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The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.

Grading Writing Assessments: Research-Backed Framework and Classroom Application

As an English Language Arts instructor, I recognize the importance of writing and grading assessments that give all students the opportunity to become stronger writers and critical thinkers. I have outlined the following as goals for the assessment of written works in my classroom:

  • Providing constructive assessment feedback that helps the student become a better writer

  • Writing assessments that are a fair indication of student learning; Assessment that takes into account diverse types of learners and writing abilities; Assessment that is graded based on concepts that we have learned

  • Providing instructions and feedback on lower-stakes assessments, so that students go into higher-stakes assessments knowing what an A looks like for them 

  • Evaluating assessments to inform future lessons, to teach how to remedy repeated mistakes or misunderstandings

With these goals in mind, I researched writing assessments for a diverse range of learners — especially English Language Learners. The research informed my writing assessment framework, constructed for an inquiry project on course design. Because of my desire to make writing assessments fair, objective, and individualized to students with varying writing abilities, I created a research-informed framework for instruction writing and instructor feedback, keeping English Language Learners and diverse learners in mind. The framework includes the following action items for assessment-writing: 

  • Clearly identifying the purpose, form, and style of the assignment in directions

  • Providing both higher stakes and lower stakes assessment opportunities

  • Selecting a limited number of components to grade writing

  • Giving feedback in the form of “What Worked Well and Why” and “What Could Be Improved and Why”

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Above: Assessment practices as outlined in the course outline "Redefining the Bildungsroman." See the complete PDF document at the bottom of the page. 

As I student-teacher, I implemented this model when teaching a twelfth-grade creative writing course. My cooperating teacher cited that she typically found creative writing difficult to grade. The implementation included the following procedures: 

  • As a class, we review what we have studied in class about that writing form. 

  • From these concepts, students and I work together to select five aspects to use to grade their work. We spend about fifteen minutes in class reviewing concepts, writing directions for the assessment, and answering questions.  

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Left: Google Classroom assignment reviews the criteria we established in class: proofreading, character development, plot/pacing, description, and setting OR dialogue (student-selection). 

  • During in-class workshops, students give each other feedback in the “what worked” form.

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Left: During online learning, students give each other feedback on their one-act screenplays. 

  • For the students' rough drafts, I give feedback on student-selected criteria in “what worked” form, giving specific and actionable items for revisions for the final draft. 

In using this framework within the classroom, students have the opportunity to participate in the grading process in the criteria selection process. This way, I go into the assignment knowing that students are aware of what we have learned and that in using these criteria, I will be grading them fairly. Using the "what worked" and "what could be improved" framework for rough drafts gives students both positive and constructive feedback for their writing, so that they know what to change for the final draft. This criteria also prompts the assessor — whether that is the instructor or fellow students — to justify the reasoning for all of the grading decisions they are making. As the instructor, when I noticed students overlapped in "what could be improved," on the rough drafts, this prompted a lesson or review on the concept before the final draft. Alternatively, it served as an indicator that the class had not thoroughly learned the concept, so taking off points during a higher-stakes assessment would not be fair. 


Access full PDF here.

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