"An agenda for assessment that recognizes it as an important element for social action allows us to guard against over-privileging the values, gestures and customs of certain groups, and provides assessment with the potential to become an agent for progressive social change that highlights the improvement of educational environments and opportunities for all students."
Brian Huot's aim for this book is both ambitious and provocative. He wants to reorient composition studies' view of writing assessment. To accomplish this, he not only has to inspire the field to perceive assessment—generally not the most appreciated area of study—as deeply significant to theory and pedagogy, he also has to counter some common misconceptions about the history of assessment in writing.
In (Re)Articulating Writing Assessment, Huot advocates a new understanding, a more optimistic and productive one than we have seen in composition for a very long time. Assessment, as Huot points out, defines what is valued by a teacher or a society. What isn't valued isn't assessed; it tends to disappear from the curriculum. The dark side of this truth is what many teachers find troubling about large scale assessments, as standardized tests don't grant attention or merit to all they should. Instead, assessment has been used as an interested social mechanism for reinscribing current power relations and class systems.
Reciprocally, Huot reminds us, one can use assessment to bring the attention of the curriculum to what we want it to value. It's his intention to (re)articulate writing assessment as a positive, important aspect of designing, administrating and theorizing writing instruction—in a sense, returning it to its roots in early conceptions of assessment as progressive social action.
A well-reasoned, provocative discourse on basic conceptions in the field, this book will be of significant value to scholars in writing and assessment, to writing program administrators, to readers in educational assessment, and to graduate students in rhetoric and composition.