Are English teachers still assigning term papers?
In a recent post on his blog, Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews writes about the lack of research papers in high school these days. He says that students are no longer being asked to write 3,000- or 4,000-word research papers that require students to go through a step-by-step process of finding a topic, doing research in a library, writing an outline ... . You get the picture and probably remember doing those papers yourself. He quotes a Prince George's County teacher who gave up the practice of assigning term papers because the writing skills, even of those headed to college, were so poor.
The end result is that some students are arriving at colleges, he said, without writing skills necessary to do the work.
But I would like to know if this is really true. Aren't Howard and Baltimore County English teachers still requiring term papers at least once a year through high school? Are teachers finding that writing is deteriorating? Really? I am not sure I am convinced. So here' a chance for English and history teachers to explain what is going on in practice. And do you have enough time to grade all those papers? A state task force looking into writing a few years ago suggested that the best way to improve writing would be to lower the number of students each high school English teacher has during the day to allow them to assign more writing.