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Please grade my AWA essays


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This was my first time taking the practice test on Powerprep. I'd appreciate any feedback. 


First task: A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.



My essay: 


This recommendation is timely, as there is a movement to adopt Common Core across the United States. It is becoming clear that state standards and expectations for students are not entirely the same across the nation, a movement for all students to study the same curriculum until they enter college is beneficial.


One important reason for adopting the recommendation is standardizing the curriculum would make it easier to compare how students are doing nationally. Currently, it is hard to compare student performance across different states because each state has different standards. A student "ahead" in one state may be "behind" in another, which is one of the reasons it is difficult for students who move to other schools to get a thorough education. Oftentimes what happens is families move, and students fall behind because there are gaps in their knowledge, and then they struggle to catch up. A national curriculum would ensure there are no content gaps should a family decide to move to another state.


Additionally, having a national curriculum will ensure that students from low-income communities have the same advantage as those in more affluent communities. Students in more affluent communities tend to have more resources, and students are generally more prepared than those in college. However, having a standard curriculum across all schools would ensure that students in low-income communities are at least receiving the same content instruction as students in higher income communities. This would help decrease the achievement gap, which is another benefit of having students study the same national curriculum.


Yet another reason to standardize the curriculum is that it would ensure we are focusing on the most important skills and standards students must master. If we are expecting students to enter college and the workforce, schools must have a standard set of skills. This standard set of skills would provide an adequate foundation for students to be able to do well in college. For example, in Common Core, some of the standards include increasing students' creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. Having a national set of standards holds both educators and students accountable for their academic success, and ensures they are prepared for whichever college or academic field they decide to pursue.


Finally, a standardized national curriculum will also allow US schools to compete with other countries around the world. Currently, the US is failing remarkably in comparison with countries like Singapore and China, who consistently outperform US students in all subjects. One of the reasons stated is that schools in other countries have a focused set of standards, allowing students and teachers time to truly master content and compete in the global marketplace.


It is clear that our current education system is flawed and failing, and is in serious need of an overhaul. We continue to do the same thing, and are continuously shocked by the continued lack of performance across the nation. A move to standardize the curriculum across the nation may be the move we need to propel our nation in the right direction.



Second task: The following is a memorandum from the business manager of a television station.

"Over the past year, our late-night news program has devoted increased time to national news and less time to weather and local news. During this period, most of the complaints received from viewers were concerned with our station's coverage of weather and local news. In addition, local businesses that used to advertise during our late-night news program have canceled their advertising contracts with us. Therefore, in order to attract more viewers to our news programs and to avoid losing any further advertising revenues, we should expand our coverage of weather and local news on all our news programs."

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and then explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.   


A station has changed its programming has received viewer complaints and lost advertising revenue. The business manager's argument to remedy this situation is to restore time devoted to local news and weather. However, the argument is weakened by holes and assumptions.


The first assumption is that complaints received were due to shortened coverage of weather and local news. However, the memo is not clear on exactly how many complaints were received. It might be just one person filing complaints, which is not the same as many people filing complaints. The argument would be strengthened if they had the specific number of people that are filing complaints, and compared it to the overall number of viewers.


Additionally, the memo isn't clear on the overall reason for viewer complaints. While complaints received during the year have dealt with concerns over weather and local news, this does not necessarily mean complaints are related to the shortened news coverage. Viewers may be complaining due to an anchor that offended them, or false information that was broadcasted. It would be helpful if there was more information regarding the types of complaints received.


The business manager also assumes local businesses have canceled their advertising contracts due to the shortened coverage of weather and local news. However, there may be a myriad of other reasons why businesses have canceled their contracts. For example, they might have realized advertising during the day-program is more advantageous than during a late-night news program. Businesses could have also canceled due to increasing costs of advertisements. There is no clear correlation that advertisers canceled their contracts because of the change in coverage.


Finally, the business manager assumes that devoting more time to local news and weather will prevent losing advertising revenue and attract more viewers. However, in the memo there was no mention of needing to attract more viewers, simply that viewers were concerned with certain coverage of local news and weather. Additionally, there is no conclusive data that restoring time devoted to news and local weather will prevent them from losing advertising revenue.


While it may be natural to assume that restoring things the way they were before will solve this station's problems, at this point, there is no evidence to suggest this plan will work. Additional information and evidence is needed to evaluate the business manager's claims.


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