assessment · authentic assessment · prompts

prompt scoring.

First day back . . . and I had the pleasure of working with all of the 4th & 5th grade teachers in our corporation to SCORE WRITING PROMPTS! (Does the emphasis of the capital letters make it sound all glamorous & fun?)  Here’s a few things on my mind after a day of scoring hundreds of prompts:

  1. It’s good professional development to sit alongside other educators and assess student writing.  I feel as though I’m a stronger teacher now than I was at the beginning of the day.  I think we should find the time more often to assess together.  We would become more effective.
  2. It’s tough to assess writing.  I often found the score reflecting the student’s ability to follow directions rather than his/her ability to write well.
  3. Honestly, what is the difference between an adequate command of the English language and a minimal command?  I know it in my gut, but find it difficult to explain.  The only way I know how to show the difference is through exemplar papers.
  4. Our writing workshops should reflect products that show time and reflective practice through the writing process, as well as products that are created on demand.  It is necessary that our students learn both skills as writers.

This last idea is the one that is going to stick with me for awhile.  It seems that many teachers lean heavily on one OR the other.  Either lots of time is given for students to revise and edit and reflect on their final product OR students always produce writing in a time frame designated by the teacher.  Again, I find myself back to the concept balance.  A topic, which has been too far gone from my posts lately.

During these last weeks of the school year, may we seek after balance.  May we demand it of ourselves and our teaching.  It is through the balance of our practices that the best writing instruction will ensue.

2 thoughts on “prompt scoring.

  1. As a trainer of writing and a prompt scorer, I deal with this issue more than I want to. I think this is a difficult issue. The exemplar papers that the are available as examples and represent each score seem to really help to assist some scorers in becoming accurate in scoring. I think that one of the biggest issues is helping kids understand the difference between an example that is specific and an example that is general. A specific example should be developed with “DO (what is the character’s action), SAY (what did the character say / dialogue), and THINK (what did the character think about the action that is going on). This is obviously the WAY simplified version …. It seems to help students get started on the way to passing the test……..


  2. So what do you do when teachers grading the writing differ in their concept of what is writing well for the writing development part (see Things that make me HOT on my blog)?

    How do we as educators begin to identify and score more objectively? I’m all for the prompts, but when I have a child who stretches their special moment by adding specific action and uses dialogue and wrote what I felt was a great story earns a 3…I question whether we as teachers are getting it yet. Or do I not know what great writing is?

    All I know is that this year’s writing prompt scoring time for me left a sour taste…


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