WPA Works on Writing Assessment Practices

WPA Works on Writing Assessment Practices and Higher Education Accreditation: this project includes developing a position statement on sound writing assessment practices (http://wpacouncil.org/node/884), identifying and evaluating resources for assessment design and implementation, and providing a WPA perspective on current changes in higher education accreditation policies and practices

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The draft really is dedicated to explicating what communication in the 21st century means, and provides little specifics to identify ways in which such abilities can or should be assessed (except to say that it should be context-specific). What kind of assessment(s) should be included in this position statement--response strategies to student drafts, grading procedures, preferred methods of classroom evaluation, assessment of student writing within disciplinary contexts, large-scale efforts to assess student writing, standardized placement procedures, and/or other alternative ways of assessing students' writing? The draft seems to lump all assessment together, and I'm not sure that classroom assessments have all of the same obligations/considerations that large-scale and/or high-stakes writing assessments would have. The WPA position statement needs to address the variety of assessment contexts.

I think it would be wise of WPA to locate itself in relation to the wider measurement community in order to identify practices related to writing assessment that the organization might endorse or oppose. A good place to start would be the revised _Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing_ (AERA, APA, NCME, 1999) which articulates a more modern understanding of foundational assessment concepts/considerations. The revised _Standards_--validity, in particular--are attentive to the types of context specific practices that this position statement endorses. Validity looks at the interpretation and proposed uses of tests, and the _Standards_ provide considerations/principles that promote useful frameworks to assess the worthiness of a particular assessment (test). I encourage WPA to become more connected to the larger assessment community, and articulate WPA's stance in relation to the extensive assessment context.

Diane Kelly-Riley, Washington State University