National Writing Project Evaluation
- Subject: National Writing Project Evaluation
- From: George Sheridan <gsheridan@BOMUSD.EDCOE.K12.CA.US>
- Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 16:36:11 -0700
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- Comments: cc: "Kathleen S. Dixon" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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On this list we're so caught up in opposing "assessment" schemes that range
from stupid to criminally abusive, it was great to spend the last week in
an assessment process that I believe will directly benefit students and
their teachers, as well as those of us who were involved as evaluators.
This past week I've been in Berkeley, reading student papers (and teacher
descriptions of lesson design) as part of a three-year study evaluating the
National Writing Project.
At one time or another, I heard almost every one of the couple dozen
evaluators talk about ways that our time together had sharpened her
perceptions of the traits of effective persuasive writing, or about how
looking at the kinds of work resulting from different lesson designs would
enable her to create more effective lessons in her own classroom. The
feedback we provided to teachers involved in the study should assist them
in guiding their students to produce better work next year.
This is one model of what some call "authentic" assessment, focusing on
student work created for reasons beyond an attempt to earn a score or
please a teacher. In this case, third and fourth graders wrote letters to
their teachers telling who they would like to invite to their classrooms
and why. Each student also wrote to a friend, recommending a book. The best
papers were highly persuasive, with well-elaborated reasons, clear
organization, engaging voice and clear awareness of audience. The greatest
value in reading student papers, however, was in beginning a dialogue with
the classroom teachers about how to assist the writers of limited or
adequate papers to develop the characteristics found in the best papers.
We selected sets of anchor papers for training purposes. At this time those
papers can't be used outside the classrooms of the teachers involved in the
project, but within a couple years we might be able to publish a scoring
guide or book with detailed analysis and discussion of student samples to
provide reference points for discussion by a larger group of teachers.
Our work this week gave me convincing evidence of the value of providing
students at this grade level with a specific rubric detailing the
characteristics of persuasive writing.
At a time when mandated assessments are often distasteful to everyone
involved, we had the privilege of engaging in the kind of intellectually
challenging work that is so rewarding it makes getting paid seem like an extra.
Black Oak Mine Unified School District
P.O. Box 217
Cool, California 95633
Are standardized tests hurting our kids? Go to http://www.fairtest.org
Hope is...not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the
conviction that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
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