This afternoon, I scrolled through my Twitter feed, and I inadvertently stumbled on a post by TEA about the publication of the 4th grade Scoring Guides. Our students take the STAAR Writing test next Tuesday, and irritation about the timeliness of this valuable resource instantly surfaced. I would have loved to have viewed samples six months ago. As we often tell our students, it's hard to hit a target you can't see.
I clicked on the link for the Expository writing samples, and my blood began to boil. The first composition in the collection received a score point 1. What the hell?
This kid knows how to write. She has a strong control of the English language. Her conventions are impeccable. Her sentence structure is solid, and there is a clear, controlling idea present in the text. Yes, she blends narrative structure with expository, but don't all good writers embed story into their work to engage readers? Almost all of the nonfiction books I've recently read use anecdotes to make a point.
I completely disagree with the score of this paper, and I am saddened to think that the state of Texas has regressed in its thinking about modes of writing. It feels like a throwback to the good ole' TAAS days where kids were unfairly punished for writing a How-To-Paper when the prompt was clearly pointing to a narrative piece.
Does it really matter if the kids get the genres mixed up as long as they can clearly communicate their ideas? If the goal is to write to a particular audience, we will never achieve the results we want as long as a test scorer in Austin is our only spectator. Standardized testing pisses me off, and when I see things like this, I become even more incensed.