Illinois drops writing from standardized exam

July 6, 2011

The Associated Press and Lauren Chooljian

(ap
Writing skills will no longer be tested during the state's standardized exams for high school juniors every spring.

Illinois is down to just reading and arithmetic.    

Writing skills will no longer be tested during the state's standardized exams for high school juniors every spring. 

The Chicago Tribune reports that eliminating the writing exams will save about $2.4 million amid the state's budgetary shortfalls.

Illinois had already dropped writing assessments for elementary and middle school students last year. 

State Schools Superintendent Christopher Koch says writing is one of the most expensive things to assess. And Koch says the state is trying to minimize the damage done by budget cuts.

According to Dr. Janice Neuleib, executive secretary of the Illinois Association of Teachers of English, the elimination of the writing test may not harm students' writing skills.

"Anybody who is going to college, even community college, will have plenty of writing assessment, so it's not as if this was the only thing in the world," she said.

Neuleib said schools should add more creative writing classes to improve students' skills, instead of focusing on standardized tests.

Federal law doesn't require or fund writing tests. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, public schools are evaluated based on their reading and math test results.