Local News

Eighth-Grade Writing Scores Drop

Posted April 3, 2008


— Scores posted by North Carolina eighth-graders on a national writing test dropped last year but remained on par with the national average, according to results released Thursday.

Students posted a 153 average on the scale used by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called "the nation's report card" because it's the only test used in common across the country. The national average was 154.

The last time the test was administered, in 2002, the state average was 157.

Students taking the writing test are given two 25-minute writing tasks, and students' essays are evaluated as first drafts. A sample of students in each participating state takes the assessment, so no district or school-level results are available.

The test results showed high-achieving North Carolina students lost ground between 2002 and last year, while students scoring at or below average maintained their performance level.

"We know that local educators are very focused on getting more students to the minimum grade level or proficient level, and that is a very worthwhile goal," State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a statement. "At the same time, I am concerned that students who already have solid test scores may not be getting the extra push they need."


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  • 3rdgradeteacher Apr 3, 2008

    Please don't cast stones on teachers unless you have walked in our shoes. You will always have teachers out there that are here for the wrong reasons, but before you lable all of us make sure your facts are straight. There are thousands of us who work hard each day to challenge ALL students. We work hard each day to teach students and to make sure they all succeed. I know that you have concerns and thoughts but make sure you don't lable every teacher the way you have.

  • ChuckD Apr 3, 2008

    Biggest problem teachers face is behavior of students. Most of the teachers whre I work spend the majority of the instruction time trying to get students to behave. It only takes a few to throw an entire class into turmoil. Admin will say that these studenst deserve a fre and appropriate public education (FAPE) and there little to be done to get the studenst out of the class and school.

    Parents of good kids don't say much because they don't want to be seen as a trouble-making parent so they sit back while their child gets further and further behind. The rights of a few override the rights of many.

    To address something said on here earlier...raising teacher pay isn't the solution. Parents and students run the schools, teachers and admin are only there to try to control and do a little instruction. We can win this education problem but the handcuffs need to be taken off the teachers and administration. Teachers need to be in charge of the class, not parents or students.

  • George Costanza Apr 3, 2008

    Strange, the middle school I teach at did not give an eighth grade writing test. It did give a 7th grade writing test this year though. Was this supposed to be given to all eighth graders. If not than the statistics are skewed somewhat.

  • ChuckD Apr 3, 2008

    Much of what is written here is correct...some of it is too stupid to believe. I am a teacher. What I see is the biggest problems are these...

    1. Kids who really don't care or want to learn.
    2. Parents who really don't care what their children are doing as long as they aren't at home bothering them.
    3. Administration thats not concerned about the students LEARNING, they are concerned about the students MEMORIZING so the test scores will be higher therefore producing more funds.

    I work at a Title 1 school. EOC (end of course tests or what used to be called "final test") tests can be taken 4 or 5 times. Why? Because the more amount of students that fail the less funding the school gets. The students that fail the EOC after the 5th time, THEN must repeat the class. con't...

  • carolinagirl75 Apr 3, 2008

    here's the flaw in the performance-based pay idea: we cannot control who is in our classes! In business speak, we cannot guarantee the quality of our raw product. My mother was a textiles company supervisor. She was responsible for her force's production of high quality sheets; however, she could send back the material that flawed.

    Would you like to know my "raw product": three dropped out, one was sent to jail, two only come to school every ninth day to avoid being dropped from the rolls, three speak almost no English, two are in high school after not having passed any middle school grades; the rest are nice kids doing their best. What do you think my scores are going to be like? Who do you think are going to have the low scores? How am I to reach these students? Please, give me suggestions. Two decades of teaching and advanced degrees, and I still am looking for answers, so forgive me if I don't produce!

  • daMoFo Apr 3, 2008

    Conservative, it doesn't matter what what someone at the school tells you. The state looks at 3's and 4's in determining if schools are meeting standards or not.

  • razor Apr 3, 2008

    ok mugofstout, if what you say is true (which it's not anyway), then what can we do to draw more skill to the field? Raise standards? Toughen requirements for new teachers?? none of these things will work without some significant pay increase.

  • Conservative Apr 3, 2008

    "You know something - every time I see stories like this I get very angry. The scores are not up - so what does the local school system do? Relax the requirements and the scores."

    TheAdmiral - you are on target. My 3 children attended a highly respected magnet elementary school in Wake County. When my first child was there, the school was proud that "more than 80 percent of the kids in our school scored 3 or better (on a scale of 4) on the 4th grade writing test". When my 3rd child finished 4th grade the school was touting about "more than 80 percent of the kids in our school scored 2 or better (on a scale of 4) on the 4th grade writing test".

    In order to keep the 80 percent figure ion tact, they dropped the "bragging cut off score" from 3 to 2! This is how we are celebrating mediocrity today!

  • mugofstout2 Apr 3, 2008

    The lowest grade point, and the least hours that you can put into to college gets you what? Thats right, your teaching certificate. These people who rave about paying them more do not seem to realize that it is not the best and the brightest who teach most of the time. It is the ones who could not get any other degree.

  • razor Apr 3, 2008

    The whole point behind increased teacher pay is not necissarily to motivate present teachers to work harder, but to encourage more people to enter the field in the first place. Teaching is one of those jobs that should be on the same level of respect as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc... Instead we call them lazy and greedy. I am a college student now, and many of my friends would instantly switch majors if teaching wasn't such a high stress, low pay job. My father, who never went to college makes more money than many of the teachers in the Chatham county school system, who work 10-15 more hours per week than he does. Why on earth would I want to subject myself to that??

    Anyway,I guarantee that if you REALLY beefed up teacher salaries (like to 70-80,000/year nationally) that within ten years you'd see a huge number of new, motivated teachers entering the field.