Each year, students are forced to take ERB WrAP tests, standardized writing tests that require students to write on-demand. The test makes students write within restricted guidelines, guidelines that stop them from writing the best piece they can. “We shouldn’t have WrAP testing,” said eighth grader Omar Ben-Gacem.
Omar’s biggest problem with the WrAP test is that students are forced to write an informative piece. “The WrAP test focuses on a very specific type of writing: informative writing, so if you’re bad at informative [writing], tough luck, you’ve got to do it,” he said. Omar believes that the WrAP test doesn’t actually test how good of a writer a student is, because they are only allowed to write informative pieces.
“If it was like [persuasive] writing, or creative writing, that would be much more helpful than informative writing,” said Omar who raised an important point: if the test was on creative or persuasive writing, students could write with more voice and expression. The informative writing restriction blocks students from putting creativity into their writing.
Another issue with the WrAP test is the negative impact it causes on a student’s passion for writing. “You can kind of get that, ‘yay, you’re above average [feeling],’ but… you [can also] kind of get that huge slap like, you know, you did very below average, and that can kind of lower your self-esteem,” said Omar.
Being given just a score on a writing piece with no written feedback can make the writer feel as if they are just a bad writer, and are discouraged from continuing to write because they don’t know how to improve. “If you get a really low score, they basically tell you that you’re a bad writer,” he explained.
Omar has many different ways that he believes the WrAP test can be improved. “A persuasive writing test would actually be really beneficial rather than a WrAP test,” he said. “It would be better if you knew the prompt [one day earlier]… so you get your thoughts together and maybe do some research.” His idea is to change the current informative writing style into a persuasive essay, where students are allowed to do research to use in their piece. “You should at least be able to support your opinion with some [facts],” he explained.
“The problem there is [that] it’s a very specific type of writing,” he said. With his alterations made to the test, Omar believes that the WrAP test can become more open ended and provide students with a better experience.