Making Better Writers

Check out the article in the Huffington Post below. Anyone who knows me personally or has read my novel knows I am no fan of using standardized tests as a primary marker of how effectively teachers teach or assessing what kids have actually learned in school. The Chicago NEA teacher’s union has correctly pointed out that there are so many personal, economic, environmental AND educational issues that help determine how a student performs on a standardized test. It is not a fair or accurate way to definitively assess the quality of a teacher or cumulative intelligence of a student. The latest information released by the Department of Education shows that students are making little to no gain when it comes to effective writing skills. No surprise to me.
I do think students become better writers when they are given opportunities in school to develop their creative writing skills along with more formal expository writing. Since No Child Left Behind was instituted just over ten years ago, public schools have placed a much stronger emphasis on formulaic writing and considerably less time on writing fiction, creative nonfiction, dramatic writing and poetry. If kids are not given the chance to develop their own unique narrative or poetic voice, it is unlikely they will become engaged in writing. As one who works on creative writing with students ranging from middle school through high school, I know how often kids feel like the writing they do at school is dull, rote and completely geared to enhance their performance on a standardized test. Clearly, test scores are not going up, so teaching to the test is not working. If teachers were given the latitude to emphasize more creative writing in all subject areas in an environment that fosters originality, creativity, analytical thinking and individuality— I believe the quality of student writing would dramatically increase. Oh, and so would the scores on standardized tests.

Most U.S. Students Lack Writing Proficiency, National Assessment Of Educational Progress Finds

One thought on “Making Better Writers

  1. Pingback: 3 Crucial Writing Skills that We Always Forget to Teach « That Writing Lady

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