Preparing for the State Writing Assessment
Do you have a state or district writing assessment just around the corner? Are you prepared? Are your students prepared? Hey, let’s not waste another second. Let’s get started! Wait a minute… is it too late? How much time do you have? Should you “teach to the test” or simply “teach writing?”
If it’s test time, then it’s also springtime. In springtime we want to be harvesting the wonderful rewards from all our hard work. The truth is that it may not be so easy if we didn’t plant the seeds of writing success earlier in the year.
Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells a story around the premise that if you want to harvest in the fall, you will need to plant in the spring, and have tended to the fields during the summer. (Of course, as teachers, we want to be planting in the fall and harvesting in the spring.)
Regardless of the time of year, be sure to check out Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay. I confess, the program is more of a real solution than it is a quick fix. However, more and more excited elementary and middle school teachers are discovering that they can get real writing improvement faster than they ever dreamed possible!
The program provides a foundation and a framework for student writing. It also provides a foundation and a framework for teaching students to write! The program does not teach to the test, but the results absolutely and positively show up at test time. Best of all, the program just makes sense to students! (And it’s kind of fun!)
The state writing assessment resources found on this page are designed to help teachers learn what kind of writing results they should be striving to achieve. The Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay program makes achieving those results a reality—quickly and easily!
State Writing Assessment Resources: The Six Components
On the state-testing resource pages found below, you will find:
1. Released writing prompts
2. Scoring rubrics
3. Anchor papers and scoring commentary (a.k.a. Student writing samples!)
4. Teacher guides and/or test directions
5. State writing standards
6. Released questions – multiple choice
Multiple Choice Writing Assessment Knowledge vs. The State Writing Assessment Performance Task
It’ worth mentioning that students ARE tested on “writing skills” every single year on the state multiple-choice standardized test. Clearly, students are not writing essays on these multiple choice state assessments, but they are being tested on writing knowledge. Additionally, every few years (in specific grades), students ARE required to perform a writing task. This performance task is called the State Writing Assessment. Read more about this below.
If you were to become familiar with your own state’s six components, you would be a writing assessment genius! You can probably find your own state’s writing assessment resources by doing a few simple Google searches. (Put your state’s name in front of each of these terms: state writing assessment, state testing page, state released items, state released tests, state testing resources.)
Wait! Don’t begin your Google searches quite yet! Before you head off, you will want to read the rest of this page. For one thing, some of the very best writing assessment resources can be found right here on this page.
Here are some other valuable writing assessment resources found on this website:
Keep in mind that the writing assessment resources that your state provides may not be as valuable as what some other states provide. For example, the released writing prompts found above are the best on the internet. You will find links to 114 pages of released writing prompts! Does your state’s testing page offer that? No. Additionally, the anchor papers and student writing samples above are also the best collection on the internet… guaranteed!
What follows are links to even more great collections of state writing assessment resources! But first…
Understanding State Writing Assessments: What is Tested? When is it Tested? How is it Tested?
Multiple Choice Writing Skills: Remember, students are tested on writing every single year on the multiple-choice test, but only have a “performance task” every few years. Many teachers forget about this aspect of writing instruction. Your state is likely to have an English language arts multiple-choice standardized test for every single grade above kindergarten. The English language arts are made up of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. I am not aware of speaking appearing on any standardized tests, but you can be sure that reading, writing, and listening will be on the test.
California has excellent examples of “multiple-choice writing skills” test questions for grades 2-11. Click here . The writing skills test questions are a part of the English-Language Arts section. At the end of each PDF file of released questions, there is a section that tells what ELA standard is being addressed in each question. As you can see below, writing strategies and written conventions are very important on state testing.
California’s English-Language Arts standardized tests have multiple-choice questions for:
- Word Analysis
- Reading Comprehension
- Literary Response and Analysis
- Writing Strategies
- Written Conventions
The State Writing Assessment Performance Task
Every few years students are tested using a performance-based writing assessment. Once again, students are tested every single year on writing skills through the multiple-choice section of the standardized test. However, it is only every few years that they are asked to perform a writing task.
Various States Grade Levels for State Writing Assessments:
- KY – Grades 5, 8, 12
- FL – FCAT Grades 4, 8, 10
- CA – STAR Grade 4, 7
- PA – Grade 5, 8, 11
- GA – Grade 3, 5, 8, 11
- VA – Grade 5, 8, EOC (End of Course English: Writing)
- NB – Grade 4, 8, 11
- TX – TAKS Grade 4, 7, 10
- TN – TCAP Grade 5, 8, 11
Grading state writing assessments is labor intensive and expensive. That’s why they only have them every few years.
Okay, now you have an overview of state writing assessments. Now, here are some resources!
Resources for State Writing Assessments
Once again, you will probably want to find your own state’s resources for state testing. But remember, the resources found below may be more helpful than what your state provides. These are all excellent collections of state writing assessment resources – the best on the internet!
Note: I only list what I consider to be the most important resources found on the page. If you click around, you will probably find even more resources, but use your time wisely!
1. Arizona – AIMS Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 3-HS)
2. Tennessee – TCAP Writing Assessment – Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 5, 8, 11)
3. Michigan – MEAP Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 3-5, grades 6-8, grade 9)
4. California – CST Released language arts/writing (multiple choice) test questions. (Grades 2-11)
5. California – California Writing Standards Tests – Released prompts, anchor papers, scoring guide etc. (Grade 4 and grade 7) Be sure to click “Previous Years’ Writing Tests” for 2001-2007!
6. Common Core State Standards – 107 page PDF. Student writing samples and scoring commentary. (Grades K-12 – Narrative, argument, informative, expository etc.)
7. Georgia – Georgia Writing Assessments – Released writing prompts, sample papers etc. (Grade 3, 5, 8, & HS 2007-2009)
8. Kansas – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 5, 8, HS)
9. Florida – 2011 FCAT Writing Anchor Sets – Click the “Archived FCAT Writing Anchor Sets” at the bottom of the page for 2008-2010! (Grades 4, 8, 10 – Expository, narrative, persuasive etc.)
10. Kentucky – KCCT Released prompts, anchor papers, scoring guide etc. Each PDF is about 40 pages of student writing, scoring, and rubrics! (Grades 5, 8, 12)
11. New York – Multiple choice – English Language Arts Sample Tests (Grades 3-8 )
12. Bakersfield, CA – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades K-8 – Expository, narrative, persuasive etc. Nice! )
13. Pennsylvania – PSSA Multiple choice, rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. The writing assessment section is found at the bottom of the page. (Grades 5, 8, 11) The reading section has the multiple choice.
14. Nebraska – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 4, 8, 11)
15. Texas – TAKS Writing Assessments – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 4, 7, 10, 11)
16. Washington – Student writing samples (exemplers) Nice! (Grades 4, 7, HS)
17. Virginia – Years 2000-2009. Click on a year and scroll to the “English” section. Includes reading and writing. (Grades 3-HS for reading and grades 5, 8, and HS for writing.)
Don’t forget, you won’t want to miss out on the resources found at the very top of this page. In particular, the “Released Writing Prompts” resource is amazing!