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Trenton District to Put Larger Focus on Writing Skills

The district's writing curriculum is changing after 11th-grade students showed little improvement in the subject.

The results for the were released on June 28 and were presented to board members at Monday’s Trenton Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

Board members said they were pleased with the overall results except for writing.

The number of proficient 11th-grade students at jumped from 2010 to 2011 in most subjects. More students showed proficiency in the subjects of reading, math and science, but fewer or the same number as last year were proficient in writing and social studies.

Writing was a concern for board member Carol Oakley who said state averages in writing were continually rising since 2008, while Trenton students stayed flat.

“In the initiatives for improvement, I don’t see a whole lot there,” Oakley said. “I don’t see a concern for the writing.”

The test is a composite of three different tests and is administered over three days. All of the sections of the test are multiple choice except for the writing portion.

The tests include the ACT, WorkKeys or job skills and Michigan developed assessments of mathematics, science and social studies.

Ann Deneroff, curriculum director for Trenton Public Schools, presented the findings to the board.

Deneroff said writing was in the curriculum review and administrators spent a considerable amount of time in the last two years looking at the subject.

She added that the issues in writing are not at the high school, but begin as early as kindergarten and continue through 12th grade.

“We’ve looked at it and I think that we know some of our main issues in the area of writing and some of the work that we need to go in and do, and that will be what we start next year, as well,” Deneroff said.

She added the problem can’t be solved in 9th and 10th grade.

“We have to be writing all along,” Deneroff said. “We found pockets where there was a lot of writing and we found pockets where there was very little writing going on in the curriculum.”

Deneroff said writing will be a huge area of focus in the future.

The type of writing that students do in the classroom is changing according to Deneroff.

Historically, students wrote in a narrative style, but now students are writing in an informational format, according to new state standards.

“That’s where we really have to shift gears and start informational writing at a very young age,” Deneroff said.

Deneroff said there were several plans of attack in place to help bring writing scores up in the district.

For a look at the results of the Michigan Merit Exam, .

Alessandra Danyo July 27, 2011 at 03:53 PM
According to this article, the number of proficient 11th-grade students at Trenton High School jumped from 2010 to 2011 in most subjects. I would like to look deeper into the word "jumped". When comparing the reading, in 2011 72.9% of the students were proficient and 71.7% in 2010. This calculates a 1.2% change in reading. I calculate a “jump” in Math and Science. According to Ms. Deneroff, writing was in the curriculum review and administrators spent a considerable amount of time in the last two years looking at the subject. If the strategies are working that they have looked at, where is the growth. Many schools in writing are not showing growth. The Trenton students should not have to wait for the state or ISD to come up with a plan. Cranbrook is showing growth. I would recommend the district contact Cranbrook and identify and implement their writing strategies. Renee Danyo (Trenton Resident0 Danyo, LLC Indepent Contractor with Wayne RESA
Ian July 27, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Writing is undoubtedly and important skill, too bad writing assignments are so stressful. I think even some of the teachers hate them.
Robert Barbantini July 28, 2011 at 12:38 AM
Sad. Mrs. Deneroff and Trenton administrators have been given many ideas for fixing writing (as well as other District curricular deficiencies) over the last ten years by teachers, parents, and even students. Yet when those ideas were ignored or denigrated by Ms. Deneroff and her fellow administrators, and those ideas never made it to the Board, many of those same people gave up, some even moving to other Districts. One does not keep banging one's head against a brick wall forever.... The flat-lining of Trenton scores has been blamed, by Trenton administration, on a number of things over the years (bad, lazy, or even greedy teachers; inappropriate parenting, changing population, etc.). The fact remains that administrators "looking at the subject" instead of acting has been the real problem. Savel once said, "The buck stops at my desk." Yet the Board has never held the administrators responsible...maybe change is on the way.

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