EIGHTH, the means used to test students' writing ability shapes what they, too, consider writing to be. Additionally, assessment must be contextualized in terms of why, where, and for what purpose it is being undertaken; this context must also be clear to the students being assessed and to all others i.
The return on investment from the direct assessment of writing by instructor-evaluators includes student learning, professional development of faculty, and program development.
Anyone charged with the responsibility of designing an assessment program must be cognizant of this body of research and must stay abreast of developments in the field. Furthermore, standardized tests tend to focus on readily accessed features of the language--on grammatical correctness and stylistic choice--and on error, on what is wrong rather than on the appropriate rhetorical choices that have been made.
The definition of "local" is also contextual; schools with common goals and similar student populations and teaching philosophies and outcomes might well form consortia for the design, implementation, and evaluation of assessment instruments even though the schools themselves are geographically separated from each other.
The easy availability of this research to practitioners makes ignorance of its content reprehensible.
The methods and language that teachers and administrators use to make decisions and engage students in writing, reading, responding, and revising activities should incorporate meaningfully the multiple values and ways of expressing knowledge by students present in the classroom and local communities.
Writing assessment should encourage and expect teachers to be trusted, knowledgeable, and communicative.