Writing is a critical skill for success in school and beyond, but how do students feel about their writing? A new survey from NoRedInk, a provider of adaptive online writing curriculum, reveals that student writing confidence decreases with each successive grade level. The nationwide survey also uncovered several other findings that educators may find informative as they plan for the 2022-23 school year.
Leveraging its presence in over 60% of U.S. school districts, NoRedInk asked more than 60,000 of its student users in grades 4-12, “How confident are you in your writing skills?”
It found that student writing confidence drops 5.03% from late elementary school (grades 4-5) to middle school (grades 6-8) and then drops another 4.74% from middle to high school (grades 9-12). As a result, the average fourth grader is nearly 13% more confident in their writing than the average high school senior. Additionally, female students are 3.75% more confident in their writing than male students. While writing confidence doesn’t vary significantly based on a school’s per-pupil funding, students attending private schools are more confident than students attending public schools.
Unsurprisingly, practice has the greatest effect on writing confidence — and, by extension, on writing proficiency. “An essential part of becoming a great writer is having lots of opportunities to write,” said Jeff Scheur, founder and CEO of NoRedInk. “When students get sufficient practice and meaningful feedback, they begin to see what they’re capable of and to view themselves as writers.”
As an illustration of the power of practice, high schoolers who mastered “Revising Wordiness” on NoRedInk were, on average, 6.57% more confident in their writing than those who didn’t. Similarly, those who mastered “Recognizing Language That Is Too Formal or Too Informal” were 5.22% more confident than those who didn’t and those who mastered “Building Counterargument Paragraphs” were 5.14% more confident than those who didn’t. Students who mastered multiple topics in tandem often reported confidence well above average, particularly when the topics covered complementary grammar and writing skills.