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Fourth-grade persuasive writing samples from the 1992 Writing Report Card by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Spelling errors are included in the samples.

In this test question, fourth-graders were asked to write a letter telling the director of the United Space Center whether creatures from another planet should be kept here for study by scientists or be allowed to return to their planet.Minimally developed

Dear director,

I think you should let the space creatures go. If you landed on a different planet would you want to look at by a whole bunch of scientists? I don't think so. Sincerely,

Analysis: The paper contains "clear advice accompanied by an emotional appeal about the propriety of studying the space creatures. However, the ideas offered are unelaborated - unexplained and undefended."


Dear Space Center,

I think you should let the space creatures go back to their own planet because they probeley need to live on their planet. They probeley have different food then us and they probeley have different water and different houses and other things like that. They could maybe even die if they don't get the food that they need and the water that they also need. So I don't think that you should keep them and run the testes that you want to. That is my pick.

Analysis: The example contains "both a clear plan and a short argument about why the space creatures should be allowed to return to their own planet."


Dear Director of the space center,

I think it's unfair to keep the creatures and their spaceship here. I know that we would know more if we keep them here. I personally think that they should have freedom to leave just as we have freedom to keep them here. Please let them go back to their planet. If I went to a different place they wouldn't keep me as their hostage, so please don't make these poor, harmless creatures stay as hostages. I think we would learn more if we let them go, because you would learn that you cannot know everything, somethings have to be secrets. If we let them go they just might let us in on a few secrets about them, how they live, and where they live. So I'm begging you to let them go, and live their own lives, on their own planet. Yours truly,

Analysis: "Responses in this category either included a number of reasons why their suggested plan might work or a coherent plea."