Writing is a big part of every high schooler’s life. In fact, students write more than ever before–from school research papers to essays on standardized tests to texting their friends. Yet writing problems abound. According to the 2007 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 24% of twelfth-graders are at or above the proficient level in writing and only 1% writes at an advanced level. While these results are disappointing, the overall effect on student achievement is a larger concern: writing problems can greatly hinder college and career success. The good news is that with hard work, patience, and targeted help, high school writing problems can be overcome.
What is Proficient High School Writing?
By understanding high school writing proficiency standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade level expectations. At the proficient level or above, high school students are able to plan, draft, and complete error-free essays of upwards of 1,500 words or more. High school students should know how to select the appropriate form of writing for various audiences and purposes, including narrative, expository, persuasive, descriptive, business, and literary forms. Students in ninth to twelfth grade should exhibit an increasing facility with complex sentence structures, more sophisticated vocabulary, and an evolving individual writing style. When revising selected drafts, students are expected to improve the development of a central theme, the logical organization of content, and the creation of meaningful relationships among ideas. In addition, students must edit their essays for the correct use of standard American English.
How to Spot Common Writing Problems
Parents can spot common writing problems simply by reviewing their children’s essays and other writing homework. Writing problems may also come to light as high school students prepare for the writing portion of standardized tests. On these tests, students are asked to write an essay, which involves reading and interpreting a writing prompt, selecting the appropriate form of writing to use, and completing an error-free essay within the test’s time limit. The essay measures the student’s ability to develop a thesis, organize and express ideas in a coherent manner, and use appropriate word choice, varied sentence structures, and correct language conventions. If your high school student has trouble in any of these areas, it will hamper their ability to score well on standardized test essays.
What Does Your Child’s Writing Look Like?
Does your high school student make errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Are you finding poorly constructed sentences and unsuitable word choices? Is there a lack of organization or supporting ideas? Here are some common errors that will help you identify the trouble spots in your high schooler’s writing:
Problem: Sentence Fragments
Example: Going to the football game this afternoon.
Solution: I am going to the football game this afternoon.
Problem: Run-on Sentences
Example: I enjoy going to the movies first I have to finish my homework.
Solution: I enjoy going to the movies, but first I have to finish my homework.
Problem: Lack of Subject-Verb Agreement
Example: She drive every day.
Solution: She drives every day.
Problem: Incorrect Noun Plurals
Example: The berrys are ripe.
Solution: The berries are ripe.
Problem: Incorrect Plural and Possessive Nouns
Example: The childrens’ toys were donated to a charity group.
Solution: The children’s toys were donated to a charity group.
Problem: Wrong End Punctuation
Example: Where are you.
Solution: Where are you?
Problem: Not Forming Compound Sentences
Example: It rained today. The weather report called for blue skies.
Solution: It rained today, yet the weather report called for blue skies.
Problem: Sentence Variety
Example: Susan runs to school every morning. Susan talks to her friends before class. They don’t get to class on time. Their teacher gets angry.
Solution: Susan runs to school every morning so she can talk to her friends before classes begin. However, when they don’t get to class on time, their teacher gets angry.
Problem: Paragraph Focus
Example: I love computer games, model cars, and comic books. All are fun!
Solution: I enjoy many different types of leisure activities. My friends and I have a great time playing the latest computer games with the most excitement and challenge. When I want to create something on my own, I build model cars and take pride in getting every detail just right. Yet nothing beats my comic book collection if I want to kick back and relax! With all of these things to do, I’m never bored.
Overcoming Writing Problems: How Parents Can Help
High school writing problems can be overcome through a combination of thorough feedback, writing practice, and careful revision. Start by speaking with your child’s teachers. Share your observations and concerns. Often writing problems exist because students need more feedback or are confused about the feedback they are getting. Another issue is the busy high schooler’s schedule, which doesn’t allow enough time for practice and revision. Here are some tips that can help you get your student on track for writing success–in class and on tests:
Time4Writing Tackles High School Writing Problems
Time4Writing high school and college prep writing courses meet a variety of needs, from basic skills reinforcement to coaching in essay writing. Taught by certified teachers on a one-on-one basis, our courses help students achieve meaningful improvement in their writing. At Time4Writing, the revision process becomes a highly productive and rewarding learning conversation between the student and teacher. Students revise and re-submit, and the teacher gives further feedback. Some students enjoy the process so much, they must be asked to go on to the next assignment, or they’d never finish the course!
High School Research Papers and High School Essays for Standardized Tests are new online writing courses under development that will feature tips for achieving high-scoring essays, as well as essay practice and feedback.
Courses can be taken individually or in succession to build skills from the ground up.
With over 1,000 students served, Time4Writing has ample proof that writing problems can be overcome. One high school student taking the Exciting Essay Writing course told us, “I have really enjoyed this class because it has improved my writing.…This past week I wanted to turn off my computer when I began to struggle. Thank you for being patient. Your teaching has been a very big help!”