In looking at the similarities of what the CCCC Position Statement says and the application of assessment in the Agnew and McLaughlin? article, the gap between the “rainbows and sunshine” approach to education and the real application is obvious. The CCCC states that the purpose of assessment is for placemen, awarding grades, and certifying proficiency and the abuses include exploiting graduate students and rewarding or punishing faculty (373-74). While I am glad they think of us poor graduate students being exploited, the real abuse is in placing student incorrectly. This is the focus of the article “Those Crazy Gates and How They Swing: Tracking the System That Tracks African-American Students.” Agnew and McLaughlin? describe how the use of non-standard English is a deciding factor for placement; though, that is nowhere in the CCCC criteria. They also comment on the fact that their exit exam is one test that passes or fails the student, which goes against the CCCC position. With these abuses to the criteria for assessment, it is not surprising that current methods of assessment fail at such a high rate.
In seeing the Haswell data, and now seeing more empirical data from Agnew and McLaughlin?, there is a growing body of empirical data that supports what many teachers have been saying for years: that the current test methods do not work for writing evaluation and they need modification (or a whole damned overhaul). The differences between the stilted writing of the white male student in the example and the less grammatically correct but more “real world” voice of the black female were minute. In fact, if we take into account the ideas of Haswell in looking at the employee writing, we can see some of those qualities in her writing. Therefore, if we take into account the differing levels of skills of both writers, they are at a pretty equal standing. There were errors on both sides as far as grammar goes but current pedagogies focus on higher order content not low order content. The logical question becomes why graders are only focusing on grammar when trained to seek larger issues like organization and good arguments with evidence. I personally think there are larger issues within assessment having to do with teacher work load and student responsibility that, in addition to the invalid testing measures, causes the English department so much vexation.