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Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT)


Students in the eleventh grade participate in the Georgia High School Writing Test and must pass the GHSWT to earn a regular education diploma. Students are asked to produce a response to one on-demand persuasive writing prompt. The writing test requires students to produce a composition of no more than two pages on an assigned topic. The two-hour test administration includes 100 minutes of student writing time. The test is administered three times a year so that students have multiple opportunities to take the test before the end of the twelfth grade. The main administration of the GHSWT takes place in the fall of the eleventh grade year. Results of the GHSWT are used to identify students who may need additional instruction in academic content and skills considered essential for a high school diploma.

Types of Writing

The GHSWT is a test of persuasive writing. In persuasion, the writer assumes a position on an issue and uses language to influence the reader. The purpose is to express a writer’s opinion on a subject either explicitly or implicitly. Through the support provided, the writer presents a convincing point of view.

Analytic and Holistic Scoring

The scoring system is analytic. Analytic scoring means that more than one feature or domain of a paper is evaluated. Each domain itself is scored holistically. The score assigned indicates the test raters’ overall impression of the writer’s command of the components, using predetermined scoring criteria contained in the Scoring Rubrics. Accurate scoring requires balancing a writer’s strengths and areas of challenge. Student writing will be assessed analytically in four domains: Ideas, Organization, Style, and Conventions. Analytic scoring will provide detailed information on student writing including scale scores and performance levels.

Time Line

The two-hour test administration includes 100 minutes of student writing time. The test is administered three times a year (fall, spring and summer) so that students have multiple opportunities to take the test before the end of the twelfth grade. The main administration of the GHSWT takes place in the fall of the eleventh grade year. All assessments must be completed in one day. A make-up prompt is provided in the fall and spring for those students not in attendance on the first day of testing.

Scoring Procedures and Types of Scores

Four domains of writing are evaluated in the grade eleven writing assessment. Each paper is scored in four domains: Ideas, Organization, Style, and Conventions. Each domain consists of several components. A component is a feature of writing within a particular domain. For example, “Focus” is a component of the Ideas domain. The weight of each domain reflects the contribution of each domain to the student’s total score. Weighting means that the score a rater assigns is multiplied by the weight (importance) assigned to the domain. Each paper is scored by two raters. Raters who score the student compositions are trained to understand and use the standardized scoring system. The raters score each paper independently. Each of the four domains of effective writing is evaluated. Although these domains are interrelated during the writing process, a strength or area of challenge is scored only once under a particular domain. Scores in each domain range from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest score). The total weighted raw scores range from 10 (1’s in all four domains) to 50 (5’s in all four domains). A score of “1 to 5” is assigned to each domain by each rater. These scores represent a continuum of writing that ranges from inadequate to minimal to good to very good. Points on the continuum are defined by the scoring rubric for each domain. Each score point itself represents a range of papers. Domain scores are combined to obtain a total score for each student. In combining the domain scores, the Content score is given a weight of 40%; the other domains of Organization, Style, and Conventions are given a weight of 20% each. The total score is then converted to a three-digit scaled score. There are three performance levels represented: Does Not Meet (100-199), Meets (200-249), and Exceeds (250+).


Student Label – One label is provided for each student tested. The label is to be placed in the student’s permanent school record. It contains an indication of pass/fail status, the total scale score, the percentile rank, and the student’s level of performance in each domain.

Student Report –Two originals of the Student Report are provided; one is a student/parent copy and one copy is for the permanent record and instructional use by the student’s teacher(s).

Student Achievement Roster – Two copies of Student Achievement Rosters are provided. School or class level rosters are provided depending on the choice made by the school. Rosters contain the names of all students tested. For each student, the roster displays the total writing score and a notation of the performance level. Remediation/Retest Roster. This roster lists students who did not pass the GHSWT. Three copies are furnished.

School report – A summary of student scores is provided for each school where testing was conducted. Two copies of the report are provided.

System Report – For each system, a summary report is provided which is identical in content to the school report. Two copies are provided.

GHSWT Interpretive Guide Fall 2011
GHSWT Released Topic and Sample Papers Fall 2011
GHSWT Examiners Manual Fall 2011
GHSWT Coordinators Manual Fall 2011
GHSWT Interpretive Guide, Fall 2010

Fall 2010
Fall 2010 GHSWT School Data
Fall 2010 GHSWT System Data
Fall 2010 GHSWT State Data
Fall 2009

Update Bulletins WA11

Presentations WA11
GHSWT Fall 2011 Pre-Administration