What resources are available to help me understand scoring and inform instruction to improve student writing?

The Teacher's Individual Student Report (ISR) includes links to exemplary essays at every score point. The report also includes total raw score data for a variety of norm groups as well as criterion-referenced scale scores with links to sample essays for three different proficiency levels. 


Additionally, the WRIIT (Writing Resources for Insight, Interpretation and Teaching) Library provides a wide variety of resources to support student learning and curriculum development at any time of the year. Free to ERB Members, WRIIT offers annotated sample essays and prompts, learning progressions, anchor sets, lesson plans, graphic organizers, and much more. These rich resources are designed to help teachers interpret WrAP scores and plan next-step instruction to improve student writing.


What are the basic elements of the WrAP?

WrAP provides a direct assessment of writing through a writing sample submitted by each student.  Schools may assess their students at five levels:


  •   Elementary (Grades 3 and 4)
  •   Intermediate (Grades 5 and 6)
  •   Middle (Grades 7 and 8)
  •   Secondary (Grades 9 and 10)
  •   College Preparatory (Grades 11 and 12)

What WrAP prompt options are available?

Stimulus-Based Prompts Narrative, Informative, and Argument/Opinion prompts with text stimulus are available for each grade. These prompts involve more complex tasks requiring students to read, analyze, and reference a related passage or passages in their written responses. Stimulus-based prompts demonstrate the close relationship between reading and writing as students complete a final essay informed by what they have read.
Non-Stimulus Prompts These are the same prompts that schools have administered in the past. Schools can select Narrative, Informative, or Argument/Opinion prompts for each grade. Non-stimulus Spanish prompts are also available with Narrative prompts for Grades 3 through 6, Expository/Informative prompts for Grades 7 through 8, and Persuasive/Argument prompts for Grades 7 through 12.

Can I have my students take the WrAP multiple times in a year?

Yes, there are several options for schools when they select WrAP to serve as an objective monitor and support for their writing program. Our new prompt options make this easy to do!


There are 2 prompts per level and 3 genres per level, so in fact there are six available prompts to select for any grade. This formative approach to the use of the WrAP might include having students address a prompt in the fall and then in the spring in the same genre, or as desired across the year in any of the three genres. Multiple use of WrAP can provide teachers objective results that support ongoing instruction throughout the year. 

What are the differences between stimulus-based and non-stimulus prompts?

A Stimulus-Based Prompt asks the student to read, analyze, and respond to a narrative story, or an informational, literary, or argumentative text by writing a multi-paragraph final essay to submit for scoring that is informed by the related text. Stimulus-based prompts include single-text and paired-text formats. This format is is available for both pencil/paper and online administration.
A Non-Stimulus Prompt asks the student to tell a story, explain a topic, or support an opinion with arguments in the form of a multi-paragraph final essay. This is the traditional WrAP format and is available for both pencil/paper and online administration.

Why did ERB add stimulus-based prompts?

We developed the stimulus-based prompts in response to feedback from member schools, analysis of current assessment trends in writing, and research on classroom curriculum and instructional practice, in order to address more complex performance tasks. These prompts require students to reference text evidence and analyze related passages and use the information to inform a robust written essay on the topic. Reading and writing are intertwined skills and as such, these new stimulus-based prompts mirror the reading-writing process used in today’s classroom and build the analytical skills that students need in order to be successful throughout their academic careers.

Why should we choose to use the stimulus-based prompts?

Not only are these text-based prompts aligned to the most current standards, but they are also tools that can be used to develop students' critical thinking and writing skills. Schools that choose this option, and the standards upon which they are based, can help students exceed the expectations they have for themselves as writers. WrAP, coupled with effective teaching, helps students become great, not just good writers and thinkers—a true measure of success!


Why should we choose non-stimulus prompts?

Your school may have been using WrAP non-stimulus prompts for years and you may prefer to continue this format. We have made sure that this is available using grade appropriate but challenging topics to engage the writer so that you can still choose to administer the “classic” non-stimulus prompts. You can also continue to use the same genres as those you have used in the past years or you can select a different genres for each grade (narrative, informative and opinion/argument). In addition, reports and anchor papers continue to be valuable resources that can inform individual and group instruction, help to plan staff development, and foster conversations about your school’s writing curriculum.


Do we have an option to select a prompt for the grade?

Yes, WrAP offers for each genre two prompts that can be selected online prior to administration for each genre.  First the school decides which genre they would like a grade/class to address and then they have two choices to review. Administrators would make this decision and share that information with teachers and students on the day of testing. In addition, a grade/class can select the second prompt available for the grade and use it to objectively assess writing again in a given year with a second WrAP administration.  

Why does WrAP use a direct measure of writing ability?

In a direct writing assessment the student is asked to produce a piece of writing that is scored by a trained and experienced reader(s). Besides evaluating a student’s knowledge of grammar and writing conventions, this writing assessment can also determine how well a student can think, plan, and use language to convey meaning.
For stimulus-based prompts, students are asked to write to a more sophisticated performance task.  From elementary grades through high school, students are required to document their thinking and writing with specific reference to accompanying text.  By doing this, teachers are gaining information about their students as writers with assignments that speak to different tasks, audience, and purpose.


How are the writing prompts developed?

Both non-stimulus and stimulus-based writing prompts are developed by ERB staff and literacy experts experienced in teaching and assessment. Prompts are written to elicit the best writing from students who come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. These prompts are developed each year using appropriate reviews, criteria, and grade level expectations. 
ERB prompts, with or without text stimulus, call for well-organized and developed compositions that include multiple paragraphs and complex sentence structures.


What are the prompt genres?

WrAP offers three English prompt genres or modes of discourse for each grade. A selection of genres are available for non-stimulus Spanish prompts—Narrative prompts for Grades 3 through 6, Expository/Informative prompts for Grades 7 through 8, and Persuasive/Argument prompts for Grades 7 through 12. 



The student tells a story or relates an incident or experience to entertain or to illustrate a point.

Informative (Expository/Informative for Spanish prompts)

The student clarifies, defines, and/or explains various points of view clearly and accurately on a topic clearly supported by facts, definitions, comparisons, concrete details and other information related to the topic.


Argument/Opinion (Persuasive/Argument for Spanish prompts) The student makes a case for a specific course of action or point of view through valid reasoning and logical argument using relevant and sufficient facts to support the recommended action or position.

What are the administration procedures?

Stimulus-Based Prompts

  • Students take the assessment in two writing periods, over two consecutive days. As students are asked to read and analyze text the first period is 75 minutes (85 minutes for Grades 3-4). Students also write a rough draft of their essay during this first period. The second period is devoted to expanding, editing and revision to produce a final essay for submission for scoring.  
  • If using WrAP paper/pencil, your shipment of administration materials include include 2016-17 purple writing booklets, prompt packages that include the relevant text and the prompt.  Students enter their final essay in their writing booklets and these are shipped to ERB’s scoring service, where  trained and experienced reader(s) score each response.
  • If using WrAP Online, students write their responses using a secure, online assessment application. Final responses are submitted for scoring through the online application.Trained and experienced reader (s) then score the writing.
  • When scoring is complete, all reports and resources are available through the WrAP portal.

Non-Stimulus Prompts

  • Students take the assessment in two writing periods, over two consecutive days. Grades 3-4 receive two 60-minute periods and Grades 5-12 receive two 50-minute periods.
  • In the first period, students create a rough draft. In the second period they revise their rough draft and produce a final essay.
  • If using WrAP paper/pencil, your shipment of administration materials includes writing booklets in which students record their final essay. Once administration is complete, these writing booklets are shipped to ERB’s scoring service, where a trained and experienced reader scores each essay using anchor sets and the 6-trait, 6-point rubric.
  • If using WrAP Online, students write their essay using a secure, online assessment application. Final essays are submitted for scoring through the online application. A trained and experienced reader then scores the writing using anchor sets and the 6-trait, 6-point rubric.

When scoring is complete, all reports and resources are available through the WrAP portal.


Can WrAP be administered with accommodations?

Yes. Your school determines any non-standard administration procedures.  Non-standard administrations are then noted in the WrAP Portal as part of the post-test procedures.


What are the scoring criteria for WrAP essays?

The scoring criteria for both stimulus-based and non-stimulus prompts are described on WrAP's six-trait, six-point rubrics. The three genre-specific rubrics have detailed explanations for each trait and score point and even offer links to exemplary essays. These rubrics, informed by expectations for each grade, are used to score all WrAP essays.




What types of comparisons can be made within and across levels?

WrAP reports display your school's mean total raw score and a norm group's mean raw score as one point of comparison. These raw scores offer valid comparisons among individual students and norm groups as well as insight into growth across grades within a specific level. Raw scores are a valuable tool for informing instruction.


A second set of comparative data are average scale scores. The most important thing to note about scale scores within a genre is that they are developed in such a way as to enable comparisons across different writing prompts, grades, and times of year. When evaluating average scale scores, remember that they are influenced by group size and are genre-specific. Caution should be taken when interpreting average scale scores when group size is small.


Finally, proficiency levels, as seen on WrAP Summary Reports, provide a third kind of comparative data. This data displays the percentage of students in the school as well as the percentage of student's at each proficiency level. 

What are the WrAP Online System Requirements?

To review and print the WrAP Online System Requirements, click here.

What is the WrAP Paper and WrAP Online Cancellation and Refund Policy?

To view the cancellation and refund policy click here.


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