Students face stiffer writing requirements

A new Chicago Public Schools policy will require eighth-graders to pass a writing test before they graduate to high school.

Under the plan, which was approved yesterday by the Board of Education, the three-part writing test will account for one-half of the students' overall writing grade.

Students who do not pass the exam will have to attend summer school, and will not move on to high school until their writing improves.

"The test will be a mixture of grammar, spelling, writing and reading comprehension," said schools spokesman Malon Edwards.

Previously, students who received a D in writing were promoted to high  school. Under the new policy, only those who receive a C or higher will pass.

According to Edwards, this policy is following a national trend.

"In 2003, the National Writing Commission ran a study that noted that across the nation, students need to be better at writing," Edwards said. "[The CPS is] aligning to the national call for students to be better writers."

When asked about students who fail the exam, Edwards said that "We [the CPS] don't project failures. We hope all of the students pass the test."

Teachers are currently undergoing training to implement the new policies. "Students will begin preparing for this examination as early as seventh grade," Edwards said.

Rosemaria Genova, spokesperson at the Chicago Teachers' Union, said the union was unaware of the policy, and will review it in coming days.

In other business, the Board also approved a new set of guidelines for the annual evaluation of principals.

The updated set of guidelines promises to be more feedback-oriented in order to deal with the influx of new principals within Chicago's public school system.

This new evaluation will go into effect this school year.