A few years ago, we conducted a nationwide diagnostic test on English Grammar proficiency among trainees of a public safety agency as part of a research study commissioned to us. Since the police training schools were located all over the country, the study was completed in a year, administered within two consecutive training periods.
English Grammar was the focal point of the study primarily because it is essential in report writing of public safety officers—the police, fire and jail officers—who are expected to write incident and investigation reports every now and then. Report writing in the government is, by default, in the English language and hinges on the mastery of the conventions of English grammar. Proficiency in grammar helps lend clarity to reports and facilitates understanding which is the chief end of communication.
A total of 13000 participants taking up recruit courses (for the police, fire and jail) participated in the study. All were college graduates with courses in Criminology, Nursing, Education, Engineering, Management and Commerce. A number of the examinees also acknowledged that they were passers of state licensure examinations in Criminology, Nursing and Education.
The test questionnaire consisted of fifty items which zeroed in on the following content areas: Subject-verb agreement, verb forms and tenses, pronoun-antecedent agreement, Use of Pronouns, Adjectives and Adverbs, Sentence Errors, Punctuation Marks and Correct Word Choice. It was pre-tested to one grade six student, one in college level and one college graduate. The grade six student scored 39 out of 50, which was way beyond the passing score pegged at 25 (or 50%) of the total correct answers.
For the first phase of the study, only 21% percent passed from 8100 examinees (or a mere 1,700). For the second phase, only 18% passed or a mere 1000 out pf 5,500 examinees.
What conclusions were drawn from the study?
Since 2012, we have been running writing workshops in different government agencies. Our latest clientele was the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In December 2017, we conducted a workshop for the first batch of employees (about 25 of them). The second run took place on February 1 & 2, 2018, actively participated in by employees from different divisions and offices. Various drills and writing exercises kept the participants engaged during the two-day learning event.
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