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Viewpoint: Write Where It Belongs

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The English/language arts curriculum is lost. It has wandered into marshy wetlands of feelings and introspection. Its traditional subject matter, literature, has been pushed aside and been replaced by subjectless reading and writing skills.

This has been brought home forcefully by recent experiences with English/language arts standard-setting and assessment. Both standards and assessments are at a delicate point in their development, a point where if they go wrong, promising assessments may be abandoned, and standards will never be successfully written. The danger now is that we are trying to assess writing that has no audience and no purpose and therefore no criteria for judgment, and attempting to set standards that cannot be assessed because they are disguised political statements.

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