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[Susan notes: Sigh. When will people making decisions about school policy start using research--a massive amount of research? And the real-time experience of educators?]

Submitted to Orlando Sentinel but not published

To the editor

The new tougher version of the FCAT writing exam ("FCAT writing test about to get tougher," July 26) is supposed to improve writing, because it will stimulate more instruction in spelling and grammar, as well as more writing. A massive amount of research says that this assumption is not correct.

We have known for decades that increased instruction in spelling and grammar, and requiring more writing do not improve writing quality or writing accuracy. Rather, the research

consistently shows that extensive reading, especially self-selected reading for pleasure, has a powerful impact on writing proficiency. Writing itself is an excellent tool for discovering new ideas and clarifying thinking, but our ability to write with an acceptable writing style and with accuracy comes from reading.

What all this means is that tougher writing tests will not improve writing. More access to interesting books will.

Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen

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