Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writing Standards

Question: Are writing standards slipping?

Answer: They have always been relatively low.

Melissa Jackson, a BBC News Education reporter, says "Yes," but then they always have been slipping.

In 1996, half of 16- to 24-year-olds in a spelling test by the Basic Skills Agency couldn't spell "receive." Two-fifths couldn't spell "sincerely." One in seven couldn't spell "writing" correctly. The most difficult word on the survey was "accommodation"--68% misspelled it. Other problems were "occasionally," "immediately," "necessary" and "maintenance."

1950s: George Turnbill of Qualifications and Curriculum Authority--"Generations of youngsters have gone through school without having any spelling, grammar or punctuation instilled in the the way they did at one time."

1931: Junior County Scholarship Examination Report: "...there was evidence that the candidates were quite unable to write a few words without gross errors of spelling, grammar and composition."

1864: "A large majority of examination candidates were ignorant of the first principles of punctuation."

1858: "It was evident that the principles of grammar, as exhibited in the English language are not a matter of systematic study in our schools."

Institute of Educational Assessors (IEA): "Don't expect perfection from our young people. We never had it in the past and we are unlikely to get it in the future."

BBC News. Aug. 16, 2007. Internet.

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