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Investigation 3: Writing Assessments

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Emily Burkley

on 4 July 2015

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Transcript of Investigation 3: Writing Assessments

Investigation 3: Assessment
How is the Writing Process Presented?
Tightly aligned to the Common Core State Standards
Reflects three major CCSS shifts in English Language Arts:
of texts,
-based literary and informational writing, and
building through content-rich nonfiction
Students are expected to be
using and/or analyzing sources effectively
as they progress through their writing
Students should:
Develop the topic consistent to the task by using clear reasoning and relevant, text-based evidence
Demonstrate effective coherence, clarity, and cohesion appropriate to the task
Use language effectively to clarify ideas
Types of Writing Assessed
Research Simulation Tasks
"Today you will research how penguins are rescued after a large oil spill. You will read two articles, and then you will view a video. As you review these sources, you will gather information and answer questions about the rescue of penguins so you can write an essay."
Literary Analysis Tasks
"The passages from
Ida B
Moon Over Manifest
both include events that did not happen exactly how the narrators expected them to happen. Write an essay describing how each narrator’s point of view influences how these events are described. Be sure to use details from both stories."
Narrative Tasks
"You have read a passage from “The Growin’ of Paul Bunyan.” Think about how the story would be different if it were told from Johnny’s point of view. Write the story from the point of view of Johnny."
Tasks Required
What Should Student Writing Include?
Development of Ideas
Attending to the task, purpose, and audience using clear reasoning, details, and/or description
Coherence, clarity and cohesion with a strong introduction and conclusion
Clarity of Language
Concrete words and phrases, sensory details, linking and transitional words, and/or domain-specific vocabulary
Knowledge of Language and Conventions
Meaning is clear with few distracting errors
Katie Bouvy & Emily Burkley
Examining the 5th Grade PARCC and Virginia SOL Writing Assessments
Cognitive Challenges
Connecting Writing to Reading
What's Missing?
Overall Impressions
How Were They Developed?
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
Eleven states and D.C. are PARCC members
Based on the PARCC Model Content Frameworks, a rich,

model of instruction for teachers
A computer-based assessment set created by
teachers, higher education representatives, and Common Core State Standards writing team members
Virginia SOL (
Standards of Learning
Virginia SOL assessments are
aligned to state standards
Designed to measure student success in meeting Board of Education's expectations
All items
reviewed by Virginia classroom
teachers for accuracy
Teachers also assist the state Board of Education in setting
proficiency standards
for the test
Opinion pieces

As with the CCSS, writing is closely linked to reading!
evidence from multiple sources
when composing writing is an integral element.
write opinion pieces
on topics or texts,
supported by reasons
and information.
Students draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support
analysis, reflection, and research
than pre-Common Core aligned writing assessments
All items were designed to measure students' ability to, “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to
make logical inferences
from it” and “
cite specific textual evidence when writing
...to support conclusions drawn from the text” (CCSS Anchor Reading Standard 1).
Requires drawing evidence from
multiple sources
to support a point of view in a cohesive and organized way
Sequences of questions and writing prompts that draw students into deeper encounters with text
Although PARCC is CCSS-aligned and requires much evidence-based argumentative/informative writing, these assessments do still include a narrative element. This is supportive of students' academic and social development. Dyson (1993) refers to a longitudinal elementary study, "...they began to use writing to accomplish social work, that is, to maintain and manipulate their relationships with peers. Their friends became characters in their written stories...over time, writing became more embedded in their imagined, experienced, and ongoing social worlds..."
Virginia SOL
"Writing is not merely a finished product; it is a process..."
Students are expected to be proficient in all steps of the process for a
variety of writing modes
using a variety of strategies;
Narrowing and focusing the topic;
a first draft;
Elaborating ideas;
Virginia Sol
Central Idea
Clear, consistent focus, awareness of audience
Organization and Unity
Logical plan, on topic, effective transitional words, strong beginning, middle, and end.
Elaboration and Details
Use of facts, opinions, quotes, and definitions
Sentence Formation and Structure
Includes variety of sentence lengths
Word Choice
Virginia SOL
For each prompt, students are expected to address two domains:
Composing/Written Expression
- This domain includes the focusing, elaborating, and organizing that a writer does to construct a unified and effective message for a reader.
Central idea, elaboration, unity, organization, vocabulary, sentence variety, tone, voice.
- This domain comprises the writer's ability to form competent sentences that are appropriate for the grade level
Sentence formation, usage, mechanics
Virginia SOL
Awareness of audience,
as in literature
In "Checklist for Writers" resource, students are asked the following: "I checked my paper to makes sure that it is the way I want readers to read it."
Hillocks (1986) provides evidence that audience impacts quality and coherence of writing
Limited connection to literature; prompts are
rather than text-dependent;
no text evidence is requested
or required
Virginia SOL
Write to Explain (Informational/Opinion)
Example: "There are many different kinds of entertainment, such as music, games, books, or movies. Explain your favorite type of entertainment and why you like it."
Write to Entertain (Narrative)
Example: "Imagine you and a friend found a spaceship. The door opened and you looked inside. Write about what happened."
There are no specific modes of discourse included in assessment; rather, random prompts require students to be familiar with writing in a variety of genres.
Little emphasis on
in standards and rubrics/grade level evidence tables
Minimal, if any,
student choice
in writing topics. Graves (2003) asserts that, "Writers who do not learn to choose topics wisely lose out on the strong link between voice and subject." Pre-Common Core aligned assessments would ask more open ended questions in which much of the topic was up to the student, such as "Tell about a time when..."
Virginia SOL
Strict focus on conventions suggests need for more
rigorous grammar
and usage instruction
Example: A student can lose points for failing to create connections between all ideas, and for "lack of rhythmic flow" due to imprecise word choice
Students are expected to demonstrate
consistent control of both domains
(Composition/Written Expression, and Usage/Mechanics) throughout assessment
Lack of specificity in genre expectations
may result in students not being sure how to prepare
Virginia SOL
Limited connection of writing to
. Graves (2003) discusses the important of connecting writing to literature during the writing process.
Lack of variety and
in writing prompts. Prompts ask students only to describe and explain rather than the higher-level critical thinking, analysis, and evaluation involved in responding to Common Core aligned prompts.
Virginia SOL

Strong focus on utlilization of
writing process
(Emig, 1971)
Prompts provide opportunities for
student choice
in writing topics (Graves, 2003)
Preparatory materials, rubrics, and prompts encourage
audience awareness
(Hillocks, 1986) (Dyson, 1993)

Lacks strong
connection between reading and writing
(Graves, 2003)
No specific goals for different types of writing and
modes of discourse
(Hillocks, 1986)


connection between reading and writing
(Graves, 2003)
High expectations for strong,
evidence-based writing
to prepare students for 21st century college and careers
Clear goals
for different types of writing (Hillocks, 1986)

Little student
(Graves, 2003)
Little emphasis in standards/scoring rubrics for
(Hillocks, 1986)

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