Writing Assessment in Connecticut
In 2001, the Department of Education began a writing assessment initiative based on the certainty that writing skills are critical to the success of learners as workers, citizens, and family members. Having a tool that effectively measured student achievement, while also informing instruction, led the Department to adopt the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) Functional Writing Assessment (FWA).
The CASAS FWA is a performance-based, standardized assessment that is used for accountability purposes and informs the teaching and learning process. It provides teachers of English as a second language, adult basic education, and adult secondary education with a tool to assess their studentsí writing skills in a functional, workplace, employability, and life skills context.
The analytical rubric identifies five components: content; organization; word choice; grammar and sentence structure; and spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. In addition to providing a general writing performance level, the FWA also provides diagnostic information about which writing components need improvement.
Each provider funded by the Department is expected to maintain one person who has been trained in the FWA and can serve as that provider's Writing Contact Person (see Provider Directory
). In order to maintain a standard approach to scoring the test, FWA scorers receive extensive training and are also required to update their certifications annually. Training sessions are offered in partnership with the Adult Training and Development Network.
A statewide Writing Advisory Group was created in 2002 to assist with policy development, implementation, and ongoing technical assistance issues. This advisory group has evolved into the Writing Task Force.
Writing Matters in Connecticut
is a statewide initiative linking the CASAS Functional Writing Assessment to a range of instructional methodologies that will provide guidance to adult education teachers and improve the writing skills of their adult students.
The Departmentís Writing Task Force has been reviewing research-based information on writing instruction and teaching methodologies appropriate for adult students and has set the development of a systematic process for increasing studentsí writing ability as its top priority.