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My college is presently trying to figure out some very important things, like
who should teach writing and how should it be taught.  Currently, we're
interested in diagnostic exams and are considering requiring them of incoming
freshmen as a guide for placement into skill-appropriate classes, i.e., ESL or
College Writing II.  My sense is that a diagnostic exam, part objective
grammar test and part written essay, would be a very effective way of
screening for placement.  But I don't know that research supports my sense.
Can anyone cite sources that suggest diagnostic exams are or are not effective
tools for measuring student writing skills?

John Haslem
Knox College