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The Nation's Report Card: Writing Highlights 2002

July 2003

Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students Make Gains in Writing Since 1998

Students' average scores on the NAEP writing assessment increased between 1998 and 2002 at grades 4 and 8. However, there was no significant change detected in the average performance of twelfth-graders over the same period.

A photo of a child writing combined with a graph of NAEP average Writing scores for 1998 and 2002, respectively: for grade 4 in 1998 and 2000 scores were 150* and 154; for grade 8 in 1998 and 2002 scores were 150* and 153; for grade 12 in 1998 and 2002 scores were 150 and 148.

* Significantly different from 2002.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1998 and 2002 Writing Assessments.

This writing assessment was first administered to nationally representative samples of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students in 1998. The figure above shows national average scores in 1998 and 2002 based on the 0–300 NAEP writing scale at each grade.

Average test scores have a standard error—a range of a few points plus or minus the score—due to sampling error and measurement error. Statistical tests are used to determine whether the differences between average scores are significant; therefore, not all apparent differences may be found to be statistically significant. All differences cited in this report were tested for statistical significance (see the technical appendix of The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2002 for details).

NCES 2003-531 Ordering information

Suggested Citation
U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences. National Center for Education Statistics. The Nation's Report Card: Writing Highlights 2002, NCES 2003-531, by National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: 2003.

Last updated 9 July 2003 (RH)