Thursday, July 29, 2010

Topic: What's Wrong with Writing Tests?

10-second review: They are more like first drafts than finished ;products.

Title: “Supporting Literacy: Teachers Apply Research Findings in the Classroom.” D Aronson. Council Chronicle of the National Council of Teachers of English [NCTE] (September 2009), 20-24.

Quote: R.B. Sipe: “While literacy is a complex topic in which individuals ponder questions, seek out information to find answers, and craft a meaningful essay or other kind of writing, including creating a final draft, writing tests are typically more like first-draft writing using none of the tools students learn. In addition, these tests measure discrete items, like semicolons, whereas many aspects of literacy are integrated and interrelated.”

Comment: Some truth in what Ms. Sipe says. In most writing tests students have limited time to brainstorm or to revise and edit. On the other hand, and in fairness to scorers, they are urged not to overemphasize grammatical errors. But the thoughtful kind of writing to which Ms. Sipe refers and which is required in college writing assignments, will take hours, not 25 minutes, which is all the time allowed by the College Board in its SAT. Another example of a simplistic solution to a complex problem: measuring the skill of writing. RayS.

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