Sent to the NY Times, March 11
Re: "Can writing be assessed?" March 10.
There is no point in testing writing form, i.e. the use of conventional writing style, grammatical accuracy. Research consistently tells us that writing form comes from reading, not from writing and not from study.
Writing itself is a powerful tool for solving problems and making yourself smarter. This requires mastery of the composing process (e.g. knowing that as you revise you come up with better ideas). This cannot be tested.
Research also tells us that high school grades are a good predictor of college success. Adding a standardized test does not improve the prediction. So there is no point in having the SAT.
Reading and Writing: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading (Heinemann and Libraries Unlimited); Lee, S.Y. (2005). Facilitating and inhibiting factors on EFL writing: A model testing with SEM. Language Learning, 55(2), 335-374.
Composing process: Elbow, P. Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford UP. 1973. Perl, S. (1979). The composing process of unskilled college writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 13, 317-339. Boice, R. (1994). How writers journey to comfort and fluency. Westport: Praeger.
Grades and the SAT: Bowen, W., Chingos, M., and McPherson, M. 2009.Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Universities. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Geiser, S. and Santelices, M.V., 2007. Validity of high-school grades in predicting student success beyond the freshman year: High-school record vs. standardized tests as indicators of four-year college outcomes. Research and Occasional Papers Series: CSHE 6.07, University of California, Berkeley.http://cshe.berkeley.edu