02-1 English Language Requirement For Graduate Assistants (Second Release)

1.0  Purpose

1.1         It is the purpose of this university policy to establish a University policy that requires all graduate assistants whose first language is not English to demonstrate competency in spoken English before assuming teaching duties in the classroom.

2.0  Definitions

2.1         Graduate assistant is an appointment awarded to a student who has been admitted to a graduate degree program in the University; it requires the performance of academically-related service in the hiring unit according to established University employment practices for that classification.

2.2         Hiring unit is defined as the department, college, or academic division authorized to make graduate assistant appointments.

2.3         First language is defined as the primary language learned in childhood.

3.0  Policy

3.1         Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) whose first language is not English must demonstrate competency in spoken English prior to assuming classroom teaching duties.   Competency is established through a minimum passing score (50) on the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) administered and scored by the English Language Institute (ELI)

3.2         SPEAK test scores will be reported by the ELI to the graduate student's unit and the Graduate School.

3.3         GTAs who have achieved a score of 45 on the SPEAK may teach in the classroom for one semester, but must concurrently enroll in ENG 0520 or in another appropriate course as determined by the ELI.  To continue unrestricted teaching beyond one term, they must successfully complete the assigned proficiency course or obtain a score of at least 50 upon retaking the SPEAK.  

Students who score 40 or below may enroll in English 0520. Those who score below 40 may enroll in a more basic course as assigned by the ELI.  These students are to be assigned responsibilities other than classroom teaching, but are to be retained throughout the duration of their contract.  All students either must pass ELI 0520 or the SPEAK test administered by the ELI to teach without restrictions.

3.4         It is the responsibility of the hiring unit to fully inform applicants for Graduate Teaching Assistantships being considered for teaching appointments of the spoken English requirements.

3.5         The fee for the SPEAK examination is the responsibility of the hiring unit.  Fees for ELI 0520 or any other remedial course work required of Graduate Teaching Assistants who fail to demonstrate competency in the SPEAK exam are the responsibility of the hiring unit.

3.6         Graduate assistants whose low English competency precludes teaching during the first year, and whose spoken English skills remain unacceptable for classroom teaching assignment at the end of the first year, may not be reappointed as graduate teaching assistants.

3.7         The Graduate School, in consultation with the Graduate Council, is responsible for establishing a minimum score on the SPEAK and for establishing policies and appeal procedures for those cases where the hiring unit wishes to request an exception to the policy.

4.0  Exceptions

4.1         When a student scores a 40 or 45 on the SPEAK, the hiring unit may appeal the teaching restriction.  The appeals panel may determine either (1) that the student may engage in unrestricted teaching, or (2) that although the GTA cannot engage in unrestricted teaching, he or she may teach one semester while concurrently enrolled in ELI 0520 and/or some other activities or courses that support the GTA's development of English competency.  For GTAs who appeal a score of 40, the panel may additionally determine that the student is not to teach.

The appeals panel shall consist of the following voting members:  a representative of the Graduate School, who will serve as chair of the committee; a faculty member with communication expertise; an undergraduate student; and, if desired by the hiring unit, a faculty or administrative representative of the hiring unit.  A representative of the ELI may sit as a nonvoting member of the appeals panel.  This panel shall make its recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School or his or her designee, and he/she will make the final decision on each appeal. 

5.0  Duration

5.1         This University Policy is revocable at any time at the discretion of the president and without notice.

5.2         This University Policy supersedes University Policy 2002-1 First Release.

6.0  Effective Date

6.1         This University Policy is effective upon issuance.



Signed by President M. Roy Wilson, February 28, 2018