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About a third of America’s 8th-graders and a quarter of its high school seniors are proficient writers, according to national writing test results. Although basically unchanged from ’00, the latest test found modest increases in the skills of lower-performing students. 88% can now demonstrate at least a basic achievement in writing, defined as partial mastery of the skills needed for proficient work. That 33% of 8th graders can write with proficiency may not sound like much, but it is their best performance in any subject tested in the national assessment in the last 3 years. Only 17% were proficient on the ’06 history exam. (NY Times 4/4/08)

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