Penmanship in Iowa Schools

An “amazing” story on the front page of last Thursday’s Des Moines Register states what should be the obvious: “Educators see connection between writing skills and academic achievement.”

The article says that troubles with grade-school handwriting can lead to later problems with spelling, grammar and punctuation. The evidence is that Iowa’s 8th graders rank 23rd in the nation for writing scores.

Iowa and Hawaii are the only two states in the nation that don’t have a state writing assessment.

So the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) is just now taking steps to sharpen writing skills. They added “legible handwriting” in model core curriculum that takes effect five years from now.

And the Iowa DOE is “pushing” for a mandatory state writing test. Why they need to “push” is unclear. Because as you recall, it was the Iowa DOE who single handedly named the ITBS and ITED as the state test. They made the call that, in this state, scoring in the 41st percentile is good enough to be “proficient.” Just last session, the Iowa DOE said there is no correlation between the fact that 20 percent of our 11th graders can’t read but graduate anyway. Interestingly, the DOE made this assertion at the same time it was stripping that information off student achievement report cards that go to your communities.

The punch line is this: Iowa and Hawaii are the only two states in the nation that don’t have a state writing assessment. A fact mysteriously absent in the article.

Maybe the Iowa DOE should have “pushed” a long time ago.

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Dansette