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Wednesday August 23 8:18 AM ET Fourth Graders Flunk Writing Exam in Droves
TRENTON, N.J. (Reuters) - New Jersey's 100,000 fourth-graders do pretty well on multiple-choice tests in math and science, just don't expect them to be able to write home about it.
State education officials announced Tuesday that more than half of the fourth-graders in New Jersey, who are typically aged 10, failed the language arts section of a skills assessment test that required open-ended answers to questions on reading comprehension and writing.
Essay writing questions posed the main problem. Forty percent of the students got a zero grade on one essay question that asked them to craft a paragraph of disjointed information into a coherent story.
The exams, given last spring, were actually designed to assess the performance of individual school districts.
New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe called for a review of the grading procedures that a private North Carolina contractor used to evaluate test answers in the reading and writing section.
``We expect large numbers of students still to be below proficiency in writing,'' said Hespe, deflecting suggestions that the state government was hoping to lower the bar for passing grades. ``Writing will still be a very troublesome area.''
More than 80 percent of the state's fourth-graders passed the science and math sections, which required only multiple-choice answers.
-- K (email@example.com), August 23, 2000