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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What Teachers Say About Different Kinds of Mandated State Writing Tests

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

This article reports on a study of the impact of the form of high-stakes, state-mandated writing tests on high school curricula and teaching practices. Through surveys and focus group interviews of high school English teachers, we addressed two main questions: How do different kinds of high-stakes, statewide assessments impact writing curriculum and instruction in secondary schools? and What are teachers' views of the impact of different kinds of high-stakes tests? We conducted our study in three states--California, Georgia, and Kentucky--each with a different type of writing test at the time of the study: multiple choice, timed impromptu, and portfolio, respectively. The survey results contribute to the growing body of research that indicates the forms of writing tests influence what teachers teach and how they teach it. This influence was complex with significant differences across the three states in the types of assignments, the length of assignments, number of drafts, and the amount of time allowed for assignments. Our results also indicated that the form of high-stakes writing tests also impacts teacher morale and attitudes.

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