Monday, November 25, 2002


A friend of mine who teaches at a local college called to say that he could provide a solid source of writing assessment for the State of Nebraska in one fell swoop, without parents, taxpayers and school systems having to spend a dime.

Just look at Nebraska kids' college papers . . . and then you will have a pretty good assessment of what kinds of writing instruction is NOT happening in our K-12 schools.

This friend recently issued some specific guidelines for a report from his students, and got back such incredibly bad papers that he made copies of them, concealing the names, of course, and circulated them in and out of the college, seeking to "show and tell" people of influence just how poorly college kids write today.

He would like to see the major media publish examples of student writing, as they are, and let voters and taxpayers "assess" for ourselves what is going on.

Otherwise, we are bound to have more of the same: professors trying to teach college students, at $300 per credit hour, the kinds of things that the kids should jolly well have learned at some point in their K-12 public educations in Nebraska, which are shortly going to be costing us $100,000-plus per pupil.

Now, don't despair completely. He said about half of the papers had errors and weaknesses, but deserved at least a "C." But now, despair. Here are examples of what was wrong with the rest:

-- So many typos and misspellings that the paper was basically "rubbish."

-- Plagiarism from Internet articles.

-- Quotations used with no sources of attribution.

-- Overwhelming amount of style errors involving bad punctuation, capitalization and grammar.

-- No evidence of creative, critical thinking, but just lists of concepts with no connections, transitions or conclusions.

-- One student included "Anonymous" in a list of references and apparently thought "Anonymous" was an academic journal.

Uff da!

So what do you say . . . shall we continue to accept these worthless, meaningless, upless and downless "assessments" from the education bureaucracy?

Or should we demand a look at the real thing?

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