The purpose of the 5th International Conference on Writing Analytics is to provide participants with an overview of relevant issues framing the discourse related to formative assessments and writing analytics. In her address to Writing Program Administrators this year, Lisa Krassner questions the reliability and prejudices of writing analytics. This conference will address concerns about writing analytics and explore the usefulness of analytics across disciplines such as psychometricians, learning analytics, and software developers. Leaders in these fields will create a dialogic space for stakeholders to consider ways they can work with one another to address changing 21st century literacies.
The United States is experiencing declining global literacy rates, dropping in 2012 from 10th in the world to 20th (OECD, 2012). Remarkably, only 24% of graduating students scored at proficient levels for writing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012); 57% of SAT takers did not qualify as college ready (College Board, 2013); and 31% of high school graduates failed to meet ACT College Readiness Benchmarks (ACT, 2013). Alarmingly, competency inferences made from these assessments rely on summative evaluation in which the writing construct is often underrepresented in its cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal domains. Additionally, summative methods for assessing student writing have been broadly critiqued. For example, in its position statement against machine learning, the NCTE concludes “Research on the assessment of student writing consistently shows that high-stakes writing tests alter the normal conditions of writing by denying students the opportunity to think, read, talk with others, address real audiences, develop ideas, and revise their emerging texts over time.” As noted in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, these unintended consequences of testing merit attention (AERA, NCME, & APA, 2014).
This event will prioritize listening and hands-on, interactive, and collaborative writing over formal presentations. Beyond being told about big data methods, participants will collaborate with experts to practice these methods and develop mockups for future assessment tools for assessing 21st century literacies.
Overall, the 5th International Conference on Writing Analytics seeks to reframe this narrative: by bringing together leaders from the writing studies community with psychometricians, learning analytics, and software developers, we will create a dialogic space for stakeholders to consider ways they can work with one another to address changing 21st century literacies.