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Achieving Results Standards in Action - #5 Using Writing Prompt Scoring to Improve Instruction
A small district in west-central Maine has used a variety of training and development strategies to improve students' writing. Applying the method developed by the State in scoring MEA writing responses (writing prompt, table leaders, anchor papers, etc.), the district has given all of its K-12 teachers thorough a grounding in the process of analyzing students' writing. Each year, all students in kindergarten through grade 12 are asked to respond to a writing prompt; and every staff member becomes involved in some aspect of assessing the work. [Organizational Alignment, Participation].
The district-wide context has made the process relevant for all teachers and provided a rich body of common work to help dissolve teachers' traditional isolation. Over the years, teachers' and administrators' ability to identify what constitutes effective writing has increased significantly [Continuous Improvement]. In addition, the role of table leader has afforded teachers new opportunities to lead as they support other educators in learning the process.
The district carefully monitors the results of its long-term focus on students' writing [Focus on Results]. MEA results are reviewed each year as an external check; and local educators have been pleased to note that, for several years running, not one student has failed to at least "partially meet" writing standards. Taken together, these steps to link student work samples to State and local standards have grounded professional development in careful examination of achievement data. [Focus on Results, Use of Research Data].
Other byproducts of the district-wide focus on writing include a growing commitment to collaboration and dialogue concerning students' work (resulting in openness to other, similar projects) and a noticeable increase in professional pride based on measurable improvement in students' achievement [Continuous Improvement, Organizational Alignment, Focus on Results, Use of Research Data]. As ownership and pride have increased, teachers and administrators have taken a new interest in strengthening an already excellent record. By taking a similar approach to their own learning, educators in the district begin each year with an evaluation and goal-setting process based on a careful review of a variety of data sources on student achievement and teacher professional development needs.
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