Writing standards for eighth grade define the knowledge and skills needed for writing proficiency at this grade level. By understanding 8th grade writing standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade level expectations.
What is 8th Grade Writing?
In Grade 8, students refine and build upon previously learned knowledge and skills in increasingly complex essays. On a regular basis, 8th grade students are expected to produce coherent and focused multi-paragraph essays that are error-free and feature varied sentence structure. Eighth grade students are able to select and use different forms of writing for specific purposes such as to inform, persuade, or entertain. Eighth-graders edit their writing based on their knowledge of grammar and usage, spelling, punctuation, and other conventions of written language. In eighth grade, students use every phase of the writing process and continue to build their knowledge of writing conventions. Students use citations competently, follow research report formats, and present written reports incorporating graphics and media.
What Writing Standards Measure
Academic standards are very specific, detailing every aspect of what students are expected to achieve in each grade. Organized into five key areas, writing standards focus on: Writing process, writing purposes (what students write), writing evaluation, writing conventions (grammar and usage), and research/inquiry for writing. The following writing standards represent what states* typically specify as 8th grade benchmarks in writing proficiency.
Grade 8: Writing Process
Eighth grade writing standards focus on the writing process as the primary tool to help children become independent writers. In Grade 8, students are taught to use each phase of the process as follows:
Use of technology: Eighth grade students use available technology to support aspects of creating, revising, editing, and publishing texts. Students compose documents with appropriate formatting by using word-processing skills and principles of design (e.g., margins, tabs, spacing, columns, page orientation).
Grade 8: Writing Purposes
In eighth grade, students write to express, discover, record, develop, reflect on ideas, and to problem solve, and produce texts of at least 500 to 700 words. Specifically, 8th grade writing standards stipulate that students write in the following forms:
In addition, eighth-graders choose the appropriate form for their own purpose for writing, including journals, letters, editorials, reviews, poems, memoirs, narratives, and instructions.
Grade 8: Writing Evaluation
Eighth grade students learn to respond constructively to others’ writing and determine if their own writing achieves its purposes. In Grade 8, students also apply criteria to evaluate writing and analyze published examples as models for writing. Writing standards recommend that each student keep and review a collection of his/her own written work to determine its strengths and weaknesses and to set goals as a writer. In addition, eighth grade students evaluate the purposes and effects of film, print, and technology presentations. Students assess how language, medium, and presentation contribute to meaning.
Grade 8: Written English Language Conventions
Students in eighth grade are expected to write with more complex sentences, capitalization, and punctuation. In particular, eighth grade writing standards specify these key markers of proficiency:
—Write in complete sentences, including compound and complex sentences.
—Use varied sentence types and sentence openings to present a lively and effective personal style.
—Identify and use parallelism, including similar grammatical forms, in all written discourse to present items in a series and items juxtaposed for emphasis.
—Use subordination, coordination, apposition, and other devices to indicate clearly the relationship between ideas.
—Edit written manuscripts to ensure correct Standard English usage, including subject-verb agreement, noun/pronoun agreement, and the eight parts of speech (noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, conjunction, preposition, interjection).
—Use regular and irregular verb tenses appropriately and consistently such as present, past, future, perfect, and progressive.
—Use adjectives (comparative and superlative forms) and adverbs appropriately to make writing vivid or precise.
—Use prepositional phrases to elaborate written ideas.
—Use conjunctions to connect ideas meaningfully.
—Write with increasing accuracy when using pronoun case such as “She stepped between them and us.”
—Punctuate correctly to clarify and enhance meaning such as using hyphens, semicolons, colons, apostrophes, quotation marks, and sentence punctuation.
—Write with increasing accuracy when using apostrophes in contractions (doesn’t) and possessives (Texas’s).
—Capitalize correctly to clarify and enhance meaning.
—Eighth-graders pay particular attention to capitalization of names of academic courses (e.g., Algebra I) and proper adjectives (e.g., German shepherd, Italian restaurant).
—Use knowledge of spelling rules, orthographic patterns, generalizations, prefixes, suffixes, and roots, including Greek and Latin root words.
—Spell derivatives correctly by applying the spellings of bases and affixes
—Spell frequently misspelled words correctly (e.g., their, they’re, there).
—Understand the influence of other languages and cultures on the spelling of English words.
—Use dictionary, thesaurus, or other resources as necessary and spell accurately in final drafts.
—Write fluidly and legibly in cursive or manuscript as appropriate.
Grade 8: Research and Inquiry
In eighth grade, students select and use reference materials and resources as needed for writing, revising, and editing final drafts. Students learn how to gather information systematically and use writing as a tool for research and inquiry in the following ways:
Eighth Grade Writing Tests
In many states, eighth graders take standardized writing assessments, either with pencil and paper or on a computer. While tests vary, students are typically given questions about grammar and mechanics, as well as timed essay-writing exercises in which they must write an essay in response to a writing prompt. On eighth grade essay writing tests, students demonstrate their ability to produce an effective composition for a specific purpose, as well as their command of the conventions of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, usage, and sentence structure.
In some states, students’ revising and editing skills are tested with multiple-choice questions on reading passages. Students are asked to indicate how a particular sentence might be corrected or improved or how the organization or development of a paragraph might be strengthened. Tests may also require students to proofread for correct punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and spelling. Another type of question asks students to write a summary statement in response to a reading passage. In addition, 8th grade students are given classroom-based eighth grade writing tests and writing portfolio evaluations.
State writing assessments are correlated to state writing standards. These standards-based tests measure what students know in relation to what they’ve been taught. If students do well on school writing assignments, they should do well on such a test. Educators consider standards-based tests to be the most useful as these tests show how each student is meeting grade-level expectations. These assessments are designed to pinpoint where each student needs improvement and help teachers tailor instruction to fit individual needs. State departments of education usually include information on writing standards and writing assessments on their websites, including testing guidelines and sample questions.
Writing Test Preparation
The best writing test preparation in eighth grade is simply encouraging your student to write, raising awareness of the written word, and offering guidance on writing homework. Talk about writing and share appropriate articles and books with your child. Students learn to write effectively when they write more often. Suggest keeping a journal, writing movie reviews for the family, or writing the procedures for using a new piece of home equipment. Any writing is valuable practice. By becoming familiar with 8th grade writing standards, parents can offer more constructive homework support. Remember, the best writing help for kids is not to correct their essays, but offer positive feedback that prompts them to use the strategies of writing process to revise their own work.
Time4Writing Online Writing Courses Support 8th Grade Writing Standards
Time4Writing is an excellent complement to eighth grade writing curriculum. Developed by classroom teachers, Time4Writing targets the fundamentals of writing. Students build writing skills and deepen their understanding of the writing process by working on standard-based, grade-appropriate writing tasks under the individual guidance of a certified teacher.
Writing on a computer inspires many students, even reluctant writers. Learn more about Time4Writing online courses for eighth grade.
For more information about general learning objectives for eighth grade students including math and language arts, please visit Time4Learning.com.
*K-12 writing standards are defined by each state. Time4Writing relies on a representative sampling of state writing standards, notably from Florida, Texas, and California, as well as on the standards published by nationally recognized education organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.