WAC and the CPE
WHAT IS THE CPE?
The CUNY Proficiency Exam is an internal test that all CUNY students must take by the time they accumulate 60 credits. The test was mandated by a Board of Trustees resolution in 1997 to ensure academic literacy, to demonstrate that CUNY students possess the communication and analytical skills employers seek, and to show that students are ready to move ahead into their junior and senior years. There are two parts to this test: Analytical Reading and Writing, and Analyzing and Integrating Material from Graphs and Text. (CUNY Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines, Resource Book, 2006-2007)
The CPE: A WAC Matter at MEC
By Jay Pastrana, March 2007
It’s CPE season at MEC. Do you teach a Core course? Are most of your students within their first 45 credits of coursework? Have you heard any of your colleagues or students talk about the CPE?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then read on.
Since Spring 2003, the CUNY Proficiency Exam, or CPE, has been administered once every semester throughout the CUNY campuses.
So how are MEC students performing?
Preliminary data from 2003-2006 show the following for required test takers:
The range in pass rates at MEC goes from a low of 61.8% in Fall 2006 to a high of 78.6% in Fall 2005. The average pass rate at MEC is 67.6%.
When comparing the percent change in pass rates from semester to semester, Fall 2005 experienced the highest percent change and it was in the positive direction. This increase may be attributed to interventions that occurred between Spring 2005 and Fall 2005.
Interestingly, when compared to CUNY’s average pass rates from 2004 to 2006, MEC has never had a higher pass rate. In fact, during this period, MEC’s average pass rate is slightly more than ten percentage points below CUNY’s average. [Note: Pass rates are based on all students who took the test administered in a given term. For instance, in Fall 2005, 78.6% of students at MEC who took the exam also passed it.]
How can WAC help?
Dr. Jennifer Sparrow, CPE Liaison at MEC, has developed materials to help students with this required exam. “In Spring 2006,” Sparrow reported, “we initiated a CPE Awareness campaign that included videos in the computer lab, and close circuit TV CPE informational promos.” While these efforts may have contributed to increases in the “show rate” (a measure of attendance) for students at MEC in recent semesters, MEC’s pass rates can still be improved.
According to the CPE Testing Center at MEC, “the CPE tests some of the skills that have been developed through course work including reading and interpreting textbooks and material of general interest; organizing and presenting ideas about what was read and connecting those ideas to other information or concepts; writing clearly and effectively for an audience; and interpreting and evaluating materials presented in graphs and charts.”
The WAC@MEC program has identified these goals as very similar to the ones behind the creation of Writing Intensive Courses [For more on WI courses, see the cover article on the WI Council]. In an effort to empower faculty and students alike, in the recent past, WAC has created and distributed ready-made study units for classroom and campus-wide discussion that use CPE-influenced language and questions. In this way, the CPE is directly linked to both WAC programming and to MEC’s efforts at creating Writing Intensive Courses.
If you would like to learn more about how WAC can help you to develop CPE-related materials for the classroom, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CPE Pass Rates: 2003 - 2006