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On a Scale

A Social History of Writing Assessment in America

Series:

Norbert Elliot

Fear and Trembling? Shock and Awe? Which set of statements best describes the emotions surrounding the assessment of writing ability in educational settings? This book – the first historical study of its kind – begins with Harvard University’s 1874 requirement that first-year student applicants submit a short composition as part of the admissions process; the book concludes with the College Board’s 2005 requirement for an essay to be submitted as part of the new SAT®: Reasoning Test. Intended for teachers who must prepare students to submit their writing for formal assessment, administrators who must make critical decisions based on test scores, and policy makers who must allocate resources based on evaluation systems, On a Scale provides a much-needed historical and conceptual background to questions arising from national attention to student writing ability.