Crawford, Helwig, and Tindalas research article, a Writing Performance Assessments: How Important is Extended Time examines the important question of whether or not students benefit from three day writing assessments as opposed to thirty minute assessments. The study examined general and special education students in the 5th grade and general education students in the 8th grade to determine if extended time benefited the students’ writings. This critique will examine the research article and offer insight into both the thirty minute and three day writing assessments while critically examining whether there was a basis for this type of study.
As large scale writing assessments becomes the standard for schools, the question is posed of how good writing can be defined and how can valid samples of writing ability be collected. (Page 132) Adding students with learning disabilities into this equation also serves to complicate the matter by introducing a group that is more likely to interject personal commentary, less likely to write coherently, and all too often are unable to successfully transfer their thoughts on to paper. It has been conclusively proven that students with learning disabilities score significantly lower in writing assessments when compared to their general education peers. Therefore, one might assume that extended time would certainly benefit students with learning disabilities and might possibly help those in general education as well. However, researchers have not always found that extended time benefits the writing compositions of students.
Theoretically, when extended time is given, students should be able to engage themselves in all four stages of the writing process: planning, writing, revising and rewriting (Page 133). These stages, when done properly, are fluid, moving from one stage to the next. When an elementary-age student writing was examined, researchers found little difference between the first drafts and those that had been revised. Rather, most researchers noted that it was the older students who benefited from extended time, but even their score were not significantly altered by the extra time. In fact, one study even concluded that students did not seem to use the entire allotted time, regardless of how long they were given. Another study concluded that the difference between original and revised drafts was improved handwriting quality.
Crawford, Helwig, and Tindal undertake this study in part because little research in writing compositions has included students with learning disabilities, and also to put to rest the question of whether extended time benefits writing compositions of students. The study was conducted with 213 Grade 5 students and 140 Grade 8 students located in the Pacific Northwest. The Grade 5 sample included 42 students with learning disabilities and 2 students with mental retardation. The Grade 8 sample included 6 students with learning disabilities, which the researchers concluded was not a...