One of the district’s Essential Learnings is for students to become effective communicators. Part of being an effective communicator is the ability to write well. Teachers have been working with students to improve their writing by clearly defining what good writing looks like, and by providing students with many opportunities to write. In Ottumwa, teachers use the Six Traits of Effective Writing when teaching and assessing writing. Good writing is defined as having: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions (correct spelling, periods, question marks, etc.)
In order to learn more about students’ writing abilities, a district-wide writing assessment is scheduled annually for grades 3, 8, and 10. The assessment will be administered as follows:
- 8th Grade: November
- 3rd and 10th Grades: December
Students will be asked to write on a pre-selected topic. Third graders will write about a topic that asks them to describe something; 8th and 10th graders will write about a persuasive topic. Students will write a draft on one day, and then revise and edit their work on a second day.
Students’ writing will be scored in January by a group of people who have been trained to recognize the Six Traits of Effective Writing in student writing. Papers will be scored on all six traits using a scale of 1 - 5, with 5 being the highest score. Results will be used to learn more about student’s strengths and weaknesses in writing. This information will be used to help students improve their writing skills and to help teachers design instruction to improve student writing.