Please Note: Some sections of these narratives are available only in the PDF versions. PDF attachments are available only for registered users. For more information see Obtaining a WPA username and password.
In the last three years, writing instructors and program administrators have heard more than ever before about the need for assessment. Sometimes calls for this work are generated by instructors and program administrators themselves who are interested in learning about how instructional practices are affecting student learning in writing courses. Increasingly, though, these calls are joined by others from outside—from campus administrators, accrediting bodies, or other external stakeholders. These external calls can be couched in language that has increasingly become part of the assessment discussion, such as “accountability,” “transparency,” or “comparability.”
In response to these increasingly vocal calls for discussion, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) have partnered to bring writing instructors and program administrators the NCTE-WPA White Paper on Writing Assessment in Colleges and Universities, which draws from existing resources to summarize best practice principles for post-secondary writing assessment.
The Assessment Gallery and Resources includes two components intended to support and illustrate the principles delineated in the White Paper. These include:
Model Assessments. The Assessment Gallery provides models of specific assessments from a range of institutions, from 2-year colleges to R1 universities, that enact the strategies in the NCTE-WPA White Paper. Together, these models illustrate that valid, reliable, and fair assessment reflects consistent principles, and that these principles can be enacted through questions and methods that are appropriate for the institution, the department, and the program.
Communication Strategies. Communicating with interested parties, from department colleagues to campus administrators and external constituencies, is a crucial part of developing a successful assessment. This document offers a framework for communicating and strategies for WPAs to share information and develop alliances with others.
Together, the White Paper and Assessment Gallery and Resources are intended to help writing instructors and program administrators communicate a message made clear in research-based best practices in the English language arts: Valid and reliable assessment is consistent at the level of principle and conceptualization: it is discipline-based, locally determined, and used to inform teaching and learning at the local level.
We hope that these NCTE-WPA materials provide valuable resources for instructors and program administrators as they go about the important work of assessing student writing, writing courses, and writing programs.
NCTE-WPA Task Force Members
- Linda Adler-Kassner, Co-Chair
- Howard Tinberg, Co-Chair
- Jeff Andelora
- Juanita Comfort
- Brian Huot
- Asao Inoue
- Peggy O’Neill
- Duane Roen
- Kathleen Sheerin DeVore
- Freddy Thomas