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[Susan notes: Steve Krashen gets at an important issue: writing is about revision and a 50 minutes essay production session situation simply doesn't allow for that. It rewards glibness, mastery of a formula.

One might ask if the New York Times avoids posing the real reason David Coleman is removing "the essay" from the SAT: The essay involved students expressing an opinion. Coleman is decreeing that the emphasis shift from opinion to analysis--in a format that can be standardized.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

Re: Can writing be assessed? March 10.

There is no point in testing writing form, i.e. the use of conventional writing style, grammatical accuracy. Research consistently tells us that writing form comes from reading, not from writing and not from study.

Writing itself is a powerful tool for solving problems and making yourself smarter. This requires mastery of the composing process (e.g. knowing that as you revise you come up with better ideas). This cannot be tested.

Research also tells us that high school grades are a good predictor of college success. Adding a standardized test does not improve the prediction. So there is no point in having the SAT.

Stephen Krashen

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