Archive for Friday, March 22, 1991


March 22, 1991


— The Kansas Board of Regents voted Thursday to postpone until June consideration of a proposal to create uniform English language proficiency standards for instructors at state universities.

The plan, formulated by the Students' Advisory Committee, made up of university student government leaders, was put off because some regents want more information about the extent of the problem.

The discussion was strained at times. At one point, regent Charles Hostetler, Manhattan, told a Wichita State official that "we have a problem. If you can't solve it, we'll find someone who can."

The tabled proposal mirrors the instructor hiring program, which has been in place at Kansas University for several years, said Andrea Roberts, SAC chair and Emporia State student body president.

THE SAC plan would:

Raise the required minimum passing score on the Test of Spoken English from 220 to 240 on a scale of 300.

Reduce the probationary period for instructors with substandard English skills from one year to one semester. Substandard currently is defined as those scoring between 190 and 220 on the test.

Include a student in a group who interviews prospective instructors whose primary language isn't English.

Regent Shirley Palmer, Fort Scott, said she wholeheartedly supports the SAC initiative and preferred regents adopt it Thursday, so it could be implemented by the fall semester of 1992.

"I think I can honestly say that I have been notified by at least one person from each institution, since becoming a regent, where this problem has existed," she said.

REGENT DONALD Slawson, Wichita, urged the board to delay consideration of the SAC plan. More information should be gathered to determine if it will significantly improve the situation, he said.

An informal survey was conducted over the previous month to document complaints about English proficiency of instructors, said Del Brinkman, vice chancellor for academic affairs at KU.

According to the survey, there have been no complaints at the KU Medical Center, Fort Hays State and Kansas College of Technology in the past academic year, Brinkman said.

At other univerities the study showed: WSU had 67 complaints in the year; KU, 13 in the year; Kansas State, six in two years; Pittsburg State, two in 18 months; and ESU, two in the year.

John Breazeale, executive vice president for academic affairs at WSU, warned regents that the SAC program would reduce the university's pool of qualified applicants by 50 percent.

BRINKMAN SAID he believes complaints come most frequently from students who are struggling in subject areas for which they were inadequately prepared, often math and computer science.

"It is not fair, I believe, to target a generic foreign-born instructor as the cause of a student's failure. Such actions and attitudes are deeply unjust," Brinkman said.

"Instead of reinventing the wheel in terms of standards and test scores, we might more focus our efforts on teaching qualities in the areas where most complaints come."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.