The New York Times reports that only about a third of the nation's eighth-grade students, and roughly a quarter of its high school seniors, are proficient writers, according to nationwide test results released April 3. That proportion of students demonstrating writing proficiency is about the same as in 2002, when a similar exam was last given. But the results of the latest test, administered last year, also found modest increases in the skills of lower-performing students. Nearly 9 students in 10 can now demonstrate at least a basic achievement in writing, defined as partial mastery of...

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