Teachers feel; an increased need to emphasize writing skills as students face new essay tests on the SAT.

More than two million college-bound students took the S-A-T test last month, and they faced a new hurdle…a test of their writing skills in the form of an essay written under deadline pressure. Norma Horan is principal of St. Timothy School in Upper Arlington. She’s a long-time teacher and administrator and a graduate of the Ohio Writing Project…an annual summer workshop at Miami University that has provided teachers and students help in improving student writing. Horan believes children need to be exposed to the written word and begin writing early in life. Another Writing Project grad…Judy Ehlerding, a teacher at Ridgewood Elementary School in Hilliard…agrees…

Both Horan and Ehlerding believe parents play an important role in writing education and they need to encourage literacy. Ehlerding says, on the first day of kindergarten, she can immediately spot those who have been exposed to reading and writing in the home and those who have not.

These days, more and more children grow up learning to write on computers…not with the old method that involves pen and pencil. But, as Horan points out, the essay tests require handwriting skills.

While writing can be a chore for some and be a source of anxiety…ehlerding says she has found that most kids look forward to it. The early development of writing skills can help you throughout your lifetime. And Horan emphasizes to her students that writing is important for future employment opportunities…

Both Horan and Ehlerding believe the 25-year-old Ohio Writing Project has enhanced the teaching of writing in schools and the schools’ commitment to the importance of writing skills.

Horan says she subscribes to one author’s description of the ideal academic environment as a ‘school dripping with literacy’.