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Editorial - Writing scores show discouraging literacy trend

The results for the lastest ninth-grade writing test are in, and the results for Austin students are pretty discouraging.

Students, parents, teachers, administrators and everyone else involved in our public schools should all be disappointed because the results are subpar.

The percentage of Austin students who passed the test dropped from 91 percent last year to just 87 percent this year. That’s a big drop, and it means we’re headed in the wrong direction. Statewide, test scores declined about a half-percent. That makes Austin’s rate of decline look huge.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s basic writing — very basic. Those who took the test were asked to describe a time when they helped someone and how that made them feel.

It’s a task all ninth-graders should be able to pass without much effort.

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You can blame whomever you want for declining literacy among our young people — ineffective teachers, bad parents, a culture that breeds inattentive kids.

But what’s clear is that these test scores reflect poorly on our community. The odds are against any child succeeding in life who can’t write a clear, declarative paragraph by the time he or she is in the ninth grade.

We need to do better.

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