In a perfect world, students might be judged by their ideas alone -- not by whether they write "you're" or "your." But that isn't the world we live in.
It happens every time. As I hand the test out to my middle school students, one of them will invariably look up, pencil at the ready, and ask, "Does spelling count?"
Let's ignore the fact that my students should know better than to even ask this question in the first place. I've answered it more times than I care to remember, usually in the fall of the new school year, and it goes something like this:
Yes. Spelling counts. I have lots of witty quips loaded up in my quiver about why it counts, but my new favorite comes from homeschooling mom of four Jodi Jackson Stewart who tweeted me with her answer to this question: "Spelling counts here because spelling counts out there."
Let's imagine you work in human resources department in a company like Google, or in the admissions department of a popular university. You are responsible for reading thousands of applications and whittling those thousands down to a handful of promising candidates by next Tuesday, when you will meet with your boss. The application files are thick, and at the height of admissions or hiring season you have learned to carry a couple of extra grocery bags around in your car for toting these files back and forth between work and home. You have four meetings and a dentist appointment tomorrow, and you simply can't imagine how you will get through these application files.