Selecting Writing Development Assessments for Students

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers need to use assessments in order to design writing instruction to meet all students' needs. This lesson describes writing assessments and shows how to design a writing assessment for students of all grade and ability levels.

Assessing Writing

Assessments are a necessary part of education. Teachers use them to determine student understanding of concepts, design and develop curriculum, and determine future teaching goals and objectives. Assessments used to guide teachers in student learning and not for grades are called formative assessments. These are used on a continual basis to see what students are learning so modifications can be made. Examples include observations, class conversations, and tests or quizzes not used for grading purposes.

Assessments used for grades to determine final understanding are called summative assessments. These are typically more formal, like a test, or take the form of a project or portfolio. Developing and designing assessments is necessary for all subject areas. Writing assessments can often be difficult, however. Often, teachers lose focus on grammar or spelling and not on the mechanics and craft of writing. What is included in writing assessments? Let's take a look.

Aspects of Writing Assessments

Kelly is a writing teacher who uses writing assessments often in her classroom. She uses formative assessments before and throughout teaching and looks closely at the final writing product to determine growth. She does this on a whole class, small group, and individual basis. For example, at the beginning of a new unit on persuasive writing, she gave an assessment called a flash draft. Students were asked to create a persuasive paper in a specified amount of time. Kelly knew her students didn't know much about persuasive writing; she used the flash drafts to determine what they did and didn't already know.

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