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Writing Implements Come in Multiple Forms

Discussion and debate surround the Oregon Department of Education’s decision to allow “spell check” to be used by students taking the state writing exam online. Proponents claim such a move is part of the natural evolution and represents how students will write when they move on to college and the workforce. Critics see this as another example of our system of education lowering standards and caving in to technology.

I have to respectfully weigh in on the side of the state on this one. I think testing in this manner is yet another example of educating students in their “native language” so to speak. Most students today compose essays and research papers using a computer with some spelling correction software. Spelling is indeed an important skill that should be given strong emphasis in a class curriculum. However on a standardized writing test, the issue the test administrators should be addressing is which skills they are looking to identify through the testing process. Using a computer to write is indeed a 21st Century Skill. There is nothing in the world that a spelling correction program can do to make a good writer out of a bad one.