Section 6: Sample Writing Assessment and Pedagogy Question English Language Arts and Reading 7–12 (231)
The second constructed-response question presents a student’s draft response to an in-class writing assignment and asks you to complete three assessment tasks related to the draft. Although each Writing Assessment and Pedagogy CR question presents a different student draft, the task directions for each question are the same.
Plan to use approximately 45–60 minutes to complete this question.
Read the constructed-response question carefully before you begin to write your response to ensure that you address all components. Think about how you will organize what you plan to write.
The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of standard English. Your written response should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work. You may, however, use citations when appropriate.
Sample Writing Assessment and Pedagogy Question
Read the following writing assignment and student response carefully before beginning your assessment.
In a tenth-grade English class, a teacher assigns the following 45-minute in-class writing assignment to assess students’ skills in persuasive writing.
Think about a school policy that you would like to see changed or implemented. Then write a letter to the school principal that explains the policy and makes a case for why you think it should be changed or implemented. Be sure to:
- State your position clearly
- Organize your argument appropriately
- Support your position with specific reasons and examples
- Choose your words carefully
The following is one student’s response to the assignment.
Dear Ms. Santiago,
I think that the school’s new ban on student’s using cell phones is total overkill. Don’t get me wrong, everyone knows that we had a problem. Before the ban, the halls were so clogged with kids texting and talking on their phones that nobody could make it to class on time. Even the kids who with no phones! Then there was that girl last year who fell down the steps in the science wing and broke her leg because she was texting her boyfriend instead of looking where she was going. Could have been worse, I guess, she could of been driving! Hopefully she learned her lesson.
If the situation in the halls wasn’t bad enough, it was probably even worse in class. First, people were late a lot, like I mentioned before. Also, even though teachers tell us all the time to turn are phones off or they would confuscate them, but they would be ringing or buzzing all the time anyway which was pretty distracting. Plus you could always see kids texting on the sly in class or checking their phones every five seconds. Once during a history test, Mr. Peters caught this kid in the back row using his phone and asked him what he thought he was doing. He said, “oh, I couldn't remember what the Federalist Papers were, so I was just using my phone to research it.” Unbelievable! So it’s pretty clear why teachers want to ban cell phones from the classroom.
But even though I totally feel your pain I think, a total ban is way too extreme. You should compromise and let us to use our phones during lunch. Or maybe just let us text and stuff during lunch but not make calls. This would still keep the teachers happy because it wouldn't interrupt class, but it would make students happy too because it drives most of us crazy not to be able to text or check messages the entire day. It would probably make the cafeteria quieter since we'd all be busy texting and stuff instead of talking. That would make the teachers on lunch duty a little less cranky and, let’s face it, that can only be a good thing.
Identify one significant strength of the student’s response and explain how it contributes to the response’s overall effectiveness. Be sure to provide specific examples from and references to the response to support your assessment. Do not discuss the student’s ability with the conventions of standard written English (e.g., grammar, usage, mechanics).TASK 2
Identify one significant weakness of the student’s response and explain how it interferes with the response’s overall effectiveness. Be sure to provide specific examples from and references to the response to support your assessment. Do not discuss the student’s errors in the conventions of standard written English (e.g., grammar, usage, mechanics).TASK 3
Describe one specific, appropriate instructional activity that you, as the English teacher, would implement to address the significant weakness of the student’s response that you identified in Task 2. Be sure to explain how the activity would address the particular weakness you identified and why you think the activity would be effective.
Writing Assessment and Pedagogy Sample Responses and Rationales
Combined Score of 6TASK 1
A significant strength of the paper is the use of specific details to support the statements made. The students supports claims made for why the phones were banned, “…there was that girl last year who fell down the steps in the science wing and broke her leg because she was texting her boyfriend instead of looking where she was going.” Furthermore, when defending their compromise of allowing phone use at lunch, the student also gives a meaningful, concrete image, stating that this action could “make the cafeteria quieter since we'd all be busy texting.” By providing concrete examples the student demonstrates an awareness of how smaller details can support broad statements.TASK 2
One of the significant weaknesses in this response is the failure to pay attention to issues of the specific audience. An effective argument takes note of the intended audience (in this case, the school principal) and chooses details of language and syntax that will appeal to the audience and not offend. In this response, some of the vocabulary is either clichéd or colloquial and thus will not speak to an educated audience such as the school principal. For example, “overkill” in the first line is too colloquial for this audience. In the last paragraph, the writer employs “and stuff” twice in an attempt to cover several contingencies with vague language. Phrases such as “I totally feel your pain,” “I think,” and “drives most of us crazy” might be appropriate in comments to the student writer’s peers, but they are not effective when addressing a principal. Other colloquialisms such as “let’s face it” in the next to last line of the third paragraph as well as vague phrases like “late a lot” in the second line of the second paragraph distract the reader. The concluding comment that maligns lunch room monitors by calling them “cranky” is not a way to make friends and win an argument.TASK 3
To help this student, as well as other students in the class, pay more attention to audience and understand how word choice and tone contribute to their ability to persuade, students should complete an exercise that requires them to write to different audiences on the same topic. For example, a prompt might read:
“Assume that you need a temporary supplement to your allowance of $10.00 to purchase a ticket to an opening of a new film based on a novel you and many of your friends have read. Consider various people in your life to ask for a loan.”
- Your mother who you believe will be sympathetic because she has read the book and thought it was fantastic.
- Your older brother who now has a job, has a track record of supporting you when you need a friend, and loves going to the movies.
- Your next-door neighbor who often asks you to babysit and who has a track record of paying you well for your service.
Write a three-sentence request for a small loan to each of the three people, explaining why you need the money. Use vocabulary, sentence structure, and details that will make it nearly impossible for each of them to turn down your request.”
This activity will be especially effective if students are asked to share their responses and discuss why the particular requests to each person will or will not likely be persuasive the particular person. Through the short writing activity, followed up by a discussion, students will learn to choose their words and language more carefully and according to their particular audience.
Rationale for a Combined Score of 6This response earns full credit on all three tasks.
The response to Task 1 states a significant strength, “the use of specific details to support the statements made.” The response then gives several effectively supporting examples from the student response. The response provides a clear assessment, explaining HOW the examples contribute to the persuasiveness and effectiveness of the writing: “By providing concrete examples the student demonstrates an awareness of how smaller details can support broad statements.”
The response to Task 2 clearly identifies “the failure to pay attention to issues of the specific audience” as a significant weakness and explains how this weakness threatens the effectiveness of the response as a whole by making it less persuasive to its audience. The response supports its assessment by identifying and discussing several specific, concrete examples from the text that illustrate the student’s use of “vocabulary [that] is either clichéd or colloquial and thus will not speak to an educated audience such as the school principal.”
The response to Task 3 identifies and describes a specific, appropriate instructional activity that is clearly relevant to the weakness identified in Task 2. The response goes beyond its general claim that “students should complete an exercise that requires them to write to difference audiences on the same topic” to provide a detailed and well-considered sample prompt. The response makes a thorough and convincing case for the relevance and effectiveness of the activity.
Combined Score of 3TASK 1
The student in this writing piece takes the position that there should not be a school ban on students’ use of cell phones. A strength in the piece is that the student gives a number of examples of why a ban should exist which indicates an awareness of the opposing perspective, the perspective of the school principal.TASK 2
A significant weakness in this student’s persuasive piece is the writer does not provide strong evidence (reasons) for why students should be allowed to have cell phones in school. The writer states that the classroom would be quieter if the use of phones wasn’t permitted during instruction and that teachers would be happier. However, these reasons are probably not important enough to convince the principal.TASK 3
To address the specific weakness described in Task 2, an English teacher could introduce the use of a pro-con chart to help the writer generate ideas and begin to organize the piece. On this two-column graphic organizer a writer would list the benefits of his or her position in the pro side and the reasons against the writer’s position in the con side.
Rationale for a Combined Score of 3
The response to Task 1 earns partial credit. Although the response does identify a relevant strength, its explanation and support of its assessment is not presented effectively. The response identifies the student’s inclusion of “a number of examples of why a ban should exist” as evidence of “an awareness of the opposing perspective” and implies that this awareness improves the response’s ability to persuade its audience. However, the response fails to provide specific examples from the student response that effectively illustrate how this awareness of counter positions contributes to the overall effectiveness of the student’s response.
The response to Task 2 earns partial credit. The response identifies a potentially significant weakness (“the writer does not provide strong evidence (reasons) for why students should be allowed to have cell phones in school”). However, to earn full credit, the explanation of why the response’s reasons are weak and what would constitute stronger ones would need to be better supported. For example, the response does not explain why reasons such as “the classroom would be quieter” and “teachers would be happier” are weaker and less valid than the unnamed “important” reasons that the candidate mentions.
The response to Task 3 earns partial credit. This response identifies a very specific instructional activity, but offers only a brief explanation of why the teacher’s introduction of a “pro-con chart to help the writer generate ideas and begin to organize the piece” is an appropriate tool to address the weakness identified in Task 2 or why it would be effective. The response offers some description of how this tool is related to improving the student’s lack of good reasons by explaining that the student would use the chart to organize positives and negatives for the writer’s position but doesn’t offer a convincing case that this tool would help improve the student’s ability to identify “specific,” “valid” or “strong” reasons.
Combined Score of 0TASK 1
The word choice selected by the student is well-written. The student is convincing because of that.TASK 2
It’s hard to follow the wording and to know for sure what the student is trying to say sometimes. The student talks about problems with using cell phones at school, but then the student tries to come back around and say that there should not be a ban on cell phones. Also, the student needs to be careful of some grammar problems.TASK 3
One instructional strategy that I would use as the teacher is have the student use a graphic organizer. Then the student will be better able to plan what he is going to say.
Rationale for a Combined Score of 0
The response to Task 1 earns no credit. The response seems to be trying to identify “word choice” as a significant strength of the response, but the lack of any additional development or explanation makes it impossible to judge whether this is a significant or relevant strength. This complete lack of explanation and support precludes awarding even partial credit to the response.
The response to Task 2 earns no credit. Despite attempting to describe two different weaknesses, the response fails to provide any relevant explanation to support the identification of a relevant weakness. The first two sentences attempt to criticize the response’s clarity or focus, a potentially relevant weakness, but the description provided is too unclear to constitute an identification of a significant weakness. The second attempt to identify a weakness (“the student needs to be careful of some grammar problems”) is also irrelevant given the specific instruction against discussing grammar included in the task directions.
The response to Task 3 earns no credit. Although the response attempts to address the weakness it poorly identified in Task 2, the instructional strategy suggested by the candidate is general and the response offers little or no evidence to support or explain how the “graphic organizer” will address the weakness from Task 2. If the significant weakness is that the student speaks in a confusing way, how will the graphic organizer specifically address this problem?
Performance Characteristics for the Writing Assessment and Pedagogy Question
The rubrics created to evaluate your responses to the constructed-response questions are based on the following criteria:
|Purpose||The extent to which the candidate responds to the components of the question in relation to relevant content knowledge addressed in the test framework for TExES English Language Arts and Reading 7–12.|
|Demonstration of Knowledge||The extent to which the knowledge demonstrated is accurate and effectively applied in relation to relevant content knowledge addressed in the test framework for TExES English Language Arts and Reading 7–12.|
|Support||Quality and relevance of supporting details in relation to relevant content knowledge addressed in the test framework for TExES English Language Arts and Reading 7–12.|
|Rationale||Soundness of reasoning and depth of understanding demonstrated in relation to relevant content knowledge addressed in the test framework for TExES English Language Arts and Reading 7–12.|
|Written Expression||The extent to which the response is appropriate for the specified audience and conforms to conventions of standard English for paragraphing, sentence structure, usage and mechanical conventions in relation to relevant content knowledge addressed in the test framework for TExES English Language Arts and Reading 7–12.|
Score Scale for the Writing Assessment and Pedagogy Question
The scoring scale for the writing assessment and pedagogy question is 0–6. Each rater uses the scoring criteria described in the three task-level rubrics to assess the degree to which the task responses demonstrate proficiency in fulfilling the performance requirements for each task. Each task response is given full credit (+2 points), partial credit (+1 point) or no credit (+0 points). The rater then adds together the points earned for each task and assigns a single combined score between 0 and 6. This score represents the candidate’s overall proficiency in demonstrating the content knowledge and skills required by the assigned question.
|Task-Level Rubrics and Combined Score Descriptions for Constructed-Response Question #2: Writing Assessment and Pedagogy|
|Task 1 Rubric|
|Full credit (+2 pts)||Clearly and correctly identifies a significant strength of the response and provides an effective and well-supported explanation of how it contributes to the response’s overall effectiveness.|
|Partial credit (+1 pt)||Identifies a significant strength of the response and provides at least some relevant explanation of and support for its assessment.|
|No credit (+0 pts)||Does not correctly identify/explain a relevant strength of the response and/or provides no relevant explanation of or support for its assessment.|
|Task 2 Rubric|
|Full credit (+2 pts)||Clearly and correctly identifies a significant weakness of the response and provides an effective and well-supported explanation of how it interferes with the response’s overall effectiveness.|
|Partial credit (+1 pt)||Identifies a significant weakness of the response and provides at least some relevant explanation of and support for its assessment.|
|No credit (+0 pts)||Does not correctly identify/explain a relevant weakness of the response and/or provides no relevant explanation of or support for its assessment.|
|Task 3 Rubric|
|Full credit (+2 pts)||Describes a specific, appropriate instructional activity that clearly addresses the weakness identified in task 2 and provides a convincing, well-supported explanation of why it would be effective.|
|Partial credit (+1 pt)||Describes an instructional activity that addresses the weakness identified in task 2 and provides at least some relevant explanation of why it would be effective.|
|No credit (+0 pts)||Does not describe/explain a relevant instructional activity to address the weakness identified in task 2 and/or provides no relevant explanation for the activity’s relevance or effectiveness.|
|Combined Score Descriptions|
|After applying the task-level rubrics to the three task responses, the rater will add together the points earned for each of the three task responses to determine the combined score (0–6) for the writing assessment and pedagogy question.|
|6||A combined score of 6 is awarded when all three task responses earn full credit.|
|5||A combined score of 5 is awarded when any two task responses earn full credit and the other task response earns partial credit.|
A combined score of 4 is awarded when:
A combined score of 3 is awarded when:
A combined score of 2 is awarded when:
|1||A combined score of 1 is awarded when any one task response earns partial credit and the other two task responses earn no credit.|
A combined score of 0 is awarded when at least one of the three task responses attempts
to respond to the assigned task but all three task responses earn no credit.
A score of 0 will also be assigned when all three task responses are not scorable. A response is considered not scorable when it is:
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