Report Faults Students' Writing Lots of TV and Little Reading Go with Poor Writing, Agency Finds

Article excerpt

A "WRITING REPORT CARD" prepared by the National Assessment of Educational Progress says that schools appear to be putting more emphasis on writing - and that most students understand the basics.

But after reviewing writing samples from 30,000 children in grades four, eight and 12 in 1992, the report concluded, "Many students at each grade level continue to have serious difficulty in producing effective informative, persuasive or narrative writing."

The report was issued Tuesday by the Department of Education.

Educators say the ability to write persuasively, to state a case carefully and to reason with others is especially critical if students are to succeed.

The children in Gwen Faulkner's fourth-grade class at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington write all day, every day.

She helps her students write short stories and plays, poetry and newsletters, sometimes individually, other times in groups, in an atmosphere that allows them to share their work and to get feedback from their teacher and classmates.

"They have a love of writing," Faulkner said proudly, as she prepared to show off her students' work to Education Secretary Richard Riley.

One pupil, Corey Talley, boasted, "I have 22 stories this year." His favorite, titled "Education is the Key to Unlocking Your Dreams," describes what he thinks he should do in school and how an education will help him when he gets older.

Scott Savage, another pupil, said the hardest part of writing is the rewriting - to correct mistakes, add details and make changes suggested by Faulkner.

Yet another pupil, Jade Harriell, who read her story "If I Were a Fish" for Riley, said Faulkner "conferences with us, and she reads with us, and she tells us if we're wrong."

Riley said afterward, "Writing needs to be an integral part of every academic subject, and more time needs to be devoted to teaching children this basic and very important skill. …