Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Evaluation of Student Writing

Question: What is a continuing concern with evaluating students’ writing?

Answer/Quote: “Alan Purves, in a recent article in Research in the Teaching of English (‘Reflection on Research and Assessment in Written Composition,’ February 1992) suggests that the claims we make about all writing assessment, including performance or portfolio methods, should be tempered by a recognition that ‘the fallibility of human judgment will always be with us.’ ”

Quote: “These new magical solutions still rely on personal judgments of quality, which are, as Pope noted nearly three centuries ago, problematic.”

Quote: “And, on the basis of these judgments, administrators label students as ‘remedial,’ ‘at risk,’ ‘proficient.’ Although the judgment may be…based on a single subjective rating of a single and perhaps unrepresentative task, the student is labeled and channeled.” P. 11.

Comment: Evaluation of students’ writing is subjective. Still, based on my experience in teaching in a community college, the assessment of students’ writing placed the students accurately into “remedial” and “proficient” classes. The difference in writing ability was significant from the “remedial” to the “proficient.” After all, the purpose of the distinction was not to label the students, but to provide the kind of instruction they needed at a level at which they could learn and succeed. It’s the purpose for making the distinction that counts. RayS.

Title: “This world of English: More Thoughts on Portfolios and Performance Assessment.” English Journal (September 1992), 11.

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