Chicago Tribune reported that “Illinois high school juniors no longer will be tested on writing skills during the state’s standardized tests every spring, eliminating the last Illinois writing exam and shaving about $2.4 million amid budgetary shortfalls.” The decision began with a similar political movement to cut elementary writing exams in grades 3, 6, and 8 last year per Gov. Pat Quinn.
The ACT optional writing test, adopted in the 2004–2005 school year, provides another point of reference for college aptitude, but it does not provide an accurate picture of the expectations of collegial writing. “Unfortunately, far too many high school graduates currently need to enroll in non-credit-bearing remedial courses in order to become ready for post-secondary work. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), in the fall of 2000, 28% of all incoming freshmen were enrolled in at least one remedial course” as stated by the ACT National Curriculum Survey in 2006.
As technology advances on a seemingly daily basis, the question of handwriting is beginning to plague young minds more frequently. With auto-correct software, spell and grammar check tools and social networking websites, the need for correct penmanship and organized writing can be a hard sell. As cheques slowly disappear, the need to spell out words and dates are replaced with shorthand texts and computer programs that fill the check information for you. The need to provide a proper signature is being replaced with electronic signature devices and pin numbers. Yet, as wonderful as technology can be, Education.com is quick to point out that batteries can die, computers and cell phones can break, and power surges can happen.
So why is writing important? Marquette University provides a list of 15 ways why writing is important to all. The list begins with “writing is the primary basis upon which your work, your learning, and your intellect will be judged—in college, in the workplace, and in the community” and finishes with “writing is an essential job skill.” With the applications for life, school, and work, why should writing be pushed to the side in Illinois?
Valorie Delp, a teacher and writer for lovetoknow kids, believes “Good written communication is still imperative. We communicate by e-mail, we read blogs, and regardless of whether or not technology has taken away some of the need to be excellent in spelling, it still speaks volumes to receive a professional e-communication that is riddled with errors.
“Computer programs are only as good as their writers. It takes human knowledge to write programs to correct grammar and spelling.
“Computer programs still make mistakes. A spell checker can only tell if a word is misspelled. It cannot tell the difference between homophones so words that are correctly spelled but used incorrectly escape the notice of a spell checker.”