I shared the article with a real authority who took me to task on it. The problem is that I'm marketing-oriented and not that in-touch with the curriculum, curriculum designers, or teachers. Woops.
In any case, I thought I'd bring myself up to speed real quick. I'll start with the existing standards and then look at the new CCSSO writing standards. I'll look both at the types of writing and the rubrics. I'll start with a big state, The Golden State.
The California standards say: The CSTs in writing address the state Writing Application content standards for grades four and seven. In grade four these standards require students to produce four types of writing: narratives, summaries, information reports, and responses to literature. In grade seven these standards require students to produce five types of writing: narratives, persuasive essays, summaries, responses to literature, and research reports.
The tests do not include research papers because of the time constraint.
The CA document includes some interesting examples:
Writing Task - the Persuasive Letter
Directions: In this writing test, you will write a persuasive letter in response to the writing task on the following pages.
- You will have time to plan your letter and write a first draft with edits.
- Only what you write on the lined pages in this booklet will be scored.
- Use only a No. 2 pencil to write your response.
Your writing will be scored on how well you
- state your position on the topic
- describe the points in support of your position, including examples and other evidence
- address possible arguments against your position
- use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. You may include a salutation and closing, but the format of the letter will not count as part of your score.
Your school district is thinking about lengthening the school year by starting two weeks earlier. Do you think adding extra days to the school year will improve education? Write a letter to the editor of your school newspaper that will persuade others to accept your viewpoint. Be sure to address opposing viewpoints in your letter.
The Grading was in accordance with the Standard Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics) Standards, excerpted here:
2.4 Write persuasive compositions:
a. State a clear position or perspective in support of a proposition or proposal.
b. Describe the points in support of the proposition, employing well-articulated evidence.
c. Anticipate and address reader concerns and counterarguments.
Grade Seven Focus
The best student responses to the 2008 writing tasks exhibited the following characteristics:
- They maintained a consistent organizational structure. They contained an introduction that presented the points to be developed; a body that developed the points that were presented in the introduction; and a conclusion that went beyond a simple repetition of these points. They used effective transitional devices to bridge ideas between sentences and paragraphs.
- When you write your letter, remember
- to state your position on the topic
- to describe the points in support of your position, including examples and other evidence
- to address possible arguments against your position
- to use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. You may include a salutation and closing, but the format of the letter will not count as part of your score.
- They presented a clear position with precise and pertinent ideas, details, or facts that supported that position. In contrast to the general and/or vague language that characterized writing at the lower score points, the best responses used concrete language that gave substance and individuality to the writing.
- They demonstrated an effective use of sentence variety throughout the response. Sentences ranged from simple to complex to compound. The simple sentences often contained multiple nouns, verbs, and/or modifying phrases. Sentences began in different ways. Some sentences started with subject-predicate, and others began with a subordinate clause or transitional phrase.
- They contained some errors in conventions, but these errors were those expected in first-draft writing in grade seven. The errors did not interfere with the effectiveness of the writing or with the reader’s understanding of the writing.