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Composition Chronicle: Newsletter for Writing Teachers, v7 n8 p4-7 Dec 1994

The central role of writing in Kentucky's Education Reform Act is most evident in Kentucky's new assessment system, which employs writing on all levels. Even tests that have recently included multiple-choice items may be replaced by response items that require students to apply knowledge, concepts, and skills in a writing format. Writing itself is being assessed through a portfolio system, whereby students are required to prepare and revise a collection of their best work to be presented for evaluation by a team of scorers. Portfolios must include a table of contents, a letter to the reviewer, a personal essay of some kind, and three pieces of an analytical nature. To measure the consequences of this new emphasis in writing across the curriculum for higher education, especially college-level writing, a survey was conducted. Questionnaires were sent to 41 directors of composition and department chairs of Kentucky's post-secondary public and private institutions; 13 were returned. The survey focused on two areas relating to the reform act: (1) the use of portfolios for placement, instruction and assessment; and (2) changes in the preparation of freshman composition students. The results showed reason for caution. A small majority attributed positive changes to the reform act; others were not willing to note such changes because of a lack of evidence. They were somewhat skeptical because of the reform act's utilitarian agenda, its implicit demand that teachers conform to the needs of the corporate culture, and the difficulty of scoring a large number of portfolios in a limited amount of time. (TB)

Descriptors: Educational Change, Higher Education, Portfolio Assessment, Portfolios (Background Materials), Secondary Education, Student Evaluation, Surveys, Writing Achievement, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Evaluation, Writing Instruction, Writing Research

Autor: Harnack, Andrew; And Others


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