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Florida Writing Assessment Program (FLORIDA WRITES!)

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Linking Writing Instruction, Blueprint 2000, and Assessment

Florida's plan for school improvement and accountability, Blueprint 2000, provides direct guidance for writing instruction. Of the seven goals set forth in Blueprint 2000, Goal 3 - Student Performance, is of particular importance to the instruction of writing. Goal 3 states, "Students successfully compete at the highest levels nationally and internationally and are prepared to make well-reasoned, thoughtful, and healthy lifelong decisions." Further, Florida students are expected to "accurately use language, graphic representations, styles, organizations, and format appropriate to the language, information, concept, or idea and the subject matter, purpose, and audience."

The competencies listed in Blueprint 2000 are integral to all aspects of writing instruction and, with the arts, foreign language, health, language arts, math, science, and social studies, form the basis of learner expectancies and lifelong writing skills.

In the past decade, teachers, school districts, state departments of education, and national assessment programs have attempted to move away from multiple-choice tests and toward the direct assessment of writing proficiency. Direct writing assessment applies many of the principles used by exemplary teachers to develop effective writing.

In striving to standardize direct writing assessment, large-scale assessments involve inherent limitations. While a classroom teacher has the luxury of making notes and adding personal comments on students' papers, this is impossible in a large-scale assessment in which several hundred thousand student papers must be read and scored. On the other hand, the strength of a large-scale assessment is that all student papers can be judged against a common standard. The end result is a source of statewide information that can be used to characterize writing performance on a consistent basis. This information can be used as one indicator of a writing instruction program's strengths and weaknesses.

Next FLORIDA WRITES! Item: Florida's Direct Writing Assessment