It has caused nightmares and prevented many from graduating. Tuesday afternoon the College of Liberal Arts Assembly will consider a proposal that would scrap the Graduation Proficiency Test as a requirement for graduation. We have concerns about the proposal but are glad it has come forth. We encourage the Assembly to consider other ideas as well.
The proposal would allow students to satisfy the language requirement by either getting a “C-” or better or an “S” in the fourth semester of a language or by passing the language proficiency exam (the equivalent of the GPT). It is still unclear exactly how a new system would be implemented and affect current, transfer or incoming students.
Ensuring a standard level of language acquisition for professors to teach toward was one of the reasons the GPT was enacted. We think such a benchmark is good. Although it is likely the language proficiency exam will be rolled into the fourth semester of most languages (allowing students who pass it entirely to claim proficiency on their transcripts), we still worry that the level of language instruction could suffer.
The proposal would ease some of the pressures about passing the GPT and help students who passed just part of the language proficiency exam (and maybe the GPT) to still graduate because they passed the fourth semester. However, we worry students might just take the “easy professor” for the fourth semester.
The proposal, unfortunately, does not adequately solve our main problem with the GPT – that it limits students from exploring other languages and destines them to learning a language they most likely will never use.
Many University students could only take a European language in high school. With 20 credits, and probably five-day, five-credit classes ahead (which clog one’s schedule), how many would attempt a new language? The proposal would, however, help students who want to take a hard language but would not because they think it will ensure a comparatively harder GPT.
Perhaps allowing a year of one language and a year of another, or lowering the 5-credit amount, would mitigate some of these problems. We encourage the assembly to consider a proposal that would address these issues.