(I'm writing this in late August, and setting it to appear when the QE is about to happen. This will serve as a reminder to me.)
Years ago, when I began here, the Qualifying Essay was a do-or-die test: pass it or flunk English 100. That was about two Composition Directors ago, and we are in the middle of changing things. Changes happen slowly when it comes to curriculum.
The "do-or-die" part was never accurate anyhow. We had a grading standard that told teachers to count up comma problems and so forth, but all of us actually read over the QE and tried to put the student in a place that would be best for him/her. I don't think we ever counted comma faults the way we were told to, and we usually would look at the student's performance over the whole semester before deciding what to recommend.
Now we're downplaying the QE and saying it's one piece of evidence that goes into the mix.
We do need a different name, though. Perhaps Capstone Essay? In-Class Retrospective? QE just doesn't say what we are doing with it now. It's just an in-class essay that comes along a couple of weeks before the course ends. That's it.