The Spell Check Debate
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When used properly, spell check can help people improve their writing and communication. But when misused, spell check is a detriment to language acquisition and thinking skills.
For the first time this year, the Oregon Department of Education allowed students to use spell check on the annual state writing test. Whether you agree with this decision or not, there are valid points that can be made both in favor of and in opposition to this change.
Here are some of the most powerful arguments being made for and against the use of spell check by students.
Spell check is a tool that students can be taught how to use properly. It has applicable uses just like a calculator in math class, the periodic table in science class, and a map in social studies.
Students can use spell check on every other writing sample they produce (with a word processor) except the state writing test. Therefore using spell check on the test is more reflective of their normal writing conditions.
When evaluating writing, it is important to look at content rather than context. The meaning of the words is more important than the presentation.
Conventions scores on the state writing test count twice, so students can meet every other standard and still fail the test if they do not meet the conventions standard which includes spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Spell check can help students learn to identify words they commonly misspell.
Learning to spell is a foundation of acquiring vocabulary, understanding language, and communicating with others.
Students using spell check will be less likely to learn the difference between homophones and commonly mistaken words.
Spell check does not correct punctuation, like misused apostrophes, semicolons, or commas. Despite spell check, students can still fail to meet the conventions standard on the state writing test by making egregious mistakes in grammar and punctuation.
Spell check creates bad habits, allowing students to rely on the program and discouraging them from looking up the correct word.
Spell check cannot be used on other tests like the SAT and ACT. Therefore, students need to be able to function without it.