For the last two years, my school has been working on improving scores on the state writing test. It is a sensible goal but at times, I think teachers are taking it too far. Today, we had an inservice that was mostly devoted to the writing test. The writing test is over for the year.
The English teacher gave us a lecture about the writing test rubric. As I am a teacher that has to administer the state writing test in the elementary, I am familiar with the rubric. I discussed it with my students the day before they took the test. While there are a few points that could be considered confusing to some teachers, I think it is pretty self explanatory and each teacher could interpret it without any guidance. But the teacher made us highlight all over the rubric. I had no idea exactly what we were doing so I just highlighted words that I thought were important. She also had us comparing the three grade level rubrics which I thought was kind of a waste of time. I really thought we should just focus on the grade level rubric that our students would be testing at next. And really, there is not a lot of difference between the rubrics.
I was not in a good mood after the inservice. The teacher presenting has been to a conference that works on grading the state tests so she knows a lot about it. I think that is great. She seems to enjoy it too. The principal wanted me to go last year but I refused because it was over my fall break. I need time for me. He has also suggested that I go next year.
I have told my principal that even though I do administer the test, I also need the teachers before me to teach writing that way it is not new when they get to me. Plus, they are making all the teachers incorporate writing into their classes. That is a good thing. However, I do have some disagreements. I think PE should focus on exercise rather than writing. Already America has a weight problem in general. We do not need our students spending even more time in front of the computers.
As a writer myself, I feel that while the writing instruction is good, if the school puts too much pressure on the students when it comes to writing, they are going to come to hate the subject. Then, they will not realize that enjoyment can be found in writing.
Plus, I believe that the grading of writing is subjective. Writing really depends first on the content and the grammar second. And if the content is not one of enjoyment for either the writer or the reader, than the grade is going to suffer. Writing comes from the heart. We are forcing students to write as an obligation with excessive restrictions.