National Writing Project

National Writing Project Offers High-Quality Writing Assessment Services

Date: March 2, 2012

Summary: Over the past 8 years, the National Writing Project created and refined the Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC) Assessment System, originally based on the framework of the Six +1 Trait Writing Model (Bellamy, 2005), for research and instructional purposes. Unlike the holistic scores used in most large-scale writing assessments, which offer limited information about how improvements in student writing may be achieved, the AWC provides accurate assessment of both holistic and important performance attributes of writing.


The Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC) Assessment System is a well-tested system that has been used at 9 national events to score more than 40,000 student writing samples.

Adapted from the Six + 1 Trait Writing Model, the AWC has been continuously refined over the past 8 years; it is an assessment system appropriate for evaluating the NWP professional development program and providing data to teachers to inform writing instruction.

The AWC applies both holistic and analytic scoring procedures, producing a holistic score that is a single summary judgment about the quality of writing, and 6 analytic scores on fundamental attributes of writing: Content, Structure, Stance, Sentence Fluency, Diction, and Conventions.

This brief highlights the key features of the AWC assessment system, summary evidence of its technical rigor, as well as an outline of NWP services offered for those wishing to use the AWC.

In my thirty-year career in writing assessment, the NWP's Analytic Writing Continuum is the only analytic measure of student writing I have found both to be highly reliable and to measure the authentic and central constructs of student writing. The AWC combines carefully constructed categories that provide valid measures with a rigorous and proven training procedure that ensures reliability."
— LES PERELMAN, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and President, The Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Writing

After scoring, I know more about how students need to develop. I can assess where they are and where they need to grow. I can figure out what they need to know; every one of them needs something different."
— LINDA BUCHANAN, Ed.D., Resource Teacher, Tupelo, MS, 2009

My teachers were passionate to use the AWC on a district-wide basis. They felt that the assessment system was far superior to any other they had ever worked with; it has dual potential for summative and formative evaluation."
— KIMBERLY CUEVAS, 7–12 ELA Program Coordinator, Washoe County School District, NV, 2011

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