Writing for the PSSA
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Writing for the PSSA Jo Beth McKee Pennsylvania Department of Education English Language Education Advisor [email protected] 717-525-5981. Edward G. Rendell, Governor. Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak, Secretary of Education. PA Writing Scoring Guides. Multiple Choice Grammar and usage

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Writing for the PSSA

Jo Beth McKee

Pennsylvania Department of Education

English Language Education Advisor

[email protected]


Edward G. Rendell, Governor

Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak, Secretary of Education

Pa writing scoring guides
PA Writing Scoring Guides

  • Multiple Choice

    • Grammar and usage

  • Composition

    • 2 scoring guides in each of the 3 modes of writing (informational, persuasive, narrative)

      • Composition Score (Focus, content, organization and style)

      • Convention Score

Multiple choice example activity
Multiple Choice Example Activity

  • Count off by 3

    • 1’s: Read the paragraph and answer the questions

    • 2’s: Read the paragraph and edit it for errors as you read

    • 3’s: Read the questions first and then read the paragraph

Multiple choice writing example activity
Multiple Choice Writing Example Activity

  • In groups of 3 or 4 discuss the following

    • What strategy did you use? What worked? What didn’t work?

    • How could this be differentiated within a classroom?

    • How can this type of exercise be incorporated into content instruction?

Use the questions
Use the Questions!

  • Use the multiple choice questions and answers to gauge what might be in the test.

  • Review M/C questions

5 th grade example
5th Grade Example

  • 1 Last summer, my family went on a weekend trip to Lake Erie. 2 We packed our bags in the evening and left early the next morning. 3 When I asked my dad which direction we were going, he told me to look at the map. 4 I find my hometown of Pittsburgh and make a line with my finger to the lake. 5 We were driving North. 6 It took us a little over two, hours to get there. 7 That afternoon, my mom and I went on a bird-watching hike. 8 Then I went fishing with my grandparents, and I made sandcastles with my sister on the beach.

  • 6. Which sentence has an error in capitalization?

    • A sentence 1

    • B sentence 3

    • C sentence 5

    • D sentence 8

  • Turn the question around and ask why the other 3 should be capitalized.

8 th grade example
8th Grade Example

  • 5 He also writes weekly Editorials for The Miami Herald. 6 Even though his books are about serious subjects, they are written humorously and are filled with adventures and bizarre characters. 7 Hiaasen’s writing is well-liked by people of all ages. 8 His books have been translated into thirty languages, and he has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize three times.

  • Which word should not be capitalized?

    • A Editorials in sentence 5

    • Herald in sentence 5

    • Pulitzer in sentence 8

    • Prize in sentence 8

  • Turn the question around and ask why the other 3 should be capitalized.

How is writing assessed
How is Writing Assessed?

  • Student Writing

    • Informational

    • Persuasive

    • Narrative

Writing domains composition score
Writing Domains = Composition Score

  • Focus

    • The single controlling point made with an awareness of task (mode) about a specific topic.

  • Content

    • Ideas developed through facts, examples, anecdotes, details, opinions, etc.

  • Organization

    • The order developed and sustained within and across paragraphs.

  • Style

    • The choice, use and arrangement of words and sentences that create tone and voice.

  • Conventions (assessed separately from FCOS)

    • Grammar, mechanics.

The writing process
The Writing Process

  • Pre-write

    • Brainstorm, graphic organizers, etc

  • Draft

    • Words on paper

  • Revise

    • For content: add, delete, organize thoughts

  • Edit

    • Conventions

  • Publish

    • Others see the work

Scoring composition






Use the Domain Scoring Guide as a basis for a common writing rubric.

Incorporate the writing process into current writing program.

Scoring Composition …

Grading activity
Grading Activity

  • Score the provided released items using the assessment domain scoring guide.

    • Put your FCOS score and Convention score on the back and give paper to a partner to score.

    • Compare scores.

  • Score student work using the assessment domain scoring guide.

Link to pssa released items
Link to PSSA Released Items

  • http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania_system_of_school_assessment_(pssa)/8757/resource_materials/507610

Standards aligned system
Standards Aligned System

  • One Stop Shop for Educators

    • Academic Standards

    • Fair Assessments

    • Curricular Framework

    • Instruction

    • Materials and Resources

    • Interventions

    • http://www.pdesas.org/

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Diane Castelbuono, Deputy Secretary

Bureau of Teaching and Learning Support

Dr. Edward Vollbrecht, Director

Division of Standards and Curriculum

Teresa Shakespeare, Acting Division Chief

The mission of the Pennsylvania Department of Education is to lead and serve the educational community, to enable each individual to grow into an inspired, productive, fulfilled lifelong learner.