Teachers review student writing
Portfolios help prepare for test

COVINGTON - Third-grade students in Rockdale and Newton counties have completed their writing portfolios, which are expected to prepare them for tests they will take in fifth, eighth and 11th grades.

Since the beginning of the school year, third-grade teachers have collected writing samples from students in four genres of writing: response to literature and information, narrative and persuasive writing.

"The state-mandated grade three writing assessment is more like an 'evaluation of writing,' rather than an actual assessment, such as what is given to students in grades five, eight and 11," said Laura Grimwade, director of research, assessment and accountability at Rockdale County Public Schools. "For grades five, eight and 11, the writing assessments consist of an evaluation of each student response to an assigned prompt. ... The writing assessment for grades five, eight and 11 must be administered in one day."

The third-grade writing assessment, which is the first state-mandated writing test for students, happens over the course of a school year and is not timed, like in the other tested grades.

"This assessment is an outgrowth of the writing instruction program," Grimwade said.

Teachers in Rockdale and Newton counties will begin scoring third-grade writing portfolios Monday and will analytically assess writing samples in four categories: ideas, organization, style and conventions, which are the same domains evaluated in other grade levels.

"Using a scoring rubric, teachers rate the samples individually to determine the performance level - does not meet, meets or exceeds - which best represents a student's usual performance across a variety of writing tasks and types of writing," Grimwade said.

Sheila Thomas, director of testing for the Newton County School System, said teachers should be completed with grading samples by the beginning of May.

Once completed, a copy of the Individual Student Writing Record is given to the student's parent or guardian and another copy is kept in a student's permanent record, which follows them from grade to grade.

"The teacher also completes a summary report for the class," Grimwade said. "This report is sent for compilation of data, and school and system summary reports are furnished to systems."

From there, teachers can determine in which areas of writing and reading a student may need help.

The students' scores do not factor into Adequate Yearly Progress.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.