Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Assessment

Question: What are some of the problems with writing assessment?

Answer/Quote: “Another common complaint about large-scale assessments is that they do not provide students with enough time. Again, the effects of this on performance is an empirical issue, but is often framed rather simplistically. All current assessments are really evaluations of student performance given a particular set of constraints,
“Performance is judged relative to other students operating within the same constraints…. There simply are no absolute standards of comparison, so that the issue of more or less time leading to ‘better’ writing is somewhat misleading. What is important—and unclear—is whether such constraints systematically bias the results for or against one or another group of students. Do students from process-oriented classrooms, for example, do less well relative to their peers when asked to compose spontaneously than they would if given the same topic to think about a day in advance?

“Or do students from one or another minority culture perform better, relative to their peers, if everyone is given the opportunity to discuss a writing topic before beginning to write? Such differences, and the biases that they imply in current testing formats are certainly plausible, but they have received little systematic attention from language researchers.”

Comment: Some ideas to think about. RayS.

Title: “Musings… Writing Assessment,” Arthur N Applebee. Research in the Teaching of English (February 1988), 6-9.

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