OVERVIEW OF THE
REGENTS' WRITING AND READING SKILLS REQUIREMENT

By a policy statement issued in 1972, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia instituted the requirement that each institution of the University System of Georgia ensure that students obtaining a degree possess certain minimum skills of reading and writing. These skills are referred to as the Regents' Writing and Reading Skills. There are two System-mandated courses in writing and in reading that are designed to meet the Regents' Writing and Reading Skills requirement.

Students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs leading to the baccalaureate degree must pass the Regents' Reading Skills and Regents' Writing Skills courses as a requirement for graduation. Students may exempt these courses through examination by passing the Regents' Reading Test and the Regents' Essay Test or an approved alternative test in reading comprehension and in writing. In most cases, students who have completed three semesters and have not passed or exempted the courses must take the Regents' Skills courses during each subsequent semester of enrollment. Students enrolled in a Regents' Skills course must pass the corresponding Regents' Test in order to receive a passing grade for the course.


Description of the Regents' Reading Skills and Regents' Writing Skills Courses

REGENTS' READING SKILLS (RGTR 0198)

The Regents' Reading Skills course is intended to ensure that all graduates of USG institutions possess certain minimum skills in reading comprehension. Students work on improving their comprehension of material drawn from a variety of subject areas (social science, natural science and humanities) with various modes of discourse (exposition, narration and argumentation). Critical thinking and the following four major aspects of reading are emphasized: vocabulary in context, inferential and literal comprehension, and analysis.

REGENTS' WRITING SKILLS (RGTE 0199)

The Regents' Writing Skills course is intended to ensure that all graduates of USG institutions possess certain minimum skills in writing. Students learn to evaluate their own writing strengths and weaknesses and work on improving their writing skills so that they are able to write an essay meeting the Regents' criteria.

Students enrolled in a Regents' course must pass the corresponding Regents' Test in order to receive a passing grade for the course. Students not passing the course receive a "U" and must repeat the course until they pass. Those passing receive a grade of "S."


Exemption of Regents' Skills Courses

Students may exempt RGTR 0198 by scoring at or above specified scores on the following examinations:

Students may exempt RGTE 0199 by scoring at or above specified scores on the following examinations:

Description of the Regents' Test

The Reading Test

The Reading Test, which has an administration time of one hour, is a 54-item, multiple-choice test that consists of nine reading passages and five to eight questions about each passage. The passages usually range from 175 to 325 words in length, treat topics drawn from a variety of subject areas (social science, mathematics and natural science, and humanities), and entail various modes of discourse (exposition, narration, and argumentation). The questions that accompany the passages of the Reading Test have been designed to assess four major aspects of reading: (1) Vocabulary, (2) Literal Comprehension, (3) Inferential Comprehension, and (4) Analysis. A sample form of the Regents’ Reading Test, which provides examples of the types of passages and items comprising the test, is available on the Regents’ Testing Program website.

The Essay Test

Students who take the Essay Test have one hour in which to write on one of four topics that are given. A list of the topics that are used has been provided to all institutions in the System.

Administration and Scoring of the Regents’ Test

Administration

Each semester, during a testing period specified by the Regents’ Testing Program Office, the Regents’ Test is administered to eligible students at all institutions in the University System. Just before the testing period, the Regents’ Testing Program Office sends to the Regents’ Test Coordinator at each institution the test materials that are needed. Because each institution is responsible for its own test administrations, the Test Coordinator oversees the distribution of these materials and arranges for supervisors and proctors to administer the test. After the last test administration at an institution, all testing materials are returned to the Regents’ Testing Program Office for scoring

Scoring the Reading Test

Students’ responses to the items on the Reading Test are recorded on machine-readable answer sheets so that these responses can be read and scored by computer. A standard score is used to describe he Reading Test performance of each examinee. This score is derived by translating the student’s total raw (number-right) score on the test to a Rasch score scale with a range from 0 to 99. The minimum passing score on this scale is 61.

Scoring the Essay Test

The essays to be scored are distributed by the Regents’ Testing Program Office to regional scoring centers around the state. All institutions in the System send representatives to serve as raters at the nearest scoring center. The number of raters sent by each institution is determined by the ratio of its number of examinees to the number of examinees in the entire System. Because each essay is identified only by the student’s social security number, the essay raters do not know the identity or the institution of the students whose papers are graded.

Each essay is graded independently by three raters who use a holistic procedure to assign ratings to the essay. Raters use a three-point scale (prior to Spring Semester 2006 a four-point scale was used). A “3” on the scale indicates superior performance, a “2” satisfactory performance, and a “1” substandard or failing performance. Model essays define the three points of the rating scale by indicating the meaning of the division points (i.e., 3/2, 2/1) between the ratings on the scale:

One model essay is used to represent each division point. An essay that is judged to be better than the 3/2 model is given a “3”; an essay judged to be better than the 2/1 model but not as good as the 3/2 model is given a “2”; and an essay judged to be poorer than the 2/1 model is given a “1.” The set of standard model essays used to define the division points on the scale is included in the Description of Essay Scoring Procedures. Also included in this description are analyses of the model essays, definitions of the three score levels used as the basis for selecting model essays, and answers to questions that raters frequently ask about the procedures for scoring the Essay Test. These materials are provided to all raters before each scoring session. For raters who are grading essays for the first time, additional information and samples of essays that have been graded are provided in the Essay Scoring Manual.

The final score assigned to an essay is usually the rating on which at least two out of three raters agree. When there is no agreement among the raters, the final score is the middle rating of the three assigned to the essay. One consequence of this scoring procedure is that no essay can receive a failing grade unless at least two of three raters have given it a failing grade.

Test Review

A student may request formal review of a failing essay. The review is initiated on the student’s campus following campus and System procedures. If the student’s campus level appeal is sustained, the essay is sent to the Regents’ Testing Program Office to be rescored by a System-wide review panel. Reading tests may be hand-scored upon request but "in-person" reviews of reading tests are restricted due to security issues.

Score Reporting

Within the five-week period following an administration of the Regents’ Test, each institution in the University System is issued a Report of Results. In an institution’s report, data are provided that describe the test performance of each student from the institution who participated in the administration of the Regents’ Test.

Personnel at each institution are responsible for reporting scores to individual students.