Three Out Of Four U.S. Teens Can’t Write Proficiently
Study shows most American teens lacking in writing skills.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: October 4th, 2012
It would be easy to blame these poor scores on the education system, but the larger issue is that children don’t read.
t’s no secret that education in this country is not what it ought to be. The United States ranks well below other developed nations in academic performance, and last week there was more bad news. The U.S. Department of Education released the results of its National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in writing, which said that only one in four eighth- and twelfth-graders were able to write at the “proficient” level.
This news is especially disturbing, given that these results represent the first year in which students were allowed to take the national writing test using computers equipped with spell check.
The NAEP results are graded on a scale that ranges from “below basic” to “basic” to “proficient” to “advanced,” so even the students who were able to write at the “proficient” level were not great writers, they were just the ones able to write using consistent spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
It would be easy to blame these poor scores on the education system—and indeed the report does show that children in suburban schools fared better than those in cities, towns, and rural areas—but the larger issue is that children don’t read. Not that they can't—although 14-percent of Americans are illterate—but that they simply don’t.
The fact that they don’t read isn’t the fault of the schools—some reading is required in even the worst schools—it’s the fault of their parents. Children who aren’t encouraged to read outside of school will have a harder time writing above the basic level because, as numerous studies have shown, reading helps children build their writing skills.
It’s not difficult to see why this is so; more exposure to the written word breeds a familiarity with language that goes well beyond what is taught in schools. And lest anyone think that the prevalence of texting is to blame for childrens' poor writing skills, research has shown that childrens' texting does not affect their ability to write properly.
Language immersion doesn’t only work when learning a foreign language. Until more parents encourage their children to read (and it would help if the parents themselves read), children will continue to struggle with the written word.