“Assessment as a Window into Instruction”
Presentation organized by Sherry Swain, National Writing Project Other participants included:
Paul LeMahieu, NWP, Research and Evaluation, UC Berkeley
Sela Fessehaie, NWP
Cynthia Vetter, Central Texas WP
Kay Faile, Central Texas WP
Lori Assaf, Central Texas, WP
Jan Schaefer, Central Texas WP
Jan Sabin, Upper Peninsula WP
Liz Webb, Red Cedar WP at Michigan State University
Novenber 22, 2008

Teachers at this workshop were introduced to the NWP Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC) and to multiple uses of this document in classrooms in Michigan and Texas.
Paul LeMahieu explained how the AWC was developed and the research that has been done regarding the effective training of teachers using this rubric as it was refined from the Six Traits work. He emphasized the fact that assessment of learning must become assessment for learning. He completed his remarks by stating that expectations are impactful on students, but unfortunately expectations are not equitable. A tool like the AWC that raises expectations and helps those expectations to become equitable is a powerful tool.
Sherry Swain gave background regarding the AWC focus on the analytic (as opposed to the holistic) and introduced the teachers in attendance to the document and the specific scoring categories. She clarified the fact that teachers may only use the AWC with their students when trained by NWP staff. The NWP staff is happy to provide training to any group of teachers requesting it. Ms Swain then took the teachers through a discussion of the boxes and threads that run through the categories of Content, Structure and Diction of the DO NOT COPY version of the AWC. She also went through an Anchor set of papers and small groups explored their understanding of scores of 6, 4, and 2 in the categories previously discussed.
Cynthia Vetter explained the research done at Cntral Texas WP. Use of the AWC by teachers to guide students through the writing process resulted in improved student performance in the areas of structure, stance and in a final holistic score.
Lori Czop Assaf , Jan Schaefer, and Cynthia Vetter explained how the AWC was used to introduce and lead students through the writing process. This resulted in “The Top Ten Principles for Using the NWP – AWC:”
1. Students and teachers use lots of authentic dialogue to make sense of the AWC
2. Teachers model, demonstrate and provide direct instruction for each AWC criteria using high quality literature.
3. Students identify each criteria by name and practice each one in their own writing.
4. Teachers use the AWC for formative assessment – to determine what instruction needs to be done.
5. Use the AWC as a flexible continuum (do not allow it to be used in a rigid way).
6. Students self assess and self-evaluate to improve their writing.
7. “Students and teachers should continuously look at their identity as writers and explore their strengths as developing writers.”
8. “Study and evaluate a piece of writing and not the writer.”
9. Students and teachers need to be allowed to take risks.
10. Develop authentic writing and create opportunities for students to publish.
Kay Faile led small groups in the examination of student papers from the Central Texas WP study. (All student papers were later recollected.) The question posed was “Do you know what works in this paper?” A guide was provided to help small groups of teachers read and discuss the papers as a way to more fully understand how the AWC works.
Jan Sabin from the Upper Peninsula WP explained how nine K-5 teachers received training in the AWC, participated in the AWC Institute sponsored by Eastern Michigan University, attended the NWP Scoring Conference in Denver, looked for AWC language and scoring categories in the MEAP rubric, facilitated a workshop for 4th and 5th grade teachers to compare the AWC and the MEAP rubric, examined state anchor papers, facilitated the creation of 2nd – 5th grade student-friendly rubrics, started work on a K-1 version of the rubric, began to introduce the new material to teachers, and will develop a set of anchor papers.
Liz Webb from the Red Cedar WP at MSU asked the teachers attending the session to write a reflection regarding the implications of their understandings from this session. After a brief opportunity to share a few ideas Sherry Swain ended the session with her positive closing remarks.