This year, Beechwood was given permission from Educational Services to pilot the Lucy Calkins On-Demand writing prompts graded with the Lucy Calkins rubric. These Writing Workshop Resources can be found here.
After taking the first writing benchmark, staff seemed a bit frustrated with the process. A survey was utilized to hear their concerns. Here is a summary of the results. Overall, the main concerns seemed to be that the process took considerably longer than the original FSD Writing Benchmark System. The staff liked the prompts, but felt the rubrics were time consuming. There was a theme that we didn't necessarily teach well to the skills assessed by the rubric. It will be very interesting to see how staff perceptions change throughout the year as we become more fluent with this process. Interestingly, staff felt that the rubric scores were lower than last year. Data indicates otherwise. (Keep in mind, that we had to round up in many cases in order to fit the Lucy Calkins rubric into a straight 4-point scale) What we ended up with were positive results across the board with the exception of 6th grade. In a conversation with the sixth grade teacher, she offered the following explanation of the drastic difference in scores:
"I’m pretty sure I know why. The students wrote decent stories, but to score a 3 the students had to provide a lesson that they learned from an experience (a theme). Even though we’ve been working a lot on this in writing and in reading in trimester 1, and I went over the prompt & checklist with them, it was as if they saw personal narrative and did what they know well - which for the past several years was write about an event in their lives. Many of the points on the rubric for a 3 refer to the lesson they learned, so if they didn’t write about a lesson, they didn’t score a 3."
So where do we go from here? How do we power through the growth pains to get to the point where we can make sound instructional decisions about how to improve this process? For Benchmark 2, I will be sure to allocate more time for collaborative benchmark scoring. We will clarify important points such as single scoring, calibration, scoring students from other homerooms, etc. And most importantly, we will spend time with the rubric at the beginning of each rubric to ensure alignment between our instruction and our assessment.