CONNECTING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS™ TO THE CLASSROOM

For T eachers of Writing

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Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 The College Readiness Standards Report for ACT Writing . . . . . . . . . . .2 Description of the College Readiness Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Description of the ACT Writing Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 The Need for Thinking Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Thinking Your Way Through the ACT Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 The Assessment-Instruction Link . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Using Assessment Information to Help Support Low-Scoring Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Instructional Activities for ACT Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Putting the Pieces Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73

List of Tables
1 The College Readiness Standards for the ACT Writing Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 2 Six-Point Holistic Scoring Rubric for the ACT Writing Test . . . . . . . . .15 3 College Readiness Benchmark Scores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 4 The Link Between ACT Composite Scores and College Admission Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

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and institutions know what students are ready to learn next. do not demonstrate skills similar to each other consistently enough to permit useful generalizations. and Writing. Science. Reading. and by PLAN . the Summary Profile. The guide includes: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ A description of the College Readiness Standards for the ACT® A description of the ACT Writing Test A sample test A description of the AssessmentInstruction Link A set of classroom instructional activities recent graduating class with the performance of two norm groups: national and state. for tenth graders. ACT’s eighth. summarizes the scores.and ® ninth-grade program. The College Readiness Standards for the ACT are statements that describe what students who score in certain score ranges are likely to know and to be able to do. curriculum coordinators. Five of these reports are content specific: each presents the scores of your most recent graduates in one of the five content areas the ACT test measures— English. October 1991 Chairman Emeritus of ACT’s Board of Trustees 1 . as a group. The ACT is a curriculum-based assessment program developed by ACT to help students prepare for the transition to postsecondary education while providing a measure of high school outcomes for college-bound students. All six reports provide data that compare the performance of your school’s most “The role of standardized testing is to let parents. The data in the reports reflect the characteristics of those students who either took the ACT on a national test date or as part of a state testing initiative and who reported that they plan to graduate from high school during the most recent academic year. These five content-specific reports present the ACT results using ACT’s College Readiness Standards.INTRODUCTION ACT has developed this guide to help classroom teachers. College Readiness Standards have not been developed for students whose scores fall in the lowest range because these students. We hope this guide helps you assist your students as they plan and pursue their future studies. and counselors interpret the College Readiness StandardsTM report for the ACT Writing Test.” — Ralph Tyler. The sixth report. Mathematics. The College Readiness Standards for the ACT are accompanied by ideas for progress that help teachers identify ways of enhancing students’ learning based on the scores students receive. As part of ACT’s Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPASTM). the ACT ® is complemented by EXPLORE . or twelfth graders. The statements are generalizations based on the performance of many students scoring in these score ranges. students. eleventh. The College Readiness Standards Information Services provide six aggregate reports for the ACT. across all five content areas. of your most recent graduating class who tested as tenth.

eleventh. These are the six score ranges reported for the College Readiness Standards for the ACT Writing Test. The number of local-school students who scored in each of the six score ranges is provided in the column to the left of each bar graph. For a more detailed explanation of the way the score ranges were determined. and 9–10 score ranges. E Page 2 of the report profiles the test results. 11–12. A description of the way the College Readiness Standards were developed can be found on pages 5–6. the test results can help you to analyze your students’ progress in writing and to identify areas of strength and areas that need more attention. they are likely to be able to demonstrate most or all of the knowledge and skills in the 3–4. As you review the report for the ACT Writing Test. F 2 . This section compares the percent of graduating seniors who tested as tenth.THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS REPORT FOR ACT WRITING The College Readiness Standards report for the ACT Writing Test allows you to compare the performance of students in your school with the performance of students at the national and state levels. but not consistently enough as a group to reach that score range. These ideas for progress are arranged by score range and strand. Ideas for progress are not provided for the 11–12 score range. a primary strand has been identified for each in order to facilitate their use in the classroom. Students may be able to demonstrate some of the skills in the next score range. see page 5. The percent of students at the local school and for the national and state groups are based on the performance of students who either took the ACT Writing Test on a national test date or as part of a state testing initiative and who reported that they plan to graduate from high school during the most recent academic year. College Readiness Standards. and 11–12. you will note that the Standards are cumulative. You can then use the Standards as one source of information in the instructional planning process. 9–10. and ideas for progress for score ranges 7–8. in the 9–10 score range. Students who score in this range on the ACT Writing Test have demonstrated proficiency in all or almost all of the skills measured by the test. 5–6. D A B This section briefly explains the uses of the report to help you interpret the test results. or twelfth graders and who scored in a particular score range at an individual school (Local) with the percent of all graduating students in the national and state norm groups who scored in the same range. 7–8. the total number of graduating students tested locally is provided at the top of the report. The College Readiness Standards were developed by identifying the knowledge and skills students need in order to respond successfully on the ACT Writing Test. An explanation of its features is provided below. which means that if students score. The report provides summary information you can use to map the development of your students’ knowledge and skills in writing. Although many of the ideas cross more than one strand. Used along with your own classroom observations and with other resources. for example. the highest score range for the ACT Writing Test. A sample report appears on the next page. C The “ideas for progress” are statements that provide suggestions for learning experiences that students might benefit from.

discuss how the event has a beginning.g. and/or posing and partially responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position understand that an issue has a context. and a conclusion that confirms the main theme of the essay © 2005 by ACT. if examples are given.. phrase the issue in the form of a question. and mechanics. details.g. and especially why of the topic to establish clear focus for the essay learn to recognize when an essay wanders away from its topic critique writing in peer workshops to identify any ideas that are obviously off the main point of the essay 11% read a variety of model persuasive essays recognize that essays are composed of ideas that must be explained or illustrated with specific examples and details redraft writing to include additional ideas that support the essay’s main claim learn prewriting strategies such as freewriting and brainstorming for generating ideas about a topic use clustering. though most sentences are simple in structure continue to read and discuss works by skilled writers to become more familiar with correct language use read original writing aloud to hear and identify language errors revise writing to reduce unnecessary repetition of words and phrases practice varying sentence length by combining simple sentences experiment with varying sentence construction by moving prepositional phrases to the beginning of sentences 23% 27% choose a position on an issue and generate a list of possible objections others might have to that position listen to a public debate. note the range in viewpoints a single issue can bring out identify a local community or school issue. usage. and ideas that don’t belong review paragraphs to see if smooth transitions are provided from one to the next draft an introduction that includes a clearly stated thesis. and examples Show clear movement between general and specific ideas and examples 9–10 8 Standards Maintain a focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay Present a thesis that establishes a focus on the writer’s position on the issue F Ideas for progressing to 11–12 score range 21% 20% Show competent use of language to communicate ideas by correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar. or original ideas) in a journal Provide a discernible organization with some logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay Use a few simple and obvious transitions Present a discernible. and conclusion all focus on the same idea Offer limited development of ideas using a few general examples. with a few distracting errors but none that impede understanding using some precise and varied vocabulary using several kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning check to be sure pronouns agree with antecedents in complex sentences edit sentences for empty language. US A NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 39 GRADUATING CLASS OF 2006 Developing a Position Organizing Ideas Using Language 0% 3–4 0 2% Standards Show a little understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task but neglect to take or to maintain a position on the issue in the prompt Show limited recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt through most of the essay study model paragraphs that have topic sentences. they are general and may not be clearly relevant. Sample School (269999) Standard Report Anytown. but with distracting errors that sometimes impede understanding using simple but appropriate vocabulary using a little sentence variety. or literary details learn to identify the most relevant examples to support an idea critique writing in peer workshops to identify any ideas that need further development in order to be persuasive or clear Develop most ideas fully. phrases. see page 2 in the Writing guide Connecting College Readiness Standards to the Classroom. introduction. notice that in each example the idea in the topic sentence is explained by the rest of the sentences in the paragraph in a model persuasive essay. discuss which is the essay’s main idea and which are ideas that support or illustrate the main idea Offer a little development. details. though minimally developed. of Range Students 7–8 21 Percentage Local National Standards Expressing Judgments Show understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position understand that issues exist within a larger context. you’re/your ) practice using a wider vocabulary by replacing vague or general language with more precise words experiment with more sophisticated sentence constructions read model essays to see how skilled writers control pace and emphasis by varying the length of sentences 54% 29% Ideas for progressing to 9–10 score range revise writing to ensure that every paragraph remains focused on the issue and that no essential information is left out practice composing thesis statements that clearly state a position on an issue and offer a rationale for adopting that position generate a full-sentence outline or visual representation of all major ideas in an essay and the examples and details that support them practice drawing generalizations from specific historical. where . including those indicating causal relationship (e. or another visual organizer to identify relationships among ideas recognize paragraphs as a means for organizing an essay generate a list of words and phrases typically used as transitions (e. what . introduction and conclusion Standards C Ideas for progressing to 7–8 score range Show a basic understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt but may not maintain that position Show a little recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging. sometimes with a logical progression of ideas Use relevant. use a dictionary to learn any unfamiliar words or phrases recognize that clarity of expression is essential to clarity of meaning learn to consult a writer’s reference on questions of word choice and usage practice proofreading to identify obvious errors and missing words B 0% 5–6 9 Ideas for progressing to 5–6 score range generate a list of issues. usage. consider perspectives that might call into question some aspect of the issue itself in an extended discussion. however.. discuss ways in which a certain issue is connected to broader questions of concern to more people practice identifying implications of a position: what would be the outcome if this position were adopted or enacted. next . and mechanics. consider how the position might be affected if certain factors were to change Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a broad context for discussion Show recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by partially evaluating implications and/or complications of the issue. as a matter of fact. think about what considerations outside the issue shape or limit it learn how to identify and critique assumptions underlying the issue as stated.g. a middle. critical thinking about complex issues learn how to elaborate ideas fully by logically describing their connection to the essay’s main idea practice sustaining a logical and relevant discussion by writing longer and more complex essays check to see if the essay’s treatment of each idea is proportional to the idea’s importance listen to news analyses on television or radio. and/or posing and fully discussing counterarguments to the writer’s position Maintain a clear focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay Present a critical thesis that clearly establishes the focus on the writer’s position on the issue Develop several ideas fully. and mechanics. but only briefly describing. All rights reserved. then discuss whether it is always a valid and reasonable position. practice demonstrating the logical or practical weaknesses of a counterargument Focusing on the Topic Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay and attempt a focus on the specific issue in the prompt Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic Developing a Position Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. with one or two ideas. and humor used by favorite authors revise writing to ensure that every sentence is necessary to the purpose of the piece refine thesis statements to reflect subtle. For an explanation of the report’s features. personal. usage. with just a few.) study the introductions and conclusions of model essays discuss the purpose and importance of the opening paragraph for directing the rest of the essay Provide a simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay Use some simple and obvious transitional words. often with a logical progression of ideas Use relevant transitional words. usage. using specific and relevant reasons. it’s/its . identify strategies skilled speakers use in responding to their opponent’s viewpoint experiment with ways to acknowledge an opposing viewpoint without weakening the essay’s focus or position practice writing brief responses to opposing viewpoints understand that a thesis statement expresses an essay’s main idea and must be supported with reasons.. though at times simple and obvious. list the ideas that the writer talks about. and details discuss how to generate specific examples and details to illustrate general ideas read model essays that derive generalizations from specific examples and details E compare the outline of an original essay to the outline of a model essay. and examples Show effective movement between general and specific ideas and examples Show effective use of language to clearly communicate ideas by correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar. transitional words and phrases Present a discernible introduction and conclusion with a little development practice arranging sentences within a paragraph so that discussion logically builds and progresses identify specific transitional words and phrases. then practice restating them clearly and precisely with original wording practice generating possible positions on an issue identify and discuss reasons for selecting one position on an issue over others choose a position on an issue and state it clearly ask who . using some specific and relevant reasons. transitional words and phrases to convey logical relationships between ideas Present a somewhat developed introduction and conclusion Using Language Show adequate use of language to communicate by correctly employing many of the conventions of standard English grammar. continued Score No. and sentences to convey logical relationships between ideas Present a well-developed introduction and conclusion 11–12 1 Standards 3% 10% Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a critical context for discussion Show understanding of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by examining different perspectives. and/or evaluating implications or complications of the issue. then experiment with ways to answer that question clearly in a single sentence The College Readiness Standards report for ACT Writing allows you to compare the performance of students in your school with the performance of students nationwide. sarcasm. but appropriate. notice the strategies that skilled speakers use to present their ideas on an issue practice arranging ideas so that one paragraph leads logically to the next throughout the essay consider how transitional phrases and sentences can help convey logical connections between ideas and between paragraphs think about how an introduction and conclusion can work together to provide unity within an essay experiment with how to conclude an essay while continuing to challenge the audience with critical questions or implications discuss the effect of a conclusion that suggests the essay has been only part of a much larger discussion Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay. paragraphs that lack clear topic sentences. usage. as a result . errors using precise and varied vocabulary using a variety of kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning 3 . when . if any. resort sometimes to merely repeating ideas Show little movement between general and specific ideas and examples Show a basic control of language by correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. etc. though they may at times be inappropriate or misleading Present a discernible. details. past/passed . moreover . who would benefit/not benefit and why develop an awareness of how factors may complicate a position: adopt a position on an issue.College Readiness Standards™ Information Services ACT Writing Report Score No. resort often to merely repeating ideas Show little or no movement between general and specific ideas and examples practice grouping sentences that share like subjects construct a simple timeline of an event. concept mapping. though underdeveloped. and an end read the works of favorite writers regularly write informal entries (responses to readings. introduction and conclusion Show limited control of language by correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. but with some distracting errors that may occasionally impede understanding using appropriate vocabulary using some varied kinds of sentence structures to vary pace understand correct usage of common homonyms (e. wordiness. but with distracting errors that sometimes significantly impede understanding using simple vocabulary using simple sentence structure read and discuss the works of favorite writers. a counterargument to the writer’s position Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay D understand the relationship between a general topic and a specific issue within that topic practice writing short responses (one paragraph) that stay focused on a specific topic identify the thesis statements in a variety of model essays critique writing in peer workshops to ensure that the thesis is clear and that the thesis. Ideas for progressing to 3–4 score range discuss the goal of a persuasive essay ask five people for their opinion on an issue. discuss ways to reorganize the original writing to make it more effective critique writing in peer workshops to see if paragraphs are organized effectively: identify sentences out of sequence. first. and redundancy read a wide variety of texts to improve vocabulary and gain exposure to precise and effective language use read and discuss the effects of rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions. and examples Show some movement between general and specific ideas and examples Organizing Ideas Provide an adequate but simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay but with little evidence of logical progression of ideas Use some simple and obvious. and mechanics. of Range Students 2 0 Percentage Local National Expressing Judgments Focusing on the Topic Standards Scores below 3 do not permit useful generalizations about students’ writing abilities. Inc. their/there . this means that ) practice writing an introduction that briefly but effectively introduces a context for the discussion as well as a thesis consider ways to conclude a piece of writing that will emphasize its main theme without restating the discussion or otherwise being repetitive Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay. and mechanics. examples.

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Each Standard describes what students who score in the designated range are likely to be able to do with what they know. ACT also created an ACT National Writing Test Advisory Panel. Extensive field testing resulted in student papers that ACT writing experts studied in order to refine and clarify score point descriptions for the scoring rubric. F. ACT staff examined secondary and postsecondary writing practice. whose members include some of the foremost national experts on writing instruction. ACT writing experts and the panelists developed detailed specifications for the Writing Test such as the type of writing to be elicited. teachers. HOW WERE THE SCORE RANGES DETERMINED AND THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DEVELOPED? The score ranges and the College Readiness Standards for the ACT Writing Test were derived from the ACT Writing Test scoring rubric. Together. and directly suggest appropriate distributions of emphasis in learning and teaching. instruction. To establish the score point skill descriptors for the Standards. the writing prompt format. including direct writing assessments used by postsecondary institutions to make admissions and course placement decisions. Lindquist. Each essay written for the Writing Test is scored by two trained readers. the parent. The sum of those two ratings is a student’s Writing Test subscore (2–12). Grounding both the rubric and the Writing College The College Readiness Standards communicate educational expectations. each of whom gives it a rating from 1 (low) to 6 (high). “The examination should describe the student in meaningful terms— meaningful to the student. Students can typically demonstrate the skills and knowledge within the score ranges preceding the range in which they scored. state writing content standards for grades 9–12. The scoring rubric originated as the final step in the lengthy process of developing the ACT Writing Test. In designing a test to measure students’ writing proficiency.” — E. February 1958 Cofounder of ACT 5 . counselors. and the scoring criteria to be used in the scoring rubric. and ESL and developmental writing. writing assessment. and parents can use the College Readiness Standards for the ACT to interpret students’ scores and to understand which skills students need to develop to be better prepared for the future. and results of the 2002–2003 ACT National Curriculum Survey ®. and assessment across the nation. further review of college admissions and course placement criteria and further scrutiny of student writing responses were undertaken. The scoring rubric is based on five main scoring criteria that are considered when determining a student’s score. The Writing Test scoring rubric is a six-point descriptive scale to which Writing Test essays are compared in order to determine their score. In helping students make the transition from high school to postsecondary education or to the world of work. and the elementary and high school teacher—meaningful in the sense that the profile scores correspond to recognizable school activities. so the College Readiness Standards are cumulative. These same five criteria serve as the five strands for the Writing College Readiness Standards.COLLEGE WHAT ARE THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS? DESCRIPTION OF THE READINESS STANDARDS literature published over the past thirty years on direct writing assessments and on the teaching of composition at the postsecondary level.

or strands. While the rubric holistically considers the effect of all aspects of a piece of writing. the Writing Standards concentrate on distinguishing between the criteria’s five distinct areas of writing skill. For these students. The Writing Standards indicate whether writers are able to demonstrate recognition of complexity by acknowledging more than their own perspective and to what extent writers can engage with the complexity by discussing complications and/or implications. To determine the score ranges for the College Readiness Standards. that each perspective has its own complications. Focusing on the Topic. and 11–12 would best distinguish students’ levels of writing achievement so as to assist teachers. This requires students to evaluate the issue. When making judgments about their position. Because an ACT Writing score is a holistic score—based on the overall effect of the written response—the Writing Standards must be interpreted as skills that most students who score in a particular score range are likely to be able to demonstrate. and do if they are going to make a successful transition to college. ACT and independent consultants conduct a review every three to four years to ensure that the knowledge and skills described in the Standards and outlined in the test specifications and rubric continue to reflect those being taught in classrooms nationwide. HOW ARE THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS ORGANIZED? The Writing College Readiness Standards are organized around the five criteria from the Writing Test rubric. The Writing Standards indicate how well writers are able to demonstrate an understanding of the task and how clearly writers are able to articulate their position. which may develop at uneven paces in student writers. ACT staff determined that the six score ranges 2. decide their position. Teachers and curriculum coordinators can use the Standards to learn more about their students’ academic strengths and weaknesses and can then modify their instruction and guide students accordingly. These distinct areas of writing skill. Focusing on the specific issue in the prompt requires writers to be able to identify and discuss the controversial aspect of the issue. Focusing on the Topic. or the world of work. but also whether writers can focus their essay on the specific issue in the prompt or only on a more general topic from the prompt. and others in relating ACT test scores to students’ skills and understandings. Thus. Written responses scoring at the lowest score point typically demonstrate such varied deficiencies in writing skills that generalization of these skills was not possible. vocational school. the skills and understandings in the higher score ranges could become their target achievement outcomes. The skills and understandings of students who score a 2 on the Writing Test may still be evolving. 6 . An additional aspect of this strand is recognition of the complexity of the issue. are Expressing Judgments. Organizing Ideas. ACT staff considered the differences in writing skill ability evident in essays between levels of the scoring rubric. HOW SHOULD THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS BE I NTERPRETED AND USED? The College Readiness Standards reflect the progression and complexity of the skills measured in the ACT. The Writing Standards indicate not only whether writers are able to stay focused on the topic throughout the essay. Students can use the Standards to identify the skills and knowledge they need to develop to be better prepared for their future. 7–8. and Using Language. The Writing Test prompt asks writers to express an opinion about an issue. and that choosing any one perspective over the others has implications. Based on similarities found among written responses at certain adjacent score points. the College Readiness Standards should be interpreted in a responsible way that will help students understand what they need to know Expressing Judgments. administrators.Readiness Standards in student essays—and the writing patterns evident in large numbers of essays— increases confidence that students scoring in a given score range will most likely be able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge described in that range. students may understand that there exist multiple valid perspectives on the issue. The ACT Writing Test assesses writing skills that have been judged important for success in college and beyond. 5–6. and articulate that judgment in their essay. or responding to counterarguments to their position. Because the ACT is curriculum based. It is important to recognize that the ACT does not measure everything students have learned nor does any test measure everything necessary for students to know to be successful in college or in the world of work. Developing a Position. 9–10. 3–4.

Organizing Ideas. The Standards also consider how well writers can successfully observe the conventions of standard written English such as subject-verb agreement. Using Language.” while in the 11–12 range. logical. As you review the Standards.Developing a Position. The Writing Standards indicate how effectively writers are able to use written language. evaluating whether discussion moves between general statements and specific reasons. as well as standardized tests—to accurately reflect what each student knows and can do. however. students are able to “use a few simple and obvious transitions. examples. The Writing Standards indicate how well writers are able to explain their position through support and logical reasoning. The Standards and ideas for progress. It also includes evaluating to what extent writers are able to use transitional devices to help readers understand logical connections between ideas. The ideas for progress are also arranged by score range and by strand. in the 3–4 range for the Organizing Ideas strand. Because learning is a complex and individual process. these ideas for progress are designed to provide classroom teachers with help for lesson plan development. and punctuation. it is important to use a variety of instructional methods and materials to meet students’ diverse needs and to help strengthen and build upon their knowledge and skills. you will note a progression in complexity within each strand. demonstrate one way that information learned from standardized test results can be used to inform classroom instruction. the statement in the 7–8 score range “practice composing thesis statements that clearly state a position on an issue and offer a rationale for adopting that position” brings together concepts from several strands. Focusing on the Topic. you will note that ideas for progress have not been provided for the 11–12 score range. continue to refine and expand their knowledge and skills as they engage in writing activities that require critical. Students who score in this range on the ACT Writing Test have demonstrated proficiency in all. For example. help teachers and administrators to guide the whole education of every student. and Organizing Ideas. or almost all. and details. These students will. The College Readiness Standards are organized both by score range (along the left-hand side) and by strand (across the top). and evaluating word choice. it is especially important to use multiple sources of information—classroom observations and teacher-developed assessment tools. As you review the table. considering what variety of sentence structures are employed and to what effect. The lack of a College Readiness Standards statement for score point 2 indicates that there was insufficient evidence with which to determine a descriptor. The Writing Standards indicate to what extent writers can organize and present ideas in a logical way. spelling. used in conjunction with classroombased and curricular resources. WHAT ARE THE ACT WRITING TEST COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS? Table 1 on pages 8 –13 suggests links between what students are likely to be able to do (the College Readiness Standards) and what learning experiences students would likely benefit from. the highest score range. students demonstrate that they are able to “use relevant transitional words. This includes assessing whether writers are able to offer ideas that are logically grouped together and whether these groups are sequenced within the essay in such a way that the groups of ideas build on one another. and creative thinking. a primary strand has been identified for each in order to facilitate their use in the classroom. and sentences to convey logical relationships between ideas. Although many of the ideas cross more than one strand. such as Expressing Judgments. For example. this idea is primarily linked to the Focusing on the Topic strand. capitalization. Based on the College Readiness Standards. Because students learn over time and in various contexts. phrases. However. and how well integrated into the essay those transitions are. These ideas. pronoun agreement. of the skills measured by the test.” The Standards are complemented by brief descriptions of learning experiences from which high school students might benefit. The ideas for progress offer teachers a variety of suggestions to foster learning experiences from which students would likely benefit as they move from one level of learning to the next. The strands provide an organizational framework for the College Readiness Standards statements. 7 . which are given in Table 1.

then experiment with ways to answer that question clearly in a single sentence ■ study model paragraphs that have topic sentences. The ideas for progress help teachers identify ways of enhancing students’ learning based on the scores students receive. what. then practice restating them clearly and precisely with original wording practice generating possible positions on an issue identify and discuss reasons for selecting one position on an issue over others choose a position on an issue and state it clearly ■ Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt through most of the essay ■ ■ ■ ideas for progress ■ ■ ask who. list the ideas that the writer talks about. they are general and may not be clearly relevant. when. if examples are given. phrase the issue in the form of a question. resort often to merely repeating ideas Show little or no movement between general and specific ideas and examples read a variety of model persuasive essays recognize that essays are composed of ideas that must be explained or illustrated with specific examples and details redraft writing to include additional ideas that support the essay’s main claim learn prewriting strategies such as freewriting and brainstorming for generating ideas about a topic ■ 3–4 Standards ■ Show a little understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task but neglect to take or to maintain a position on the issue in the prompt Show limited recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt generate a list of issues. notice that in each example the idea in the topic sentence is explained by the rest of the sentences in the paragraph in a model persuasive essay. Expressing Judgments ■ ■ ■ Focusing on the Topic Developing a Position Scores below 3 do not permit useful generalizations about students’ writing abilities. discuss which is the essay’s main idea and which are ideas that support or illustrate the main idea Offer a little development. where. note the range in viewpoints a single issue can bring out ■ identify a local community or school issue. and especially why of the topic to establish clear focus for the essay learn to recognize when an essay wanders away from its topic critique writing in peer workshops to identify any ideas that are obviously off the main point of the essay ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 8 . with one or two ideas.Table 1: The College Readiness Standards ACT WRITING TEST 2 Standards ideas for progress The Standards describe what students who score in the specified score ranges are likely to know and to be able to do. discuss the goal of a persuasive essay ask five people for their opinion on an issue.

however. usage. etc. moreover. use a dictionary to learn any unfamiliar words or phrases recognize that clarity of expression is essential to clarity of meaning learn to consult a writer’s reference on questions of word choice and usage practice proofreading to identify obvious errors and missing words 9 . a middle. and an end ■ ■ read the works of favorite writers regularly write informal entries (responses to readings.) study the introductions and conclusions of model essays discuss the purpose and importance of the opening paragraph for directing the rest of the essay ■ ■ ■ ■ read and discuss the works of favorite writers. or original ideas) in a journal ■ ■ ■ Provide a discernible organization with some logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay Use a few simple and obvious transitions Present a discernible. concept mapping. or another visual organizer to identify relationships among ideas recognize paragraphs as a means for organizing an essay generate a list of words and phrases typically used as transitions (e. discuss how the event has a beginning.Organizing Ideas Using Language ■ ■ practice grouping sentences that share like subjects construct a simple timeline of an event. first. next. but with distracting errors that sometimes significantly impede understanding using simple vocabulary using simple sentence structure • • ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ use clustering. and mechanics. as a matter of fact.g. introduction and conclusion ■ Show limited control of language by • correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. though minimally developed..

details. The ideas for progress help teachers identify ways of enhancing students’ learning based on the scores students receive. personal. examples. Expressing Judgments ■ Focusing on the Topic ■ Developing a Position ■ Show a basic understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt but may not maintain that position Show a little recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging. then discuss whether it is always a valid and reasonable position. resort sometimes to merely repeating ideas Show little movement between general and specific ideas and examples ■ ■ ideas for progress ■ ■ understand the relationship between a general topic and a specific issue within that topic practice writing short responses (one paragraph) that stay focused on a specific topic identify the thesis statements in a variety of model essays critique writing in peer workshops to ensure that the thesis is clear and that the thesis. introduction. consider how the position might be affected if certain factors were to change revise writing to ensure that every paragraph remains focused on the issue and that no essential information is left out practice composing thesis statements that clearly state a position on an issue and offer a rationale for adopting that position ■ generate a full-sentence outline or visual representation of all major ideas in an essay and the examples and details that support them practice drawing generalizations from specific historical. identify strategies skilled speakers use in responding to their opponent’s viewpoint experiment with ways to acknowledge an opposing viewpoint without weakening the essay’s focus or position practice writing brief responses to opposing viewpoints Show understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by • Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay Offer limited development of ideas using a few general examples. discuss ways in which a certain issue is connected to broader questions of concern to more people practice identifying implications of a position: what would be the outcome if this position were adopted or enacted.Table 1 (continued): The College Readiness Standards ACT WRITING TEST 5–6 Standards The Standards describe what students who score in the specified score ranges are likely to know and to be able to do. who would benefit/not benefit and why develop an awareness of how factors may complicate a position: adopt a position on an issue. and conclusion all focus on the same idea ■ ■ understand that a thesis statement expresses an essay’s main idea and must be supported with reasons. or literary details learn to identify the most relevant examples to support an idea critique writing in peer workshops to identify any ideas that need further development in order to be persuasive or clear ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 10 . and examples Show some movement between general and specific ideas and examples ■ acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position ■ • ideas for progress ■ understand that issues exist within a larger context. and details discuss how to generate specific examples and details to illustrate general ideas read model essays that derive generalizations from specific examples and details ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 7–8 Standards ■ ■ ■ Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay and attempt a focus on the specific issue in the prompt Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic ■ ■ Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. a counterargument to the writer’s position choose a position on an issue and generate a list of possible objections others might have to that position listen to a public debate. but only briefly describing.

past/passed.. but with distracting errors that sometimes impede understanding using simple but appropriate vocabulary using a little sentence variety. you’re/your) practice using a wider vocabulary by replacing vague or general language with more precise words experiment with more sophisticated sentence constructions read model essays to see how skilled writers control pace and emphasis by varying the length of sentences 11 .Organizing Ideas ■ ■ ■ Using Language ■ Provide a simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay Use some simple and obvious transitional words. paragraphs that lack clear topic sentences. and mechanics. though underdeveloped. but with some distracting errors that may occasionally impede understanding using appropriate vocabulary using some varied kinds of sentence structures to vary pace • • ■ ■ ■ ■ practice arranging sentences within a paragraph so that discussion logically builds and progresses identify specific transitional words and phrases. discuss ways to reorganize the original writing to make it more effective critique writing in peer workshops to see if paragraphs are organized effectively: identify sentences out of sequence. but appropriate. this means that) practice writing an introduction that briefly but effectively introduces a context for the discussion as well as a thesis consider ways to conclude a piece of writing that will emphasize its main theme without restating the discussion or otherwise being repetitive ■ ■ ■ ■ understand correct usage of common homonyms (e. their/there.. transitional words and phrases Present a discernible introduction and conclusion with a little development ■ Show adequate use of language to communicate by • ■ ■ correctly employing many of the conventions of standard English grammar. it’s/its. and ideas that don’t belong review paragraphs to see if smooth transitions are provided from one to the next draft an introduction that includes a clearly stated thesis. introduction and conclusion Show a basic control of language by • correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. usage.g. usage.g. though most sentences are simple in structure • • ■ compare the outline of an original essay to the outline of a model essay. as a result. including those indicating causal relationship (e. though they may at times be inappropriate or misleading Present a discernible. and a conclusion that confirms the main theme of the essay ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ continue to read and discuss works by skilled writers to become more familiar with correct language use read original writing aloud to hear and identify language errors revise writing to reduce unnecessary repetition of words and phrases practice varying sentence length by combining simple sentences experiment with varying sentence construction by moving prepositional phrases to the beginning of sentences ■ ■ ■ ■ Provide an adequate but simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay but with little evidence of logical progression of ideas Use some simple and obvious. and mechanics.

details. and examples Show clear movement between general and specific ideas and examples ■ ■ ■ partially evaluating implications and/or complications of the issue. critical thinking about complex issues ■ learn how to elaborate ideas fully by logically describing their connection to the essay’s main idea practice sustaining a logical and relevant discussion by writing longer and more complex essays check to see if the essay’s treatment of each idea is proportional to the idea’s importance listen to news analyses on television or radio. and/or evaluating implications or complications of the issue. details. and/or posing and partially responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position ■ • ideas for progress ■ understand that an issue has a context. consider perspectives that might call into question some aspect of the issue itself in an extended discussion. practice demonstrating the logical or practical weaknesses of a counterargument Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a critical context for discussion Show understanding of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by • • revise writing to ensure that every sentence is necessary to the purpose of the piece refine thesis statements to reflect subtle. and examples Show effective movement between general and specific ideas and examples ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 11–12 Standards ■ ■ Maintain a clear focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay Present a critical thesis that clearly establishes the focus on the writer’s position on the issue ■ ■ ■ ■ examining different perspectives. and/or posing and fully discussing counterarguments to the writer’s position • 12 . Expressing Judgments ■ Focusing on the Topic ■ Developing a Position ■ Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a broad context for discussion Show recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by • Maintain a focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay Present a thesis that establishes a focus on the writer’s position on the issue Develop most ideas fully. The ideas for progress help teachers identify ways of enhancing students’ learning based on the scores students receive. using some specific and relevant reasons. notice the strategies that skilled speakers use to present their ideas on an issue Develop several ideas fully. think about what considerations outside the issue shape or limit it learn how to identify and critique assumptions underlying the issue as stated. using specific and relevant reasons.Table 1 (continued): The College Readiness Standards ACT WRITING TEST 9–10 Standards The Standards describe what students who score in the specified score ranges are likely to know and to be able to do.

and redundancy read a wide variety of texts to improve vocabulary and gain exposure to precise and effective language use read and discuss the effects of rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions. usage. and sentences to convey logical relationships between ideas Present a well-developed introduction and conclusion ■ Show effective use of language to clearly communicate ideas by • • • correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar. sarcasm. transitional words and phrases to convey logical relationships between ideas Present a somewhat developed introduction and conclusion Show competent use of language to communicate ideas by • correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar. with just a few. phrases. and mechanics. though at times simple and obvious. and humor used by favorite authors ■ ■ ■ Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay.Organizing Ideas ■ ■ ■ Using Language ■ Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay. sometimes with a logical progression of ideas Use relevant. with a few distracting errors but none that impede understanding using some precise and varied vocabulary using several kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning • • ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ practice arranging ideas so that one paragraph leads logically to the next throughout the essay consider how transitional phrases and sentences can help convey logical connections between ideas and between paragraphs think about how an introduction and conclusion can work together to provide unity within an essay experiment with how to conclude an essay while continuing to challenge the audience with critical questions or implications discuss the effect of a conclusion that suggests the essay has been only part of a much larger discussion ■ ■ ■ ■ check to be sure pronouns agree with antecedents in complex sentences edit sentences for empty language. usage. and mechanics. wordiness. if any. errors using precise and varied vocabulary using a variety of kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning 13 . often with a logical progression of ideas Use relevant transitional words.

The number of comments for each essay will range between one and four.html. Comments are assigned to an essay after it has been scored. maintain a focused discussion. The full text of the readers’ comments will be included on the Student Report. This specific. Students are asked to write in response to a question about their position on the issue described in the writing prompt. throughout scoring. The sum of those ratings is a student’s Writing Test subscore and is reported as one number on a 2–12 scale.org/aap/writing/sample/comments. and the comment codes will be included on the High School and College Reports. including: ■ ■ Scoring Guidelines (Six-Point Holistic Rubric) A sample test booklet with • • • test instructions a sample prompt essay planning pages 14 . Writing Test readers are trained by reading examples of papers at each score point and by scoring many practice papers. One reader of each essay will assign comments appropriate for the writing skills demonstrated in the essay. readers must continue to perform satisfactorily on compulsory tests measuring the accuracy of their scores. Each essay is scored by two trained readers on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (high). they receive two additional scores: a subscore for the Writing Test (on a 2–12 scale). all readers are required to pass a qualifying test of preselected papers before they are permitted to score “live” essays. develop a position. This method is designed to be as objective and impartial as possible and to ensure all examinees’ papers are read and scored using the same application of the scoring rubric. The Composite score and subscores for the multiplechoice sections of the ACT are not affected by the Writing Test results. In addition to numerical scores. Additional information about the ACT Writing Test is provided in this section. when students take the Writing Test. The full text of all readers’ comments is available on ACT’s website at www. The test is designed to evaluate student ability to make and articulate judgments. Instead. and a Combined Score for the multiple-choice English Test and the Writing Test (on a 1–36 scale). a score difference of more than one point on any essay is evaluated by a third trained reader to resolve the discrepancy. They are given detailed feedback on the accuracy and consistency of their scores during practice. organize and present ideas logically. In addition. During scoring. Students should determine whether or not to take the Writing Test based on the requirements or recommendations of the colleges to which they plan to apply.DESCRIPTION OF WRITING TEST WHAT DOES M EASURE? THE THE ACT ACT WRITING TEST The Writing Test is a 30-minute essay test with a single prompt question that briefly states an issue and describes two points of view on that issue.act. students receive comments about their essay. and may include positive and/or constructive comments about the student’s writing. Educators should note that ACT offers the Writing Test as an optional component of the ACT. and communicate clearly in original writing. individual feedback on each student essay is designed to help students learn to better assess their own writing skills and to recognize strengths in their writing as well as areas upon which to focus for improvement. After training.

examples. The essay shows some understanding of the task. Sentences are varied and word choice is varied and precise. Some evidence of logical sequencing of ideas is apparent. examples. No Score Blank. Errors may be distracting and may occasionally impede understanding. The essay takes a position on the issue and may offer a broad context for discussion. There may be a few errors. Errors may be frequently distracting and may sometimes impede understanding. with some movement between general statements and specific reasons. Ideas are logically sequenced. The organization of the essay is apparent but predictable. The essay shows a clear understanding of the task. if any. Focus on the general topic is maintained. The essay is thinly developed. examples. The essay takes a position on the issue but does not offer a context for discussion. Sentences are somewhat varied and word choice is sometimes varied and precise. Score = 6 Essays within this score range demonstrate effective skill in responding to the task. If the essay takes a position.Table 2: Six-Point Holistic Scoring Rubric for the ACT Writing Test Papers at each level exhibit all or most of the characteristics described at each score point. There are few. Score = 5 Essays within this score range demonstrate competent skill in responding to the task. Score = 4 Essays within this score range demonstrate adequate skill in responding to the task. Illegible. Ideas are logically sequenced. The organization of the essay is clear: the organization may be somewhat predictable or it may grow from the writer’s purpose. or by responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position. Most ideas are elaborated. it fails to convey reasons to support that position. and they may be inappropriate or misleading. Score = 1 Essays within this score range show little or no skill in responding to the task. Language shows a basic control. Transitions. but focus on the specific issue in the prompt may not be maintained. and details. The essay shows little or no understanding of the task. Sentence structure and word choice are usually simple. Language is competent. If present. Off-Topic. Score = 2 Essays within this score range demonstrate inconsistent or weak skill in responding to the task. Focus on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained. clear. The introduction and conclusion are clear and somewhat developed. The organization of the essay is clear. Transitions. with little. The essay may not take a position on the issue. The essay takes a position on the issue and may offer a critical context for discussion. movement between general statements and specific reasons. are simple and obvious. Development of ideas is limited and may be repetitious. A clear focus on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained. and logical. An introduction and conclusion are discernible but minimal. and details. Ideas are logically grouped within parts of the essay. The organization of the essay is simple. Transitions are rarely used. Sentences show a little variety and word choice is appropriate. The essay takes a position on the issue and may offer some context for discussion. an introduction and conclusion are minimal. they are general and may not be clearly relevant. if used. There may be some distracting errors. The essay shows a weak understanding of the task. Focus on the general topic is maintained. Focus on the general topic is usually maintained. The essay shows a good command of language. or by fully responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position. Most transitions reflect the writer’s logic and are usually integrated into the essay. Most ideas are fully elaborated. Score = 3 Essays within this score range demonstrate some developing skill in responding to the task. and well developed. specific. The introduction and conclusion are clear and generally well developed. Development of ideas is ample. with clear movement between general statements and specific reasons. or Void 15 . with some sentence variety and appropriate word choice. if used. The essay may show some recognition of complexity by providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position. There is some indication of an organizational structure. if any. although most transitions are simple and obvious. Focus on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained throughout most of the essay. or the essay may take a position but fail to maintain a stance. The essay shows an understanding of the task. errors to distract the reader. but they are rarely distracting. Development of ideas is specific and logical. Errors may be frequently distracting and may significantly impede understanding. or by evaluating the implications and/or complications of the issue. or the essay may take a position but fail to convey reasons to support that position. The essay addresses complexity by examining different perspectives on the issue. The introduction and conclusion are effective. but there is little or no evidence of logical sequencing of ideas. but they do not impede understanding. but focus on the specific issue in the prompt may not be maintained. Sentence structure and word choice are simple. The essay may include extensive repetition of the writer’s ideas or of ideas in the prompt. Not in English. The essay may include excessive repetition of the writer’s ideas or of ideas in the prompt. and details. The essay is minimally developed. but its development is brief or unclear. although it may be predictable. are simple and obvious. but focus on the specific issue in the prompt may not be maintained. The essay may acknowledge a counterargument to the writer’s position. and some logical grouping of ideas within parts of the essay is apparent. The essay shows recognition of complexity by partially evaluating the implications and/or complications of the issue. The essay shows a clear understanding of the task. An introduction and conclusion are clearly discernible but underdeveloped. There is little or no evidence of an organizational structure or of the logical grouping of ideas. Development of ideas is adequate. although simple and obvious transitions may be used. There is little or no recognition of a counterargument to the writer’s position. Language is adequate. If examples are given.

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read the writing prompt carefully to understand exactly what you are being asked to do. to maintain a focus on the topic throughout the essay. do NOT skip lines. written permission of ACT. BOX 168 IOWA CITY. You must write your essay in pencil on the lined pages in the answer folder. so you must write (or print) clearly. All rights reserved. DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOKLET UNTIL TOLD TO DO SO. to organize ideas in a logical way.O. You may not need all the lined pages. These pages will not be scored. IA 52243-0168 17 . NOTE: This booklet is covered by Federal copyright laws that prohibit the reproduction of the test questions without the express. Illegible essays cannot be scored. Inc. but to ensure you have enough room to finish. If you finish before time is called. Your writing on those lined pages will be scored. Directions This is a test of your writing skills. and to use language clearly and effectively according to the conventions of standard written English. P. © 2008 by ACT. Lay your pencil down immediately when time is called. but do NOT write in the margins of the lined pages. Before you begin planning and writing your essay. You may write corrections or additions neatly between the lines of your essay. you may review your work. to develop a position by using logical reasoning and by supporting your ideas. Inc.Your Signature (do not print): Print Your Name Here: Your Date of Birth: Month Day Year Writing Test Booklet You must take the multiple-choice tests before you take the Writing Test. You will have thirty (30) minutes to write an essay in English. You may use the unlined pages in this test booklet to plan your essay. Your essay will be evaluated on the evidence it provides of your ability to express judgments by taking a position on the issue in the writing prompt.

take a position on this question. some educators support this practice because they think having these magazines available encourages students to read. In your opinion. or you may present a different point of view on this question. You may write about either one of the two points of view given. Other educators think school libraries should not use limited funds to subscribe to these magazines because they may not be related to academic subjects.ACT Writing Test Prompt Many high school libraries use some of their limited funding to subscribe to popular magazines with articles that are interesting to students. 18 . Despite limited funding. should high school libraries subscribe to popular magazines? In your essay. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

19 . Your work on this page will not be scored. If you need more space to plan. please continue on the back of this page.Use this page to plan your essay.

20 . Your work on this page will not be scored.Use this page to plan your essay.

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However. The prompt to which the sample essays responded has been reprinted on the next page. Students must be provided with the tools for ongoing learning. develop a position. ACT believes that students’ preparation for further learning is best assessed by measuring. it is increasingly important that students not only know information but also know how to critique and manage that information. 22 . The required academic skills can most directly be assessed by reproducing as faithfully as possible the complexity of the students’ schoolwork. maintain a focused discussion. Individual students will likely demonstrate both particular strengths and weaknesses within their essays. as directly as possible. the specific writing skills in any given essay could vary slightly from the skills described in each Standard. organize and present ideas logically. overall. Because of technological advances and the fast pace of our society. and generalization skills must be developed so that the learner is able to adapt to a variety of situations. it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence. and communicate clearly in original writing. the academic skills that students have acquired and that they will need to perform at the next level of learning. and to think through their assumptions. understanding.” — Abigail Adams in a letter to John Quincy Adams Every student comes to school with the ability to think. Students scoring in the higher score ranges are able to demonstrate. but to achieve their goals students need to develop skills such as learning to make new connections between texts and ideas. the ACT Writing Test is designed to evaluate student ability to make and articulate judgments. Therefore. analysis. to understand increasingly complex concepts. The essays are accompanied by College Readiness Standards descriptors for specific skills related to each strand as well as discussions explaining how the skills in each essay were addressed. HOW I S THE ACT WRITING TEST LINKED TO THINKING SKILLS? Our belief in the importance of developing thinking skills in learners was a key factor in the development of the ACT. Pages 24–33 provide sample essays that demonstrate score ranges for each of the five College Readiness Standards Writing strands. an increasing level of skill in writing.THE NEED FOR THINKING SKILLS “Learning is not attained by chance.

You may write about either one of the two points of view given. take a position on this question.ACT Writing Test Prompt Many high school libraries use some of their limited funding to subscribe to popular magazines with articles that are interesting to students. In your opinion. or you may present a different point of view on this question. 23 . some educators support this practice because they think having these magazines available encourages students to read. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position. Despite limited funding. Other educators think school libraries should not use limited funds to subscribe to these magazines because they may not be related to academic subjects. should high school libraries subscribe to popular magazines? In your essay.

because it will make them think about things they shouldn’t think about. all they have is pictures. I think there is probably one big thing wrong with getting popular magazines for students to read. teen magazines are all educational. Limiting funds would not be a bad thing because there are a lot of junk magazines out there that have no education. car magazines. because they probably have a lot of things in them that students shouldn’t read. Some things aren’t right for students to think about.PAPER A SCORE = 4 (2–12 SCALE) I believe that school librarys should subscribe to popular magazines that kids like. It’s very smart to order the magazines because it also gets students into the library and from there who knows we could read a book or two. 24 . and are not even readable. Sports magazines. even through they aren’t related to academic subjects. Some magazines aren’t right for students.

Movement between general ideas and specific examples is very limited ( . because it will make them think about things they shouldn’t think about). introduction and conclusion. . usage. though minimally developed. with the essay first discussing how popular magazines are educational. . Focusing on the Topic: Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay. (Level 3–4) The essay is thinly developed. Linking words are missing where they are needed (Sports magazines. before introducing the idea of limited funds. the essay lacks a discernible conclusion. as ideas are added. they are general and may not be clearly relevant. if examples are given. single sentences run on trying to contain those ideas (I think there is probably one big thing wrong with getting popular magazines for students to read. Although the writer adopts a clear stance in the first paragraph (I believe that school librarys should subscribe to popular magazines that kids like). Organizing Ideas: Provide a discernible organization with some logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay. all the ideas are related to general aspects of the prompt. The essay lacks control at the sentence level. At the end of the essay. . because they probably have a lot of things in them that students shouldn’t read. all they have is pictures). however. all they have is pictures). Present a discernible. there are a lot of junk magazines out there that . (Level 3-4) Language control is weak. using simple vocabulary.CORRESPONDING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DESCRIPTORS FOR PAPER A Expressing Judgments: Show a little understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task but neglect to take or to maintain a position on the issue in the prompt. [and] teen magazines are all educational) and included where they are more misleading than useful (It’s very smart to order the magazines because it also gets students into the library and from there who knows we could read a book or two). but with distracting errors that sometimes significantly impede understanding. are not even readable. resort often to merely repeating ideas. by the third paragraph the writer’s position wavers (Limiting funds would not be a bad thing because there are a lot of junk magazines out there that have no education. Using Language: Show limited control of language by: correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. with some distracting errors. car magazines. (Level 3–4) This essay demonstrates weak understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by neglecting to maintain a position on the issue. Show limited recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt. and mechanics. (Level 5–6) The response focuses on the topic introduced in the prompt. and are not even readable. because it will make them think about things they shouldn’t think about. they probably have a lot of things in them that students shouldn’t read. Although focus moves around a bit. Show little or no movement between general and specific ideas and examples. even through they aren’t related to academic subjects). Some things aren’t right for students to think about). Developing a Position: Offer a little development. the writer has moved completely to the other side of the argument (Some magazines aren’t right for students). . 25 . using simple sentence structure. . The opening position statement serves as an abrupt and very brief introduction to both the essay and the issue (I believe that school librarys should subscribe to popular magazines that kids like. Use a few simple and obvious transitions. then talking about why getting students into the library is beneficial. Although there are one or two ideas presented for both sides of the issue. none of these is explained more than minimally (It’s very smart to order the magazines because it also gets students into the library and from there who knows we could read a book or two). The student does not digress from prompt-related ideas during the brief essay. with one or two ideas. There is a weak attempt to include some transition between ideas (because) but the logical sequencing of ideas is poor. . (Level 3–4) The writer’s use of paragraphs provides discernible grouping of ideas throughout the essay. with discussion maintained at such a general level that it is sometimes difficult to understand what the writer is referring to ( .

like Time and National Geographic. School libraries should not subscribe to popular magazines. especially when funding is limited. Also. Teenagers are sometimes too young to read some of the articles that the popular magazines have. There is no reason to subscribe to any other kind of popular magazines. they would find that popular magazines give students something to do instead of the research they should use the library for. And the other articles are a waist of time too because they are full of gossip and mostly pictures. Sometimes the magazine articles are misleading and don’t tell the truth. but other articles have girls talking about things that are not right. The have put in college searches which are helpful. There are some subjects in the articles that I feel should not be allowed. If school libraries really want to help students. Popular magazines have short articles that are based on opinion and gossip and they are filled with quizzes and advertisements. If schools libraries did. popular magazines will not help students to be encouraged to read.PAPER B SCORE = 6 (2–12 SCALE) I feel that schools should not subscribe to popular magazines. And some students may not know between right and wrong. they need to subscribe to magazines that are academic. 26 . I get Seventeen magazine every month.

usage. vocabulary throughout (And. though underdeveloped. popular magazines will not help students to be encouraged to read). Using Language: Show a basic control of language by: correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar. Show a little recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging. . . however the essay does have an underdeveloped conclusion in the form of a restatement of position. and often repetitive. The writer uses only a few simple transitions (Also. 27 . though most sentences are simple in structure. Although some of the discussion seems somewhat loosely tied to the topic (I get Seventeen magazine every month. are). . . should not be allowed). based on opinion and gossip . (Level 5–6) The writer maintains focus on the general topic throughout the essay. (Level 5–6) This essay offers limited development and some repetition of ideas (Popular magazines have short articles . . And) and provides no discernible introduction. There are some subjects in the articles that . I get Seventeen magazine every month). such as misspelling waste as waist. especially when funding is limited) with limited position statements. The writer uses simple. . There are some subjects in the articles that . opening (I feel that schools should not subscribe to popular magazines) and finishing the essay (School libraries should not subscribe to popular magazines. There are a few distracting errors. Present a discernible. . . using simple but appropriate vocabulary. but other articles have girls talking about things that are not right). . There is little sentence variety.CORRESPONDING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DESCRIPTORS FOR PAPER B Expressing Judgments: Show a basic understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt but may not maintain that position. though they may at times be inappropriate or misleading. because they are full of gossip and mostly pictures). . . Show little movement between general and specific ideas and examples. Teenagers are sometimes too young to read some of the articles that popular magazines have). and the writer often uses short. . Focusing on the Topic: Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay. and mechanics. (Level 5–6) This essay shows a basic understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue and maintaining that position throughout. (Level 5–6) The essay demonstrates simple organization through the use of paragraphing. . the focus on magazines does not waver. should not be allowed . resort sometimes to merely repeating ideas. but only briefly describing. other articles have girls talking about things that are not right. choppy sentences (And some students may not know between right and wrong. (Level 5–6) There is basic control of language throughout the essay. . Developing a Position: Offer limited development of ideas using a few general examples. but this claim is not clearly supported or explained. The have put in college searches which are helpful. A counterargument taken from the prompt is vaguely referenced ( . a counterargument to the writer’s position. some students may not know between right and wrong . using a little sentence variety. The essay shows only a little movement between general and specific ideas and examples (There are some subjects in the articles that I feel should not be allowed. . but with distracting errors that sometimes impede understanding. . Organizing Ideas: Provide a simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay. and some logical grouping of ideas ( . introduction and conclusion. Use some simple and obvious transitional words.

While some people may want to debate the issue. In conclusion. but others point out that if students are interested in what is being read. a bad attitude could develop toward libraries and school. Interesting magazines are important for students in lots of ways. Its important to keep up with information that hasn’t had time to get in the textbooks yet. knowledge. anytime someone reads. the right decision is clear. for student’s mental health. This is important for our education. and love of reading. Some people think only the magazines that are about academics should be bought. First. This could hurt students much more than it would “hurt” us to read about movie stars and new music during study hall. Remember its not what we’re reading. wars and events in other countries. theyre going to pick up “Seventeen. people need to relax by reading something fun.PAPER C SCORE = 8 (2–12 SCALE) High school libraries have only a very limited fund.” If you want them to get in that thirty minutes. 28 . If their is nothing fun to read. popular magazines can help students learn about current events. Also. Many popular magazines contain articles about new health discoveries. popular magazines offer a break from the stress of schoolwork. Most importantly. Students are not going to want to pick up Shakespeare in their study hall. learn more and like school more. and can even provide resources for research papers. The big question is how do they spend the fund. After hours of listening to lectures and taking tests. This second group is exactly right. its just the reading that counts. Studies show that students who read thirty minutes a day in their free time perform better than those who don’t. they will read more. popular magazines should stay in our library. you have to give them something they will actually open and look at. their learning.

they’re going to pick up “Seventeen”). . and mechanics. . The grouping of ideas in parts of the essay is logical. (Level 7–8) This essay shows adequate use of language. If you want them to get in that thirty minutes. Students are not going to . but with some distracting errors that may occasionally impede understanding. but appropriate. . and like school more. It also shows some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging and providing some response to the counterargument to the writer’s position (Some people think only the magazines that are about academics should be bought. . . . using some varied kinds of sentence structures to vary pace. Appropriate vocabulary is used. and examples. . Organizing Ideas: Provide an adequate but simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay but with little evidence of logical progression of ideas. but others point out that if students are interested in what is being read. (Level 7–8) This essay maintains a focus on the general topic and issue in the prompt as well as a focus on the specific issue in the prompt. . popular magazines should stay in our library). Focusing on the Topic: Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay and attempt a focus on the specific issue in the prompt. . Show some movement between general and specific ideas and examples. . Many popular magazines contain articles about new health discoveries.CORRESPONDING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DESCRIPTORS FOR PAPER C Expressing Judgments: Show understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt. The transitional words and phrases used are simple and obvious. and like school more . (Level 7–8) This essay shows understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt. with the introduction offering information necessary to set up the discussion. knowledge. providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position. details. The introduction and conclusion are present and somewhat developed. usage. Most importantly. anytime someone reads. Present a discernible introduction and conclusion with a little development. popular magazines can help students learn about current events. Also. though predictable (First. Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by: acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position. Using Language: Show adequate use of language to communicate by: correctly employing many of the conventions of standard English grammar. Developing a Position: Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. and popular magazines offer a break) in the discussion. Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic. (Level 7–8) The essay develops three separate ideas in support of the writer’s position ( . pick up Shakespeare in their study hall. There is some movement between general and specific ideas and examples ( . . 29 . they will read more.). although there are some spelling errors that occasionally distract. (Level 7–8) This essay is organized around a simple but adequate five-paragraph framework. In conclusion) and move the reader effectively through the essay. Use some simple and obvious. their learning. they will read more. This second group is exactly right). . . . learn more. using appropriate vocabulary. wars and events in other countries . but appropriate (First. anytime someone reads. as well as some varied sentence structures (If their is nothing fun to read. and love of reading. transitional words and phrases. others point out that if students are interested in what is being read. and the conclusion making clear the writer’s position and reasoning (In conclusion. you have to give them something they will actually open and look at). . . The writer also provides a thesis that establishes the focus ( . learn more. popular magazines can help students learn about current events . their learning. for student’s mental health. Studies show that students who read thirty minutes a day in their free time perform better than those who don’t . a bad attitude could develop toward libraries and school).

one of the school library’s most important functions is offering students the learning resources they might not be able to find or afford on their own. 30 . but magazines just for entertainment shouldn’t be a priority for school libraries. and one of my personal favorite leisure activities. Supporters of popular magazines argue that there is something to be learned from any reading material. our school library would be able to offer everything that’s possible and appropriate. The school library shouldn’t have to finance that. Reading for pleasure is a great thing. anybody can spend $3. the school library must always put learning materials first. and school libraries. is learning. so magazines like “Teen People” and “YM” should not be paid for instead of educational books and publications. But with budget limits throughout the school system. I know which one I would vote for. If you’re in study hall and you have an urgent celebrity trivia question that just can’t wait. The purpose of school.99 at the drugstore to find out about Justin Timberlake’s love life if they want to. you can always use the Internet. especially when they may only need them for one paper all year? On the other hand. Should they buy popular magazines as well as academic books and publications? In a perfect world. but I believe some kinds of learning are more important to students futures than other kinds. If the school library has to choose between teaching teenage girls about the achievements of Harriet Tubman and letting them read about their favorite movie star. Learning is the reason for school. hard cover books and high quality magazines like “National Geographic” to students who can’t buy all these materials. When funding is so limited.PAPER D SCORE = 10 (2–12 SCALE) High school libraries have a dilemma on their hands. and should be first in mind as this decision is made. Furthermore. Shouldn’t the library also offer full sets of encyclopedia. Everybody would agree the school library should have Internet access for the people who don’t have a computer at home. at no extra cost to the school. the administration must be sure they’re making the best choices of books and magazines.

so magazines like “Teen People” and “YM” should not be paid for instead of educational books and publications). and examples. 31 . Minor errors are only minimally distracting. . “Teen People” and “YM” should not be paid for instead of educational books and publications) after establishing a broad context for discussion (In a perfect world. offering necessary context and adding emphasis to clarify the argument. (Level 9–10) This essay maintains a focus on the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay. transitional words and phrases to convey logical relationships between ideas. details.). Developing a Position: Develop most ideas fully. The school library shouldn’t have to finance that. the administration must be sure they’re making the best choices . But with budget limits throughout the school system.). Present a somewhat developed introduction and conclusion. usage. and mechanics. If the school library has to choose between teaching teenage girls about the achievements of Harriet Tubman and letting them read about their favorite movie star. using some precise and varied vocabulary. I believe some kinds of learning are more important to students futures than other kinds. . sometimes with a logical progression of ideas. anybody can spend $3. . . using some specific and relevant reasons. the administration must be sure they’re making the best choices of books and magazines. with relevant reasons ( . . with a few distracting errors but none that impede understanding. . I know which one I would vote for). and/or posing and partially responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position. though at times simple and obvious. The introduction and conclusion are both clear and generally well developed. leisure activities) and sentence variety (If the school library has to choose between teaching teenage girls about the achievements of Harriet Tubman and letting them read about their favorite movie star. using several kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning.99 at the drugstore to find out about Justin Timberlake’s love life if they want to. (Level 9–10) Most ideas are developed fully. . . (Level 9–10) This essay shows a clear understanding of the task. Use relevant. as well as presenting a thesis that establishes the focus of the writer’s position ( . Organizing Ideas: Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay. . Using Language: Show competent use of language to communicate ideas by: correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar.CORRESPONDING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DESCRIPTORS FOR PAPER D Expressing Judgments: Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a broad context for discussion. The essay recognizes complexity by responding succinctly to counterarguments to the writer’s position (Supporters of popular magazines argue that there is something to be learned from any reading material. but I believe some kinds of learning are more important to students futures than other kinds). Focusing on the Topic: Maintain a focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay. you can always use the Internet . . one of the school library’s most important functions is offering students the learning resources they might not be able to find or afford on their own). Show clear movement between general and specific ideas and examples. The essay demonstrates clear movement between claims and the details that explain and support them ( . I know which one I would vote for). The writer takes a position ( . Show recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by: partially evaluating implications and/or complications of the issue. our school library would be able to offer everything that’s possible and appropriate. (Level 9–10) The essay provides unity through its logical progression of ideas and use of relevant transitions (On the other hand. most important functions. If you’re in study hall and you have an urgent celebrity trivia question that just can’t wait. Present a thesis that establishes a focus on the writer’s position on the issue. with some precise vocabulary (academic books and publications. . (Level 9–10) Language use is competent and engaging. .

but we would continue reading—even during precious homework free moments—if we had something interesting to turn to. All those “Great Looks Cheap” may be a first step toward becoming a smarter consumer. but education purists need to be reminded that if you separate “academic” from “non-academic” too strictly. These same magazines have articles on suicide prevention. But the critics of popular magazines should take a closer look at them. It’s true that not every page in youth magazines is an intellectual challenge. like “Seventeen” or “Teen People”. and college comparisons—subjects that the adult oriented news media doesn’t cover. 32 . School programs are cut based on how much educational content they’re perceived to have. and students may find it in places administrators and librarians might not think to look. We read these because we have to. There should be room in the school library for both. the spread of AIDS among teens. Many pages show models selling zit cream. No one ever gained reading proficiency from daily struggles through their Chemistry or History textbooks. or contain “dream date” quizzes.PAPER E SCORE = 12 (2–12 SCALE) High schools nowdays are struggling to draw the line between what is “educational” and what is not. The only way to build the reading comprehension and vocabulary skills so important for getting into and through college is to practice. you separate school from the real world its’ supposed to prepare us for. These are the magazines that some would banish from the library. Learning can be found in popular magazines as well as approved academic texts. Now the administration is trying to purge the libraries of popular magazines because they contain non academic subjects. and that means reading things other than school assignments. The silly quiz may open up questions about the nature of “scientific proof” or lead to more self-knowledge. It’s important that the library buy dictionaries and encyclopedias. Educators are the ones who tell us we should spend more time reading. Learning is where you find it. The magazines that teenagers enjoy reading are the ones that cover our interests and address our concerns. Even the frivolous features have something to teach the reader who wants to learn.

(Level 11–12) The writer’s ideas are not evenly developed over all the paragraphs. the spread of AIDS among teens. The essay shows understanding of the complexity of the issue by anticipating counterarguments to the writer’s position (It’s true that not every page in youth magazines is an intellectual challenge . . frivolous features). and states the position directly in the conclusion (Learning can be found in popular magazines as well as approved academic texts). Show understanding of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by: examining different perspectives. Word choice is precise and persuasive (purge the libraries. But the critics of popular magazines should take a closer look at them.CORRESPONDING COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS DESCRIPTORS FOR PAPER E Expressing Judgments: Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a critical context for discussion. Even the frivolous features have something to teach the reader who wants to learn). details. and examples. We read these because we have to. Learning can be found in popular magazines as well as in approved academic texts. Both the introduction and conclusion are clear. if you separate “academic” from “non-academic” too strictly. . and college comparisons—subjects that the adult oriented news media doesn’t cover). but their development is succinct. Facility with words and sentence structure enable the writer to maintain a light. and mechanics. and/or posing and fully discussing counterarguments to the writer’s position. and logical (No one ever gained reading proficiency from daily struggles through their Chemistry or History textbooks. There should be room in the school library for both). develops the essay. Organizing Ideas: Provide unity and coherence throughout the essay. usage. you separate school from the real world its’ supposed to prepare us for). if any. Using Language: Show effective use of language to clearly communicate ideas by: correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar. The writer takes a clear position. Transitions convey logical relationships between ideas and help the essay flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next (It’s true that not every page in youth magazines is an intellectual challenge. using specific and relevant reasons. errors. and sentences to convey logical relationships between ideas. often with a logical progression of ideas. amused tone (The silly quiz may open up questions about the nature of “scientific proof” or lead to more selfknowledge). using precise and varied vocabulary. with just a few. and the logical progression of ideas grows out of the writer’s intent to persuade. but we would continue reading—even during precious homework free moments—if we had something interesting to turn to). (Level 11–12) The organization of the essay is clear and unified. phrases. A critical thesis is offered. 33 . Developing a Position: Develop several ideas fully. These same magazines have articles on suicide prevention. clearly reflecting the focus on the writer’s position on the issue (Learning is where you find it. (Level 11–12) A clear focus on the specific topic and issue in the prompt is maintained throughout the essay. . (Level 11–12) This essay demonstrates a clear understanding of the persuasive task. relevant. (Level 11–12) The essay shows effective language use. Focusing on the Topic: Maintain a clear focus on discussion of the specific topic and issue in the prompt throughout the essay. and students may find it in places administrators and librarians might not think to look. There are few errors in this essay and they are too minor to distract the reader. Present a well-developed introduction and conclusion. . using a variety of kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning. School programs are cut based on how much educational content they’re perceived to have). The introduction is especially well developed and connects the writer’s position to a strong critical claim ( . Show effective movement between general and specific ideas and examples. This position is placed in a wider. Present a critical thesis that clearly establishes the focus on the writer’s position on the issue. and/or evaluating implications or complications of the issue. The essay elaborates general statements (Even the frivolous features have something to teach the reader who wants to learn) by effectively moving to more specific details and examples (All those “Great Looks Cheap” may be a first step toward becoming a smarter consumer). Use relevant transitional words. critical context without disrupting the essay’s focus (High schools nowdays are struggling to draw the line between what is “educational” and what is not.

and meanings. Writers must show that they are able to perceive several points of view for a particular argument. Successful writers must first evaluate the most effective way to get the essay written. Their task is to write an essay in which they provide their opinion on the issue. to cope with ambiguities. Learning how to apply these skills to a writing process will help students strengthen these necessary abilities. some of the skills and understandings that underlie the ACT Writing Test. They must understand. provide an opinion on the issue in a clear and appropriate way. information bombards consumers through media and the Internet. familiar assumptions and values often come into question. Writers who are able to produce successful essays can do so because they use specific critical thinking skills while crafting their essay. while writing? They do so by approaching the essay using problem-solving skills. they first determine the appropriate components of the type of essay they want to produce. If the writing task is to produce a persuasive essay. In HOW CAN WRITING THINKING SKILLS? AN ESSAY BUILD All students. good writers demonstrate a recognition of context. and to find means of applying information to new situations. competent writers understand they must express their own thoughts. & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. in fact. How does this happen? What skills are these writers exercising that enable them to write successfully? “Learning is fundamentally about making and maintaining connections . when writing persuasively about an issue or debate. and to say what they want to say in the manner in which they want to say it. . More than ever before. These are. evaluate.THINKING YOUR WAY THROUGH THE ACT TEST In our increasingly complex society. When students take the ACT Writing Test. And when good writers map out what they will write. and must demonstrate an understanding of why others may think as they do about a particular issue. successful writers engage in logical reasoning and reflective thinking in the course of completing the writing task. In general. students’ ability to think critically and make informed decisions is more important than ever. First. whether they are planning on attending college or going directly into the workforce. to think about issues in rational and creative ways. . and craft an argument based on sound logic and reason. That is. writers “map out” what they will write. persuasive opinions. demonstrate understanding of the task. June 1998 34 . Classroom teachers are integrally involved in preparing today’s students for their futures. decision making. they are asked to write a persuasive essay in response to an issue presented to them in a writing prompt. ideas. students in today’s classrooms face a future when they will need to adapt quickly to change. and inferential and evaluative thinking. To start. and students will become stronger writers as a result. But how exactly do writers do this—how do they critically reflect on their thoughts. they pay attention to what is being asked of them.” — American Association for Higher Education. The workplace demands new skills and knowledge and continual learning. and respond to the setting in which the issue is placed. will need creative and critical thinking skills in order to be successful. and express logical. Another component of effective persuasive writing involves consideration of multiple perspectives. Such preparation must include the development of thinking skills such as problem solving. among concepts. American College Personnel Association.

Choosing the right language gives readers the access necessary to understand what the writer’s opinion is. personal emotions. they must also be aware of why they have adopted that position. and whether they should overtly acknowledge these assumptions in the discussion. reasonable. This paper demonstrates some of the critical thinking processes that good writers use. and developing and supporting arguments—require writers to understand and address the underlying assumptions they may be bringing into their writing and thinking (or even that someone else responding differently might bring into the argument).” Sample Paper E. Or perhaps new complications might be introduced. Good writers can also project what the various outcomes might be if an issue were to be resolved in favor of their point of view. As they build one idea on another. and persuasive. and what the discussion is about. A writer’s position often becomes apparent and complete only through the act of writing. Knowing why one thinks as one does is an essential component of critical thinking. These form the core of their position. they evaluate how arguments can be presented so that their audience will be persuaded to seriously consider their opinion on the issue. Writers frequently “stumble across” key insights while writing that they did not anticipate at the beginning of the writing process. successful writers also evaluate what their strongest arguments are and why. and decide whether the assumptions about the issue are based in logic. Only after writers have made these evaluations can they determine how their thinking about the issue may have been influenced by the assumptions. accessible language allows the reader to know exactly what the writer means. or experience. During such evaluation. which earned a score of 12. Every situation and viewpoint has shortcomings. how the writer supports it. Once writers have decided which arguments to present. they make the relationships between their ideas clear. adopting a clear position. In other words. What kinds of future implications would there be if a decision were made based on their way of thinking about the issue? Who might be affected by that kind of decision and how would they be affected? Recognizing the complexity and complications of one’s own perspective is another skill that good writers bring to the task. writers must always be open to new insights yet flexible enough to incorporate new thinking while maintaining their focus and position. rather than causing misunderstanding or confusion. understanding of other possible perspectives on an issue. Portions of the paper are followed by annotations that detail the specific skills the writer used successfully in order to craft an effective and persuasive essay. good writers consistently evaluate the kinds of sentences and vocabulary they are using throughout their writing. Acts of writing are unique opportunities in which writers can explore and reveal their own thinking on an issue. Good writers synthesize their ideas so there is an obvious unity to the argument. Moreover. they must consider how best to organize what they have written in support of their opinion. 35 . This ultimately gives the writer the best chance to persuade the reader of his or her opinion. is reprinted on the following page. thus providing the reader with a coherent and cohesive essay. or in favor of another point of view. writers must explain their position through a reasoned discussion of ideas that reveals their thinking and ultimately supports their position on the issue. This is the real challenge of critical thinking—much valuable understanding is often revealed to writers only in the exploration and execution of their intended “writing map. Are there contradictions within the writer’s position? Writers with good critical thinking skills demonstrate in their writing that they are prepared to be as critical of their own point of view as they are of others’ points of view. The writer needs to make thoughtful choices about how to present the discussion so that their arguments and the supporting reasons have a logical flow and are easy for a reader to follow. Clear. All of these components—recognition of context. as discussed above. thus making the presented opinion more accessible. writers need to fully think through why they perceive the issue they are writing about in the way that they do. Finally. What are the drawbacks to the writer’s position? There might be difficulties left unresolved or unaddressed if the writer’s point of view were to be adopted. Good writers question where these assumptions come from and why they persist. Finally. Because awareness and knowledge grow during writing. evidence.addition. as well as logical and fully explained. In addition to considering the underlying assumptions that inform their position on an issue and understanding the possible outcomes resulting from the decision made. writers must consider if the key ideas being offered in support of their argument are clear and prominent. not only must they decide their position.

SAMPLE PAPER E High schools nowdays are struggling to draw the line between what is “educational” and what is not.] Educators are the ones who tell us we should spend more time reading. the writer demonstrates in this essay an understanding that there are implications and outcomes to be considered when decisions are made on complex issues. But the critics of popular magazines should take a closer look at them. along with its underlying complications. [The writer demonstrates understanding of the necessity to evaluate and analyze the reasons and evidence posited on the other side of the argument. and students may find it in places administrators and librarians might not think to look.] demonstrates the capability to see and understand that there is more than one legitimate viewpoint about the issue. and to use clarity and logic when refuting that evidence. [The writer uses an overall framework of cause and effect and formulates specific reasoning and evidence that supports the opinions given on the issue. The magazines that teenagers enjoy reading are the ones that cover our interests and address our concerns. you separate school from the real world its’ supposed to prepare us for. The writer also understands and gives voice to the broader question.] Even the frivolous features have something to teach the reader who wants to learn. These are the magazines that some would banish from the library. [The writer the issue. [One of the critical questions that is inherent in the issue. but education purists need to be reminded that if you separate “academic” from “non-academic” too strictly. like “Seventeen” or “Teen People”. School programs are cut based on how much educational content they’re perceived to have. There should be room in the school library for both. The writer also uses effective sequencing as a means to more deeply explore the ideas presented. or unworthy of analysis.] 36 . Learning can be found in popular magazines as well as approved academic texts. and that means reading things other than school assignments. but we would continue reading—even during precious homework free moments—if we had something interesting to turn to. the WHY behind It’s true that not every page in youth magazines is an intellectual challenge.] Learning is where you find it. All those “Great Looks Cheap” may be a first step toward becoming a smarter consumer. We read these because we have to. and acknowledges that there are always outcomes to decisions. Many pages show models selling zit cream. [Overall. The writer also shows the ability to place the issue within a critical context.] Now the administration is trying to purge the libraries of popular magazines because they contain non academic subjects. is immediately noted by the writer. [The writer demonstrates the ability to provide serious analysis of elements within an argument that may at first seem without merit or weight. and college comparisons—subjects that the adult oriented news media doesn’t cover. The silly quiz may open up questions about the nature of “scientific proof” or lead to more self-knowledge. It’s important that the library buy dictionaries and encyclopedias. thus providing further insight into the issue. These same magazines have articles on suicide prevention. No one ever gained reading proficiency from daily struggles through their Chemistry or History textbooks. or contain “dream date” quizzes. the spread of AIDS among teens. The only way to build the reading comprehension and vocabulary skills so important for getting into and through college is to practice.

measure knowledge gains. namely. and the attrition rate of those students. Linking assessment and instruction prompts both teachers and students to take on new roles and responsibilities. Using assessment to inform instruction can help teachers create a successful learning environment. 19). Assessment can gauge the learners’ readiness to extend their knowledge in a given area. With an ever-increasing number of high school graduates entering college. they can reexamine how to help students learn. As Peter Airasian. As teachers review student performances on various measures. Connecting assessment to classroom instruction can help both teachers and students take charge of thinking and learning. but a means to another end. the author of Classroom Assessment.THE ASSESSMENT-INSTRUCTION LINK WHY I S IT I MPORTANT TO LINK ASSESSMENT WITH I NSTRUCTION? Assessment provides feedback to the learner and the teacher. the assessment process becomes an integral part of teaching and learning. editor of Authentic Assessment: A Collection 37 . every lesson plan. The ACT can help provide information about students’ level of knowledge and skills that can be used to guide students’ secondary school learning experiences. good decision making” (p. Because many colleges use ACT scores as one piece of information in making decisions about admissions and course placement. students and teachers can reevaluate their goals and embark on a process of continuous growth. THE ARE YOUR STUDENTS DEVELOPING N ECESSARY SKILLS? Many high schools monitor the effectiveness of their educational program by tracking the success of their graduates after they leave high school. and every assessment method should focus on helping students achieve those [significant] outcomes that will help students both in the classroom and beyond. It is important to tie all the assessment information you gather to the goals of your English Language Arts program and to discuss how these goals are aligned with information about postsecondary institutions. “Every objective. the courses into which those students are placed. When teachers use assessment tools to gather information about their students. then modify instruction accordingly. it becomes the school’s responsibility to ensure that its graduates have mastered the prerequisite skills necessary for success in entry-level courses. “Assessment is not an end in itself.” — Kay Burke. says. high schools can use students’ ACT scores as they review their schools’ performance. identify needs. Students can use assessment as a tool to help them revise and rethink their work. to help integrate prior knowledge with new learning. and to apply their knowledge to new situations. every classroom activity. and determine the learners’ ability to transfer what was learned to a new setting. Through reflecting together on their learning. It bridges the gap between expectations and reality. Some of the criteria by which schools measure success are the number of graduates who enroll in postsecondary institutions.

and College Biology. namely English Composition. The Benchmark Scores are median course placement values for these institutions and as such represent a typical set of expectations. These data provide an overall measure of what it takes to be successful in a standard first-year college course.As students and others review test scores from the ACT. ACT has gathered course grade and test score data from a large number of first-year students across a wide range of postsecondary institutions. 21 on the Reading Test. ACT research indicates that the writing skills described in the score ranges 3–4 and 5–6 of the College Readiness Standards for the ACT Writing Test represent the minimum level of writing skills needed by students to be ready for college-level writing assignments. The ACT scores established as the ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores are 18 on the English Test. The courses are the ones most commonly taken by first-year students in the areas of English. and three or more years each of mathematics. With respect to the Writing Test. which ACT has defined as core college preparatory courses. ACT has defined core college preparatory course work as four or more years of English. The College Readiness Benchmark Scores were based upon a sample of postsecondary institutions from across the United States. achieve much higher test scores than students who do not. Data from 98 institutions and over 90. they should be aware that ACT’s data clearly reveal that students’ ACT test scores are directly related to preparation for college. Students who take rigorous high school courses. mathematics. and science. studies. The data from these institutions were weighted to reflect postsecondary institutions nationally. Success is defined as a 50 percent chance that a student will earn a grade of B or better. which are median course placement scores achieved on the ACT that are directly reflective of student success in a college course. an entry-level College Social Studies/Humanities course. and natural science. College Algebra. 22 on the Mathematics Test. social Table 3: College Readiness Benchmark Scores ACT Subject Test English Mathematics Reading Science Test Score 18 22 21 24 38 . The following sections are devoted to descriptions of how ACT Writing Test results can be used to help develop students’ writing skills across the score scale.000 students were used to establish the ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores (see Table 3). social studies. ACT works with colleges to help them develop guidelines that place students in courses that are appropriate for their level of achievement as measured by the ACT. In doing this work. and 24 on the Science Test.

and extracurricular learning opportunities” (Goodwin. 1995. such as ACT’s Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS).USING ASSESSMENT INFORMATION TO HELP SUPPORT LOW-SCORING STUDENTS Students who receive a Composite score of 16 or below on the ACT will most likely require additional guidance and support from their teachers and family in order to meet their post-high school goals. A student’s score on each content-area test on the ACT should also be reviewed with respect to his or her future goals. which were common to those schools that were considered effective in teaching students. can help bring into view factors that may affect—either positively or negatively—student performance. High English Test and Writing Test scores can be used as evidence that the goal is realistic. 39 . clearly thought-out curriculum in which knowledge gained in one grade is built upon in the next. or feel entitled to take academic advantage of certain opportunities. All students need to be motivated to perform well academically. dedicated educators working in their field of expertise. & Argys. and who have a degree and certification in the area in which they teach (Ingersoll. These factors. 2000. 1998) and ample opportunities to collaborate with their peers (McCollum. particularly if one of their goals is to attend a four-year college or university. to becoming a “community of learners”. Using assessment information. For example. include ■ MAKING THE I NVISIBLE VISIBLE a principal who has a clearly articulated vision for the school. has identified several positive factors in her book The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crisis of Our Time (1985. school-wide commitment to learning. 276 and 294). Students who score at or below 16 on the ACT might best be served by exploring those institutions that have an open or liberal admission policy. a student who wishes to become a journalist will need a solid English background. College admission policies vary widely in their level of selectivity. “high expectations for all” students. This information provides only general guidelines. and colleges often make exceptions to their stated admission policies. some students “may not know about. and they need informed guidance in sorting out their educational/career aspirations. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ There are also factors that have a negative impact on student achievement. college entrance exams. a blend of students from diverse backgrounds. 2000). Diane Ravitch. Rees. There is considerable overlap among admission categories. 2000). ■ a strong. Reviewing and interpreting assessment information can encourage conversations between parents and teachers about what is best for students. For example. 3). pp. a research professor at New York University. and the leadership skills to empower teachers to work toward that vision. ACT Composite scores typically required by colleges having varying levels of selectivity are shown in Table 4 on page 40. are more likely to engender students’ success in school. p. Teachers who challenge their students by providing a curriculum that is rigorous and relevant to their world and needs (Brewer. know how. and systematic monitoring of student progress through an assessment system. WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS THAT AFFECT STUDENT PERFORMANCE? Many factors affect student achievement. like college preparatory courses. Low scores (or subscores) suggest the student should consider ways of improving his or her English skills through additional course work and/or additional assistance in the area. Gay.

and determine what is most important to do next. staff/student ratios. number of courses taught by teachers outside their endorsed content area. and teaching and student awards. self-reports. mobility. like low-scoring students. Schools therefore would benefit by collecting data about ■ ■ enrollment. ■ ■ Reviewing student learning information in the context of demographic data may also provide insight and information about specific groups of students. schools and teachers can collect information from ■ ■ progress reports (qualitative. It can help teachers see more clearly what is happening in their classrooms. logs. level of language proficiency. retention. and rubrics and rating scales. ■ ■ ■ ■ Table 4: The Link Between ACT Composite Scores and College Admission Policies Admission Policy Highly Selective Typical Class Rank of Admitted Students Majority of accepted freshmen in top 10% of high school graduating class Majority of accepted freshmen in top 25% of high school graduating class Majority of accepted freshmen in top 50% of high school graduating class Some of accepted freshmen from lower half of high school graduating class All high school graduates accepted to limit of capacity Typical ACT Composite Scores of Admitted Students 25–30 Selective 21–26 Traditional 18–24 Liberal 17–22 Open 16–21 40 . projects. they can gain a sense of control and efficacy that contributes to their sense of accomplishment about what they do each day. For example. percent of free/reduced lunch and/or public assistance. visible. others qualitative data (performance described in nonnumerical terms. performance assessments (such as portfolios. provide evidence that the method of teaching they’re using really works. etc. retirement projections and turnover rates. can yield useful insights into student learning. or the needs of students. race. As teachers become active teacher-researchers. Collecting assessment information in a systematic way can help teachers in various ways. journals. and graduation rates. or both) on student skills and outcomes. staff and student attendance rates and tardiness rates.or criterion-referenced tests).). ethnicity.Using data is one way of making the assumptions you have about your students and school. There are many different types of assessment information that a school or school district can collect. and housing trends. such as text. dropout. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ standardized tests (norm. presentations). quantitative. All types. peer assessments. artifacts. or photographs. video. Some types yield quantitative data (performance described in numerical terms). audio. when properly analyzed. gender. and health.

and the capacity or willingness of the school to accept. low self-esteem. and respond to them in a manner that supports and enables their maximum social. 2) Hixson’s views reveal the necessity of looking at all the variables that could affect students’ performance. succeed in college. students who are at risk should be considered in a new light: Students are placed “at risk” when they experience a significant mismatch between their circumstances and needs. p. to successfully pursue post-secondary education. many schools need to reconstruct their curricula. not just focusing on the students themselves. 41 . For example. parental attitude toward and involvement in students’ school success. 1993. some students who score low on tests are never introduced to a curriculum that challenges them or that addresses their particular needs: “Much of the student stratification within academic courses reflects the social and economic stratification of society. and intellectual growth and development. and contribute to. Many individuals and organizations are interested in helping students succeed in the classroom and in the future. rather than categorizing and penalizing students for simply being who they are. Students who slip behind are the likeliest to drop out and least likely to overcome social and personal disadvantages. accommodate. we must not focus only on the students themselves. low motivation. Low-achieving students may demonstrate some of the following characteristics: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Many of these characteristics are interconnected. and test anxiety. low reading and writing skills. and prepare for lifelong learning” (Noeth & Wimberly. to benefit from it in a manner that ensures they have the knowledge. poor study habits. According to Judson Hixson. As Barbara Means and Michael Knapp have suggested. There is also the issue of intrinsic motivation in that students have little desire to keep trying to succeed if they habitually do not experience success. the Network for Equity in difficulty with the volume of work to be completed. 2002.g.WHAT DOES IT M EAN SCORING STUDENT? TO BE A LOW- ■ ■ lack of concentration. training. p. to discover multiple ways to solve a problem. skills. A low-scoring student cannot do the volume of work a successful student can do if it takes a much longer time to decipher text passages because of low reading skills. Low-achieving students tend to be those students who score low on standardized tests.. a researcher at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL). to complete complex tasks by receiving support (e. cues. lack of opportunities to engage in complex problems that are meaningful to students. reluctance to ask for help with tasks/assignments. such as ■ job or home responsibilities that take time away from school responsibilities. or more importantly. so does the likelihood that they will fail to either complete their elementary and secondary education. emotional. and lack of adequate support and resources. As the degree of mismatch increases. Schools using tracking systems or other methods that ultimately place low-income and marginal students in lower-level academic courses are not adequately preparing them to plan for postsecondary education. should be on enhancing our institutional and professional capacity and responsiveness. employing instructional strategies that help students to understand how experts think through problems or tasks. the social. and to engage actively in classroom discussions (1991). economic. The focus of our efforts. or meaningful employment and to participate in. ■ ■ ■ ■ For example. therefore. and political life of their community and society as a whole. students’ relationships with their peers. modifications). But again. (Hixson. and dispositions necessary to be successful in the next stage of their lives—that is. but also consider other variables that could affect their academic performance. 18).

New York. ACT & The Education Trust. Taking a few minutes to plan your essay is a much better strategy than writing a first draft with the intent to copy it over for the final essay. They’re studying school records.” This means that teachers discuss the demands of high-stakes tests and how they “relate to district and state standards and expectations as well as to their curriculum” (Langer. make sure readers will see that you understand the issue. reasons. Urban students taking a more rigorous sequence of courses in mathematics and science and finding success in those courses score at or above national averages on the ACT. As you begin writing your essay. as part of the ongoing English language arts learning goals. Regardless of gender. p.Student Achievement (NESA). ACT research conducted in urban schools both in 1998 and 1999 shows that urban school students can substantially improve their readiness for college by taking a ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 42 . This might be simply a list of ideas. ■ WHAT CAN EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS DO BEFORE STUDENTS TAKE THE ACT? Integrate assessment and instruction. Before you begin writing your essay. Explain your point of view in a clear and logical way. tougher sequence of core academic courses in high school. 6). Langer’s study revealed that in higher performing schools “test preparation has been integrated into the class time. science. 1999). To reduce the probability of that outcome. Close. such as the following: ■ Pace yourself. a group of school districts in diverse suburban areas and small cities. 2004a. Reread it if you are not sure. disaggregating test score and grade data. are organizations that are dedicated to initiating strategies that will close the achievement gap among groups of students. While planning. decide how you want to answer the question in the prompt. or family income. If possible. Florida. 2004). discuss the issue in a broader context or evaluate the implications or complications of the issue. 1). comprehensive educational program. Make logical relationships clear by using transitional words and phrases. then jot down your ideas on the topic. This “preparation” begins long before any test date. 2001. ethnicity. conducted a five-year study that compared the English programs of typical schools to those that get outstanding results. and the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN). editor of the Harvard Education Letter. and Texas predominated the study. Vary the structure of your sentences. and social studies earn higher ACT scores and are more successful in college than those who have not taken those courses (ACT & Council of Great City Schools. a group of large urban school systems. Students may be helped by being taught specific test-taking strategies. write down what you think others might say in opposition to your point of view and think about how you would refute their argument. Emphasize core courses. the most important prerequisite for optimum performance on the test is a sound. As you plan your essay. Many schools and districts have found participation in such consortia to be helpful. According to Michael Sadowski. the following pages provide some suggestions about what educators and students can do before students’ achievement is assessed on standardized tests like the ACT. and use varied and precise word choices. Subsequent research has substantiated these findings and confirmed the value of rigor in the core courses (ACT. Carefully consider the prompt and make sure you understand it. Teach test-taking strategies. those students who elect to take four or more years of rigorous English courses and three or more years of rigorous course work in mathematics. Angelis. Address what others might say to refute your point of view. interviewing students and teachers. the director of the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement. Because the ACT is curriculum-based. 2000. Do not wander off topic. administrating questionnaires—essentially becoming researchers—to identify exactly where problems exist and to design solutions” (Sadowski. A student may get a low score on a standardized test for any of a number of reasons. p. Judith Langer. & Preller. End your writing with a strong conclusion that summarizes or reinforces your position. and examples that you will use to explain your point of view on the issue. administrators and teachers who are frustrated by persistent achievement gaps within their school districts “have started to look for answers within the walls of their own schools. think of how best to organize the ideas in your essay. Schools with economically disadvantaged and diverse student populations in California.

or 11–12 ranges. In fact. drafting. community organizations. Researchers hoped to learn what the average student needs to be taught in order to become proficient at the craft of writing. and show competent use of language as they communicate their ideas. However. 18). editing. introductions. Showing recognition of the complexity of an issue in a prompt by being able to acknowledge and describe a counterargument to the writer’s position. colleges.■ Take a few minutes before the end of the testing session to read over your essay. The Writing College Readiness Standards indicate that students who score below 7–8 have difficulty demonstrating their skills in some or all of the following areas: ■ THE WHAT DOES RESEARCH SAY ABOUT PROFICIENT WRITER? Showing an understanding of the purpose of writing a persuasive essay. 9–10. and businesses often form partnerships to provide teachers with enhanced professional development opportunities to ensure they have the necessary tools and strategies to teach middle school and high school effectively” (Noeth & Wimberly. stages that do not always necessarily proceed in this order: ■ ■ Prewriting—generating ideas. Showing a control of language through the use of standard English grammar. and Graves (1983). However. ■ Maintaining a focus on the general topic in the prompt. Among the leaders in these investigations were Emig (1971). p. Flower and Hayes (1981). Calkins (1980). Taking and maintaining a position on an issue in a writing prompt. 2002. ■ A great deal of research in the 1970s and ’80s examined what student writers actually do as they create their work. Test preparation activities that help students perform better in the short term will be helpful to those students who have little experience taking standardized tests or who are unfamiliar with the format of the ACT. and then revising and editing again. maintain a focus on the specific topic and issue throughout their essay. revising. organize their ideas in a coherent and logical fashion. and spelling. or research paper—to the process that proficient writers use as they build their work. Perl (1979). story. School personnel in urban or high-poverty middle schools can investigate programs such as GEAR UP. Offering development of ideas with examples that are specific and not repetitive. these students need to become more consistent in demonstrating these skills in a variety of writing situations. In sum. School districts. drafting new portions. know appropriate test-taking strategies. which “provides federal funds for schools to prepare low-income middle school students for high school and college preparation through multiple school reform efforts. linear process but a recursive one. some students who score below 7–8 may be able to make some basic decisions about constructing pieces of writing and solve some simple writing problems. offer a broad context for discussion. WHAT DO THE ACT WRITING TEST RESULTS I NDICATE ABOUT LOW-SCORING STUDENTS? Students who score below 7–8 on the ACT Writing Test are likely to have some or all of the knowledge and skills described in the ACT Writing Test College Readiness Standards for the 3–4 and 5–6 ranges. in which writers move back and forth between stages—for example. Emig identified five stages of the writing process. punctuation. ■ Students are more likely to perform at their best on a test if they are comfortable with the test format. and conclusions. Providing an organizational structure that logically groups ideas. Correct any mistakes in grammar. and are aware of the test administration procedures. This finding shifted teachers’ focus from the end product—the finished essay. as well as an understanding of appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure. these students need practice in writing that will enhance their abilities to develop their ideas fully. usage. thinking about the piece one is planning to work on Drafting—writing out a rough copy of the piece ■ 43 . and mechanics. usage. Emig’s research (1971) suggested that creating a finished piece of writing is not a simple. generating other ideas. they might have some of the skills listed in the 7–8. Using transitional words and phrases. ■ ■ ■ Search out other sources of help.

and conferences between teacher and student before the student’s work is finished and ready for publication. These “knowledge tellers” don’t solve problems of either form or content very often. for example.■ Revision—literally. p. Each decision the writers make about what tone to present their ideas in forces them to make decisions about what material is appropriate to that tone. As the content changes. is more linear than the thinking of expert writers. 147). The novelist E. teachers can help students work at their writing through ■ use of writers’ workshops where teacher and students comment on student writers’ in-process work. Teachers promote learning about the writing process in a variety of ways. has been emphasized in writing education and research for the past thirty years now. Novice writers. revisioning the piece that has been drafted Editing—fixing mechanical errors such as spelling or grammatical mistakes Publication—the sharing of a finished product ■ ■ Teaching students how to effectively use this process. writers with those of “novice. As these writers work. just because a student is provided with daily opportunities to record experience in journals. and what form to present the information in. entering drafts of a homework assignment. 147). Through daily informal journal writing—whether that journal writing consists of the student jotting down questions about literature read. 101). 1987). writers who are “knowledge tellers” say that their biggest problem in writing is finding enough material to fill the page-number requirement given them by their teacher. these researchers say. M. writers. many teachers use writing as a way of helping their students learn across content areas (Langer & Applebee. 1991. and helping each student find his or her own recursive writing strategies. the content they use for their text is reconfigured and they often see it in a new light. they move between solving problems of content—deciding what to say— and solving problems of rhetoric—deciding how to say it. p. novice writers do not describe their writing process as being one in which they learn something new. or recording experiments in biology class—the student will gain understanding of the subjects he or she is studying. ■ ■ Besides helping students work through the writing process. combined with careful responses from their teachers. In 44 . Such consistency of practice has been shown to improve students’ attitudes toward writing in general. then. Forster captures the experience of many expert writers when he recounts the anecdote of an old lady asking. look to the teacher to tell them what to write about. As expert writers compose. that makes the difference between the work of writers whose end product is good enough and writers whose end product is not? Researchers have recently compared the thought processes of “expert. informal writing practice. collaborative writing circles where peers help each other rework drafts. rearranging. These less mature writers show little evidence of working out a connection between form and content. need daily. But just because a student writer receives instruction in the writing process. For example. in these researchers’ findings. for example—describe their experience of writing as being one of discovery (Bryson & Scardamalia. rather than seeing the project as being a way of learning a new aspect of the topic. 1998). this means reseeing. then. p. All students. Moreover. but particularly students who score low on standardized tests. With this back-and-forth problem-solving process comes a sense of creating something entirely new. daily informal writing encourages students to use a more sophisticated thinking process during writing (Christenbury. which may be the reason so many expert writers—Robert Frost. 1927. “How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?” (Forster. According to this research.” or less mature. In contrast. as they are producing drafts. Novice writers’ thinking. that student’s finished piece of writing will not automatically be one most would rate “proficient. 1987.” What is it. Each decision the writers make about which ideas to include in their papers.” or more accomplished. so the form in which the writers present the content changes. forces them to make new decisions about where to place those ideas in relation to the material already present. taking notes on current events. because the way they conceive of the task of writing bypasses both content-area problems and rhetorical problems (Bereiter & Scardamalia. Bryson and Scardamalia describe the thought process of the expert writer as being one which involves problem solving at a sophisticated level. Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) found that novice writers conceive of a writing project as being simply the telling of what they know about the topic.

Fulwiler (1987). Lester. Lerner (1989). as they do in the expert writer’s thinking process. 1987). It’s important to develop writing topics that are appropriate to students’ ages and interests. Shaughnessy. grammar. & Pradl. Shaughnessy (1977). 142) It’s important that students have multiple. Carbo. They begin writing as soon as they’re given the assignment and decide they’re finished when they’ve filled up enough pages. decisions about form and content never interconnect or influence each other. in their writing are included in the next pages. Novice writers show little concern about planning. informal texts. But the research usefully suggests that what novice writers need is to learn how to transform—not merely tell—their knowledge. 1994) rather than tasks in which writing is used for thinking. this means learning about students’ lives and working as much as possible to encourage writing assignments that build on students’ strengths (Christenbury. 1977). including Mayher. daily opportunities to write ungraded work in every class. 1981. Delpit (1995).the novice writer’s thinking process. These researchers suggest that the assumption that students need to spend time on remediation rather than learning the higher-order thinking skills that are a part of the expert writers’ repertoire is a large part of what causes these students to be “low achievers” in writing. appropriate and modify a wide variety of discourses. Low-scoring students need opportunities to imitate. Fulwiler. such as problem solving strategies and rhetorical knowledge. For teachers. practice. & Pradl (1983). and handwriting. eighth-. 1983. the more comfortable they become with the act of writing and the more proficient they are apt to become at all kinds of writing. 1998). and ideas from other education researchers. What do these researchers describe as ways to improve the writing of such students? The following list is a combination of suggestions from “Language Arts: A Chapter of the ASCD Curriculum Handbook” (Christenbury. The more students are asked to write short. and Heath (1983): ■ WHAT CAN BE DONE TO H ELP NOVICE WRITERS WRITE BETTER? Though. they may need carefully designed scaffolding to support their efforts to acquire experience with the use of language that characterizes academic literacy (Heath.” Bryson and Scardamalia (1991) state that Writing instruction for chronic low achievers typically focuses on techniques for remediating so-called basic skills such as spelling. and twelfth-grade students report that their teachers talk to them about their writing and ask them to write more than one draft of a paper at least sometimes. Research indicates that using ungraded journals in science. ■ ■ 45 . A central assumption made by many educators of low-achieving students is that the acquisition of so-called low-level text production skills is a necessary prerequisite to the acquisition of composing skills associated with writing as a powerful tool for personal learning. (p. Low-achieving students in particular may not have had access to experiences that teach them the style of academic discourse. suggestions from Bryson and Scardamalia’s chapter “Teaching Writing to Students at Risk for Academic Failure” (1991). not simply tell. In a chapter called “Teaching Writing to Students at Risk of Academic Failure. about emphasizing main ideas or using specific or graceful language. Some ideas of ways teachers might help student writers develop the skills and the thinking processes that help them transform. 1998). there is some evidence that in some schools low-scoring students are required to perform writing tasks that consist primarily of fill-in-the-blank or short-answer exercises (Britton. 1983. Lester. Applebee. 1975. It’s important to be aware that these two models of thinking-when-writing are generalizations—both proficient writers and novice writers use many different methods to compose their work. social studies. over 80 percent of fourth-. according to 1998 NAEP data. or mathematics classes as well as in English classes can help students think about content concepts more clearly and help them become more comfortable using writing as part of the thinking process (Mayher.

Students need opportunities to write in a variety of genres to a variety of audiences. a poem to imitate. or a chart to fill in. students also need enough time to write and rewrite their work. 1998). Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic. critiquing other students’ work and helping them to revise and improve it. They need to be allowed to write drafts in which concern about mechanics is not paramount (Shaughnessy. Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position and providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position. sentence-combining activities. students can learn how to respond to their peers’ writing. Low-achieving students need teachers who “make overt the covert cognitive activities that underlie expert-like composing”. to help them think about ways of organizing their writing (Christenbury. Provide an adequate but simple organization with logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay . 1998). Peer review is helpful for the critic. their motivation can diminish (Christenbury. transitional words and phrases. ■ Finally. Show adequate use of language to communicate by correctly employing many of the conventions of standard English grammar. and using some varied kinds of sentence structures to vary pace. With teacher assistance. and examples.■ As well as opportunities to learn a new style of writing and speaking—what we’ve here called academic discourse—students need teachers who respect and build on the strengths of their home language. students need some prewriting assistance. have been found to be particularly useful with low-scoring adolescent students (Lerner. as well—seeing flaws in others’ work can help a student notice the flaws in his or her own (Christenbury. Computers can be used to help students present their writing to audiences other than the teacher—via e-mails to fellow students. In their more formal writing experiences. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 46 . 1998). 1995). Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. . 1977). . 1991). 1991. Present a discernible introduction and conclusion with a little development. Teachers need to learn about the writing styles and values of students from cultures other than their own. . or class newsletters developed with the help of a word processing program (Lerner. 1998). 1989). and mechanics . their target achievement outcomes could be the College Readiness Standards listed in the 7–8 range: ■ ■ ■ Show understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt. Developing a social context for writing through collaborative writing sessions helps everyone become a reader and a writer (Bryson & Scardamalia. Delpit. They need time to be away from their writing—a day or two—so that they can come back and evaluate it with fresh eyes (Christenbury. . when they write only for the audience of the teacher. All students need opportunities to get feedback about their writing-in-process and they need time for revision.” teachers must work to identify and eliminate sociocultural biases that constrain traditional school-based definitions of literacy (Bryson & Scardamalia. details. 1989). they need modeling and discussion of problem-solving strategies in writing (Bryson & Scardamalia. Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay and attempt a focus on the specific issue in the prompt. In their more formal writing experiences. but appropriate. The use of computers can encourage low-scoring students to write longer compositions and to revise more. They can be given a list.1991). usage. Show some movement between general and specific ideas and examples. a first sentence. news posted on electronic bulletin boards. . Use some simple and obvious. in which students are instructed to combine simple sentences using conjunctions and punctuation in order to form more complex sentences. While they help those students learn to write in “standard English. using appropriate vocabulary. When students write only personal essays. ■ WHAT KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS ARE LOW-SCORING STUDENTS READY TO LEARN? For students who score below 7–8 on the ACT Writing Test.

essaywriting skills like those tested on the ACT Writing Test will improve. Pages 48–50 provide a teacher-developed activity that could be used in a classroom for all students. or character analysis. it is important to use multiple sources of information to make instructional decisions. regular writing occurs in classrooms. and in groups. Persuasive writing such as editorials. as well as opportunities for individual writing. These are followed by the Description of the Instructional Activity. personal commentary. ■ The College Readiness Standards section lists the skills statements tied directly to the strands that are focused on in the activity. What is important is to get students writing texts of various types. which are statements about instruction and student learning that are relevant to writing. 6). The Description of the Instructional Activity section provides an instructional activity that incorporates writing within a whole-classroom setting. ■ ■ WHAT STRATEGIES/MATERIALS CAN TEACHERS USE IN THEIR CLASSROOMS? According to Bryan Goodwin. Creative writing such as stories. to strengthen the skills taught in the instructional activity. Individual students learn at different rates and in different sequences.) Following the Guiding Principles is the title of the lesson plan and the relevant College Readiness Standards. The Suggested Strategies/Activities section provides ways to expand and develop writing skills further. such as book reviews. senior director of communications at the Mid-continent Research Education Laboratory (McREL). essays of opinion. or plays. and Suggested Strategies/Activities. literature reviews. ■ ■ ■ The instructional activity first lists the Writing Strands that will be addressed and taught in the subsequent activity. Indeed. not just those who have scored low on a standardized assessment like the ACT. cause-and-effect essays. but it can easily be adapted to teach writing skills to higher-performing students as well. The Suggestions for Assessment section offers ideas for documenting and recording students’ learning during the instructional activity. “it is important to note that improving the performance of disenfranchised students does not mean ignoring other students. or interviews. including: ■ HOW I S THE ACTIVITY ORGANIZED? Personal writing such as journal writing or personal narratives. based on the ideas for progress in Table 1. ■ 47 . p. As a result.” This instructional activity is designed to help improve the writing skills of lower-performing students. poems. Academic writing such as research writing. literary analysis. As stated earlier. The Ideas for Progress section offers ways. The activity also offers two Guiding Principles. Ideas for Progress. letters to the editor. students’ ability to create sophisticated pieces of writing will improve.By no means should these be seen as limiting or exclusive goals. Responses to literature. ■ ■ ■ When this kind of varied. Descriptive writing such as ekphrasis (verbal interpretations of paintings) or “How To” papers that describe some process. many of the changes advocated—such as making curricula more rigorous and creating smaller school units—will benefit all students” (Goodwin. Suggestions for Assessment. 2000. (The bibliography beginning on page 73 of this guide includes the source for each statement referenced. and problem/solution essays. The activity is called “What Are We Talking About and Why Are We Talking About This? Clearly Expressing Our Ideas on a Complex Subject.

During class discussion of their answers. such as the fact that some parents and officials think that drivers under the age of eighteen should not have other people in their cars. possibly one currently debated in the local community with which they might be familiar. If you provide frequent occasions for writing. students should address the following questions: Who are all the people affected by this issue? Why is it an important issue to each of these people? WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT AND WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS? CLEARLY EXPRESSING OUR I DEAS ON A COMPLEX SUBJECT College Readiness Standards (Level 3–4) ■ Show a little understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task Show limited recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt Show limited control of language by using simple sentence structure ■ ■ 48 . Working in pairs. they’re dead. having students propose general solutions or revisions for the areas of text they identify as weak in either piece of writing (e.” (King.” “they need to explain why the other way won’t work as well”) can begin preparing students for writing their own essays. 2000. “they need to give us examples. p.g. Also. Next. Using Language Description of the Instructional Activity Guiding Principles ■ “If you want to be a writer. good specific examples. and it’s very hard to become a writer. letters to the editor. these adults would like to make a law banning passengers in cars driven by young drivers.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. engagement with. The teacher should provide students with two pieces of writing on the issue (e.g. essays. p. or refutation of counterargument. position papers. I still hold by my original statement: if kids don’t write more than three days a week. strong persuasive phrases or language. Developing a classroom list of effective persuasive techniques students identify in the stronger piece of writing would help students learn the techniques initially as well as help students remember the techniques later when they write drafts of their own persuasive essays. the class should look at a specific issue of interest to teenagers. then the students start to think about writing when they’re not doing it. One stronger piece that discusses counterargument and one weaker piece that does not acknowledge counterargument may be most effective for purposes of comparison for lowerperforming students. you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. useful comparisons for illustration or explanation). I call it a state of constant composition.145) ■ “What a good writing teacher does is help students see where writing comes from: in a chance remark or article that really burns you up.” (Donald Graves. 23) Students should be introduced to an issue. opinion pieces) that represent two different perspectives or positions. students should be reminded to use the text to show which parts of the writing most persuade them. The teacher can help students understand and name what kind of writing technique the writer has used in the portions of text identified as convincing (acknowledgment of. There is no way around these two things that I’m aware of. no shortcut. quoted in National Writing Project & Nagin. 2003.. logical sequence of reasoning.. Students should be asked which piece of writing is more persuasive and asked why it is more persuasive.

What kinds of arguments would people who favor this idea want to explain? What kinds of arguments would people who would not like this idea want to explain? Who would favor this kind of law and why? Who would oppose it and why? If this law passed. The teacher could mark the parts of the drafts that demonstrate some recognition of the complexity of the topic. Students could revise the essay to eliminate discussion not in support of the writer’s position. or maintained. Students could correct and rewrite sentences to practice good grammatical structures in a context they have created. After sufficient time has been given for students to consider the issue. Using Language As a class. Students could revise the essay to include some recognition of the complexity of the topic or to further develop ideas related to the complexity they introduce. If __________ . the teacher could highlight any sentences that do not use correct sentence structure. Each pair of students could then join another pair to share thoughts. Some sample questions might be: ■ Other possible sentence starters could include “Overall. and that they will have to add new material to their essays in order to introduce. but before beginning to write.” “Another reason. Teachers should be sure to remind students that they may not use all the material they developed during their thinking and sentence-completion exercises when they draft their essay. leaving unmarked those sentences that do not maintain the position. students should be asked to identify their own position on the issue and decide which arguments from the list they would like to use in order to persuade someone to side with their position. making lists or a chart of their responses. or explain the ideas they choose to focus on. __________ is more important. and then write a first draft of an essay from their notes.” “Finally. students could work with sentence-starters. __________ Another reason __________ The problem is __________ 49 . Additionally.” “I disagree.” “I agree. such as: I think __________ because __________ People who support __________ aren’t considering __________ While __________ is important. but __________ An argument for __________ is __________ .” and “It is illogical. how would it affect people? (Practically? Emotionally? Monetarily?) ■ ■ ■ ■ Each pair of students could discuss the answers to these questions. After generating plenty of ideas and many possible sentences.” “It is logical. but __________ It may sound good to say __________ . Students will be asked to draft a persuasive essay.” The teacher should demonstrate by completing several possibilities for most of these types of sentences so that students understand the underlying persuasive focus of the language used in the sentence starters. then __________ One side may say __________ . and thus look at the complexity of the topic.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. Suggestions for Assessment The teacher could highlight sentences in the drafts that show where the position is stated. students could also generate and write down additional questions to help them think about the various angles of the issue. illustrate. adding to their lists or charts as they engage with new ideas. but __________ In reality. Then students should be asked to complete sentences of their own using ideas from their lists or charts. students could number the sentences in the order they think would make the most logical sense.

For example. 50 . Students could also work with a “topic of the week” in which different issues related to the topic were addressed each day.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. the students could read their essays to (or have them read by) one other trusted adult and one other teenager. students could revise their essays to incorporate at least one other perspective in a way that ultimately strengthens the writer’s own argument. after writing and discussing their ideas each day. if the topic of required dress codes in schools were used. What additional idea or suggestion from each person could be incorporated into this essay that would make it a better piece of persuasive writing? Some readers or listeners may disagree with the writer’s position. asking for further input into the arguments presented. for a period of several weeks. How could a writer effectively include a different perspective without weakening the position of the essay? After this class discussion. This could result in increased effort on the task from students. Students could then incorporate other people’s ideas or respond to others’ ideas in their own writing later in the week. two to three times a week. The class could discuss what effect it would have on their essays if students included some discussion representing an opposing viewpoint. Using Language Ideas for Progress Students could work to improve fluency with language and writing stamina by having an “issue of the day” for quick writes of five to ten minutes. Giving students an opportunity to generate these topics might result in more successful exercises. students could talk about the ideas they wrote about. Whether or not teachers should also comply with the dress code Whether or not students should have some input about what the dress code would be like What would be fair ways to deal with dress code violations ■ ■ At the end of each writing period. as it would validate their concerns as well as engaging their interest. students could write about specific issues such as: ■ Suggested Strategies/Activities Before being graded. making additions from their quick writes to help develop the essay more fully. At the end of the week. students could each compose an informed and logical essay on that week’s topic.

and to incorporate writing skills from other College Readiness Standards strands. isolated skills but because they encourage thinking and integrated learning. It is these skills and understandings that are represented on the ACT Writing Test. but these listed levels are general guidelines only. The activities that follow are examples of sound educational practices and imaginative. for the other activities. integrated learning experiences. Each instructional activity is designed to address some. We left room for you to envision how the activities might best work for you and your students. these activities were not developed to be a ready-to-use set of instructional strategies. 5–6 and 7–8). and school standards. teachers will need to devise supporting instructional materials appropriate for the activities and the students performing them.INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR ACT WRITING WHY ARE ADDITIONAL I NSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES I NCLUDED? The set of instructional activities that begins on page 52 was developed to illustrate the link between classroom-based activities and the skills and understandings embedded in the ACT Writing Test. state. ACT’s main purpose is to illustrate how the skills and understandings embedded in the ACT Writing Test can be incorporated into classroom activities. 51 . The activities address various College Readiness Standards score levels (for example. linked with an emphasis on reasoning. Teachers are encouraged to use the activities with students performing at all skill levels. as well as ways to provide teacher and peer group feedback. These activities can help because they encourage the kind of thinking processes and strategies the ACT Writing Test requires. we have tried to paint a picture of the ways in which the activities could work in the classroom. the results of standardized tests can help you identify areas of strength and weakness. The instructional activities that follow have the same organizational structure as the one in the previous section. A variety of thought-provoking activities. are included to help students develop and refine their writing skills. The activities are provided as examples of how classroom instruction and assessment. considered with information from a variety of other sources. However. As part of a carefully designed instructional program. For the purpose of this part of the guide.and large-group discussions and both independent and collaborative writing activities. Like the other activity. and available curricular materials. can help students practice skills and understandings they will need in the classroom and in their lives beyond the classroom. but not all. We recognize that as you determine how best to serve your students. district. you take into consideration your teaching style as well as the academic needs of your students. such as small. The instructional activities are not intended to help drill students in skills measured by the ACT Writing Test. It is never desirable for test scores or test content to become the sole focus of classroom instruction. Some of the instructional activities include supporting instructional materials such as graphic organizers and evaluation sheets. these activities may result in improved performance on the ACT Writing Test—not because they show how to drill students in specific. of the writing skills present in the College Readiness Standards.

Organizing Ideas Description of the Instructional Activity Guiding Principles ■ “Writing is a complex. perhaps using scenes from movies or clips from Court TV to show the structure of a lawyer’s argument: opening argument to state the case. 2) ■ “Because we’re convinced that writing is learned in a certain way with recognizable stages. The teacher can further focus the writing by having the students answer the following questions: ■ ■ ■ CHARACTERS CLASSMATES ■ ON TRIAL: CONVINCING College Readiness Standards (Levels 5–6. then we believe that writing is understandable. The teacher will talk with students about the structure of trials.” (Kirby & Liner. In addition. details. . This will give students a way to connect the structure of persuasive arguments with something that they may be familiar with from television or the news. p. It cannot be crowded into hurry-up quarter courses or left to one grade level or relegated to one day a week. the teacher will distribute the reading and ask students to read with the following prompt in mind: “Decide whether you think the main character in the essay/story/selection is making good decisions based on noble ideals. not a magic something that rises from dark depths within us. 1988. We know what it is and how it works.” If using the Krakauer piece. Proficiency in writing requires daily practice . Writing is . And that means we can teach it. To connect this activity to the unit’s readings.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Focusing on the Topic. the teacher will select a reading in which a person makes controversial decisions. . . . . Developing a Position. students will discuss legal accountability. and closing argument to summarize. supporting evidence to prove the claims. the teacher asks students to write for five to ten minutes about a time when they made a decision that directly affected others. organization with logical grouping of ideas Use . or is he a selfish young man who needlessly hurts those who love him?” As students read. . 17) As part of a unit on individual decision making and accountability. and because we believe that writing proceeds in similar stages. . the teacher can offer a more specific prompt such as: “Is Chris McCandless a noble idealist who dies the death of an innocent. appropriate transitional words and phrases Present a discernible introduction and conclusion ■ What was the decision? Why did you decide the way you did? Who was affected? How? Did you realize these individuals would be affected? ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Then.” (Kirby & Liner. (John Krakauer’s “Death of an Innocent” works well for this because it details Chris McCandless’s decision to rid himself of all earthly possessions and ties and live alone in the Alaskan wild. Hear My Cry and examine Stacey’s decision to sabotage the white children’s bus. they will develop an opinion 52 . this discussion prepares students to apply the “trial” model to a piece of literature. p. 1988.) In preparation for reading. and examples Provide an . 7–8) Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. unknowable and unknown. high-level human behavior. Teachers could also use a novel like Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder. or whether s/he is making selfish decisions that harm others. .

Asking students to outline an existing argument strengthens their understanding of structure in writing and gives them the evaluative tools to decide which side has made the better case (Applebee. Then. the teacher. Organizing Ideas on this prompt. By the end of the preliminary discussion. while the other side must prove s/he has made irresponsible. In doing so. they are completing the Graphic Organizer. and using their notes from active reading to support a preliminary position. Each student should listen for these as the trial progresses. Using their brainstormed lists. The collaborative writing process allows students to model for one another and gives the teacher a chance to scaffold the writing process. The writing process in small groups may take a significant amount of time. the students use the reading and their notes to find the best specific evidence to support their reasons. the group will have brainstormed a lengthy list of support/reasons for its position. Members of the groups will begin by sharing with the rest of their group what they wrote at the beginning of class. In their conversations. and one for the closing argument. at the same time anticipating counterarguments from the other side. and a strong closing that sums up the argument. depending on the size of the groups and the time constraints of the classroom). Once students choose sides. After students finish reading (perhaps the next day). By doing so. hurtful decisions. 2005). The team must determine the order of supporting reasons so that each subgroup can use a transition phrase to connect ideas.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Focusing on the Topic. the teacher will ask them to divide into groups according to their position on the prompt question. One member of the group could be designated “note taker” and have the responsibility of jotting down all the supporting points the group lists. who is moving between groups. and that have good textual support. and clearly sets forth the argument the group wants to make. making certain that the resulting piece of writing is unified. The teacher passes out the Jury Evaluation Sheet (see pages 57–58) and reminds students that a good argument will have a clear introduction with a thesis. In doing so. one for each supporting reason. the teacher could begin class by having students write for five to ten minutes. that will evaluate each team’s ability to present arguments and make a good case. but once it is complete. They should write in response to the prompt they were given earlier. Within the subgroups. Each group will need to combine their paragraphs once they are completed. they compose a paragraph for each reason. the entire class comes together for the trial. students should articulate several of the best reasons why a jury should believe their case. while those who feel the character made poor/selfish choices move to the other. encouraging them to use reasons that are the most persuasive. should encourage them to choose the reasons for which they can present the best evidence. explaining why they chose the position they did. the teacher explains that the class will put the person or character “on trial”: one side of the class must defend him/her from charges of selfishness and prove s/he is noble. After narrowing their focus to a certain agreedupon number of supporting reasons (the teacher could ask students to focus fewer or more reasons. they are actively forming opinions and seeking supporting evidence in the text. When students finish their individual responses. students will divide into subgroups: one for the opening argument. Developing a Position. The teacher should then move the students toward selecting the best possible claims to support their points. developed paragraphs that present evidence. The teacher may also want to explain that she will be completing a Judge Evaluation Sheet (see pages 59–60) as well. 53 . Students will plan their cases using the Graphic Organizer. At this time the teacher should provide the Graphic Organizer (see page 56) and have group members agree on the thesis and the supporting reasons (the first column). and then mark with sticky notes at least three places in the reading that support that opinion. the group members are collaboratively moving from brainstorming into focusing and supporting an argument. clear. Those who feel the character/person has made admirable choices move to one side of the room.

or was he a businessman blinded by greed?). was Joe Keller in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons a family man blinded by devotion. then first prosecution paragraph. students vote (by closing their eyes and raising their hands) for the team that made the most convincing argument. The teacher also listens and fills out the Judge Evaluation Sheet. Suggestions for Assessment Peer Response—After the trial. using other literature (for example. As students present. with the teacher listing any especially insightful and helpful observations on the board. this activity should be a lead-in to individual persuasive essays relating to the issue of individual decision making. Teams could alternate: one opening argument. To focus students’ responses. Peer response can be part of the revision process. When everyone has finished presenting. Developing a Position. The judge/teacher announces the verdict. brainstorming support. the teacher should review the process that was used previously: expressing a judgment. and effective conclusions. Teacher Response—The teacher should copy his or her Judge Evaluation Sheet for all members of the group and give them specific feedback in the areas targeted in the lesson. Before the students write. 54 . The teacher should collect these and offer feedback (agreement. and so on. This will give students a clear sense of goal areas before they move into individual essays. first defense paragraph. is listening and filling in their forms. disagreement) prior to the students’ work on the essays. Organizing Ideas One person from each subgroup presents the team’s argument. engaging introductions. have individual students write short paragraphs evaluating what they did well as a group and what they felt they could improve upon next time. focusing the argument.” the entire class.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Focusing on the Topic. and organizing ideas. What did they do in their opening argument to make it strong? Were listeners able to outline their paragraphs? Why? What was effective about the closing argument? This should lead to a conversation about clear thesis statements and topic sentences. the teacher could collect the Jury Evaluation Sheets and give subgroups copies of two or three of the most instructive responses. Self-Evaluation—After the trial. This will help students see the link between organization and clearly stated positions. teachers should offer specific prompts. did you explain how your evidence proves your point? It is useful to connect this to what a lawyer must do. For example. After the verdict. Persuasive Essay Rubric—The Persuasive Essay Rubric (see page 61) could be used to evaluate individual essays and to get a sense of individual development in the College Readiness Standards. the class should discuss why one side won. developing the position. Ultimately. reminding students that evidence does not speak for itself. Use these to discuss strategies for making organization more apparent to audiences. then the other. the “jury.

perhaps an issue students want to focus on in a campaign for local changes.g. not necessarily related to the theme of individual decision making. Developing a Position. and organizing an idea. developing an argument. grouping of ideas. Revise group arguments to strengthen language. thesis statement. Use color-coded highlighting to have groups identify key parts (e. use of transitions.g. the school dress code. personal stereos in school). introductory and concluding sentences) of the paragraphs they write.. These essays could also become the basis of a community-based activity.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Focusing on the Topic. Organizing Ideas Ideas for Progress ■ ■ Suggested Strategies/Activities After students complete individual persuasive essays. Have subgroups swap paragraphs to offer peer feedback on transitions and language before presenting. These topics should be things all students are able to brainstorm about from their individual experience (e. ■ 55 . This activity should allow the teacher to see if individual students are becoming more proficient in the process of focusing on a topic.. teachers could reinforce the writing and organizational process by giving students two-day in-class persuasive essay topics.

3.Graphic Organizer Opening Arguments/Introduction: Thesis Statement: Supporting reasons (why your group is right) 1. Counterarguments (what the other side could say against these reasons) Evidence (proof that your group is right and/or the other side is wrong) 2. Closing argument (summary of your reasons and powerful restatement of your arguments): 56 . 4.

Remember. Prosecution Opening argument: What is the main claim this side wants to prove? This is their thesis.Jury Evaluation Sheet Juror’s Name _________________________________________________________ Directions: As you listen to the cases both sides make in the trial. a good juror is impartial and listens to the evidence carefully! Defense Opening argument: What is the main claim this side wants to prove? This is their thesis. What was one strength of the opening argument? What was one strength of the opening argument? Supporting Points First Point: Supporting Points First Point: Evidence to support first point: Evidence to support first point: Convincing? Yes ■ Second Point: No ■ Convincing? Yes ■ Second Point: No ■ Did you hear a transition into this new point? Did you hear a transition into this new point? Evidence to support second point: Evidence to support second point: Convincing? Yes ■ Third Point: No ■ Convincing? Yes ■ Third Point: No ■ Did you hear a transition into this new point? Did you hear a transition into this new point? Evidence to support third point: Evidence to support third point: Convincing? Yes ■ No ■ Convincing? Yes ■ No ■ 57 . Choose what you feel are the best supporting points. Write it below. fill in the following form to help you decide how you will vote. Write it below.

Which group used the most convincing evidence to support their points and to refute counterarguments? 4.Supporting Points Fourth Point: Supporting Points Fourth Point: Did you hear a transition into this new point? Did you hear a transition into this new point? Evidence to support fourth point: Evidence to support fourth point: Convincing? Yes ■ Fifth Point: No ■ Convincing? Yes ■ Fifth Point: No ■ Did you hear a transition into this new point? Did you hear a transition into this new point? Evidence to support fifth point: Evidence to support fifth point: Convincing? Yes ■ Closing argument: No ■ Convincing? Yes ■ Closing argument: No ■ What points did the closing summarize? What points did the closing summarize? What was one strength of the closing argument? What was one strength of the closing argument? 1. Which group had a stronger opening argument? Why? 2. Which group did a better job making their points clear? How so? 3. Which group had the most convincing closing argument? Why? 58 .

Judge Evaluation Sheet Team: Names ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Opening argument Engages our interest Previews the case States a strong argument/a clear thesis Comments: Supporting Point Clearly stated point Point supports thesis Specific evidence proves the point and refutes counterarguments Comments: Supporting Point Transition from previous point Clearly stated point Point supports thesis Specific evidence proves the point and refutes counterarguments Comments: Supporting Point Transition from previous point Clearly stated point Point supports thesis Specific evidence proves the point and refutes counterarguments Comments: Supporting Point Transition from previous point Clearly stated point Point supports thesis Specific evidence proves the point and refutes counterarguments Comments: 59 .

Closing argument Summarizes points group made Powerfully restates main argument/thesis Comments: Overall evaluation of strengths and weaknesses 60 .

Persuasive Essay Rubric
1. Needs Improvement Argument
No clear argument. No clear evidence to support points.

2. Average
Argument is present but vague; thesis is general. Evidence to support points is not specific.

3. Very Good
Thesis makes a specific and clear argument. Specific evidence supports the thesis.

4. Exceptional
Thesis presents convincing and original argument. Specific evidence effectively persuades the reader. Writer convincingly refutes the counterargument.

Counterargument

No recognition of a counterargument.

Writer makes an effort to acknowledge the counterargument, but it is not discussed. Clear organizational structure; some introduction and conclusion; sometimes stronger transitions needed.

Writer acknowledges and refutes the counterargument.

Organization

No clear organizational structure.

Clear organizational structure with strong transitions between ideas; solid introduction and conclusion.

Strong organizational structure with sophisticated transitions between and within paragraphs; engaging introduction and conclusion. Sophisticated sentence structure variety; word choice is specific. Writing is clear and concise.

Language Use

Ideas are unclearly expressed.

Complete sentences throughout but little variation in sentence structure and types. Most ideas are clearly expressed. Occasional spelling or grammatical errors.

Good variety in sentence type and structure. Ideas are clearly expressed.

Mechanics

No evidence of proofreading; numerous grammatical or spelling errors.

Very few spelling or grammatical errors.

Overall, writing is error-free; the only errors present are minor ones.

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Strands: Organizing Ideas; Using Language

Guiding Principles ■ “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” (attributed to Justice Louis D. Brandeis) ■ “If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.” (attributed to children’s author Barbara Greene)

ALL GROWN UP: REVISITING CHILDREN’S STORIES
College Readiness Standards (Level 5–6)
■ ■ ■

The teacher might also use pieces of children’s literature that focus on sequences of events (such as Rosetta Stone’s Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! or Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches). These texts could be used to discuss how phrases such as “then one day” and “when he woke up” help young readers understand when a new part of the story is being introduced and how ideas are connected. Whatever literature is used, teachers will want to offer a wide range of stories that reflect the cultural histories of their students—for example, Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach, or Gary Soto’s Too Many Tamales. The teacher can then ask the class to work together to rewrite one of the stories already discussed in the classroom so that it is more appropriate for an audience of mature readers (like high school students). During this revision exercise, the teacher should indicate to the students that the class will concentrate on changing the story’s organization and language rather than its content. The task is to tell the same story but make it more complex (although not more complicated). One aspect of this task (the teacher might point out) requires thinking about how to change the order of the story so it is more engaging yet still maintains clear connections between ideas and still indicates clear sequencing of events. The other aspect (the teacher might explain) requires replacing simple sentences with sentences more varied in structure and substituting expressive and precise language for basic vocabulary. The class may find it helpful to brainstorm a “word and phrase bank” of appropriate examples of expressive and precise words or phrases for different parts of speech (verbs, adverbs, phrases indicating sequence or time, synonyms for common nouns), including a wide variety of transitions and conjunctions that they can then use to rewrite the classroom story. When the class has completed the classroom story revision exercise with the teacher, they should be asked to revise a different story (another story from class or one they remember from their own childhood) on their own. It will be necessary for all students to bring the original text of the story to class rather than just remembering what happens in the story. The goal

Use . . . transitional words Use . . . sentence variety Use . . . appropriate vocabulary

Description of the Instructional Activity As a means of introducing a lesson on organizing ideas or a unit on short stories, the teacher might begin by reminding students of how very young children tell stories: “I got up, and then I ate breakfast, and then I watched Sesame Street, and then my mommy and I read Clifford, and then we went out to the garden,” and so on. Children often connect all parts of their stories with a transition such as “and then,” but these transitions only indicate that one thing happened after the other chronologically; they do nothing to suggest how pieces of information are related, or when we’re moving from one subject to the next. That’s a fine strategy for young storytellers, but (the teacher might say) we want to practice some ways of connecting information that helps the reader follow the story and understand relationships. The teacher might then read, recite, or play a recording of a children’s story, rhyme, or song (such as “The Little Red Hen,” “The House That Jack Built,” or “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”). The teacher can point to instances when conjunctions are used, like and, but, or because, to provide additional information to the reader/listener, as well as clarify how the relationship between the pieces of information is indicated by the conjunction.

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Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strands: Organizing Ideas; Using Language

should be the same as the classroom revision lesson: to rewrite the story so that it is more appropriate for a mature audience. The process should also be the same: to change the story’s organization and language rather than its content. The students might find it useful to reference the “word and phrase bank” compiled by the class as they rewrite their stories. Access to a thesaurus might also be helpful. Finally, students could group themselves into pairs or trios in order to workshop their stories. The teacher might ask students to focus on vocabulary at this time, to help one another change simple or predictable words to more interesting language that would keep an audience engaged. It might be appropriate to turn to previous assignments written by students or recent reading the class has done together for examples of precise and engaging vocabulary that could serve as models. Suggestions for Assessment

Ideas for Progress

Add or revise the story’s opening, focusing on grabbing the reader’s interest. Revise to edit punctuation; students may initially have trouble with comma rules and conjunctions.

Suggested Strategies/Activities If possible, once their stories have been revised and edited, many students might enjoy having the chance to read them aloud or to have others read them. This might be done by organizing a story marathon (where stories are read aloud continuously throughout the class period) or by publishing a collection of student stories and distributing it to the whole class or throughout the whole school. As a later review of transitions and conjunctions, the teacher could replace the transitions and conjunctions from select student-revised stories with a blank space indicating only what part of speech had been removed (transition or conjunction). These stories could then be copied onto the board or onto transparencies and the class asked to supply appropriate words to fill in the blanks. Discussion should be necessary as the class decides which word would best fill each blank in order to achieve a clear and engaging story. At the end of the exercise, the original student revision could be compared to the story resulting from the class work.

Short Story Reflection—Students could read over their stories and write informally about why they chose the conjunctions or transitions they included, what ideas are explained by using them, and how they connect ideas in the story. These reflections might prove useful if the teacher asks students to engage in peer revision, because such reflections might allow students to engage in discussions about whether the transitions convey the meaning the writers intend. Continued Revision—Students should have the chance to continue revising their stories, based on the comments of both the teacher and other students. When commenting on the stories, teachers should begin with the organizational innovations and evocative language, as that’s what students will be most invested in. However, teachers should also be sure to comment on how effectively students used conjunctions and transitional words and phrases in the stories.

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The teacher might give between three and five minutes for students to write this list. ideally they should have between eight and ten. In either case. and list as many reasons as they can to defend their positions. will have not only an opinion but a personal interest in having the opportunity to convince the teacher of their positions. etc. the teacher might suggest that students list several reasons why it is unlikely that extra credit would be offered. It’s important that students have at least six reasons.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments.” (Emerson. Organizing Ideas Guiding Principles ■ “Put the argument into a concrete shape. or they may have time to discuss the counterarguments with peers in class. They may even have their own examples of when it has proven beneficial to consider what responses they were likely to get before having such conversations. round and solid as a ball. so that students are assured of having the appropriate context for developing their own arguments and counterarguments. If asked. It is important to include some discussion of why students should consider an alternative viewpoint. details. The teacher should make clear that each student is responsible for writing his or her own reasons first. students will be introduced to ways in which personal ideas are introduced into a public forum (letters to the editor. the teacher should address the fact that acknowledging and/or responding to counterarguments makes it clear that the writer has been reasonable and has looked at other points of view. Students could be asked to recall situations when they have tried to convince their parents of something. . if not all. . position statements on proposed legislation. The topic should be school. Students should then discuss their reasons in small groups (three or four students per group). they may share responses they are likely to get in such situations.). hand out the Responding to Counterarguments Worksheet (see page 68). 1870) Students should write “yes” or “no” after the question. such as allowing them to borrow the car. before eliciting help from classmates. the purpose of the question is to spark authentic debate. “OKAY.—and the cause is half won. Developing a Position. CONVINCE M E”: WRITING ARGUMENTS AND RESPONDING TO COUNTERARGUMENTS College Readiness Standards (Level 7–8) ■ Show understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt Develop ideas by using some specific reasons. depending on the ease with which they can generate their reasons. Later. and examples Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position and by providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position Provide . Students may need additional time to individually complete the Responding to Counterarguments Worksheet. or why the teacher might be in favor of it—whichever opposes the student’s viewpoint. 64 . In any case. Taking the extra credit example. Using the Choosing Arguments Worksheet (see page 67). or to have a later curfew. into an image. The teacher should begin by asking students to write on a piece of paper the following (or a similar) question: Should extra credit be available in this class? The teacher should tailor the question content to her/his particular group of students. students should help one another figure out which reason fits into each category. as some students might find it sufficient to simply discuss their own well-reasoned positions.or classroom-specific. Once students have had a chance to think further about and discuss their arguments. this will provide the teacher with a clearer indication of what students are able to do individually before their reasons become part of the group’s combined work. published opinion pieces. so it should be a question about which most students. logical grouping of ideas in parts of the essay ■ ■ ■ Description of the Instructional Activity As part of a unit on reading or writing. which they can see and handle and carry home with them.—some hard phrase.

Grouping Arguments Together Worksheet—The teacher may find that the most helpful way to evaluate students’ work on this component of the lesson is to move around and discuss the worksheet with student groups as they are filling it out. focusing those comments on clearly taking positions. the teacher should compile a complete list of the student arguments that were generated in each small group. simply commenting on students’ essays is much more likely to give the students an idea of whether they hit or missed their marks. to each group. grouping ideas logically.” Once students are finished categorizing their arguments. they should be given the chance to complete an essay based on their compiled list of arguments and counterarguments. as well as other students’ rationales for making the choices they made..Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. one reason per strip. logical grouping of ideas) he or she will be looking for and evaluating in the students’ essays. Choosing Arguments Worksheet—This worksheet should provide an opportunity for the teacher to have specific conversations with individual students who are less clear on which arguments are especially persuasive or original. rather than any one way being “correct. Responding to Counterarguments Worksheet— Like the Choosing Arguments Worksheet. and that not all counterarguments will be addressed in such an essay. Developing a Position. responding to counterarguments. Suggestions for Assessment Teacher Feedback—Rather than using a rubric to “grade” a first draft.g. to get a sense of what students thought were their best and weakest arguments. what elements (e. with responding to those counterarguments. The following day the teacher should hand out all the sets of reasons. Organizing Ideas the teacher should collect the Choosing Arguments Worksheet. which should allow the teacher to have as many of them as needed. That evening. After a photocopy is made for each small group. to choose counterarguments they feel confident refuting. The students should decide on the criteria for the categories. they can be cut into strips. using specific reasons to defend a position. Because students are asked to explain their answers. rather than to collect it and evaluate students individually. and addressing counterarguments will be most beneficial. and group them by reasons. They might group the reasons according to motivating factors for the availability of extra credit (e. In this case. The teacher should make certain that the students know. those conversations can be easily focused. so that students might see alternative ways of grouping arguments.g. Or they might categorize the reasons according to how original or convincing the arguments are. Once students are comfortable with grouping the arguments together. that discussion should be taken up by the whole class. The teacher should encourage students to choose the arguments and counterarguments that they feel most confident about developing and expanding. cut into strips.. beyond the group discussions with peers. encouraging certain student behavior. The teacher should remind students that the purpose of the worksheets is ultimately to write an essay. or in a computer lab. using the Grouping Arguments Together Worksheet (see page 69) to guide them. this worksheet should allow the teacher a window into students’ thinking on specific arguments. Students should compose the first draft of such an essay in class. Ultimately. and could do so on their own paper. giving students additional chances to improve grades). The teacher may also want to include in the evaluation other elements of essay writing that have previously been addressed in class. This should give the teacher a better idea of how much students are contributing. 65 . before they begin writing. Some students will need additional assistance. and their reasons for the ways in which they are grouping the arguments. and ask them to sort the reasons into four categories. in their essays. Students will therefore have the opportunity. it is the discussion of how reasons might be grouped together that is most important.

exposing them to the work of other students. or a television ad. are ideal for teaching students how to rally specific evidence to the cause of an argument. local. Essays based in research. Students should be encouraged to try these techniques in more complicated writing assignments as well. Revise writing for another audience. or even a one-on-one debate with another student. or national newspapers. Developing a Position. either one which does not agree with the writer’s position. and to use those arguments to outline or to prepare the first draft of another essay. for example. with emphasis on the use of specific examples that would clarify or provide evidence for those arguments. as well as providing additional feedback. both to critique and to use as models. their opinions on whether arguments seem credible may certainly prove helpful. Students will likely also benefit from participation in “peer revision” groups. While students’ expertise on the technical aspects of writing will vary. which might take the form of a persuasive speech to be presented to the whole class. ■ ■ 66 . Read editorials from the school. Revise writing to include transitional words or phrases that guide the reader from one idea to the next.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. Organizing Ideas Ideas for Progress ■ Suggested Strategies/Activities Further extensions of the lesson might include asking students to choose a few arguments they did not use in their original essay. The teacher might reinforce these techniques in oral assignments. or one whose position is undecided. a speech.

Question Which of your reasons is the most convincing? Argument Explanation Which of your arguments is the least convincing? Which of your arguments is the most simple? Which of your arguments is the most complex? Which of your arguments is the most obvious? Which of your arguments is the most original? 67 .Choosing Arguments Worksheet Name ____________________________________________________________ Period ___________ Date___________________ In the Argument column below. explain why that argument fits the question well. write the argument from your list that best answers each question on the left. In the Explanation column below.

briefly describe how you might respond to the counterargument. Counterargument Response to Counterargument 68 . write arguments that a writer with an opposing viewpoint might make.” In the second column. These are “counterarguments.Responding to Counterarguments Worksheet Name ____________________________________________________________ Period ___________ Date___________________ In the first column below.

arrange the arguments into groups. You can divide them up however you like.Grouping Arguments Together Worksheet Name ____________________________________________________________ Period ___________ Date___________________ With your partners. but you must give your reasons for putting the groups together. What do the arguments have in common? Do they have enough in common that you’d give these arguments in the same paragraph of an essay? Group One How are these arguments similar? Group Two How are these arguments similar? Group Three How are these arguments similar? Group Four How are these arguments similar? 69 .

local. 9–10) Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue . .. Examples of excellent student writing can be useful models of cohesive prose. or school level.g. . The articles should reflect individual students’ interests and can be on a national. 70 . . 23) To get students thinking about the ways that language enhances or impedes our ability to express judgments. 2002. students should discuss the following topics: ■ ■ Is the writer’s position on the issue clear? Does the writer tell us why this issue matters? Does the writer acknowledge that there is another side to this issue? What words or sentences make the position more powerful? Does the writer use rhetorical questions anywhere? Do you see language techniques like parallel structure or repetition? What words or phrases could alienate readers? NOW H EAR THIS: LETTERS EDITOR ■ TO THE ■ College Readiness Standards (Levels 7–8. steroid use in baseball. students begin gathering information on local issues. . The teacher could assemble folders with newspaper articles about specific topics.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. and offering a broad context for discussion Show some recognition of the complexity of the issue . The teacher can give students copies and look at them on an overhead. upcoming elections. by acknowledging counterarguments to the writer’s position and by providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position Show competent use of language to communicate ideas by using some precise and varied vocabulary and by using several kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Writing these questions on the board or in a handout will allow students to return to them throughout the lesson. Using Language Description of the Instructional Activity Guiding Principles ■ “Where can students find models for the kinds of personal and persuasive essays that we so often assign? . Then. .” (Jago. state. These topics should be current events of interest to the students in the class (e. p. the new American Idol. drilling in Alaska. but young writers need to read professional essays to develop a feel for the genre. For each letter. community. the teacher should present a variety of published opinion pieces as well as letters to the editor to students. Students should critique both good and bad examples to strengthen their understanding of what it means to contextualize an issue and refute counterarguments effectively. Students divide into groups by topic and read and discuss the issues. The point of this activity is to make students aware of the importance of using appropriate language to express a respectful and reasonable position. grade point requirements for athletes). .

They should assume that it’s okay to write longer letters. acknowledgment of counterarguments. context for discussion.Linking Instruction and Assessment Strands: Expressing Judgments. A good example is Barbara Kingsolver’s “Stone Soup. language techniques. The teacher collects the letters and has them put onto transparencies. the class discusses the letters and makes suggestions for improvement. Suggestions for Assessment Ideas for Progress ■ Read professional essayists and imitate their language techniques. the engagement with counterarguments. and the language use. The writers will then revise letters and publish them in a class publication entitled Now Hear This! or send them in to local or school newspapers. students write their own letters to the editor on the topics. and the language used in those speeches. so they should follow an essay structure rather than a letter format. 71 . Have the students present essays in the form of speeches to the class. sentence variety. Letters to the Editor—The teacher could evaluate the students’ final letters on the following criteria: clarity of position. and vocabulary use. Using Language After these discussions. The students could evaluate the clarity of the writer’s position. Then. ■ Suggested Strategies/Activities The teacher could provide students with texts and videos of actual historical or contemporary political speeches or of political speeches from films. the engagement with counterarguments.” Write monthly letters to local papers or to the school newspaper or newsletter. the class will use the same set of questions they used for the published letters (the bulleted list above). Students should use the bulleted guiding questions from the classroom board or the handout to make improvements. the class could discuss both language use and the speaker’s ability to set up a context for the discussion and to refute counterarguments. students could write the text of speeches on an issue they’d feel strongly about if they ran for school or government office. To workshop these letters. Revising a Letter—The teacher could ask students to revise one of the weaker published letters they examine as a class to improve the clarity of the writer’s position. The next day. After each presentation.

O. and others. and values. students and their parents. WHERE DO WE GO FROM H ERE? ACT recognizes that teachers are the essential link between instruction and assessment.act. The guide serves as a resource for teachers. ® 72 . curriculum coordinators. The sample instructional activities and classroom assessments suggest some approaches to take to help students develop and apply their thinking and writing skills. We are committed to providing you with assistance as you continue your efforts to provide quality instruction. teachers. PLAN—a comprehensive assessment program designed to improve tenth-grade students’ postsecondary planning and preparation and to enable schools to assist students and parents in this important process.PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER WHAT OTHER ACT PRODUCTS SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE? AND In addition to the College Readiness Standards Information Services. “A mind. IA 52243-0168 The Real ACT Prep Guide—the official print guide to the ACT. and provides instant results for use in investigating educational and occupational options. stretched to a new idea. ACT is always looking for ways to improve its services.org. containing three practice ACTs. ACT offers many products and services that support school counselors. Please send them to: College Readiness Standards Information Services Elementary and Secondary School Programs (32) ACT P. ACT Online Prep TM—an online test preparation program that provides students with real ACT tests and an interactive learning experience. and counselors by explaining what the College Readiness Standards say about students’ academic progress. which is designed to aid students as they prepare for their next level of learning.and ninth-grade assessment program designed to stimulate career explorations and facilitate high school planning. EXPLORE—an eighth.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes DISCOVER —a computer-based career planning system that helps users assess their interests. Here are some of these additional resources: ACT’s Website— www. abilities. Students can visit www.org contains a host of information and resources for parents. experiences. and others. Box 168 Iowa City.actstudent. never goes back to its original dimensions. ® ACT developed this guide to show the link between the ACT Writing Test results and daily classroom work. We welcome your comments and questions. WorkKeys —a system linking workplace skill areas to instructional support and specific requirements of occupations. The guide explains how the scoring of the ACT Writing Test is related to the College Readiness Standards and describes what kinds of thinking and writing skills are measured.

Language arts for a successful transition to college: The content foundations of the ACT Assessment. H. A. & The Education Trust. (1998. (1996b). 3. ACT Assessment technical manual. IA: Author. ACT. (1999). ACT. A. Iowa City. NJ: Erlbaum.htm American College Testing Program. [Letter to John Quincy Adams. Applebee. The educator’s guide to the ACT Writing Test. (1992). Iowa City. Hillsdale. C. ACT. 2005. Iowa City. W. IA: Author. 2006. Friedlaender (Eds. 73 . & Scardamalia. IA: Author. ACT. ACT. Maintaining the content validity of ACT’s educational achievement tests. (1973). 1780]. Engaging students in the disciplines of English: What are successful schools doing? Retrieved February 23. Iowa City. (2000). ACT. (2004).BIBLIOGRAPHY (Please note that in 1996 the corporate name “The American College Testing Program” was changed to “ACT. (1987). & Council of Great City Schools. from http://www. Content validity of ACT’s educational achievement tests. Iowa City. American Association for Higher Education. In L. Iowa City. Content validity evidence in support of ACT’s educational achievement tests: ACT National Curriculum Survey 2002–2003. (1996a). (1991).aahe. 313). (2004b). Iowa City. (2004a). IA: Author. Classroom assessment. Iowa City. American College Personnel Association. IA: Author. Content validity evidence in support of ACT’s educational achievement tests: ACT’s 1998–1999 national curriculum study. [Lawrenceville. ACT.org/assessment/joint.). and the ACT Assessment. (1997). Retrieved June 3. IA: Author. IA: Authors. Iowa City. Iowa City. June). IA: Author. (2003).”) Adams. (2005c). Iowa City. New York: McGraw-Hill. MA: Harvard University Press. On course for success: A close look at selected high school courses that prepare all students for college. Crisis at the core: Preparing all students for college and work. IA: Author. IA: Authors. (2005b).. IA: Author. (2005). Your guide to the ACT. (2005a). Gateways to success: A report on urban student achievement and coursetaking. Iowa City. NJ:] Thomson Peterson’s. The psychology of written composition.htm Bereiter. Cambridge. Iowa City. & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. ACT. Butterfield & M.edu/publication/ article/engaging. (1998). PLAN. ACT. IA: Author. April 1778–September 1780 (p. Linking assessment to instruction in your classroom: Language arts guide to EXPLORE. P. ACT. ACT user handbook. Adams family correspondence: Vol. M. from The Center on English Learning & Achievement website: http://cela. Powerful partnerships: A shared responsibility for learning. ACT. Airasian. May 8. ACT. IA: Author. The real ACT prep guide: The only official prep guide from the makers of the ACT.albany. ACT.

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