Date of Award

10-10-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Claude M. Hurlbert, D.A.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David B. Downing, Ph.D.

Abstract

The dissertation‘s subject is the California State University (CSU) English Council, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English established to support the English Studies faculty of the twenty-three campuses of the CSU. This study relates the history to date of the Council, but its particular focus is on English Council‘s consideration of remediation and access for underserved students within composition studies; these issues developed into substantial conflicts between the Council and administration in two distinct eras. According to CSU policy, students accepted to the University must take an English Placement Test (EPT), which was designed and is scored by CSU English Studies faculty. As many as 50 percent of students taking the EPT in a given year are placed in remedial composition courses. In 1997, however, the CSU introduced Executive Order 665, which declared that by 2007, the CSU would admit no more than ten percent of applicants requiring remedial courses. This policy is problematic as it directly contradicts the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, which dictates that the CSU must accept the top third of graduates from California high schools. A significant part of my study describes how English Council has addressed this conflict between EO 665 and the Master Plan. The study details how English Council has worked to represent the interests of faculty as they have organized to resist pressure from administrations, boards of education, and others who have power over the educational process but few qualifications in the teaching of writing. Moreover, English Council has served as an incubator for emerging ideas about such issues as assessment (approaches such as holistic scoring and directed self-placement are explored), programmatic developments (such as stretch composition and the integration of reading and writing), and intersegmental collaborations (such as a partnership between California high schools and the CSU to improve college readiness). Inasmuch as the challenges addressed by English Council are not unique to California, I believe that the strategies used and the lessons learned by English Council have much to teach those of us working in the field of English Studies throughout the nation.

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