Writing Proficiency - Child Trends .Writing Proficiency September ... Writing is an essential skill

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  • Writing Proficiency

    Updated: September 2012

  • Writing Proficiency September 2012

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    Among eighth-graders in 2011, the average writing proficiency score for females

    was 20 points higher than the average for males.

    Importance

    Writing is an essential skill for all students if they are to be successful in school and in the workplace. In

    English classes, writing skills are often directly taught and assessed. In social science, humanities, and

    science classes, writing well is essential for students to demonstrate knowledge and express ideas. Outside

    of the classroom, writing well is necessary to express ideas, persuade, create, advocate as a citizen, and,

    increasingly, it is a skill highly valued by prospective employers.1,2 Indeed, one estimate put the cost to

    taxpayers at $250 million annually, to address through extra training and oversight the writing deficiencies

    among state government workers.3

    Recognizing the essential role of writing in personal, public, civic, working, and recreational areas of life, the

    National Council of Teachers of English established October 20 as National Day on Writing, starting in 2009.

    They cite five reasons:4

    1. to highlight the fundamental place that writing has in American culture;

    2. to emphasize the importance of teaching writing at every grade level and in every subject;

    3. to underscore the life-long process of learning to write;

    4. to bring attention to the range of writing done by Americans in subject matter as well as in media;

    and

    5. to encourage more writing.

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    Trends

    Average writing proficiency scores increased modestly between 1998 and 2002 for fourth- and eighth-

    graders (from 150 to 154, and from 150 to 153, respectively); 5 however, there were no significant changes

    in twelfth-graders scores. From 2002 to 2007, eighth-grade writing proficiency scores increased (from 153

    to 156), as did twelfth-graders scores (from 148 to 153). (Figure 1) A new, computerized, writing test was

    administered to eighth- and twelfth-graders in 2011; these results are not comparable to those of previous

    years. (Figure 2)

    150 150 150154 153 148156 153

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    Fourth Grade* Eighth Grade Twelfth Grade

    Scale

    Score

    Grade

    Writing Scale Scores of Students in Grades 4, 8, and 12,

    1998, 2002, and 2007

    1998 2002 2007

    Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Educational Progress Writing Assessment (NAEP), Accessed through the NAEP data tool at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/criteria.asp

    Figure 1

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    Differences by Gender

    Between 1998 and 2007, the gender gap for eighth-grade did not change, but for twelfth-graders, it

    decreased between 2002 and 2007, after increasing between 1998 and 2002. (Appendix 1)

    In 2011, eighth- and twelfth-grade girls, on average, scored higher than boys. Among eighth-graders,

    females scored an average of 160 points, while males scored an average of 140. Among twelfth-graders,

    girls scored 157 points, while boys scored 143, on average. (Figure 2)

    Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin6

    In general, among fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students, white and Asian/Pacific Islanders scored

    higher than black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native students. For instance, among twelfth-

    graders in 2011, white and Asian/Pacific Islander students scored highest (averages of 159 and 158,

    respectively), followed by American Indian/Alaska Native students (145), then Hispanic students (134), and

    black students (130). (Appendix 2) These gaps held steady between 1998, 2002, and 2007, except that the

    gap between white and black eighth-graders decreased between 2002 and 2007. (Appendix 1)

    Differences by Parents Educational Attainment

    140 143

    160 157

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    150

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    Eighth Grade Twelfth Grade

    Scale

    Score

    Grade

    Writing Scale Scores of Students in Grades 8 and 12, by Gender, 2011

    Male Female

    Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Educational Progress Writing Assessment (NAEP), 2007, Accessed

    Figure 2

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    Overall, in 2002, 2007, and 2011, the more educated the parents of eighth- and twelfth-graders were, the

    higher were students writing scores.7 For example, in 2011, eighth-grade students with college-educated

    parents had an average score of 160, compared with 150 for students whose parents had only some

    education after high school, 138 for students with parents who had a high school education only, and 133 for

    students whose parents did not finish high school. (Appendix 2)

    Differences by Free/Reduced-Price School Lunch Program Eligibility

    Students who were eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches (because they lived in low-income

    families) scored lower on the NAEP writing assessment than did students who were not eligible. In 2011,

    these scores were 27 points lower for eighth-graders eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch scored

    than for their counterparts who were ineligible, and for twelfth-graders the gap was 24 points. (Figure 3) This

    gap narrowed between 2002 and 2007 for eighth-graders, but there was no change for fourth- or twelfth-

    graders. (Appendix 1)

    134 133

    161 157

    0

    50

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    150

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    Eighth Grade Twelfth Grade

    Scale

    Score

    Grade

    Writing Scale Scores of Students in Grades 8 and 12, by Eligibility for Free/Reduced Price Lunch, 2011

    Eligible Not Eligible

    Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Educational Progress Writing Assessment (NAEP), 2007, Accessed through the NAEP data tool at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/criteria.asp

    Figure 3

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    State and Local Estimates

    2007 state estimates for eighth- and twelfth-graders are available at

    http://nationsreportcard.gov/writing_2007/

    The following 2002 state estimates are available from

    http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#USA/2/8/10,11,12,13,14,15 (select Test Scores):

    4th graders who scored below the basic writing level

    4th graders who scored at or above the proficient writing level

    8th graders who scored below the basic writing level

    8th graders who scored at or above the proficient writing level.

    1998 state estimates for fourth- and eighth-graders are available from the following sites:

    Fourth Grade- http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/stt2002/20035324.asp

    Eighth Grade- http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/stt2002/20035328.asp

    International Estimates

    None available.

    National Goals

    None.

    Related Indicators

    Reading Proficiency: www.childtrends.org/?indicators=reading-proficiency

    Science Proficiency: www.childtrends.org/?indicators=science-proficiency

    Mathematics Proficiency: www.childtrends.org/?indicators=mathematics-proficiency

    http://nationsreportcard.gov/writing_2007/http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#USA/2/8/10,11,12,13,14,15http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main1998/1999462.pdfhttp://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/stt2002/20035328.asphttp://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=reading-proficiencyhttp://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=science-proficiencyhttp://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=mathematics-proficiency

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    Definition

    Writing proficiency is determined by performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and it is

    measured by average scale scores. The NAEP assessment assesses fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders on writing.

    Fourth-graders were not assessed in 2007 or 2011. Scale scores range from 0 to 300.

    Each grade level and each subject area has criteria for achievement-level, categorized as basic, proficient, or advanced.

    This represents what students should know.

    For more information on the abilities expected for each level, see

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/writing/achieveall.asp

    Fourth Grade

    Basic (115-175)

    Proficient (176-224)

    Advanced (225-300)

    Eighth Grade

    Basic (114-172)

    Proficient (173-223)

    Advanced (224-300)

    Twelfth Grade

    Basic (122-177)

    Proficient (178-229)

    Advanced (230-300)

    The Writing Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) details what is assessed by the Writing NAEP. The framework defines the structure, organization, and general content for the assessment.

    1. Students should write for a variety of purposes: narrative, informative, and persuasive. 2. Students should write on a variety of tasks and for many different audiences. 3. Students should write from a variety of stimulus materials and within various time constraints. 4. Students should generate, draft, revise, and edit id