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Tcap Writing Assessment Sample Essays

Preparing for the State Writing Assessment

Do you have a state or district writing assessment just around the corner? Are you prepared? Are your students prepared? Hey, let’s not waste another second. Let’s get started! Wait a minute… is it too late? How much time do you have? Should you “teach to the test” or simply “teach writing?”

If it’s test time, then it’s also springtime. In springtime we want to be harvesting the wonderful rewards from all our hard work. The truth is that it may not be so easy if we didn’t plant the seeds of writing success earlier in the year.

Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells a story around the premise that if you want to harvest in the fall, you will need to plant in the spring, and have tended to the fields during the summer. (Of course, as teachers, we want to be planting in the fall and harvesting in the spring.)

Regardless of the time of year, be sure to check out Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essay. I confess, the program is more of a real solution than it is a quick fix. However, more and more excited elementary and middle school teachers are discovering that they can get real writing improvement faster than they ever dreamed possible!

The program provides a foundation and a framework for student writing. It also provides a foundation and a framework for teaching students to write! The program does not teach to the test, but the results absolutely and positively show up at test time. Best of all, the program just makes sense to students! (And it’s kind of fun!)

The state writing assessment resources found on this page are designed to help teachers learn what kind of writing results they should be striving to achieve. The Pattern Based Writing: Quick & Easy Essayprogram makes achieving those results a reality—quickly and easily!

State Writing Assessment Resources: The Six Components

If you were to become familiar with your own state’s six components, you would be a writing assessment genius! You can probably find your own state’s writing assessment resources by doing a few simple Google searches. (Put your state’s name in front of each of these terms: state writing assessment, state testing page, state released items, state released tests, state testing resources.)

Wait! Don’t begin your Google searches quite yet! Before you head off, you will want to read the rest of this page. For one thing, some of the very best writing assessment resources can be found right here on this page.

Keep in mind that the writing assessment resources that your state provides may not be as valuable as what some other states provide. For example, the released writing prompts found above are the best on the internet. You will find links to 114 pages of released writing prompts! Does your state’s testing page offer that? No. Additionally, the anchor papers and student writing samples above are also the best collection on the internet… guaranteed!

What follows are links to even more great collections of state writing assessment resources! But first…

Understanding State Writing Assessments: What is Tested? When is it Tested? How is it Tested?

Multiple Choice Writing Skills: Remember, students are tested on writing every single year on the multiple-choice test, but only have a “performance task” every few years. Many teachers forget about this aspect of writing instruction. Your state is likely to have an English language arts multiple-choice standardized test for every single grade above kindergarten. The English language arts are made up of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. I am not aware of speaking appearing on any standardized tests, but you can be sure that reading, writing, and listening will be on the test.

California has excellent examples of “multiple-choice writing skills” test questions for grades 2-11. Click here. The writing skills test questions are a part of the English-Language Arts section. At the end of each PDF file of released questions, there is a section that tells what ELA standard is being addressed in each question. As you can see below, writing strategies and written conventions are very important on state testing.

California’s English-Language Arts standardized tests have multiple-choice questions for:

  • Word Analysis
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Literary Response and Analysis
  • Writing Strategies
  • Written Conventions

The State Writing Assessment Performance Task

Every few years students are tested using a performance-based writing assessment. Once again, students are tested every single year on writing skills through the multiple-choice section of the standardized test. However, it is only every few years that they are asked to perform a writing task.

Various States Grade Levels for State Writing Assessments:

  • KY – Grades 5, 8, 12
  • FL – FCAT Grades 4, 8, 10
  • CA – STAR Grade 4, 7
  • PA – Grade 5, 8, 11
  • GA – Grade 3, 5, 8, 11
  • VA – Grade 5, 8, EOC (End of Course English: Writing)
  • NB – Grade 4, 8, 11
  • TX – TAKS Grade 4, 7, 10
  • TN – TCAP Grade 5, 8, 11

Grading state writing assessments is labor intensive and expensive. That’s why they only have them every few years.

Okay, now you have an overview of state writing assessments. Now, here are some resources!

Resources for State Writing Assessments

Once again, you will probably want to find your own state’s resources for state testing. But remember, the resources found below may be more helpful than what your state provides. These are all excellent collections of state writing assessment resources – the best on the internet!

Don’t forget, you won’t want to miss out on the resources found at the very top of this page. In particular, the “Released Writing Prompts” resource is amazing!


On the state-testing resource pages found below, you will find:

1.  Released writing prompts

2.  Scoring rubrics

3.  Anchor papers and scoring commentary (a.k.a. Student writing samples!)

4.  Teacher guides and/or test directions

5.  State writing standards

6.  Released questions – multiple choice

Multiple Choice Writing Assessment Knowledge vs. The State Writing Assessment Performance Task

It’ worth mentioning that students ARE tested on “writing skills” every single year on the state multiple-choice standardized test. Clearly, students are not writing essays on these multiple choice state assessments, but they are being tested on writing knowledge. Additionally, every few years (in specific grades), students ARE required to perform a writing task. This performance task is called the State Writing Assessment. Read more about this below.

Note: I only list what I consider to be the most important resources found on the page. If you click around, you will probably find even more resources, but use your time wisely!

1. Arizona –AIMS Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 3-HS)

2. Tennessee – TCAP Writing Assessment – Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 5, 8, 11)

3. Michigan – MEAP Released prompts and student writing samples/anchor papers. (Grades 3-5, grades 6-8, grade 9)

4. California –CST Released language arts/writing (multiple choice) test questions. (Grades 2-11)

5. California –California Writing Standards Tests – Released prompts, anchor papers, scoring guide etc. (Grade 4 and grade 7) Be sure to click “Previous Years’ Writing Tests” for 2001-2007!

6. Common Core State Standards – 107 page PDF. Student writing samples and scoring commentary. (Grades K-12 – Narrative, argument, informative, expository etc.)

7. Georgia – Georgia Writing Assessments – Released writing prompts, sample papers etc. (Grade 3, 5, 8, & HS 2007-2009)

8. Kansas – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 5, 8, HS)

9. Florida –2011 FCAT Writing Anchor Sets – Click the “Archived FCAT Writing Anchor Sets” at the bottom of the page for 2008-2010! (Grades 4, 8, 10 – Expository, narrative, persuasive etc.)

10. Kentucky –KCCT Released prompts, anchor papers, scoring guide etc. Each PDF is about 40 pages of student writing, scoring, and rubrics! (Grades 5, 8, 12)

11. New York –Multiple choice – English Language Arts Sample Tests (Grades 3-8 )

12. Bakersfield, CA –Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades K-8 – Expository, narrative, persuasive etc. Nice! )

13. Pennsylvania –PSSA Multiple choice, rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. The writing assessment section is found at the bottom of the page. (Grades 5, 8, 11) The reading section has the multiple choice.

14. Nebraska –Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 4, 8, 11)

15. Texas –TAKS Writing Assessments – Rubrics, scoring guides, prompts, writing samples and more. (Grades 4, 7, 10, 11)

16. Washington –Student writing samples (exemplers) Nice! (Grades 4, 7, HS)

17. Virginia –Years 2000-2009. Click on a year and scroll to the “English” section. Includes reading and writing. (Grades 3-HS for reading and grades 5, 8, and HS for writing.)

Presentation on theme: "The TCAP Writing Assessment"— Presentation transcript:

1 The TCAP Writing Assessment
Preparing Students for Common Core Writing and PARCC

2 Session objectives The past:
Analyze results from the 2013 TCAP Writing AssessmentThe present:Know the format of the 2014 TCAP Writing AssessmentThe future:Learn from one district’s approach to the transition to Common Core writingUnderstand the landscape of resources available to help educators and students prepare for the TCAP WA and PARCC

3 The past!

4 Data from previous TCAP WA

5 Nationwide results from NAEP writing 2011
Source: The Nation’s Report Card:

6 Assessment evolution: 2012 TCAP WA 8th grade prompt
There are many reasons for people to celebrate. People celebrate some events every year, while other celebrations take place for special occasions.Before you begin writing, think about your favorite celebration and why you enjoy it most.Now write an essay that tells about your favorite celebration. Explain why this is your favorite celebration. Support your reasons with specific examples and details.

7 Assessment evolution: 2013 TCAP WA 8th grade prompt
Settling New Lands Write an expository essay comparing and contrasting how reasons for colonization have changed from settling America to attempting to settle space. Analyze how the texts provide conflicting information about why settling new lands is important. Draw evidence from the passages to support your analysis. Develop your topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, concrete details, or other information and examples. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in your response.

8 Introduction to Tennessee’s trait-based rubric

9 2013 TCAP WA statewide results
With a partner, scan the “Statewide Results and Instructional Implications for Common Core Writing” memo (data appendix on last page). Note there are teacher-facing grade-level versions behind the overall memo.Then discuss the following questions with your table:How would you explain the reasons for students struggling in certain traits?In what ways do the results reinforce what you’ve seen with your students? In what ways do your students differ?


11 Assessment transition to PARCC
TCAP Achievement and EOC AssessmentsContinue to remove SPIs that are not reflected inCommon Core State Standards from the TCAP mathematics and ELA assessments inAssessment transition to PARCCLow Stakes Common Core-aligned AssessmentsExpand the Constructed Response Assessment (CRA) in math for all grades 1-8 and HS. Expand the Writing Assessment to all grades 3-11 to test online.PARCCNAEPNAEP

12 2013-14 assessment transition: ELA
Streamline official assessmentsTCAP Achievement tests will be narrowed percent in RLA (3-8)TCAP EOCs will be narrowed percent in English I, II, and IIIExpand low-stakes assessmentsThe Writing Assessment will still be required in grades 5, 8, and 11 in February. The offerings will be expanded to all grades 3-11.The February Writing Assessment will be scored by Measurement Incorporated for all grades that districts choose to assess.Provide additional resourcesSeptember: optional practice writing tasks released for each grade band for ELA, science, and social studies. These tasks are recommended for teacher, school, and district use.November: Scoring rubrics and anchor papers for scoring writing tasks will be posted (scoring of student work will be done locally by teachers)November: Updated MIST portal launches; students can take practice tasks onlineEarly spring: second round of practice writing tasks released (followed by scoring resources)

13 2013-14 TCAP WA: Administration
Districts will still be required to administer the writing assessment in grades 5, 8, and 11.There will be a four-week testing window from February 3 – February 28, 2014.The administration time for the Writing Assessment will be expanded to more closely mimic PARCC’s testing guidelines and allow students to read two texts and write two essays

14 TCAP WA: FormatWill be modified to more closely mimic the PARCC Research Simulation Task (RST)mimics a research project that assesses a student’s ability to read multiple texts about the same topic and synthesize the information into a coherent idea/argument.Students will read two complex informational stimulus textsTexts will cover social studies or science topics in order to demonstrate the range of informational reading possible in a Common Core curriculum (background knowledge not required)Students will write two essays:One prose constructed response (PCR) about the first text. The essay will be an analytical summary (informational/explanatory)One PCR analysis of both texts. The essay will be informational/explanatory or opinion/argument.

15 Assessment evolution: 2013-14 TCAP WA 8th grade practice prompt
1. Analytic SummaryPlease read “The Woman Called Moses” by Walter Oleksy and Meg Mims.In this text, the authors develop several central ideas. After you have read, determine one central idea from the text and write an essay that both summarizes and analyzes how that central idea is conveyed through particular details. Cite evidence from the text to support your analysis. Follow the conventions of standard written English. Write your essay in the space provided on the next pages.

16 Assessment evolution: 2013-14 TCAP WA 8th grade practice prompt
2. AnalysisPlease read “Leaders of the Civil War Era: Harriet Tubman” by Ann Malaspina.You have now read two texts about Harriet Tubman. Write an essay that compares and contrasts the authors’ purposes and how their purposes are conveyed in the two texts. Be sure to cite evidence from both texts to support your analysis. Follow the conventions of standard written English. Write your essay in the space provided on the next pages.

17 TCAP WA: Scoring and Reporting Information
Reports for Writing are being redesigned and will be available during the summer of 2014Individual Student Reports and labels will be shipped to districts.Summary reports will be available online through the MI portal.

18 TCAP WA: Accountability
: District and school accountability and TVAAS calculations will continue to be based on the TCAP Achievement and End of Course Tests (and additional growth measures such as K-2 [SAT10] for those opting in).: The Writing Assessment will play no role in TVAAS or district/school AMOs.: Accountability will move to performance on PARCC. The approach to setting goals for accountability for the school year will be subject to our NCLB waiver. More information will be shared as soon as it is available from the U.S. Department of Education.

19 MIST Literacy Portal: Background
Why it’s worth accessing:Additional student and teacher practice with online assessment before PARCCStudents get practice with tasks modeled on the Writing Assessment before February 2014Teachers can enter and save scores for student work

20 MIST Literacy Portal: Background
What it contains:Will house optional practice writing tasks by grade band in ELA, science, social studies, and CTEtasks have been developed to prepare students for the Writing Assessment and increase literacy skills across other subjectsStudents will be able to read texts and text-based tasks and type their responses online.Students will have access to some PARCC-like tools such as the ability to highlight and enlarge text.

21 MIST Literacy Portal: User interface

22 MIST Literacy Portal: Availability
MonthTasks available in Literacy PortalContentGrades/Grade BandsMid-November 2013 – Mid-January 2014Phase I tasks available on Literacy Portal on MISTELA3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-10, 11Science, Social Studies6-8, 9-12CTE9-12February 2014Phase II - Official Writing Assessment OnlyMarch – May 2014Phase III Tasks available on Literacy Portal on MIST, as well as all Phase I tasks

23 2013-14: Assessment release timeline
Get to know PARCC, including NEW sample items and rubrics: (Also: PARCC test design, blueprints, and Model Content Frameworks)Stay informed about information the TDOE is sharing:(including dropped SPI list, text complexity tools, summer training materials, and much more!)Coming: TCAP WA information page, assessment transition planSign up for TNCore UpdatesContinue your own professional learning:Student Achievement Partners: Includes PD modules, including iTunesU courses.

24 Additional ResourcesResources to help educators access, analyze, and act on data from last year’s TCAP WA, including webinars and statewide results memo/grade-level summaries:Resources available to help educators and students prepare for this year’s TCAP WA:Phase I practice prompts:MIST literacy portalRubrics and, coming in November, scoring resources:Assessment transition/timeline release memos:

25 Navigating practice prompts

26 Navigating practice prompts

27 Navigating practice prompts
User name:tneducationPassword:fastestimproving

28 Navigating practice prompts


30 Text-based Writing Assessment
Backwards Planning: What do the new writing tasks ask our students to know and do?Text-based Writing AssessmentShift away from free-response promptRead to writeUse text evidenceModes of WritingFocused/OrganizedFormal DevelopmentAcademic Specific LanguageReading Complex TextRead to gain informationUnderstand author’s purpose

31 Text-based writing assessment
If students must:Shift away from free response promptRead to write vs. reading for enjoymentUse text evidence from reading (annotation)Then, we must shift our teaching to:Develop prompt analysis as a pre-reading skillPractice close reading to gain deeper text understanding (Metacognitive processes)Model annotation strategies for students to find quality evidence

32 Modes of writing If students must:
Be focused/organizedUse formal development (support and elaboration)Apply academic specific language to writingThen, we must shift our teaching to:Incorporate all writing structures for all students every year (not focus on a type of writing per year)Help students use evidence and elaboration to support arguments and analysisDevelop strategies for understanding content vocabulary in reading to use accurately in writing

33 Sample Writing Map

34 Reading complex text If students must:
Read to gain informationUnderstand author’s purposeThen, we must shift our teaching to:Focus on close reading skills and annotation strategies rather than skimming a text to answer questions at the end of a sectionRead authentic text samples to write about them and write for an audience

35 Also transitioning to Common Core requires specific instructional shifts:
Shift One: Develop Content KnowledgeSupport deep content understanding from reading vs. note-takingDevelop strategies for reading contentShift Two: Reading & Writing with EvidenceUse annotations while readingDistinguish important vs. interesting WHILE readingShift Three: Regular practice with complex textDevelop strategies for reading fluently and using metacognitive skillsEngage in practice reading rigorous texts

36 Focal Strategies Close Reading Authentic Text Writing Structures
AnnotationSystem of strategiesQuality Evidence GatheringClose ReadingScaffolding text rigorLibrary of content textsAuthentic TextTeaching purpose of writing typesTeaching structured developmentTeacher PD on rubrics, anchor papers, and scoringWriting Structures

37 At Sumner County Schools
Close ReadingAt Sumner County SchoolsTrained experts in each buildingModeled by expert in all content areasDeveloped simple system of strategies school-wide in each building (tailored to student needs)Held three professional learning sessionsCollect accountability logs monthly

38 Using Teacher ExpertsCreated a core group of teachers across the county that had summer professional learning (in collaboration with Lipscomb University) on close readingProvided time for teacher experts to give building-wide professional learning on close reading before school startedCreated video models to provide additional on-demand professional development on close readingAdditional modeling for struggling teachers

39 At Sumner County Schools
Authentic TextAt Sumner County SchoolsTaught three prong text analysis (quantitative, qualitative, text to reader match)Creating shared database of authentic article sourcesScaffolding text complexity to meet students at need levels

40 Collaborative Free Database
Authentic TextCollaborative Free Database

41 At Sumner County Schools
Writing StructuresAt Sumner County SchoolsTrained all staff in rubric using anchor papersIncorporate writing maps, scoring, and anchor papers during second semesterIncorporate system of applying annotationsand evidence collection to writing taskUse Literacy Design Collaborative to create quality prompt-based tasks

42 Three Starting Points for Implementing Common Core Writing
Teacher Professional Learning on two writing rubrics, tasks, and anchor papersFocused time around “What will a student need to do” and “what will I need to teach them to do”One to Two Student Practice Text-Based PromptsOne argumentative and possibly one informative (samples available at TNCore website)Teacher Professional Learning around Common Scoring and Data AnalysisUse anchors for teachers to apply first PL and discuss student strengths/challenges

43 Resourcesassessment information, sample assessment tasks, close reading tasks, units, summer training materials, and moreInfo on PARCC PBA and sample itemsELA section features sample close reading lessons, archive of student writing samples, PD modules, and moreTEL provides teachers access to free complex informational textsLDC has templates for creating writing promptsNew York’s Common Core site, including ready-made curricular materials such as units and lessons

44 Questions? Lior Klirs Giana Solomon Lisa Coons
Coordinator of  English Language Arts Content and ResourcesDeputy Director of Assessment DesignMiddle School CoordinatorTennessee Department of EducationSumner County Schools

45 Thank you!