When it comes to writing, there are a number of variables that determine whether or not a student will develop as a “proficient” writer. This is a critical list for teachers, not only in language arts, but in all disciplines because all disciplines tested include some questions (usually the highest weighted questions) that require the students to communicate thinking and thoughtful use of content in response to a writing prompt.
A brief summary of these characteristics is included in the chart below.
|Characteristics Required for Proficiency in Writing
|Current Tools Available
|Usable in Regular School Setting
|Usable in VI or NTI Setting
|Mastery of initial encoding and in creating text skills
|A positive attitude about writing
|A positive perception of self as writer
|Mastery of grade level appropriate writing conventions and rules
|Successful completion of grade level purposeful writing (e.g., writing to learn or persuade)
|Mastery of grade level appropriate critical and creative writing genre
|Successful creation of grade level appropriate creative writing
|Mastery of grade level appropriate editing and revision skills
|Mastery of the different formats and venues of the state writing prompts and questions requiring written responses
|Mastery of formal register communication about and with writing
|Mastery of the “writing” critical vocabulary embedded in the state standards
|Successful completion of real-world writing applications and assignments
In a standards-based world with the high-stakes accountability assessment in place, we cannot ignore student writing proficiency, especially in students who have an identified IEP in place. We must also understand that if we reach conclusions in our PLC discussions without identifying missing elements for proficiency, the point of student breakdown, and the cause of that breakdown, we are essentially doing guesswork instead of planning as teachers develop support systems for their students.
State assessments and transitions to the next level will both require students who have mastered communicating their thinking in written text at their grade level. All of the state tests studied by Ed Directions staff have included questions that require written communication for full credit. Writing must be considered an “cross-discipline” responsibility.