Writing standards will remain the same

Castleton State College has a unique way of testing students before they are allowed to graduate – and it flies in the face of the computer age.The Writing Standard test requires students to use the old fashioned pen and blue test book to complete – and Castleton is the only college in Vermont requiring it.

Despite the fact that professors routinely require students to hand in only computer-generated work, the Writing Standard test takes students back to before the computer age – and some are wondering why?

“I think it’s dumb,” senior Anthony Scott said before break, after just completing the test.

He believes the testing should be done on a computer and he doesn’t understand why it needs to be hand written out.

“It’s just more work for the students and it’s unnecessary,” he said.

But faculty members and administrators said there is a reason for the old-style testing.

English Professor Drennan Spitzer said she supports the method.

“The system isn’t perfect, but it’s the only way we can make sure that students are not cheating,” she said.

Associate Academic Dean Renny Harrigan agrees.

“You are expected to do the whole thing yourself. That means without using spell check or grammar check,” she said, with a slight smile.

Harrigan said that being able to write well by hand will only benefit students in the real world. Not always are they going to have their computer and all its tools handy when writing needs to be done, she said.

And from a practical standpoint, English Professor Dennis Shramek said the college doesn’t have enough computers for students to take the tests on “at the same time.”

Shramek, who is on the school’s Writing Committee, said if the college gets more computers, testing might be able to be done on them.

But Harrigan said that won’t ever happen.

“No. The testing will remain the same,” she said, adding that hand-writing skills are vital for a college student to master.

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