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Writing Scores Vary
Grade, Writing Mode
BY SUSAN USHER
Brunswick County fourth- and
cighth-grailc students came close to
scoring at the state norm for compo
sition on end-of-grade writing tests,
while local sixth-graders performed
lower than the state average.
County eighth grade students fell
below the state average in all skill
areas (spelling, usage, etc.), while
county fourth and sixth grade stu
dents posted scores that averaged
just short of the state norm.
This was the first year fourth
graders participated in the North
Carolina Writing Assessment, which
was administered in February to stu
dents in the three grades.
Fourth graders were asked to
write a personal narrative essay.
Sixth graders were tested on de
scriptive writing, a type of explana
tory writing. Eighth-graders com
pleted a point-of-vicw composition,
a type of explanatory writing in
which the writer focuses on a topic,
takes a position and provides rea
sons to support that position, follow
ing a logical progression.
Students' work was scored twice
by trained readers. First it was rated
on a four-point scale on composition
elements such as development of the
main idea, use of supporting details,
organization and coherence. Those
results became part of a "focused
holistic score," with a 2.5 or better a
good score and the the benchmark
Using a three-point scale, the es
says were also rated on sentence for
mation, word usage, spelling and
mechanics such as punctuation and
capitalization. This analytic score
reflected the number of errors made
by a student. For example, with 11
or more spelling errors he would get
a I, while five or fewer errors would
merit a 3.
Gloria Talley, public information
officer and staff development coor
dinator said she watches their pro
gress as students advance from
fourth through eighth grades, look
ing for trends (across the system or
on a smaller scale) that could indi
cate strengths or weaknesses in how
a skill is taught. Then steps can be
taken to make sure students show
adequate progress in acquiring these
essential writing skills.
For example, Jean Parker, coordi
nator of testing and accountability
services, said fourth-grade scores
will be shared not only with fourth
grade teachers but with third-grade
teachers as well. School improve
ment teams will also have access to
test score data as they plan for the
The overall goal of the testing
program is to see progression in ana
lytic and and interpretive writing
ability from fourth grade to sixth
grade to eighth grade and ultimately
to 10th grade, when students in
English II must be able to write us
ing all four modes of writing.
Counlywide 56.6 percent of
eighth-graders tested earned a hoi is
tic score of 2.5 or better, compared
to 54.2 percent across the region,
and 57 9 pcrcent state wide.
Shallotte Middle had the lowest
percentage of eighth-graders scoring
at or above state norm. 44.2 percent.
Percentages for other schools were
Waccamaw Elementary, 57 pcrcent;
Lcland Middle, 61.2 percent; and
South Brunswick Middle, 66 percent,
the highest percentage of any school.
However, in the competencies
scoring, a greater percentage of Sha
llotte Middle students earned 2's and
3's in three of the four areas than
was the norm statewide. Wacca
maw's percentages were the lowest
in the county.
In Brunswick County, 27.4 pcr
cent of the sixth graders tested had
holistic scores of 2.5 or better, while
the regional percentage was 37.4
and the statewide, 41.3.
A whopping 63 percent of Wac
camaw School sixth graders scored
2.5 or better, with Shallotte Middle's
27.8 the next highest percentage pared to 24 percent statewide and
In the skill areas, results were 21.6 percent across the eight south
mixed county wide. However, a larg- eastern counties of Region II.
er percentage scores 2's and 3's at At Supply Elementary 28 percent
Shallotte Middle than statewide in scored at or above 2.5, and at Union
three of four areas. Elementary, 26.8 percent scored at
Fourth Grade or above the 5 benchmark. Percen
Fourth graders across the county tiles were lowest at Bolivia Elcm
generally compared well in perfor- cntary, 11, and Waccamaw, 17.8.
mance with their peers across South- In the skill areas, Brunswick
eastern North Carolina and the state. County students exceeded the state
In Brunswick County 21.5 per- averages on usage and mechanics,
cent of the fourth-graders tested but dropped below on spelling and
achieved a 2.5 or better score, com- sentence usage.
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Local Service Men
And Women Receive Recognition
Marine Sgt. Wayne D. Crear re
[ ccntly reported for duly at Marine
Corps Engineer School at Camp Lc
Crcar s wife. Rebecca, is the
daughter of Melvin and Christine
Andrews of Winnabow.
A 1986 graduate of Pcmberton
(N.J.) High School, Crcar joined the
Marines in August 1986.
Stationed In Cuba
Marine Sgt. Johnny E. Reeves,
son of Barbara L. Smith of Route 6,
Shallotte, recently reported for duty
at Marine Barracks. Guantanamo
The 1981 graduate of Merritt
Island (Fla.) High School joined the
Marine Corps in September 1981.
Navy Seaman Recruit Ernest A.
Benton of Leland recently complet
ed basic training at Recruit Training
Command. Great Lakes, 111.
During the cyclc, recruits are
taught general military subjects de
signed to prepare them for further
academic and on-the-job training in
one of the Navy's 85 occupational
Studies include seamanship, close
-order drill, naval history and first
Benton is a 1992 graduate of
North Brunswick High School.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class
William O. Gallagher recently re
ceived the Navy Achievement Me
Gallagher's wife Debra is the
daughter of Billy L. and Dorothy L.
Buchanan of Leland.
Gallagher was cited for superior
performance of duty while serving
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