First Lesson In English Comp: Use Lots Of Red Tape

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

University of Houston students in Freshman Composition I were told this week that professors needed to verify that the students deserved to be in the more advanced course (aka ENGL 1303) rather than the more fundamental Basic Writing (ENGL 1300).

To do that, they would have to get their teachers their high-school SAT scores. The same SAT scores they sent to UH months ago which got them admitted.


Couldn’t the professors just get the numbers from UH? No.

Couldn’t the students just write down what their scores were? No. We need verification. It needs to come from the College Board.

Couldn’t the students just bring in their high-school transcript which includes all the scores? The scores the high school gets from the College Board? No.

The sealed version? No.

In one class, students were told they had to e-mail the professor the place on the online College Board records where their score resided so she could look them up. To do so, of course, they would need to remember their logon and password that they probably last used more than a year before to receive those scores.

Surely, if someone couldn’t find his logon and password, some other reporting method could be found? No.

And the consequence? You’d be dropped from the class. Striking fear into hearts and minds across the desk tops.

This particular professor apologized for the trouble, chalked it up to problems with “the system,” but remained resolute in the need for and method of verification.


Asked for an explanation, Director of University Communication Eric Gerber said the situation “arises out of an excess of caution about some students being mistakenly registered” for the wrong class.

“We have apparently been using a sort of 'suspenders and a belt' approach, using duplicative methods to verify a student's eligibility for the ENGL 1303 course. We do it institutionally and we do it on an instructor-by-instructor basis,” he says.

Actually, Gerber said, no student would actually be dropped for complications in getting the information. And he acknowledged that “having the students actively prove they are eligible is redundant and, I'm told, that approach is now under review and likely to be streamlined."

How about dropped?

Margaret Downing

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.