Clmba Cntys SAT wrtg scor fel? Wht a srpris.
It's just a theory, one that has received considerable speculation lately. But could this year's state and nationwide dip in SAT writing scores, mirrored in Columbia County's five-point decline, be in any way related to the proliferation of speed-abbreviated teen text messaging?
It's certainly plausible. Difficulties in math have long been blamed on the pocket calculator, an electronic crutch that has allowed everyone to bypass mathematical fundamentals. So it makes sense that the cryptic, clipped text-messaging style would impact writing ability.
The Pew Internet and Life Project's most recent study of our plugged-in lifestyles reports 45 percent of teens nationwide have cell phones - a number that assuredly is far higher in affluent Columbia County - and that more than two-thirds of those teens regularly send text messages.
Perhaps also related to the test-score declines, Pew says even e-mail is too slow for teens, who prefer instant messaging, or IMs, to keep up with friends. Many teens, Pew says, report that they use e-mail only when communicating with "old people."
Most, though certainly not all, Columbia County English teachers informally polled say they've seen an effect: Students using "u" instead of "you," "b/c" for "because," an ampersand (&) rather than spelling out "and." And spelling? Forget about it: Teens increasingly rely on the computer to catch misspellings for them.
The combination of abbreviated writing patterns and short attention spans are bound to show up in scores - especially when the SAT, with the addition of its writing section, has become a test-taking marathon that demands teens do two things: Sit still, and write in complete sentences.
The possible result? CUL8R, writing skills.
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