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Virginia's students rank 38th nationally for their writing skills

aheymann@dailypress.com

Virginia students ranked 38th in the nation with a 40.4 percent error rate for their writing and grammar skills in 2017, according to NoRedInk.

NoRedInk is an online teaching program that helps students improve their writing and critical thinking skills through interactive exercises. More than 50 percent of school districts in the U.S. use the program including Williamsburg-James City County and Virginia Beach.

NoRedInk analyzed the writing skills of 3 million students nationwide in grades five through 12 with a total of 1 billion questions answered in 2017. Virginia students answered more than 77 million questions.

Virginia student’s top weaknesses are:

  • 83 percent of students could determine whether a statement was a fact or opinion, but less than 55 percent could detect whether those opinions were undefendable, indisputable or worthy of debate.
  • 79 percent of students in Virginia could recognize wordiness, but less than 35 percent could correct it.
  • Virginia students meet the national average of using logical reasoning in an argument at 52 percent.
  • While Virginia students can recognize active and passive voice 67% of the time, they can only form sentences in each voice 21 percent of the time.

Fewer than 30 percent of students can cite evidence correctly.

The survey also found Virginian students are above national average at determining the difference between “then and than.”

CEO and founder of NoRedInk, Jeff Scheur, said Chesterfield County Public Schools originally purchased full use of the program to help their non-accredited schools. When the schools became accredited the next year, Scheur said the school system extended the program to the rest of the county.

Overall Virginia SOL English Writing test scores have remained stagnant the past few years. Statewide the number of students who passed the writing SOL improved by two points to 79 percent in 2016-2017 from 77 percent the previous school year.

James City County scores didn’t change much either. The percent of local students with passing or advanced English SOL writing scores fell from 85 percent in 2015-2016 to 82 in 2016-2017. Even with the drop, James City County is still above the state average for passing scores in writing.

Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at aheymann@dailypress.com, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.

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