Gail S. Corso’s “The Role of the Writing Coordinator in a Culture of Placement By Accuplacer”

12 Nov

Rank: 4 out of 10

  • Corso acknowledges that the ACCUPLACER system is fairly accurate in its placement, but she sees it as at odds with the end-of-semester portfolio assessments used by her college.


  • Corso acknowledges that the ACCUPLACER system—an electronic placement mechanism used at Corso’s small liberal arts college for determining whether students should place into remedial writing courses—is at least fairly accurate: “ACCUPLACER seems to have satisfied a need to place a reasonable proportion of students into courses requiring remediation” (157).
  • But: she also asserts that discrepancies between computer-based placement at the beginning of the semester and portfolio-based assessment at the end of the semester may send mixed messages to students. Corso asserts that the mission of her college is “respect for the individual, care and concern for others, to name just two of its core values” (164), and that this mission requires a human reader.
  • In place of ACCUPLACER for placement, Corso calls for the use of “an electronic-portfolio placement and assessment system [… which] aligns well with a program that values faculty members’ insights about reading students’ placement essays and interpreting other indicators for the most appropriate placement into a college’s core and developmental writing programs” (165).


  •  AES is impersonal and sends a negative message to students about their importance/worth
  • AES is contradictory to any program that values interpersonal communication; it demonstrates that expediency is paramount to communication
  • AES for placement does not respect the dignity of all involved in the placement process
  • In situations in which AES does not line up with a college or program’s mission, it should not be used
  • In programs in which portfolios are used as end-of-semester assessment tools, or where a pedagogy of serious reading for content, understanding, etc. is valued, AES is incongruently impersonal

Points of Interest

  • Corso acknowleges her “idealistic” take on placement and her role in dialogue with faculty and students, and her biases (155)
  • The pedagogical disparity between portfolio and AES assessment (164-65)
  • The acknowledgement that this is a flawed narrative that requires a contextually-based solution, which varies by institution (165)
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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