The work of 213,284 kids was analyzed. These are the writing and critical-thinking skills that stumped students.

It’s often said that young people today don’t know how to write, or, at least cannot write as well as their parents’ generation did. (Not that their parents were great writers, either). So how bad is the problem?

Pretty darn bad, and in specific ways that have now been evaluated by the people behind NoRedInk, a Web-based platform that attempts to help students in sixth through 12th grade improve their writing and critical-thinking skills through an adaptive, Internet-based curriculum. The material, including an evidence-based argument program, challenges students on a number of different skills, such as making logical deductions from a set of facts and recognizing vague language.