, listening and oral sections, they must wait until the next test, which occurs only once per semester. This added stress on students who are now forced to take at least 13 credits, and strongly encouraged to take 15 or more, is nonsensical and should be abolished.

The GPT requirement was instituted in 1986 after the CLA Task Force on Foreign Language Instruction suggested a comprehensive test at the end of language studies would curb the previous student apathy toward language courses. The task force found a number of factors, including class sizes and lack of student and instructor motivation, were detrimental to language instruction and could be remedied by implementing testing. The concept is understandable and seems conducive to CLA emphasis on education with international perspectives, but the implementation is flawed. No other course requires students to prove proficiency, and for good reason: Proficiency is exhibited through performance in the actual class. To force passing students to take another test is insulting and redundant. It exhibits a lack of faith in University instructors, suggesting they pass remedial students, and hurts students who work hard to pass a language class but perhaps had a bad day or do not test well.

This requirement is particularly unfair to transfer students. As the University is one of the few schools requiring such a test, students coming here from other colleges who completed their language requirement years before have to waste time and money on refresher courses before taking the GPT.

The GPT is an unnecessary, wasteful requirement. In all other areas, proficiency within the class is sufficient; no other proof is necessary. Requiring a test reflects poorly on language instruction and University grading policies. The GPT needs to go.