Amplify’s Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) tools give teachers the ability to understand, track, and support student progress with key foundational skills, which are a strong indicator of a student's analytic writing proficiency. Developed in conjunction with the Writing Prompts in Amplify ELA, AWE assesses student writing for Focus, Use of Evidence, and Conventions, providing critical feedback for teachers and data for Amplify’s writing reports.
AWE Overview: Core Writing Activities and Foundational Skills
In the Amplify ELA core lessons, students complete a formative writing activity a few times per week. At the beginning of the year in Unit A, Sub-unit 2, students respond to narrative writing prompts. Beginning in Unit A, Sub-unit 3 (and throughout the rest of the year), most prompts are text-based. The format of the prompts remains similar, so students can focus on their analysis of the text and you can easily compare one piece of writing to another and track skill progress, looking for patterns in several pieces of work.
When students submit work in response to these core lesson prompts, you can view their AWE scores for three foundational skills: Focus, Use of Evidence, and Conventions.
Focus: To write exclusively about and fully develop one moment, idea, or claim.
Use of Evidence: To select, describe, and explain quoted or paraphrased details from a text in order to develop and support an idea or claim. (Most analytic Writing Prompts receive AWE scores for Use of Evidence; narrative Writing Prompts do not.)
Conventions: To use grammatical conventions and sentence mechanics appropriately.
AWE assesses student writing based on rubrics measuring these skills. You can access the rubrics in Classwork alongside student responses. By providing automated scores on student writing, AWE allows you to monitor the overall performance of your classes and provide students with targeted feedback to support improvement.
Plan to review student work alongside its AWE score. You can override the AWE scores with your own rubric-based assessment if you disagree with the automated scores. AWE should not be the sole source of any grade for student writing. Whenever you plan to assign a grade to student writing, plan to review the submissions and apply your judgment in translating the scores into grades.
NOTE: As indicated in the rubrics, individual scores for Focus, Use of Evidence, and Conventions are affected by the number of words in a student's response. To adequately demonstrate proficiency, a student must provide enough writing to show they can maintain each skill consistently across multiple sentences.
AWE Scores in Classwork
When you open Classwork and expand a writing activity, you will see the AWE auto-scores for Focus, Use of Evidence, and Conventions in the table. This screenshot shows the Classwork view of a writing activity that includes these auto-scores:
AWE Scores When Viewing Student Work
When you open a piece of student writing, the Assess Skills section in the scoring panel will identify the AWE score given to that piece of writing.
Overriding the AWE Auto-score
You can always replace the AWE auto-score with your own assessment score by clicking on the number you feel best represents the student’s score for that particular skill. Doing so overrides the AWE score in Classwork. You can click the ⓘ button next to ASSESS SKILLS to view the rubrics.
Missing AWE Auto-Scores
Not all writing prompts are auto-scored in all skill areas:
Narrative Writing Prompts do not receive Use of Evidence auto-scores because students are not expected to include textual evidence in their narrative responses.
Certain analytic Writing Prompts do not receive Use of Evidence auto-scores because the range of possible textual evidence that students might choose is too broad for the auto-scorer to be able to evaluate whether students have chosen their evidence appropriately.
Flex Day writing activities do not have AWE scores for Use of Evidence.
Writing in the Essay sub-units is not auto-scored. The summative essays in each unit use a different rubric, which can be found in the Materials section of each Unit Guide.
If there is not an auto-score, you will see an exclamation point in Classwork as well as in Reporting. If you want, you can assess students’ skills in these prompts by providing your own rubric-based scores.
Exclamation points in Classwork can also indicate that students have not submitted a response, or that students have submitted a response that isn’t long enough to generate a score. You can always use Classwork to determine whether students have submitted writing in response to a particular prompt.
How AWE Works
AWE Scores for Focus
The AWE tool for Focus assesses the degree to which a piece of student writing maintains focus on one specific moment, idea, or claim by analyzing the connectedness between and across sentences. AWE can assess for Focus in both narrative and analytic text-based prompts and provides a rubric-aligned Focus score between 1 and 4. Higher scores indicate that the student has written a relatively long response with many details relevant to a single moment, idea, or claim and with few or no rough topic shifts (such as nonsequiturs or tangents). Lower scores indicate a shorter response with fewer sentences developing the same moment, idea, or claim. Because the Focus rubric assigns scores relative to both word count and grade level, the scorers are sensitive to these factors.The Focus rubric targets a student’s ability to thoroughly develop one moment, idea, or claim. Learn more about rubrics and see exemplars here.
AWE Scores for Use of Evidence
The AWE tool for Use of Evidence assesses both the extent to which students select appropriate quoted or paraphrased details from a text and the extent to which students describe how the parts or elements of this evidence connect to their claim or idea. All core analytic Writing Prompts in Amplify ELA require that students state a claim or idea, support that claim or idea with appropriate textual evidence, and elaborate on the ways in which their evidence develops their claim or idea. AWE provides a rubric-aligned Use of Evidence score between 1 and 4 for most of these prompts. Higher scores indicate that the student has written a relatively long response, provided some relevant evidence to support their claim or idea, and thoroughly explained the significance of their evidence. Lower scores indicate a shorter response with little or no evidence, or that evidence is provided without adequate elaboration. Because the Use of Evidence rubric assigns scores relative to both word count and grade level, the scorers are sensitive to these factors.
AWE scores for Conventions
The AWE tool for Conventions assesses the extent to which student responses use grammar and sentence mechanics appropriately. AWE provides a rubric-aligned Conventions score between 1 and 4. AWE identifies up to ten common grammatical errors in student writing activities, including the following:
Missing question marks
Missing commas or semicolons
Meaning unknown (a catchall for a significant number of errors that make it difficult to extract meaning from the sentence)
Because the Conventions rubric assigns scores relative to both word count and grade level, the scorers are sensitive to these factors.
When the Details toggle on is turned on, any applicable errors will be listed below the Conventions rubric in the scoring panel.
Any sentences in the student’s response that contain errors will be underlined blue. Clicking on a sentence in the student response will display a tooltip that shows the corresponding errors.
Students cannot see rubric scores or conventions errors. You can encourage students to improve upon their grammatical errors by sending feedback through inline or general comments.
Note: Student writing in essays and unit reading assessments is not auto-scored. You can score student writing in unit reading assessments with the rubrics for Focus, Use of Evidence, and Conventions; however, Amplify ELA essays have a different rubric found in the Materials section of those lessons.
How do the AWE scorers work?
The AWE scorers have been trained on thousands of teacher-scored student writing responses, including teacher overrides in Classwork. Because these scorers have been trained on student writing across a wide spectrum of classrooms, a student’s response will be scored relative to a large number of students, not just that student’s classmates.
The AWE scorers are routinely updated to learn from additional teacher-scored responses. Each time you review and then override certain AWE scores with your own rubric-based assessment, you are helping to train the AWE scorer.
Does AWE include a plagiarism checker?
Amplify’s AWE tools do not currently include a plagiarism checker. These tools have been designed to prioritize the assessment of patterns in student performance against core writing skills. Amplify recommends that teachers review any writing submitted for a performance grade, as AWE will not alert teachers when the writer relied heavily on copied text.
How should I use AWE?
After students have submitted a piece of writing, open Classwork (requires login) and expand a writing activity to see each individual student’s written response and the AWE scores they have been assigned. Click “Comments” to highlight specific words or sentences and provide students with targeted feedback. The Insights tab in Classwork helps identify students who would benefit from this type of feedback.
After students have submitted a few pieces of writing, click “See Details” under the Writing Skills reports in the Reporting app (requires login). This will allow you to see how all of your students are scoring against the core writing skills within a single unit. Look for patterns across prompts and across students. This will help you to discover trends and identify which students are struggling or improving and can help you with planning instruction.
While students are responding to Writing Prompts, use On-the-Fly supports to facilitate effective feedback for students who are on track or need support in their response. On Flex Days, consider assigning Revision Assignments to students whose scores show that they would benefit from additional practice developing their core writing skills.
Should I use AWE scores to assign grades to student writing?
Amplify’s AWE tools are designed to provide teachers with feedback on how well students are mastering core writing skills. AWE scores are not intended to be student grades. We recommend that you review any written responses to which you want to assign a grade. We also recommend that you provide opportunities for students to revise and resubmit their writing assignments when they need additional practice to show proficiency over core writing skills.