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The Validity of Using Holistic Scoring to Evaluate Writing: A Critical Overview

Davida Charney
Research in the Teaching of English
Vol. 18, No. 1 (Feb., 1984), pp. 65-81
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40170979
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Validity of Using Holistic Scoring to Evaluate Writing: A Critical Overview
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Abstract

Teachers, administrators, testing agencies, and researchers all need a valid, reliable method of assessing writing ability. Each group has turned to holistic ratings of writing samples as a reliable qualitative procedure for responding to the essential features of writing. Yet the validity of holistic ratings has never been convincingly demonstrated. This paper analyzes the implicit requirements for achieving reliable results from holistic ratings and argues that these conditions bring the validity of the ratings into doubt. The research available suggests that even in carefully supervised rating sessions, holistic ratings may be unduly influenced by superficial features of the writing samples. Those who use holistic ratings to evaluate writing ability need to give more serious attention to the validity of the scores that result.

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