Most secondary school students can't write well

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  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 10:05 p.m.

    I don't disagree with Howard Beal

    These days you can't get a job at Geneva. But, there is reality TV or Athletics.

    I have listened to kids at the call center portion of where I work; its annoying to listen to the mindless optimism while the English language is being butchered.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 9:59 p.m.

    Re: the truth 5:12 p.m. Sept. 23,

    "liberalizing and leftestizing our education system during the last 60 years is what has got us into this mess."

    Is * leftestizing* a legitimate word? It does not matter. Its superfluous & redundant.

  • MyReality Boise, ID
    Sept. 27, 2012 9:59 a.m.

    RE: "Twenty-four percent of students at both grades eight and 12 performed at the proficient level, meaning they were able to accomplish the communicative purpose of their writing."

    Wrong! A correct claim might read, "seventy-eight percent of students at grade eight performed at the Basic level or higher, meaning they met or exceeded NAEP's grade level expectations for eighth graders.

    From the National Assessment Governing Board: [T]here is no mention of “at grade level” performance in [NAEP achievement levels]. In particular, it is important to understand clearly that the Proficient achievement level does not refer to “at grade” performance. Nor is performance at the Proficient level synonymous with “proficiency” in the subject. That is, students who may be considered proficient in a subject, given the common usage of the term, might not satisfy the requirements for performance at the NAEP achievement level. Further, Basic achievement is more than minimal competency. Basic achievement [C-/C] is less than mastery [B+/A-] but more than the lowest level of performance on NAEP. Finally, even the best students you know may not meet the requirements for Advanced performance on NAEP.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2012 12:02 p.m.

    Re: one old man Ogden, UT
    "This is what happens when teachers are expected to try to guide the progress of too many students."

    No, this is what happens when parents don't spend the time to help educate their children. When dad is in prison and mom is trolling for a new boyfriend you certainly can't expect her to find the time to help little Johnny with his homework.

  • JMHO Southern, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:05 a.m.

    I think worf has a good point. My elementary age children go to 7 hours of school and have at least 1 hour of homework a day. I think they learn more by having time to explore after school rather than have to do homework. The other day, they were up on a sand hill above the house playing archeologist. They unearthed rocks and tried to classify them like dinosaur bones. In the hour or so they were playing, I stayed out of the way and let them discover. They probably learned more in that hour than they did at school that day. (By the way, that is not a knock on schools, just an observation that kids still need time to be kids in order to develop.)

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 23, 2012 11:41 p.m.

    A breakdown of a child's week:

    * 168 hours in a week
    * 56 hours of sleep
    * 55 hours of television and/or computer games
    * 35 hours at school----often more for tutorials
    * 8 hours getting ready, and traveling to school
    * 7 hours of homework

    This means 50 hours of constant surveillance. They have no private time or space, and are disciplined if they try to assert individuality in the use of their time.

    This leaves 8 hours a week to create a unique consciousness.

    How can students be creative writers when there's little background experience to work with?

    I doubt Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, or the Wright Brothers were this limited with having individual time.

    Perhaps less school would produce higher educated people, and forget the crazy tests.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 9:25 p.m.

    I'm not sure worf or The Truth actually know what is going on in the schools. They just think they do. I would say ,if anything, English and Numeracy are over taught in our schools. It has come at the expense of other subjects. I will agree with worf that standardized tests are hurting education. But I also caution them that the "good old days" were all that good. 50 years ago African-Americans were in different schools, 100 years ago, most women weren't educated at all. And all generations have had high percentages of illiterate students. It is the premium on literacy our economy now demands and the actual tracking of data that has led to this "crisis" in education. But when Johnny couldn't really read or write well 50 years go, he could get a job at Geneva Steel and make a decent living. That is what has really changed, not lower percentages of students lacking these skills. In fact, students probably have more knowledge than any point in history and many actually do write well. I even went through our public education system and can write sentences with various sentence structure. Go figure...

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 23, 2012 8:16 p.m.

    the truth,

    Well stated.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:03 p.m.

    Add to this factor the number of non-speaking English students thrust into the education system daily so that teachers not only have to teach grammar and sentence stucture, but also deal with children who don't even speak English in the classroom. Scores probably reflect that problem. ESL should be mandatory in schools.

    There is a program now in the fifth grade where students practice writing a persuasive essay on a given subject matter on the computer over a period of a few weeks. They then take a persuasive essay timed test on an assigned subject on the computer. Scores are then recorded. It has been a great experience to see how much this helps identfy problems for the student with a teacher guiding them and getting them ready for the testing process.

    I have also noticed that the fad of texting on cell phones has limited individuals' written ability as well as speaking ability by this "shortcut" method of communication.

  • cavetroll SANDY, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:01 p.m.

    How many of us are really surprised by this report? When it is no longer "kewl" to be able to write, read, or spell correctly, this is the result. When parents refuse to become involved in their children's lives, especially their education and allow their children to sit in front of video games all day, not do homework, or hold them accountable for their grades, this is the result.

    And it has nothing to do with "liberalizing" education. It's a lack of priorities by most involved. My children know if their grades are not at an acceptable level, they will not play video games, participate in extra curricular activites. Homework is done before all other things when they get home from school. If they need help, they ask.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 5:12 p.m.

    I agree with WORF

    It's not about large classes, bad teachers, or lack of funding.

    But it is not politics is Political Correctness, and wasting time teaching about sex, aand Liberal Pop science causes like global warming and being green, and evolution, and acceptance for homosexuality, tolerance and diversity training and how they think and feel about guns, and socialist indoctrination and protesting, too much focus and money and time on sports and other extracurriculars, teaching lefteat and liberal values, and so forth,

    Get back to teaching the basics.

    That is all that is needed.

    another test or another standard to follow will not change anything.

    IF we are failing at math and science and writing, it because we are not teaching it, nor taking the time to teach, not requiring it, or excusing if little Timmy wants to draw offensive pictures rather than do math.

    Get back to the basics, they have served us well the first 150 years.

    liberalizing and leftestizing our education system during the last 60 years is what has got us into this mess.

  • Jonathan Eddy Payson, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 4:47 p.m.

    Phred, you fell for it. I knew someone would. Understanding sarcasm also requires mental exercise.

  • Phred Ogden, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 2:49 p.m.


    From the grammar advisory site Grammar Girl:

    "It's very important to remember that it's wrong to use good as an adverb after an action verb. For example, it's wrong to say, "He swam good."; Cringe! The proper sentence is He swam well, because swam is an action verb and it needs an adverb to describe it. Remember, you can only use adjectives such as good and bad after linking verbs, you can't use them after action verbs."

    May I also suggest that a headline that involves irony is ironic but the person who wrote the headline is being ironical. I am not sure what meaning your incomplete sentence is meant to convey.

    My favorite irritants are headline writers who insist on writing in the present tense about something in the past as though it was still going on; "Tractor Trailer Is Involved in Crash. It was horrible!"

  • brian timothy Lehi, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    At the state agency in which I was employed, the 'writing' was horrendous, from the very top of the organizational food chain, down. In fact, there were some at the 'lower' ends that were markedly more skilled, in not just writing but in having an understanding of the organizational workings and needs. How some administrative types attained their respective positions was a continual source of both bemusement and irony. So, not surprising given the findings stated in this article. 3Rs would go a long way.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 1:39 p.m.

    U gotta b kiddin! No way. LOL. I have to tell my BFF about all of this. I have to C this report to believe it cuz i think its wrong. L8R...

    Sept. 23, 2012 1:29 p.m.

    The vast majority of adults are also very poor writers. It is not a skill that is valued by our society.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 23, 2012 11:48 a.m.

    Let's quit making excuses.

    It's not large classes, bad teachers, or lack of funding.

    It,s called politics. It's so well disguised, and people just can't see it for what it is.

    How's those tests coming along?

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 11:36 a.m.

    I taught computer literacy as a college adjunct for 10 years, and I had my students write a lot of reports. I found that a high majority of them couldn't write very well. They didn't know simple things like sentence-construction and basics of grammar. They seemed to write like they spoke -- short statements, no complete sentences.

  • Jonathan Eddy Payson, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:05 a.m.

    How ironical. The title of this article should read ‘Most secondary school students can't write GOOD’

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:02 a.m.

    This is what happens when teachers are expected to try to guide the progress of too many students. It takes time -- a lot of time -- for a teacher to provide proper evaluation and guidance of students' writing. It's impossible to do that when class sizes are too large.

    Add to that the fact that teachers are fighting a terrific battle against shortcuts that make "communication" between teens an almost completely foreign language.


    The two cute comments from a couple of our regular critics of teachers above reflect the reluctance of too many Americans to try to find solutions to a huge and growing problem. One of them even reflects the writer's lack of proper grammar.

    But they have all the answers. Just ask them.

    (Then again. Maybe that's not such a good idea.)

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    Wait until you see what's in the pipeline.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 23, 2012 12:18 a.m.

    How's the standardized tests working out?