College Writing Proficiency Criteria

Why College Writing Proficiency?

College Writing Proficiency, or CWP, has been a Goucher tradition for over 35 years. This college requirement ensures that Goucher graduates leave college with marketable writing skills and habits, contributing to the college’s mission of preparing students to live lives of inquiry and creativity including a lifelong engagement with critical and analytical thinking.

The Process

Students will submit a portfolio consisting of:

1.) 2 academic essays equaling between 10-15 pages of writing. (Creative work such as fiction, poetry or screenplays is not suitable for submission for CWP).

  • Essays should be either thesis-driven and/or have a clear focus and purpose
  • Essays should do more than just summarize and report: they should argue, evaluate, analyze or solve a problem.
  • Essays should incorporate primary and secondary sources (as appropriate to given audience and purpose), some of which are scholarly and academic.

2.) A cover letter, introducing and contextualizing your submissions. The cover letter should:

  •  introduce and contextualize the essays submitted
  • discuss their purpose, intended audience, and discourse community
  • discuss other relevant rhetorical choices made, including revision choices. 

Portfolios are then randomly assigned two readers, who read the submissions with a rubric of nine criteria, and then individually decide whether or not the portfolio has earned CWP. If the readers disagree on their decisions, a third reader is brought in.

What Proficiency Means (and what we look for when we read)

Proficiency is more than getting an A on an essay: it is a high degree of skill or expertise. We look at writing both locally at the level of sentences and paragraphs (grammar, usage, style, register, and tone) and globally (content, structure, organization). Additionally, we want to see essays that incorporate and elaborate upon a variety of appropriate, credible sources (including some academic and scholarly sources) that are incorporated effectively and cited and documented correctly.

Revision is key: students are strongly encouraged to revise and edit their work multiple times before submission. They can make appointments with our faculty, and with tutors at the Writing Center, who are trained to work with portfolios.

When to submit: We will accept (re)submissions from seniors planning to graduate in May of 2021 on a rolling basis from Feb. 8 until 11:45 pm on Friday, April 16

Note: Seniors who are enrolled in WRT 201 in Spring, 2021, have an extended deadline as per class policy.

The deadline for students in their 2nd or 3rd year at Goucher who have not achieved CWP must submit portfolios by 11:55 pm on Friday, May 7, 2021.

Questions or concerns? Contact Charlee Sterling,

Submit your portfolio

Proficient Portfolios will demonstrate the following Student Learning Outcomes

Proficient Portfolios will demonstrate:

  •  a clear thesis, focus and/or purpose that argues, synthesizes, speculates or evaluates, and does not merely summarize.
  • effective organizational strategies and strong transitional signposts
  • effective development, discussion of and elaboration on the evidence and examples provided
  • the use, incorporation and documentation of creditable, appropriate sources for the given purpose, including primary and secondary sources, and scholarly and/or academic sources
  • appropriate register and discourse community style
  • language appropriate to the audience, purpose and context