Testing Form and Function
Tests come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so here’s a reference guide to help supervisors, administrators, and teachers choose Common Core–aligned assessments.
A common complaint amongst educators and administrators is that testing formats are often foreign to students, resulting in lower scores. With this guide, we aim to help administrators make the right choices of assessments to suit their teaching structures and methodologies, while giving teachers a quick guide to what testing methodologies they should be concentrating upon.
WrAP (Writing Assessment Program) is for grades 3–12. This direct assessment of writing has provided a powerful, objective lens allowing schools and teachers to look deeply into the writing skills of their students with an on-demand performance task requiring students to respond to an engaging prompt. WrAP prompts have always called for wellorganized and well-developed compositions that include multiple paragraphs and complex sentence structures. Focused on essential traits that outline the qualities seen in outstanding writing, WrAP allows teachers to weave the language, processes, and expectations for great writing into their instruction.
WrAP invites readers to engage with complex, authentic informational and literary texts, presenting real-world issues, significant and thematically relevant historical events, important scientific processes and phenomena, and narratives of artistic and thematic merit. WrAP readers must “think on their feet” as they are prompted to navigate the complexity of ideas, information, structures, and literary elements presented, carefully weighing and balancing textual evidence in order to construct their own analyses, arguments, and narratives in writing. While a command of facts and details is certainly important, WrAP’s focus clearly moves beyond any simple regurgitation of basic comprehension. WrAP mirrors what will be expected of students in college, their careers, and the real world. We live in an ever more demanding and dynamic environment, where critical and higher-order thinking skills are required for achievement, success, and a modern outlook and understanding of the world. WrAP provides a microcosm of this expected engagement, building, step by step, the tools students will need for college and career readiness.
Format: WrAP assessments present readers with pairings of complex, authentic informational texts, which are selected to support the development of extended writing analyses and/or arguments. Following each text, readers are presented with either a short constructed-response item or two-part multiple-choice item that is designed to support the relevant skills and expectations assessed in a culminating extended-response task, which follows the pairing. The extended response task prompts students to analyze across the pairing and construct extended and well-developed analyses and/or arguments. WrAP also provides a narrative writing assessment, which follows the same mixeditem type format as the paired text assessments. For WrAP, ERB has two assessment cycles: fall and spring. For each assessment cycle, up to three genres are available at every level, with a choice of stimulus-based and non-stimulus prompts for each genre. Each prompt/genre pair can only be used once per assessment cycle. Based on in classroom instructional needs, schools can choose to assess once or more than once per assessment cycle.
Considerations for ELLs: Prompts are reviewed by ELL specialists to ensure use of clear and accessible language that avoids colloquial or regional language and unfamiliar terms that can cause is understanding. Vocabulary used is grade appropriate and widely accessible to all students. In instances
in which an authentic text contains language that is above grade level or may not be understood by ELLs, footnotes are added to define words or explain the meaning of the referenced words. Directions are clear and precise.
Why teachers like it: Teachers can modify prompts according to course content and class needs. Prompts are specifically aligned with standards such as the CCSS. Software grades writing for syntax and language errors, so teachers can focus on lesson planning and teaching.