Publication Date

Fall 12-3-2011


School of Communication; School of Education


English--Teacher Certification

Primary Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature


High school, education, writing, process writing, product-oriented instruction, high-stakes testing, writing workshop, writing portfolios


English Language and Literature


The crucial role of writing in students’ educational growth and development is indisputable. Not only does the process of writing engage students in each level of Bloom’s taxonomy, but it also aids students in the development of their cognitive thinking skills. However, past and even recent statistics reveal a common trend: the vast majority of high school students lack even a basic understanding of writing. Though undoubtedly there are many issues contributing in this lapse of students’ writing abilities, high-stakes testing is a key factor in the decline of writing education in high school classrooms. In order for students to develop effective writing skills, teachers must recognize the negative impact high-stakes testing will have on their writing instruction and thereby expend concentrated effort on sharpening their teaching to better challenge and engage their students in the writing process.

Therefore, the negative effects high-stakes testing has on high school writing education is the primary concern of this thesis. Within this thesis, this author discusses many problematic issues in current writing instruction that arise from high-stakes testing, such as a decrease in student engagement and ownership of writing, increase in student inability to make structural connections in their writing, and the elimination of a process-oriented approach to writing instruction. Furthermore, this author explains two methods of writing instruction that teachers can use to fight against these negative effects of high-stakes testing. It is hoped that this thesis will make future English teachers aware of the inevitability of high-stakes testing effects on their writing instruction, equipping them with a few methods that can counteract these negative influences.