End-of-year writing test nixed

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – As Mississippi prepares for new state exams, it will change the way it tests students’ writing abilities.
The state will no longer give a writing test to students at the end of the year. Instead, it will help teachers in all grade levels to use their own exams to measure student progress throughout the year.
Interim State Superintendent Lynn House said the new tests can be used to shape teacher’s lessons instead of to determine what students know at the end of a course.
“Instead of waiting to the end of the year and giving a writing assessment and giving everyone scores, we will provide them with the ability to put good formative assessments in their classroom and use those results to guide their instruction,” House said.
The change comes as Mississippi prepares for its transition to the Common Core State Standards, new curriculum guidelines that have been adopted by 45 states.
Mississippi will dramatically change its state tests in 2014-15 to reflect the new standards.
The Mississippi Department of Education has been working with the Mississippi Writing/ Thinking Institute to make training available to teachers in all grade levels. That training will provide teachers with a model they can use to better teach and test writing.
Prior to this year, Mississippi tested all fourth grade, seventh grade and English 2 students in writing.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com