District Writing Assessment | Kimberly

Because our district values writing, we give our own assessment in the Fall and Spring to help us determine our students' strengths and struggles with writing.  These writing samples provide us with valuable data that informs many aspects of the operation of our schools.

Purpose:  The DWA provides us a platform in which we are able to read student writing across classes, grade levels, schools, and districts.

  1. Teachers analyze the writing to inform instruction.
  2. Teacher teams analyze the writing to improve horizontal and vertical alignment.
  3. Leadership analyzes the writing to inform decisions about professional development and curriculum.
  4. By analyzing student writing, teachers improve their own writing.
  5. The process also provides students practice with a formal writing assessment.


Structure: Different testing structures are used.  This is based on developmental and age appropriateness.

Pre-School:  Students are asked to write their names.

Alternately Assessed:  All students participate in the DWA.  Some students are given a life-skills writing task.

Kindergarten- 2nd Grade:  Students are provided with a prompt and are asked to write a narrative story.

3rd-12th:  Students are provided with stimuli (usually articles and sometimes a video) about a topic of debate and asked to compose a logical, source-based argument.  This structure incorporates several elements of literacy including reading, speaking and listening, and writing.


Process:  The English department and elementary teachers have created an aligned set of assessment prompts.  Tests are adminstered in the fall and spring.  The writing is scored by Kimberly teachers that have taken on the extra duty.  The scoring process includes training on the rubric and a calibration process is used to insure accuracy.   All papers are scored by at least two scorers.

6-11 Argument Rubric

3-5 Opinion Rubric

Kinder- 2nd Grade Narrative Rubric

Preschool Rubric

DWA Scoring Attributes for Argumentative Writing

Organization/Purpose:  This attribute describes how effectively the writing establishes an order and arrangement that creates a coherent argument/opinion.

Evidence/Elaboration:  This attribute describes how effectively the writing provides support/evidence that includes reasoning from the source materials, using appropriate attribution and style to establish credibility.

Conventions: This attribute describes how effectively the writing demonstrates age-appropriate control of sentence formation, punctuation, grammar usage, and spelling.


Results:  Scores are recorded on the student writing so that teachers are able to understand why the writing was evaluated as such.  Scores are also studied in aggregate form to look for patterns.

2016-2017: 3rd-12th Data, Pk-2nd

2015-2016:  3rd-12th Data, Pk-2nd


Resources for Teachers:

3rd-12th grade Testing Protocol

Teacher Analysis Chart

Understanding and Using DWA Scores

KSD Scoring Training Slides, Fall 2015

Argument Writing Scoring Training from the SDE