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Girls performed better than boys at every grade level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) writing assessment in 2002. (See Figure 1)
Writing is an essential skill for students to possess for academic as well as non-academic purposes. In English classes, writing skills are often directly taught and assessed. In social science, humanities, and science classes, writing well is an essential way in which students demonstrate knowledge and express ideas. Outside of the classroom, writing well is necessary to express ideas, persuade, create, advocate as a citizen, and increasingly, it is a skill that is highly valued by prospective employers.1
Average writing proficiency scores increased modestly between 1998 and 2002 for fourth and eighth graders. However, there were no significant changes in twelfth graders' scores. The average scores in 2002 for fourth, eighth and twelfth graders were 154, 153 and 148 respectively out of a possible score of 300. Although the writing assessment was also given in 1992, changes in the assessment and the scoring methods prevent comparisons with the 1998 and 2002 results. (See Table 1)
Differences by Gender
Girls scored higher, on average, than boys for all three grade levels on the 2002 NAEP writing assessment. The gap between girls and boys was 17 points in grade 4, 21 points in grade 8, and 24 points in grade 12. (See Figure 1) While the average scores for males in fourth and eighth grades have increased, twelfth grade males' scores decreased between 1998 and 2002.
Differences by Race and Ethnicity2
Asian/Pacific Islanders scored higher in grade 4 than all other racial and ethnic groups, and white students scored higher than black, Hispanic, and American Indian students. Among eighth and twelfth grade students, Asian/Pacific Islander and white students scored similarly to each other, and both groups scored substantially points higher than black, Hispanic, and American Indian students. (See Table 1)
Differences by Parent's Educational Attainment
Children and youth with a parent who graduated from college score higher than children with less educated parents.3 For example, eighth grade students with college educated parents scored 165 compared with 136 students whose parents did not finish high school. (See Table 1)
Differences by Eligibility for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
Students who were eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches because they live in low-income families scored lower on the NAEP writing assessment than students who were not eligible. Fourth grade students eligible for the program scored 22 points lower, eighth grade eligible students scored 26 points lower, and twelfth grade eligible students scored 20 points lower than students from higher income families who were not eligible for the program. (See Figure 2)
2002 state estimates for 4th graders who scored below the basic writing level are available at http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/sld/compare_results.jsp?i=590
2002 state estimates for 4th graders who scored at or above the proficient writing level are available at http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/sld/compare_results.jsp?i=600
2002 state estimates for 8th graders who scored below the basic writing level are available at http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/sld/compare_results.jsp?i=670
2002 state estimates for 8th graders who scored at or above the proficient writing level are available at http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/sld/compare_results.jsp?i=680
1998 state estimates for fourth and eighth graders are available from:
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics. NAEP Writing 2002 State Snapshot Records, NCES 2003-532. Washington, DC: 2003.
The National Education Goals Panel, now disbanded, had established goals for the year 2000, including Goal 3 on student achievement and citizenship. Under this goal there was an objective to increase the percentage of students who demonstrate the ability to write and communicate effectively. For additional information:
National Education Goals Panel (1999). The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners, 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/negp/reports/99rpt.pdf
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1U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics. The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2002, NCES 2003-529, by H.R Persky, M.C. Daane, and Y. Jin. Washington, DC: 2003. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2002/2003529.pdf
2None of the race groups includes Hispanics of those races.
3Information is only for eighth and twelfth graders. No information for fourth graders is available.
Writing proficiency is defined as performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and it is measured by average scale scores. The NAEP assessment assesses fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders. Scale scores range from 0 to 300.
More information about the NAEP writing assessment is available at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2002/2003529.pdf
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics. The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2002, NCES 2003-529, by H.R Persky, M.C. Daane, and Y. Jin. Washington, DC: 2003. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2002/2003529.pdf
Raw Data Source
National Assessment of Educational Progress, Writing Assessment. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/writing/
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