National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Research - Assessment

Additional Resources

Seattle Test Boycott: Our Destination Is Not on the MAP

Rethinking Schools, April 2013
Jesse Hagopian—a high school history teacher in Seattle and founding member of Social Equality Educators—participated in the boycott against Seattle Public School's mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), along with numerous other teachers in the area. He shares how the boycott was organized and what lessons it holds for those who want to "liberate education from the standardized testing regime." More ›

Always Already: Automated Essay Scoring and Grammar-Checkers in College Writing Courses

Machine Scoring of Student Essays: Truth and Consequences, August 2012
While the possibilities of automated grading are often dismissed, researcher Carl Whithaus argues for a shift in the way we think about technology as an assessment tool. "If our practices combine software's functions as media and tools," Whithaus says, "then we need to reformulate our conceptions about machines reading and assessing students' writing." More ›

Automated Writing Instruction: Computer-Assisted or Computer-Driven Pedagogies?

Machine Scoring of Student Essays: Truth and Consequences, August 2012
In this essay, author Beth Ann Rothermel describes the heavy marketing of machine-writing programs to K–12 administrators and teachers. Rothermel argues that these programs narrow and constrict the work of both the writer and teacher, and teachers of preservice teachers need to consider these implications. More ›

Assessment in a Culture of Inquiry: The Story of the National Writing Project's Analytic Writing Continuum

Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of Edward M. White, July 2012
Sherry Swain, Paul LeMahieu
Assessment and education are often inextricably linked, so why is it that teachers usually find themselves without a voice when it comes to discussing what goes into the former? Sherry Swain, Senior Research Associate with the National Writing Project, and Paul LeMahieu, Vice President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, study the results of the NWP's Analytic Writing Continuum, which offered an opportunity to explore the potential of assessment beyond a standard. More ›

Conversation Currents: Writing: A Mode of Thinking

Language Arts, July 2012
Jane Hansen, director of the Central Virginia Writing Project, and Danling Fu, a professor of literacy education at the University of Florida, discuss writing in today's language arts classrooms in the NCTE Language Arts podcast, "Conversation Currents." More ›

The Effect of Scoring Order on the Independence of Holistic and Analytic Scores

The Journal of Writing Assessment, July 2012
Nancy Robb Singer, Paul LeMahieu
This research explores the matter of independence of scores and the effects of scoring order upon those judgments, affirming that when readers will be asked to score both ways, holistic scoring should precede analytic scoring. It also suggests interesting insights into the cognitive processes engaged by scorers as they score holistically and analytically. More ›

Using Grounded Theory in Writing Assessment

The WAC Journal, July 2012
Todd Migliaccio, Dan Melzer
The current format of writing assessment often leaves teachers and graders frustrated by its simplified and standardized nature. Authors Todd Migliaccio and Dan Melzer offer a possible solution through the grounded theory approach, a research methodology that emphasizes dialogue, context, and a relationship between analysis and theory building, and discuss how it can be used by instructors. More ›

Lost in Translation: Assessing Writing of English Language Learners

English Journal, June 2012
Tom Meyer, Fabiola Lieberstein-Solera, Martha Young
Hudson Valley Writing Project (New York) Director Tom Meyer along with teacher-leaders Martha Young and Fabiola Lieberstein-Solera worked with the National Writing Project's Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC) to research the question, "What if the writing rubrics we use don't make sense to our bilingual students or their teachers?" More ›

National Writing Project Offers High-Quality Writing Assessment Services

March 2012
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. More ›

A Briefing on Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment

September 2011
NWP's Director of National Programs, Tanya Baker, spoke at a briefing held on September 15, 2011 by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The briefing was on a recent report. Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment, which identifies instructional practices shown to improve students' writing abilities. More ›

Book Review: Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson

The WAC Journal, November 2009
Meg Petersen
What does assessment without rubrics look like and where will it take us? Maja Wilson, a teacher-consultant with the Crossroads Writing Project in Michigan, rethinks rubrics. More ›

Purposeful Writing: Genre Study in the Secondary Writing Workshop

January 2009
NWP's For Your Bookshelf audio series talks to Tracy Rosewarne and Rebecca Sipe of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project about their book Purposeful Writing: Genre Study in the Secondary Writing Workshop. More ›

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

April 2008
Kathleen Reddy-Butkovich
In this chapter from Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work, the author 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 ›

Linking Genre to Standards and Equity

The Quarterly, 2004
Tom Fox
Fox describes the work of teachers who link genre and purpose, bridging the gap between disenfranchised students and schools. More ›

Works in Progress: First-Year College Students after EN101

The Quarterly, Spring 2001
Helen Collins Sitler
Sitler wonders whether her first-year college students are transferring the writing knowledge they take from her class to new contexts when they leave it. Her study concludes that they are making appropriate transfers. More ›

TR 41. Evaluating Text Quality: The Continuum from Text-Focused to Reader-Focused Methods

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, March 1990
Karen A. Schriver
Schriver discusses three methods for evaluating text quality: text-focused, expert-judgment-focused, and reader-focused. She concludes that reader-focused approaches offer the best opportunity for detecting problems in a text. More ›

TR 23. Students' Self-Analyses and Judges' Perceptions: Where Do They Agree?

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
John Ackerman
This report summarizes student accounts of how they composed a first draft and then compares and contrasts how students and teachers evaluated the same essay. More ›

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