Volume 22, Issue 4 (1993)
Prevalence of Writing Problems Across Middle School Samples
Stephen R. Hooper, Carl W. Swartz, James W. Montgomery, Martha S. reed, Timothy T. Brown, Thomas J.
This study reports the prevalence of writing problems exhibited by a sample of 1,274 middle school students from three middle schools located in southeastern (n = 251), midwestern (n = 446), and western (n = 577) areas of the United States. The overall sample ranged in age from 10 to 16, and consisted of 967 white and 301 minority students. There were 624 males and 650 females; socioeconomic status ranged widely, with 25.9% receiving a free or subsidized lunch. About 6% were receiving some form of special education, although none was classified as mentally retarded or receiving special education services in a self-contained setting. Reading, math, and language skills, as defined by group achievement testing, were at or near the mean for each of the samples. Results from the Spontaneous Writing Quotient of the Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL- 2) varied across samples in the percentage of student failings 1 standard deviation below the mean: southeastern middle school = 42.2%, midwestern middle school = 51.3%, and the west coast middle school = 19.6%. The proportion of the population falling at least 1 standard deviation below the mean reflected significant gender differences across all three sites, with males exhibiting more difficulties than females. Racial differences and trends were found in the southeastern and western samples, respectively, with minority students experiencing significantly greater difficulties than white students. In general, the data suggest a high prevalence of writing problems in these middle school populations when compared to normal curve expectations, particularly when using spontaneous writing samples in diverse samples of middle school students.
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