Saturday, April 21, 2007


Minnesota's Basic Skills Tests

All of our children have undergone state testing lately. Our oldest two had writing tests as part of Minnesota's Basic Skills Tests. The children have to pass all of these tests (writing, math & reading) in order to graduate from high school. Thus far, no problems there - everyone has passing scores.

The writing test involves a prompt to which students have to write an essay. Our son's prompt was this: "Think of a time when a person you know did something you admired. Describe what this person did and explain why you admired it. Include details so your reader can understand the situation."

Scoring falls on a six-point scale, with six being the highest possible score. To get a six, the paper has to meet the following guidelines:
"Related to the assigned topic, consistently focused on a central idea, evenly & richly developed with ample supporting detail to clarify & expand central idea, containing a purposefully crafted beginning, middle & end with an overall sense of wholeness, demonstrating a consistent control of language enhancing overall qualtiy, demonstrating a command of the rules of sentence formation, word usage & mechanics."

Here's what I want to do. Let's get a bunch of accomplished writers - Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, etc. - and have them take the test. I'd love to see how they'd score. What might that tell us about the test?

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