National Writing Project

Moving from Testing Writing to Assessing Writing

Date: October 2008

Summary: This collection of resources shifts the focus from test results to improving learning and writing, and explores important questions about writing assessment.


In a time of testing and accountability, how can writing project sites and networks of sites shift the professional development conversation from high-stakes tests to writing assessment? How can we build teacher learning communities, focused on writing assessment, that strengthen teacher practice and improve student writing? How can we focus on learning and improvement results rather than test scores?

If you are intrigued by these questions, you'll want to explore the resources that follow.

On the Verge of Understanding: A District-Wide Look at Student Writing

In this chapter from Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work, Kathleen Reddy-Butkovich and colleagues from Michigan writing projects use an examination of student work to discover what it is that student writers are "on the verge of understanding." They apply these observations to arrive at some implications for teaching and learning in their school district. More ›

Viva la Revolución: Transforming Teaching and Assessing Student Writing through Collaborative Inquiry

Molly Fanning and Brigid Schmidt, two teacher-consultants with the Capital District Writing Project, challenged by doubts about their assessment methods, collaborate to design a grading system based on evaluating a wide range of student work. They urge others toward the "intellectually transformative" experience of collaborative inquiry. More ›

Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

When a speaker of Appalachian English fails the state's writing assessment, Michelle Crotteau, a teacher-consultant with the Central Virginia Writing Project, demonstrates that appropriate strategies and respect for home language allows for both authentic writing and successful test preparation. More ›

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