SEARCHING FOR A SHARED VISION OF WRITING ASSESSMENT: MOVING FROM WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) to WACA (Writing Across the Curriculum Assessment)

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Carter, John Lando
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Middle Tennessee State University
Assessment literacy remains one of the most unexplored and untaught dimensions within teacher training. Writing assessment, moreover, is an even more overlooked facet of assessment literacy. Without the proper training, teachers in all disciplines may struggle with properly assessing student writing and providing timely and accurate formative feedback. In this study, therefore, I investigated the writing assessment culture of a 6-12 magnet school. I completed a writing assessment inventory to gather the writing assessment beliefs and practices in each department at the school through a mixed-methods survey.
I administered the mixed-methods survey to 59 teachers at this school. These teachers also participated in a dual-layered professional development series concerning writing assessment. The results of the mixed-methods survey, along with the collection of artifacts from the teachers, revealed commonalties as well as discrepancies among the faculty members regarding their writing assessment beliefs and practices. Six of the eleven quantitative survey questions yielded statistical significance, and much of the quantitative data triangulates with the qualitative results. The data show a clear commitment to writing as a cornerstone element of classrooms at this school regardless of the discipline; however, the writing assessment beliefs and practices vary between departments and teachers.
This school, ultimately, has revealed a commitment to writing across the curriculum (WAC) as well as writing in the disciplines (WID). In this study, I outline, in light of the survey findings, a school improvement plan to help move this school into a new phase: writing across the curriculum assessment (WACA). The teachers who participated in this study are equipped to begin the school improvement cycle: study, plan, reflect, do. In addition, they are ready to embrace the WACA learning cycle, which includes a commitment to iterative professional development, a belief in the professional learning community framework, and an understanding of WACA theories. By fusing the school improvement cycle with the WACA learning cycle, these teachers can solidify interdisciplinary bonds to build a shared vision for writing and writing assessment, one that guarantees that the faculty embraces its own assessment literacy strengths and shortcomings. Finally, with a unified vision for WACA in place, the magnet school teachers can follow the WACA school improvement plan in an effort to better serve our students and provide authentic and accurate feedback to help them grow as writers now and in the future.
Across, Assessment, Curriculum, Professional Development, Rubric, Writing