American students have poor writing skills, according to a new national test. The test is the first assessment of how well students can write with computers, San Jose Mercury News reported. But even with a spell check, a thesaurus and other advantages that the computer brings, the majority of students tested "did not communicate effectively," the Orange County Register reported. Just 24 percent of students were considered "proficient" in writing.
Officials from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are concerned. "Writing is fundamental to effective communication, especially in an era in which email and other word-processed documents are the norm rather than the exception," David Driscoll, chairman of NAEP's governing board, told the OC Register. "Our nation's students need to write clearly, logically and accurately. We need to focus on supporting students beyond basic levels so that they have a solid grasp of effective writing skills."
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Officials added that the test shows that computer technology doesn't help students if they can't write well in the first place. In previous years, students taking the writing test had to use pencil and paper instead of a computer, ABC News reported.
More than 24,000 eighth graders and 28,000 12th graders took the exam, which is known as the Nation's Report Card, Bloomberg News reported. Bloomberg News also got ahold of some of the better and weaker passages that students turned in. One weak example from an eighth grader reads: “There is five guys and five girls, the girls will get to sleep inside the plane so they don’t get to cold or scared.”