Monday, January 10, 2005

More Nonfiction Writing for Center for Performance Assessment

More from the Center for Performance Assessment on nonfiction writing. Research on over 130,000 students from"90/90/90" schools (90% free and reduced lunch, 90% ethnic minorities, 90% achieving high academic standards) over a four year period revealed five common characteristics of high achieving schools:
  • Focus on academic achievement
  • Clear curriculum choices
  • Frequent assessment with multiple opportunities for improvement
  • An emphasis on nonfiction writing
  • Collective scoring of student work
The report states that in virtually every school they evaluated, students scores on creative writing were significantly higher than those of narrative or informative writing. As a result, teachers in the successful schools placed an emphasis on informative writing. They used a single rubric for scoring every piece of student writing.

So why did the nonfiction writing produce such positive results? Written responses " students demonstrate the thinking process that they employed to find a correct (or even incorrect) response to an academic challenge." They "write to think" and gain the opportunity to "...clarify their own thought processes." This type of writing was also beneficial for the teachers as they had the opportunity to gain valuable diagnostic information about their students.

These results reinforce most of what I have been writing about (particularly in the blogs section of my Web site)--students need to be writing in the mathematics class, and using blogs is a great way to get them doing it. Hopefully there is somebody out there who will take notice.

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