Writing Scores Down

Article excerpt

The statistics are alarming: 70 percent of students in grades 4 through 12 are low-achieving writers.

In the last national writing exam in 2002, only 22 to 26 percent of students in fourth, eighth, and 12th grade's scored at proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 72 percent of fourth-graders, 69 percent of eighth-graders and 77 percent of seniors failed NAEP writing proficiency goals.

The latest Carnegie Corporation of New York report, Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools, lists 11 effective elements to improve writing achievement.

The elements should be interlinked, but it remains to be seen what is an optimal mix. Elements such as process writing combined with having peers work in groups and prewriting will likely get the best results, the report claims.

The National Council of Teachers of English says the report confirms other findings, which they stand by: that in classrooms where much time is spend on grammar exercises, student writing suffers and that more time needs to go to composing sentences. …