Most schools make students satisfy some sort of writing requirement before graduation. For many students, that will mean passing a couple of courses designated as “writing intensive” — but at Virginia’s Old Dominion University, they do things differently. Or at least they used to. In order to graduate, ODU seniors had to pass a writing test in which they basically had to sit down and write something. But way too many couldn’t do that — and so the requirement is being phased out.
Now, there’s something to be said about ODU’s writing test being outdated; can one timed, 500-word essay really show a student’s writing ability? As Inside Higher Ed notes, “Most writing experts today advocate for a more comprehensive approach to assessing student abilities.” A writing portfolio, or a decent grade in a writing-intensive course, is going to say a lot more about a student’s ability to write than one brief test. And ODU isn’t ditching a writing requirement entirely — instead, students will have to pass two English courses and one writing-intensive course in order to graduate.
But something about the situation doesn’t sit right with me.