The Quagmire of Assessment for Placement Talking out of both Sides of our Mouths

Document Type


Publication Date



My interest in writing assessment stems from perceived injustices I witnessed while teaching English at a small western Pennsylvania community college. The philosophy at the institution in 1989, especially for basic and English as a second language ESL writers, was that students needed to learn grammar before they could ever hope to write one of the courses I was assigned to teach developmental English I - especially stressed grammar spelling vocabulary and short paragraph writing the first class meeting of developmental English I troubled me, for many of the students complained bitterly about their placement in what they referred to as "bonehead" or "dummy" English. They wanted to know how they had gotten there; I was unable to tell them but, I promised to investigate.