Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jessica Restaino

Committee Member

Melinda Knight

Committee Member

Emiliy Isaacs


Since no uniform manner exists of how teachers should instruct students to write, teachers use their discretion to do so. With the age of standardized testing entering many teachers’ classrooms, teaching to the test as a means of writing instruction has gained popularity. Yet, these practices reinforce writing that is mechanical, formulaic, and limiting because of the means by which standardized rubrics define “good writing.” Research suggests that standardized writing assessments do not form distinctive assessments of student writing ability but generalized assumptions. Students are confined to certain sets of writing skills and could not break out of these patterns. As a result, student writing remains at a standstill with little to no improvement per grade level.

The student writing portfolio, as a means of writing assessment, incorporates feedback, teacher and student involvement, and process-based revision which all lend to student growth as writers, which allow them to break free from the formulaic writing tendencies that standardized writing assessments promote. In many classrooms, student writing portfolios are currently being utilized to create environments that incorporate many different types of skill sets that standardized assessments neglect to take into consideration.

In this thesis, several secondary instructors and administrators were interviewed to understand the extent to which student writing portfolios could not only alleviate the penchant to teach to the test in classrooms, but also allow students to alter their writing habits and improve their writing abilities with instructor guidance and eventual selfdirected practice.

Conclusions suggested that portfolios could potentially solve the problems of teaching writing and assuage standardized testing concerns but that successful application of portfolios could only occur if teachers were open to making the change to implement portfolios uniformly into the curriculum. Limitations to the study were not present within the potential effectiveness of the student-writing portfolio but in teacher perception of the effectiveness of the portfolio.

As an outlook, the student writing portfolio would need to exist as a department wide endeavor where teachers would have to view the portfolio as part of their teaching practice and not as a single, extended assessment. Though pros and cons exist with the student-writing portfolio, it could potentially aid the student and the teacher alike if integrated appropriately.

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