September 6, 2011
Dear Elementary Teacher,
Writing can be one of the most challenging subjects to grade due to the interplay of strategies, applications, and conventions that make up student work. When teachers evaluate student writing using a rubric, the challenge becomes readily apparent to untangle the weave and assign the appropriate score in each area. The Houghton-Mifflin Summative Writing prompts are no exception, and many teachers have expressed frustration in assessing their student’s writing.
In the spring of 2006 a group of teachers came together to address this issue. The Anchor Paper Committee was furnished with grade 1-6 student writing samples from across the district and given the task of identifying those samples that would best represent each score for a given writing prompt. The committee’s mandate was to help teachers make choices about which scores to assign based on concrete examples and written rationale. Using the Houghton-Mifflin prompts and rubrics the committee was able to identify sample work to serve as an “anchor”, or guide, to help teachers evaluate their own students’ writing. This is not a “How-To” guide as the committee believed that approach would be too restrictive. Instead, these papers should help point the way so that teachers have an easier time assessing their student’s work.
It is our hope that these anchor papers will serve to help you make informed decisions about your student’s written work and in turn your instruction.
Director, K-6 Curriculum/Instruction