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The memo from Florida DOE about changes in K-12 writing tests tied to new college readiness standards is worth a read to see the change in expectations. (This is the source of the precipitous drop in scores that caused the state board to back off its new standards.)
As a former college writing instructor (and huge fan of Atul Gawande), I agree with the need to shift the focus to more analytic writing. As the parent of a fourth-grader who just took the recalibrated (oops!) Florida Writes, I would rather see very young writers given wide latitude in what they write about until they have the basic skills down. That's how they learn reading: "Learn to read, then read to learn." My son was being asked to do five-paragraph "writes upon request" drills in first grade, before he could even string together a correct sentence. He is a much more enthusiastic (and better) reader than writer today.
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May 17, 2012