As a result of some 2009 legislation, my students will take the Direct Writing Assessment this year instead of next. According to the law, it must be online. We don't have the money to keep using My Access, so we'll be using a site called Utah Write. Our old friend Howard Stephenson sponsored the bill for the senate, Merlynn Newbold for the House.
Renae, a Jordan District LA teacher, has a pretty good summary of it. Two things to remember:
1. The switch from 6th/9th grade to 5th/8th was made to ensure that students would definitely be tested in an elementary school and junior high school. Also, because 6th/9th grade were getting over-tested.
2. The test was not modified to reflect the 5th/8th core. It's still a test designed for 6th/9th graders. This is a big deal, because the test has a persuasive writing prompt. Persuasive writing is not taught in 8th grade- the 8th grade core focuses on narrative and memoir. We're going to test the students' future knowledge this year.
Either the test prompt has to change, or the curriculum will be changed to suit the test. Or, it could get moved back to 6th/9th grade. I suggest none of that.
Let's save some money and forget about the DWA for 5th and 8th grade, at least for a little while.
It's data that isn't going anywhere. It's nice to have, but no decisions get made as a result of the DWA. It doesn't count towards AYP as far as I know. It's machine-scored, so I don't think the scores are accurate enough for making placement decisions. Besides, it's not even testing what I teach, so I'm not really sure what purpose the data serves on the ground level. To let me know how well my students write? I already know that.
Online writing assessments like My Access and Utah Write can be valuable formative assessment tools. They get students writing in multiple drafts with quick feedback. They were never intended, at least among any teachers I've ever spoken to, as summative assessment. And yet that's where we're placing our faith and money- online summative writing assessments. Looking at the applications, I'm not sure that's our best investment right now.
Can someone finish the sentence for me? The DWA is important for 5th and 8th graders because . . .