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This system has led to substantial changes in placement. It must be said that not all faculty fully participated, in part because, anecdotes suggest, some faculty were reluctant to "turn in" their students; for faculty who perceived Intro Writing as a negative experience or a punishment, the voluntary system of Shoes Online recommending students for review likely led to a failure to identify many students. For subsequent years, simply requiring a minimum of submission of two students per section for review will ensure that we have a more uniform identification system for placement. Further, providing a better online submission process will allow teachers to include students whose drafts came in late many of these students are probably in need of placement review.
Nonetheless, for this first pilot year, 91 students were recommended for placement confirmation, and of that group, 64 percent of students were re-placed. Fifteen percent were moved up, and 42 percent were moved down. This process resulted in less misplacement than the Misplaced Cohort study suggested, pointing out a few things. One, teachers' perceptions of what students need at the end of the semester are different better than what can be determined from a take-home, slightly drafted paper; in other words, we have to live with the fact that hindsight provides better vision. Placement is messy business indeed. Two, the writing faculty at GSU appear to have been inclined toward viewing student writers as not good enough, as evidenced by the initial data-free assertion that more students should take Intro Writing and, perhaps, by the many writing instructors from the Misplaced Cohort investigation who identified 181 students as misplaced in College Writing, after the fact. Notably, we all failed to anticipate or think much about the Intro Writing students who could be better placed in College Writing. But when the official in-house reading took over, with readings by two expert readers focused on Discount Shoes a specific, consequential task (Intro Writing or College Writing) and with an appeal system, we were no longer speculating, but working hard to do our best for individuals. In that context we were able to focus on individual students' writing, read writing carefully, and recommend students based on our expertise and their writing. This resulted in students' moving up to College Writing as well as down to Intro Writing.
This placement system is not perfect, and we are currently following Richard Haswell and Susan Wyche-Smith's assessment mandate: now that the WPA has authored an assessment, she has to investigate its validity. Currently this means tracking re-placed students, surveying faculty, and also administering an end-of-semester survey that once again seeks to identify "misplaced" lists for both College Writing and Intro Writing. Additionally, this research has allowed a new window on curricula and faculty development needs. Faculty judgments on student essays are a rich trove of data on what the faculty teaching College Writing expect from students enrolled in that class. Thus, this research can consider both whether Intro Writing prepares students appropriately, and also whether faculty teaching College Writing are teaching according to the program's emphasis on evidence-based intellectual prose.
Ironically, after much protesting and worrying over GSU's embrace of the SAT-W section, the WPA believes that this new process, as a whole, is better than any used before. It enables the first-year writing program to make better choices for individual students. It also connects students to the placement process because it is now administered by their writing teachers, it is based on their "real" writing, and it affords them a meaningful voice in the outcome.
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