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Curriculum and Instruction

Writing Standards in Action Project


Educators, parents and students often ask, "What does good student writing at this grade level look like?"

The answer lies in the writing itself.

All students can meet high standards. The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document outline content and skill expectations at each grade level. The Writing Standards in Action Project illustrates what performance to grade-level expectations looks like in student work. The Project presents examples of high-quality student writing with annotations that highlight how each piece demonstrates competence in learning standards at each grade level. The annotated samples provide a resource for teachers, administrators, parents and students to support improved instruction and student writing. Material from the Project may be used in conjunction with the student writing available in Appendix C Download PDF Document of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (2010) and the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy (2011)

Overview of Writing Samples

The samples that follow provide examples of student writing from a broad range of grade levels and assignments written for a variety of audiences and purposes.

When accessing the materials from the table below, the annotated student work as well as the unmarked sample will appear above the table.

Text Types and PurposesGrade preKGrade KGrade 1Grade 2Grade 3 Grade 4Grade 5Grade 6Grade 7Grade 8Grade 9Grade 10Grade 11Grade 12
Opinion/Argument View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 1 View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 4 View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 5 View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 6 View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 7 View Opinion Argument Samples - Grade 8
Inform/Explain View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade K View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 1 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 2 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 3 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 4 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 5 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 6 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 7 View Inform/Explain Samples - Grade 8
Narrate View Narrate Samples - Grade K View Narrate Samples - Grade 2 View Narrate Samples - Grade 3 View Narrate Samples - Grade 4 View Narrate Samples - Grade 5 View Narrate Samples - Grade 6 View Narrate Samples - Grade 7 View Narrate Samples - Grade 8 View Narrate Samples - Grade 10 View Narrate Samples - Grade 12

Student Writing and Reviewers Wanted

The Writing Standards in Action Project is seeking new samples of student work from all grades PK-12. Please consider submitting writing, including digital writing, from any content area in which students had a choice of topic and time to revise their original work. ESE is seeking samples of student work, in particular, that effectively integrate information from a particular print or digital text or set of texts on a given topic. The primary criterion is that the work must demonstrate a high level of engagement with the material.

ESE is also seeking reviewers of student work with expertise in the teaching and assessment of writing from any of the elementary, middle or high school grades. See further information below under the heading "Join In".

Work from a diverse range of districts, schools and students

The student samples represent work across academic subject areas and come entirely from Massachusetts public schools, in urban, suburban and rural districts across the state. The writers are typical students from supportive learning environments where reasonable expectations of student effort and effective instruction are in place.

How samples were selected

Teachers, principals and other administrators submitted samples of student writing for review by a panel of educators with expertise in writing instruction and evaluation. In all cases, the samples are authentic student work. Accordingly, they have not been edited or corrected to remove imperfections. While some samples are accurate for the most part, satisfying grade-level standards in many respects, they may contain inaccuracies in wording and content or shortcomings in the use of standard English conventions.

Using the Writing Standards in Action

The Overview of Writing Samples chart summarizes the grade levels, the text types and purposes of the samples currently posted.

Each posting includes:

  • The student work with standards-based annotations matched to specific selections in the text
  • An unmarked copy of the student work
  • Background information on the assignment whenever that information is available

The Project posts new samples on an ongoing basis.


ESE aims to make the Writing Standards in Action Project as useful as possible. We welcome your comments, whether they concern the student samples, the commentary provided, or the overall presentation of the work.

Please send comments to:

Join in

Submit writing - New submissions for the Project are welcome.

Reviewers needed - The Project seeks candidates with expertise in writing to review new submissions. Teams of reviewers meet roughly every six weeks for a full day to review the student work and annotate the samples. Reimbursement for travel expenses and substitute teachers is provided.

Participants gain working experience with the literacy standards. Panelists have found participation to be a valuable professional development opportunity.

Contact David Buchanan (781) 338 – 6235


ESE would like to thank the students who granted permission to reproduce their work. In addition, ESE would like to thank the following individuals, organizations and districts for their willingness to share their expertise, their own work, and the work of their students.

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
View Acknowledgements

Last Updated: September 18, 2015
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