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Exemplar Essays

Explanation of Essay Exemplars
Grades 6-10

These exemplars serve to stimulate and facilitate conversations about student writing, teacher expectations, standards, and instructional strategies for improving student writing, with the ultimate goal of improving teacher instruction and student writing. Additionally, these exemplars provide parents, guardians, and students models of grade-level performance in standards-based writing.

Process of Exemplar Selection

Much work has gone into the development of Oakland student models that demonstrate exemplary writing or writing that exceeds a basic level of proficiency. A committee of instructional coaches collected samples of student writing and chose exemplars that best demonstrate examples of advanced student work that meet grade-level standards in the priority writing applications (or genre) for each grade level. To evaluate the essays, we used the 4-point PWA grade-level rubrics, which are genre specific and focus on rhetorical strategies as well as organization, language, and conventions. We were careful not to select student essays that are out of the range of possibility for student grade-level performance.

When we felt the model did not reach the advanced proficiency level, we revised and edited the writing to improve upon it. Before making any changes, we asked ourselves, “If we conferenced with this student, would this be an achievable and realistic change that student could make?” Therefore, while these models are not the exact originals of the student writing, we are confident that they are authentic representations of OUSD students. They are not perfect essays and in all cases and could be improved upon. Because we are moving to a new priority-writing genre in the 9th grade and do not currently have samples of this kind of student writing, the 9th grade model included here was written by a teacher.

Connection to the District Process Writing Assessment

Currently, the Process Writing Assessment anchor papers and training papers serve the purpose of fully demonstrating the range of achievement at each grade level and at each score point on the rubrics. In the future, we hope to collect student writing that students have had the opportunity to go through the stages of the writing process fully, including the process of revising and editing.  We expect that when students have had the opportunity to plan, revise, and edit a piece of writing, the quality will surpass that demonstrated on an on-demand assessment. For this reason, we ask teachers to be wary of making direct comparisons between the PWA anchor and training papers that have scored a 4, and the exemplars that we have selected.

Future Work

Our goal is to collect samples of student writing that represent the range of student performance and to publish annotated exemplars that span the K-12 continuum. Again, the purpose of these exemplars is to help facilitate conversations about grade-level standards and expectations and explore related instructional strategies.

Be aware: the exemplar essays on this page were written and assessed under the 2013 Examination Session (the "old" Extended Essay format). Beginning with HF Class of 2018 forward, we are using the 2018 Examination Session Guide for the Extended Essay. There are differences. For example, the older essays were assessed according to an 11-point criteria rather than the current five point criteria. The abstract is no longer required, and the new essays feature a Reflection on Planning and Progress Form. Keeping that in mind, these older exemplar essays are still useful as models and guides. I'm providing them here because the 2018 Examination Session is so new, there are simply not a large number of exemplars to look at. Reading exemplar essays at a variety of marks is one of the best things you can do to prepare to write your own essay.

To view a limited collection of exemplar essays marked under the 2018 criteria, see the link in your ManageBac account.