Huot, “The Need for a Theory of Writing Assessment”

Huot, Brian. “The Need for a Theory of Writing Assessment” Composition in the Twenty-First Century: Crisis and Change, eds Lynn Z Bloom, Donald A Daiker, and Edward M. White. Southern Illinois UP, 1996, pp. 112-117

“[H]istorically, we have either ignored or denied any theoretical basis for writing assessment (Gere, ”Written Composition”). Supposedly, we have not addressed a theory for writing assessment because we have been too concerned with developing methods to assess our students and programs. Consequently, theoretical considerations have had to be put on the back burner (Faigley, Cherry, Jolliffe, and Skinner). The result has been a praxis for writing assessment. Although we have been able to move from single-sample impromptu essays to portfolios in less than 20 years, we are still primarily concerned with constructing scoring guidelines and interrater reliability. The next two decades hold the promise of bringing radical changes that will more accurately reflect the way we teach and theorize about writing and its learning. This promise will be withheld from us if we do not address the larger questions involved in articulating a theoretical basis for our assessment practices” (Huot 113).

The future of writing assessment needs to move beyond practice to formulate a theoretical basis for addressing important issues. These new theories will then need to support the creation of new and innovative ways to assess how well our students write and how effective our pedagogies and programs are (114-5).



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