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4.2.1 Using Informative/Explanatory Writing to Assess Student Learning

The use of writing as a performance-based assessment requires students to intellectually understand, analyze, synthesize, and extend concepts and ideas and be able to utilize writing skills to demonstrate mastery in an organized, coherent manner. Mrs. Valbuena used two essays to measure student achievement. In this first example, she assigned an informative/explanatory essay to assess her students’ understanding of the Bill of Rights.

The first example draws from the CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy Writing Standards for grade 5:

CA.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

a. Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

c. Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).

d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

Select the link below to view the writing prompt Mrs. Valbuena used to assess students’ understanding of the Bill of Rights:

Writing Prompt

The next section provides an analysis of the related student writing.