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Thursday, June 23, 2016

As Teachers Tackle New Student-Writing Expectations, Support Is Lacking | Education Week (Chainging Practies in Writing Instruction)

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Photo: Madeline Will
Madeline Will, assistant editor for Education Week Teacher and a contributing writer for Education Week and writes for the Teaching Now blog notes, "The common-core standards call for students to write more and in more complex modes, but literacy experts say that's not happening in many classrooms."

Sargy Letuchy teaches a writing class at Bolingbrook High School in suburban Chicago, and consults with other teachers to help them teach writing aligned with the common core.
Photo: Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

Writing instruction may have fallen by the wayside during the No Child Left Behind Act era, as teachers zeroed in on teaching math and reading.

But now, with most states using the Common Core State Standards, students are expected to write a lot more—and to write better.

The standards include detailed writing expectations that go well beyond previous state requirements. Specifically, they call for proficiency in argumentative, explanatory, and narrative writing that draw connections from and between texts.

A noticeable uptick of writing in schools has taken place as most states have implemented the standards, said Tanya Baker, the director of national programs at the National Writing Project, citing anecdotal evidence since there isn’t a way to track the exact amount of writing occurring in classrooms.

Still, for the most part, educators say students aren’t writing as much as the standards require.

“Kids are writing single paragraphs. It’s so far from where we want for young people to be college- or career-ready,” Baker said. “The baseline has moved, but it’s still pretty far from what we want to see.”

An Education Trust study published last fall analyzed 1,500 student assignments from a two-week period at six urban middle schools and found that fewer than 1 in 10 assignments required multiple paragraphs of writing. Just 4 in 10 assignments were aligned with the grade-appropriate standard, and 16 percent required students to cite evidence from the text, which is a key component of the common core.

Joan Dabrowski, an education consultant who was the lead literacy adviser for the organization’s literacy-assignment analysis, said students across the country still aren’t doing enough writing, and what they are doing is rarely the kind of multiparagraph, evidence-based writing that is promoted in college- and career-ready standards. 
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Source: Education Week (Chainging Practies in Writing Instruction)

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