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The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2007

April 2008

Authors: Deborah Salahu-Din, Hillary Persky, and Jessica Miller

Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing.


Image of the cover of The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2007 report

Executive Summary

Scores increase in 2007 for both eighth- and twelfth-graders nationally
Most racial/ethnic groups gain
Some racial/ethnic and gender gaps are closing
Some states gain at grade 8
Urban districts gain

The writing skills of eighth- and twelfth-graders improved in 2007 compared to earlier assessment years, with gains across many student groups.

Nationally representative samples of more than 165,000 eighth- and twelfth-graders participated in the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) writing assessment (the assessment was not administered at grade 4 in 2007). Each student responded to 2 out of 20 possible writing tasks intended to measure one of three purposes for writing: narrative, informative, or persuasive.

Results are presented nationally for both eighth- and twelfth-graders, and in participating states and urban districts only for eighth-graders. Comparing the results of the 2007 writing assessment to results from previous years shows the progress eighth- and twelfth-graders are making in improving writing skills.

Scores increase in 2007 for both eighth- and twelfth-graders nationally

Average writing scores were higher in 2007 than in previous assessments in 2002 and 1998. Increases were also seen since 2002 in percentages of students performing at or above the Basic achievement level but not at or above Proficient.

At grade 8 in 2007

  • The average writing score was 3 points higher than in 2002 and 6 points higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level increased from 85 percent in 2002 to 88 percent and was also higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level was higher than in 1998 but showed no significant change since 2002.

At grade 12 in 2007

  • The average writing score was 5 points higher than in 2002 and 3 points higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level increased from 74 percent in 2002 to 82 percent and was also higher than in 1998.
  • The percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level was higher than in 1998 but showed no significant change since 2002.

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Most racial/ethnic groups gain

As shown in the chart below, average writing scores increased since 2002 for White, Black, and Asian/Pacific Islander students at both grades. The average score for Hispanic eighth-graders was higher in 2007 than in both previous assessments, while there was no significant change for Hispanic students at grade 12.

Some racial/ethnic and gender gaps are closing

Gains for minority students and male students have contributed to the narrowing of some gaps. At grade 8, the 6-point increase in the average score for Black students from 2002 to 2007 contributed to a smaller gap between White and Black students than in both previous assessments.

At grade 12, an 8-point increase for male students since 2002 contributed to a narrowing of the male – female gap in comparison to 2002, but there was no significant change in comparison to the gap in 1998.

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 Student groups Grade 8 Grade 12
Since
1998
Since
2002
Since
1998
Since
2002
Overall
Up
Up
Up
Up
White
Up
Up
Up
Up
Black
Up
Up
No significant difference/gap
Up
Hispanic
Up
Up
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
Asian/Pacific
Islander
No significant difference/gap
Up
No significant difference/gap
Up
American Indian/
Alaska Native
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
Reporting standards not met.
Male
Up
Up
Up
Up
Female
Up
Up
Up
No significant difference/gap
White – Black gap
Down
Down
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
White – Hispanic gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gapspacer
Female – Male gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
No significant difference/gap
Down

Up Indicates the score was higher or the gap increased in 2007.
Down Indicates the score was lower or the gap decreased in 2007.
No significant difference/gap Indicates there was no significant change in the score or the gap in 2007.
Reporting standards not met. Sample size was insufficient to permit a reliable estimate. Reporting standards not met. Sample size was insufficient to permit a reliable estimate.

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Some states gain at grade 8

U.S. map of 2007 writing results at grade 8. Nineteen states increased: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, DoDEA, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming. One state declined: North Carolina. Eighteen states  showed no significant change: California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virgina, Washington, West Virgina.

Of the 39 states and jurisdictions that participated in both 2002 and 2007, average writing scores for eighth-graders in

Increased

19 states and Department of Defense schools increased,

Decreased

1 state decreased, and

No significant change

18 states showed no significant change.

Did not participate or did not meet guidelines for reporting results

Twelve states and the District of Columbia did not participate or did not meet the minimum participation guidelines for reporting.

1Department of Defense Education Activity (overseas and domestic schools).

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Urban districts gain

As shown in the chart below, eighth-graders in three of the four districts that participated in both the 2002 and 2007 NAEP writing Trial Urban District Assessments (TUDA) improved. When compared to their home states, Atlanta and Los Angeles made greater gains since 2002.

 District Since 2002
Atlanta
Up
Chicago
Up
Houston
spacerNo significant difference/gap
Los Angeles
Up

While scores in 9 of the 10 participating urban districts were lower than the average score for eighth-graders in the nation, when comparing results for only lower-income students, scores in six districts were not significantly different from the nation. Lower-income students in Boston and New York City scored higher on average than their peers in large central cities (i.e., cities with populations of 250,000 or more).

Among the 10 districts that participated in 2007, the average writing score for eighth-graders in Charlotte was higher than the score for public school students in large central cities. Also in comparison to large central cities, scores for students in Cleveland and Los Angeles were lower, and scores in the remaining seven districts were not significantly different.

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Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

NCES 2008-468 Ordering information

Suggested Citation
Salahu-Din, D., Persky, H., and Miller, J. (2008). The Nation’s Report Card: Writing 2007 (NCES 2008–468). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see the results of the 2007 Writing assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 08 April 2008 (RH)

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