I think Mark Bauerlein might need a Quantitative Literacy course. He might possibly also need a dictionary to look up the meaning of “paradox”. From today’s Chronicle article “Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers”:
Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, cites the reading and writing scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which have remained fairly flat for decades. It is a paradox, he says: “Why is it that with young people reading and writing more words than ever before in human history, we find no gains in reading and writing scores?”
If I was trying to make an argument that the explosion of social media has adversely affected student writing (as Bauerlein does later in that article) I am not sure I would choose a test that shows writing gains since social media began to take hold around the turn of the millennium:
I mean, honestly, I probably wouldn’t use NAEP in this context at all. As some of the people down-page in that Chronicle article note, standard measures of formal academic writing might not be the best tool to measure how students are communicating outside the classroom. And I am suspicious of NAEP in general.
But I think if I were trying to create a “paradox” where students were writing more than ever but are not getting any better I would make a particular effort to not cite that test as proof.