International students whose English fluency is below Miami’s minimum proficiency requirement are conditionally admitted to a one-semester American Culture and English (ACE) program, where they take a number of classes. These classes, according to the program’s website, are “designed to help international undergraduate students develop the English language skills they need to succeed at Miami University.”  The program enrolls hundreds of students each fall.

Viewed in terms of the extraordinarily high grades given in ACE classes (available online at the Registrar’s website), the program is wildly successful:  this past fall, half of the grades assigned in 13 ACE classes were A’s.  In one class, 75 percent of the students enrolled received a grade of A+; in another class, 53 percent of the students were assigned an A+.  For all ACE classes combined, nearly 40 percent of grades assigned were A’s.  Judged by sky-high grades, these students are superbly prepared to succeed in regular Miami courses.

But the experience when they enroll in our introductory economics classes strongly suggests otherwise: many of them lack the rudimentary English fluency needed to pass the class and drop the course.

Six years into an ACE program that boasts a faculty of 26 instructors, something seems amiss:  ACE grades tell international students they are exceptionally well-prepared to succeed at Miami, but their actual English-language ability and experience in regular classes tells them they definitely are not.  As President Trump might tweet, “sad.”

James Brock

Economics Department