MacArthur students completed the District Writing Assessment on January 22-24. Students tested in their Language Arts classes and were given a prompt to read, respond to in a complete, typed essay. The District Writing Assessment measures student writing ability.
“Ever since I’ve been in the district the DWA has been around, but I’m not exactly sure when it started,” said Language Arts Teacher Mr. Gregory Celestino.
Every grade level was given a different prompt to which to respond in a five or more paragraph essay. Eighth graders had to respond to the short story “The Scarlets Ibis”, seventh graders responded to “The Effects of TV”, which was a collection of non-fiction texts, and sixth graders responded to the Japanese folktale “Ooka and the Honest Thief”.
Student essays had to be about 500 words or more in order to get a passing score. Students would respond to their prompt using textual evidence to support their claims and inferences.
“Probably citing your information was the hardest part,” said seventh-grader Beatriz Avellaneda.
MacArthur Students used a block schedule for the District Writing Assessment, which was Thursday and Friday, January 23 and 24. On Wednesday, January 22, students received their prompts and had to complete their prewriting in a regular, modified-day schedule. Language Arts teachers were not allowed to help on this test, but they did help students with the practice test in October. To pass, students needed to include textual evidence that was cited from their sources.
“Stating what source you got your evidence from was hard,” said seventh-grader Carla Ruiz.
An online program known as MyAccess scores the District Writing Assessment. MyAccess is a writing program that assesses students in the writing process. Students receive a score on a scale of one to six and need to score a four or above to pass.
Teachers provided prompts and texts for their students on both days of testing. This year, there was an audio file of the text to which students listened. Students with accommodations may have been provided headphones for repeated access to the audio file. After the students read through the text, they should have identified the main ideas of their thesis and looked for evidence that supported their main ideas.
“Looking for information took forever,” said seventh-grader Briana Hernandez.