Friday, April 20, 2007

"Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America’s Middle and High Schools": A Recipe for Writing Improvement

A recent report from the Alliance for Excellent Education targets secondary writing skills. Long champions for reading and literacy, the Alliance brings a very cogent set of writing recommendations to bear on the policy community.

The report, "Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America’s Middle and High Schools," suggests that "People often assume that writing is merely the “flip side” of reading, and that if adolescents are proficient readers, they must be proficient writers too. But in fact, while reading and writing are indeed complementary skills, they do not necessarily go hand in hand." The report highlights national lackluster performance trends in writing proficiency and dovetails nicely with what many English and Social Studies teachers will share late at night over a drink, or even early in the morning if you get enough caffeine in them--"So many of my students cannot write!"

The report cites recent research that shows: students need a lot more practice writing; a variety of strategies can be employed such as "writing to learn"; rigid universals like the 5-paragraph essay can be more harmful than good; and choice in style and content reduces the chore of writing and encourages thoughtful decision making. Following this research, the Alliance makes several policy recommendations. Check it out.

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