PULLMAN – Employers who ask for new hires with writing skills should be pleased with soon-to-be graduates from WSU, according to results in a comprehensive evaluation of undergraduate upperclassmen.
 
According to Diane Kelly-Riley, director of Writing Assessment, the WSU Writing Portfolio Seventh Findings (2005-07) report is “by far the most positive report ever.”
 
“Students are completing their junior Writing Portfolios earlier in their academic careers, they are submitting writing examples from a wider range of disciplines and more students campus wide are showing they are ready to write proficiently in their majors,” said Kelly-Riley. “The data in the report supports that there’s a positive, stable trend that WSU undergraduates are, or are on course to be, very good communicators through their writing.”
 
To graduate with a bachelor’s degree from any college and major, all WSU students must complete a writing portfolio. By the time they achieve junior class level (60 credit hours), they must be in the process of completing the two-step requirement. It demands two timed writing tests on a variety of general topics that are designed to avoid gender or native-language bias.
 
The Writing Portfolio began in 1993 as a diagnostic tool to measure students’ preparedness to write in their major courses and to provide colleges and administration with information about their students’ writing skills,said Kelly-Riley.
 
By summer 2007, a total of 45,600 WSU students had completed portfolios; from summer of 2005 to summer 2007, just over 9,000 students submitted portfolios—about 900 more than in 2003-05. Statistical evaluations of many dimensions of the portfolios and their submitters are evidenced in biennial documents, with the 2005-07 issue being the seventhsuch report.
 
In its 93 pages, the latest document provides statistical evidence that nearly 90 percent of all students earn “pass” or better on their portfolio with 7.6 percent of those earning a “writing with distinction” honor; about 10 percent demonstrate a need for assistance to write in their major; and, that the number of courses represented by paper submissions increased from nearly 2,400 in the 2003-05 report to 3,250 in the current report—a 35 percent increase.
 
A group of about 65 faculty members from across the university serve as portfolio “raters,” evaluating hundreds of documents each during the year.
 
The report also indicates that 9.9 percent of females compared to 6.9 percent of males earned “pass with distinction” results; that the colleges of nursing and education had the highest percentage of undergraduates passingtheir portfolios and veterinary medicine and sciences had the highest percentage of “pass with distinction” portfolios.
 
Other data in the report shows portfolio statistics by major, by multi-lingual writers, and by topics of the timed writings. The data will be used by many WSU units as they gather information for the university’s upcoming accreditation review.
 
Writing Assessment is part of WSU’s Writing Programs, a core unit of the Office of Undergraduate Education.
 
Writing Programs is among the top programs in the nation. For six years, it was among the nation’s “Programs to Watch For” list produced by U.S.News & World Report, and in 2007 received the Innovation Award from the national Conference on Basic Writing.
 
For more information on the latest report, go to http://www.wsu.edu/~wassess/2005-2007pfreport.pdf.