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Illinois Eliminates Writing Exam to Save Money

High school juniors in Illinois will no longer take state standardized tests on their writing skills, under a budget plan signed last month. The change is estimated to save the cash-strapped state $2.4 million, according to a Chicago Tribune story.

The change has some educators worried that schools may no longer give writing enough emphasis, especially on the heels of moves last year to eliminate such testing at the middle and elementary grades.

"Good teachers, good schools, good principals don't need a test," Barbara Kato, the director of the Chicago Area Writing Project, told the Tribune. "But the problem is, without the test, the focus on writing as a whole ends up taking a back seat."

The story notes that in Oregon, lawmakers last month suspended the writing test given to 4th graders and 7th graders, but kept a high school writing exam.

And in a cost-cutting effort last fall, Missouri education officials eliminated for at least two years the detailed, written-response questions that had been hand-graded in science and math, the Tribune story explains.

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