Teachers Linda Jarvis of Calhoun County (right) and Phyllis Pilewski of
Harrison County confer as they assess papers at a writing
held at the Embassy Suites hotel in Charleston
Photo by M.K. McFarland
The Sunday Gazette-Mail
Teachers Impressed By Students'
Sunday July 21, 2002
By Laquita Harris
West Virginia students in grades four, seven and 10 were
write about responsibility and how it has affected their
One student chose to express his feelings about how time
management is an important aspect of responsibility. He
"I've learned to do things later instead of now."
Another said, "A responsibility that I have is going to school.
affected my life by making it miserable."
These and several other anonymous quotes were tacked to
wall of the meeting room at the Embassy Suites in downtown
Charleston. They were jotted down by a group of more than
teachers who spent four days of their summer vacation
the students' writing.
Writing assessments are a holistic part of the SAT-9, a
standardized achievement test that is administered each
students in grades three through 11.
Mike Shapolisky is an English and journalism teacher at
Buckhannon Upshur. He says the test is "a validation of the
students' ability. Since the ACT and SAT are moving toward
incorporating writing assessments into their tests, West
serving a vanguard for writing assessments. I'm definitely
Scorers rate the students on a scale from one to four, with
representing exceptional writing. Papers are scored based on
organization, how the paragraph is developed, whether the
sentences are complete and formed properly, word usage
mechanics such as capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
that is incoherent or illegible is not scored.
As a part of training, a packet of 10 papers containing
levels of writing is given to a group of teachers to read along
a rubric detailing how the assessments should be scored.
teachers read each paper and scores are averaged if they
no more than one point.
However, if the scores vary greatly, additional training may
recommended for the scorers and the paper will go to a third
reader, said Beth Judy, a coordinator in the Office of Services
Assessment for the West Virginia Department of
Janie Mason, a ninth-grade English teacher, scored papers 17
years ago and is impressed with the improvements she is
writing. "In those days, we rarely had a three, and a four was
extremely rare. This year, I've seen massive improvements in
kids' writing. You're less likely to see twos now," she said.
Although the students' writing is making strides, more
on the horizon for writing assessments. In the future, Judy
online assessments may be administered.
"Papers would be scanned and processed at home by
The advantage is we would get the results sooner because
could be pre-tested in September, their weaknesses could be
identified and then they would take the test again," she
However, a pre-test may not be necessary if this quote, taken
from the wall at Embassy Suites, is any indication: "... I see it
duty to take this one test to prove to my country that I can