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Writing Prompt Policy


Revised by Teresa Matranga



The purpose of standards-based benchmark essays is for ESs and Parents to evaluate their students’ writing and to support their instruction throughout the school year.


Schoolwide Goals:

The Connecting Waters Charter Schools (CWCS) have three WASC/LCAP schoolwide goals: To increase the percentage of students on-track to graduate college and career ready; to close the achievement gap in English Language Arts and Math; and to increase the percentage of EL students who achieve proficiency in English Language Arts and Math. Writing proficiency is a key indicator to success in all the goals. Effective writing achievement is also part of CWCS Expected School wide Learning Results (ESLRs) (also known as Suggested Learning Outcomes (SLOs). CWCS believes that with relevant curriculum and instructional support ESs and parents will see improved writing scores on state assessments.


Benchmark “Calibrated” Assessments (Grades 4-12):

Students in grades 4 -12 are required to complete their benchmark essays using My Access. However, because My Access is also tutorial, students are highly encouraged to respond to the two practice prompts set-up in My Access - revising and editing - before writing the required benchmark essay. Making use of the practice prompts is highly encouraged; they give students instant feedback, scaffolded instruction, and an opportunity to practice their writing independently.


My Access technology calibrates scores in five domains: focus and purpose, content and development, organization, language use, and grammar and mechanics. Handwritten essays may be difficult to collect and analyze. Scores can vary from teacher to teacher. However, calibrated scores provide consistent evaluative data to aid administrative analysis of schoolwide writing.


Ideally, using My Access and writing both practice and benchmark essays throughout the school year, students will learn to compose focused, organized, and cohesive essays in the narrative, informational/expository, persuasive/argumentative, and literary genres.


Benchmark Essays: ESs are required to use scored MyAccess benchmark essays, either printed for hard copy portfolios or included in digital portfolios. They can be used as an ELA sample or added as an additional sample. One MyAccess benchmark essay must be included in each semester’s portfolio.      


K-3 Student Requirements: Each semester, students in grades K-3 compose a handwritten or typed benchmark essay using blind (not practiced beforehand) prompts following the same genres and dates as grades 4-12. Prompt suggestions are posted on the CWCS website. ESs collect one essay per semester for the portfolios.

Rubrics for scoring K-3 essays can be found at, Writing prompts for grades K-3.  


Parent Educator Support:

In 2021-22, My Access Parent Training Seminars for grades 4-12 will be offered by the trained representatives of My Access. For dates, days, and topics, go to the English Department Website. You will find a link under the My Access heading.