There is no reason in the world that fourth graders shouldn’t be able to key at 20 WPM. The typical 9 year old child handwrites at about 16 WPM so if you can get them to keyboard faster than that, they are ahead of the game. The reader can read it AND it’s in the dynamic world of word processing which means that their work can be easily revised and improved. This supports the improvement of writing skills as well as keyboarding skills.
The biggest problem that I see in keyboarding instruction that does not occur in a regular computer class (this means a class that is scheduled for the students to attend daily) is TOK (Time On Keyboard). How much time do your students get to use the keyboards? How much time do they practice their work? How many of them are practicing at home (for all of their possible negative aspects, chatrooms are wonderful practice places.)
I believe that we need to reconceptualize the reason for 8 year olds to keyboard. They aren’t preparing themselves for jobs as secretaries where they type a handwritten letter from their boss. We are preparing our students to use computers to communicate in an on-line world. This means that they need to be able to compose at the keyboard in a real time situation.