America’s eighth-graders and high school seniors last year showed stronger writing skills than their counterparts five years earlier, a federal report concludes.
The writing assessment, part of a federally financed series known as the Nation’s Report Card, aims to get a handle on how well students across the country can craft essays, letters and stories.
More than 165,000 public and private school students in 45 states completed the writing test in 2007 for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, responding to prompts that required them to write creative essays, convey a message or influence a reader.
Seniors, for example, were asked to compose an essay that argued whether “big” inventions, such as television and computers, or “small” ones, such as headphones, play a bigger role in daily life.
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Nationwide, the average overall score for eighth- and 12th-graders in 2007 increased since 2002, according to the recently released data. The report also showed that high school boys, who have lagged behind their female classmates, are gaining some ground. While girls still had a higher average score, the gap between the sexes has narrowed since 2002.