I looked at the Form III student writing in Mason's School Education (Volume 3). These were answers to exam questions. (You can read the Form III student writing on Ambleside Online. I think I started on page 289.) I entered five of these answers into a word counter. This gave me the word counts as well as the reading level of each piece.
The word or phrase in bold is the topic of the answer. It's followed by the age of the writer, then the word count. I calculated the length based on 250 words (12 point font) equaling 1 typed page. I also included the reading level of each answer.
- Aristides (age 13) - 423 words (1 2/3 pages) - reading level 9th/10th grade
- Northern Italy (age 12) - 485 words (almost 2 full pages) - reading level college student
- Seed Dispersal (age 13) - 271 words (slightly more than 1 page) - reading level 11th/12th grade
- Tissues of Rhubarb & Potato (age 13) - 147 words for rhubarb, much of the potato paragraph is missing, so I'm going to assume that it was also around 150 words, making this piece around 300 words (1 1/5 pages) - reading level 9th/10th grade
- Waverly (age 12) - 617 words (2 1/2 pages) - reading level college student
At one point, I was able to write a 2 page paper in half an hour, so I know it's possible. If a student knows about their topic, has thought about what they want to say and how they want to organize it, has had lots of exposure to masterful writing, has a sense of excitement about communicating what they've learned, has studied grammar, and can spell, this is possible.
Your thoughts on this?