INBOX is a weekly e-mail wrap-up of the most important stories in English language arts education, ideas for your classroom, and news from NCTE.
Sent each week to NCTE members (to the email address we have on file for you), this e-newsletter is mailed once a month to nonmembers.
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From the Current Issue:
NBC News, March 6, 2014
Behind the SAT: The Good and the Bad of the 2016 Redesign
Kent Williamson, NCTE executive director, says the coming changes to the reading and writing portions of the exam are a good move. He says it is difficult for colleges to accurately determine a student's writing abilities from one timed writing test, for example. While NCTE has in the past been critical of the timed essay requirement, Williamson says the changes to the now-optional essay -- requiring students to analyze text, rather than asking an open-ended question -- can indeed measure an important skill. . . . But having just one sample is still too narrow a scope, he says. "If that becomes your only vehicle for measuring writing competence, it's a pretty narrow slice." Williamson adds it may be more realistic now, at a time when more digital tools are available to collect student information, for the College Board to collect several writing samples or a portfolio of work from students. US News & World Report, March 10, 2013
Principles and Practices in Electronic Portfolios
Writing at the Threshold: Featuring 56 Ways to Prepare High School and College Students to Think and Write at the College Level offers a set of five course sequences, each proposing a markedly different way to shape a whole writing course. Learn more in the sample chapter.
NCTE/NWP/CWPA Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing
A New SAT
NCTE member "Les Perelman, a writing instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, boasted of how he coached students to write nonsense essays that still received good marks from SAT graders." Inside Higher Ed, March 5, 2014
Patrick Sullivan poses the question, "Is it possible to define what we mean by 'college-level' writing?" and notes that "being able to distinguish and articulate clearly the differences between college-level work and precollege work has become a vitally important skill on our campuses." Read more in his Teaching English in the Two-Year College article, "What Is 'College-Level' Writing?"
The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul
"Over the course of their two-hour conversation, [NCTE member Les] Perelman told Coleman that he wasn't opposed to an essay portion of the test, per se; he thought it was a good idea, if done well. But 'when is there a situation in either college or life when you're asked to write on demand about something you've never once thought about?' he asked. 'I've never gotten an email from a boss saying: "Is failure necessary for success? Get back to me in 25 minutes." But that's what the SAT does.'" The New York Times Magazine, March 9, 2014
This past fall members of CCCC hosted a "Listening Tour" with incoming college writers to see how they felt about their writing preparation for college. Students reported writing, including writing for social purposes, 25 hours on average during the week -- much of it social writing -- but many felt unprepared for college writing. After analyzing the results, a CCCC task force is looking into how teachers of composition at all levels can better support college writers.
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INBOX Announcements feature NCTE products and events. Events that NCTE co-sponsors, such as Read Across America Day, are also included in the Announcements.