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KBSI Perspective
As an employer, broadcaster, and former high school speech teacher I was appalled to hear that nearly three-quarters of American students who took the first ever computer based national writing exam did not communicate effectively. This study from the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2011 said that whether the student is in an academic or workplace setting, few can write effectively. I give the State of Illinois credit, however, because lawmakers said starting next spring high school juniors will be tested on their writing skills. Although the state has not found the $2.5 million yet to pay for the exams the lawmakers say the move is in anticipation of major state education reforms that “stress critical thinking more heavily.” In 2011, the state dropped an emphasis on writing skills due to financial problems. Governor Pat Quinn signed the writing assessment requirement into law two weeks ago as part of the $35 billion budget. Originally, he called for $400 million in cuts to elementary, middle and higher education but because of $1.2 billion in unanticipated increased tax revenue he put the writing assessment back into place and kept educational spending flat. Here is the problem with public education in Illinois. Since 2009, the schools have suffered through $800 million in educational cuts. Last year, only 32% of Illinois high schools met federal education law benchmarks. That is just unacceptable. I am sure somehow the state will find the extra $2.5 million to pay for the thirty minute essay test but in the meantime, placing more attention to students’ communication skills is the right thing to do. I applaud Governor Quinn for his actions.Writing Skills


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