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Alabama’s students are better writers than Georgia’s, new study says

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Alabama’s students in grades 5-12 are better writers than those in Georgia, according to a website designed to improve such skills.

In fact, the 2017 Grammar and Writing Year in Review by NoRedInk.com ranks Alabama No. 2 out of the 50 states when it comes to fewest errors, while Georgia is tied with Maine at No. 24.

Alabama’s error rate is 34.9 percent in 2017; Georgia’s is 38.8 percent. North Dakota is ranked No. 1 at 32.7 percent. Other than Alabama, the next highest-ranked Southern state is Louisiana, at No. 10, with an error rate of 37.2 percent.

NoRedInk also listed the “superpower” for states, meaning the area of writing in which they excelled compared to most states. Georgia’s writing superpower is “tricky” contractions; Alabama’s is apostrophes.

The public relations official who emailed the Ledger-Enquirer the results said the complete rankings won’t be released. But in response to the L-E’s questions, she said New Mexico is ranked last, although she wouldn’t disclose its error rate.

"NoRedInk has decided not to release the comparative error rates of all 50 states because we want to put the focus on national trends and each state's strengths and weaknesses,” Jeff Scheur, the website’s founder and CEO, said in a written statement emailed Friday to the L-E. “Teaching our kids to write effectively is essential for their success in college and in the job market, and we're proud that NoRedInk now helps students in more than half of U.S. school districts improve as writers and critical thinkers."

According to its news release, NoRedInk analyzed the answers to approximately 1 billion questions from 3 million American students in grades 5-12. Here is more data from the study:

Most common usage errors

1. lay vs. lie

2. discreet vs. discrete

3. anyway vs. anyways

4. among vs. between

5. prejudice vs. prejudiced

6. everyday vs. every day

7. number vs. amount

8. farther vs. further

9. altogether vs. all together

10. fewer vs. less.

Most common writing and critical thinking errors

1. Eliminating wordiness

2. Making paragraphs flow

3. Recognizing strong topic sentences

4. Distinguishing claims, evidence and reasoning

5. Avoiding plagiarism

6. Integrating evidence

7. Using transition words and phrases

8. Evaluating logical reasoning

9. Recognizing unsupportable and obvious claims

10. Finding strong supporting evidence.

Other findings

▪ 30 percent of students can identify the subject of a sentence.

▪ 51 percent of students can detect and avoid plagiarism in their writing.

▪ 52 percent of students can tell whether a piece of reasoning logically connects claims and evidence.

▪ 39 percent of students know how to pluralize proper nouns that end is “s” or “z” (for example, “Joneses” or “Alvarezes”).

▪ 1 in 3 students can identify wordy, unnecessary and redundant language, such as this sentence.

▪ 53 percent of students know how to capitalize the names of political groups and parties.

▪ 36 percent of students know how to use commas to interrupt a sentence with transition words (for example, “however” and “therefore”).

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