YOUR EDUCATION DOLLARS AT WORK – AT 11:20 P.M. ET: Another outrageous example of what is happening to American education, despite vast expenditures. Illinois says it wanted to save money. How does it save it? You won't believe this:
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois will assess only reading and arithmetic now that high school juniors will no longer be tested on their writing skills during standardized exams every spring, according to a published report.
Cutting the writing exams will save about $2.4 million amid the state's budgetary shortfalls. Writing tests for elementary and middle school students were dropped last year.
"We're trying to minimize the damage" of the cuts, Schools Superintendent Christopher Koch told the Chicago Tribune for a story published Wednesday. "Writing is one of the most expensive things to assess."
Oh please. They're cutting writing tests because the kids do so poorly. Why advertise falure? I've seen some writing samples of high-school juniors from our local community here in New York, and I was appalled.
Federal law doesn't require or fund writing tests. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, public schools are evaluated based on their reading and math test results.
Illinois isn't alone in struggling with how to offer an effective education for less money. Oregon and Missouri also recently made money-saving cuts to their writing exams.
Illinois education officials expect to restore the writing assessments in 2014 when a new state testing plan will require students to periodically take online tests, Koch said.
And the end of the writing section on state standardized exams for now doesn't mean students won't be tested on their writing at all. Many Advanced Placement exams given in May require writing, and the SAT college entrance exam has a writing requirement.
COMMENT: One of the problems is that a number of teachers can't write properly, to put it mildly. When I was a young student in the New York City public school system we had Irish teachers who could diagram an English sentence. Today kids are lucky to have teachers who can write an English sentence. Unless that changes, and kids figure out that writing is more important than playing video games, the writing problems in schools will not be solved.
July 7, 2011