November 16-18, 2005

ITEM 129-109-R1105    A Policy on Writing Proficiency for the Montana University System

THAT: The Montana Board of Regents adopt a writing proficiency standard for four-year degree programs in the Montana University System. The proposed policy is attached to this item page.

EXPLANATION: This policy is the culmination of a project that began in 1995, when the Montana Board of Regents decided that the Montana University System should . . .adopt a uniform assessment tool to be used in determining if students or prospective students have the basic proficiencies in math and English to provide them a reasonable chance of success in postsecondary education. In the intervening years, but especially since 2000, 21,518 students, 626 teachers and 115 Montana high schools have participated in the Writing Assessment Project that grew out of that 1995 decision.

In January 2004, the Board of Regents decided to postpone formal action on a writing proficiency standard until information could be collected on the writing samples that were being incorporated into the ACT and SAT tests. The Board asked that a proposed policy be developed during the 2005 -2006 time period, based on the data from the ACT/SAT writing samples.

This policy is being presented to satisfy that Board decision.

The proposed policy does not require a minimum writing proficiency score to be admitted to four-year degree programs in the Montana University System. Instead, it states that students who have the requisite writing proficiency score will be fully admitted to four-year degree programs in the System. Students who have not demonstrated their writing proficiency will be admitted provisionally to four-year degree programs until they can demonstrate the necessary writing skills for success in a baccalaureate degree.

The proposed policy also establishes a transition period, beginning in Fall 2007, when the writing proficiency standard will take effect. That transition period will continue for two years until the policy is fully implemented. The policy also sets out additional implementation and transitional activities for the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the campuses of the Montana University System.