Volume 6, Issue 1: 2013

Introduction to Volume 6, 2013

by Diane Kelly-Riley and Peggy O'Neill, Editors

Welcome to Volume 6 of the Journal of Writing Assessment. This is the third volume of the online, open-access format, and the second volume in which we are serving as editors. As we mentioned in the last volume, our policy is to publish articles as they complete the review process so that the scholarly work is published as quickly as it is accepted for publication. As a result, JWA doesn't construct an issue in the same way a print journal does. Instead, the issue grows organically, and when we complete the calendar year we will provide some retrospective comments. You can access all of the archives of JWA for free here. The archives include access to all of the print issues of JWA which were made available through the generosity of Hampton Press.

To kick off Volume 6, we have a piece that examines automated essay scoring (AES), a timely topic in light of the recent NCTE "Position Statement on Machine Scoring". This piece, "Automated essay scoring in innovative assessments of writing from sources," by ETS researchers Paul Deane and Frank Williams, and Vincent Weng and Catherine S. Trapani of Fordham University specifically links their work to the testing demands of the Common Core State Standards, an ongoing topic of interest. The authors examine the use of AES for writing from sources. They reason that automated essay scoring can achieve similar levels of accuracy to human raters in certain contexts, but they found that this level of accuracy does not remain the same when examining the application of general and genre-specific rubrics in different contexts. Automated scoring, they conclude, needs to be supplemented by additional sources of evidence (or assessment) in order to ensure that the entire construct of writing is assessed.

Next, Carla Hall and Jaffer Sheyholislami of the University of Ottowa examine rater comments on essay tests written by students learning to speak English as a Second Language in "Using Appraisal Theory to Understand Rater Values: An Examination of Rater Comments on ESL Test Essays." Their work furthers the scholarship to examine how raters construct what makes up "good writing" especially as it applies to multi-lingual writers. Their work continues the interesting exploration of how teachers' values can serve as the basis for assessment criteria, and they provide an innovative application of appraisal theory as a methodology to guide the assessment of raters' evaluation of student work.

Currently, the Journal of Writing Assessment has a call for manuscripts in response to the writing assessments connected to the Common Core State Standards. Please read more about this call for scholarship here. Likewise, we maintain the ongoing "JWA Reading List" which provides focused reviews of publications important to writing assessment and contextualizes their relevance to writing assessment practitioners. Recent volumes reviewed on the JWA Reading List include Race and Writing Assessment (Eds. Inoue & Poe, Peter Lang, 2012 ) and Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of Edward M. White (Eds. Elliot & Perelman, Hampton Press, 2012). If you would like to do a JWA Reading List review, please review the submission guidelines.

We would like to thank reviewers who volunteered their time and expertise to review and comment on manuscripts submitted to JWA. We are indebted to their generosity and hard work.

Linda Adler-Kassner, University of California Santa Barbara
Arthur Applebee, University at Albany-SUNY
Bob Broad, Illinois State University
Beverly Chin, University of Montana
Patricia Freitag Ericsson, Washington State University
Brian French, Washington State University
Chris Gallagher, Northeastern University
Steve Graham, Arizona State University
Richard Haswell, University of Texas-Corpus Christi
Robert Land, California State University, Los Angeles
Michael Neal, Florida State University
Ellen Schendel, Grand Valley State University
Carol Severino, University of Iowa
John Webster, University of Washington
Carl Whithaus, University of California Davis
Sara Weigle, Georgia State University
Edward Wolfe, Pearson
Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University

Finally, we would like to acknowledge the Department of English at the University of Idaho for assuming financial support of the Journal of Writing Assessment. Washington State University had initially supported JWA's move to open-access, online publication format but with Diane's move to the University of Idaho, that support ended. We greatly appreciate the University of Idaho's commitment to support an independent journal that publishes scholarship done by and for researchers and teachers of writing. We have many interesting and engaging manuscripts currently under review; we look forward to bringing them to publication.