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New Report Offers Evidence That Classroom-Based Assessments Can Improve Writing Skills of American Students

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September 15, 2011 07:40 pm

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Effective assessments are promising tools to help ensure that students write well enough to meet grade-level demands, according to a new report from Carnegie Corporation of New York, released by the Alliance for Excellent Education on September 14. The report Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment offers educators and policymakers with evidence-based practices on how assessment can improve the writing skills of American students.

“Writing may not receive as much attention as reading and arithmetic, but it is no less important to a student’s future success,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Poor writing skills not only play a role in whether a student graduates from high school, they can also impact his or her success in college or securing a job that pays a living wage.”

The report uses the powerful statistical method of meta-analysis to determine that classroom-based writing assessments can help students improve their writing skills. Additionally, these “formative” assessments allow teachers to gauge the effectiveness of their instructional practices, modify instruction as needed, and provide students with feedback on writing strengths and areas in need of improvement.

The report also provides specific recommendations on how teachers can improve their students’ writing skills and includes examples of how each of the recommendations can be carried out in the classroom. However, it warns that the trustworthiness of formative writing assessments can be compromised if careful attention is not directed at what is assessed, how it is assessed, and how it is scored.

Read the press release or download the report.

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