Assessment for Writing Improvement

Frey, Nancy and Douglas Fisher. “A Formative Assessment System for Writing Improvement.” English Journal 103.1 (2013): 66-71. Web. 17 September 2015.

Frey and Fisher found that (as most of us have figured out) comments after the writing is over are not helpful nor are they read much. Instead, during the drafting stage, feedback, comments, and suggestions are most beneficial.

“Give us your top two priorities for the kind of feedback that would be most useful to you on this writing draft.” A surprising 92 percent chose “Edits to improve my writing” as the most important kind of feedback, followed by “Specific and detailed information about my performance” at 84 percent. (66)

we began providing students more detailed feedback about their progress. (67)

When a mistake is pointed out, the student knows what to do next; when errors are pointed out, the student does not know what to do next. (69)

We learned that in most cases, students don’t need another version of the same lesson that had been taught previously. Rather, they needed time to apply knowledge in the company of a skilled adult who coached them through confusions and partial understanding. This guided instruction uses three key scaffolds: ques- tions to check for understanding, prompts to apply specific cognitive and metacognitive resources, and cues when the learner needs his or her attention shifted in a more overt manner (Fisher and Frey). (70)

As Grant Wiggins noted, a formative assessment system requires purpose-driven instruction, systems for collecting and analyzing student work, and ways to organize responses to the errors that students make. (71)

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