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A Message from Gretchen
Hi Friends,

We finally have a handful of high-scoring papers from the new STAAR, and I’m sharing with you what my team and I think about how they are scored. (See "Reader Rubric for Extended Constructed Response STAAR 2.0.") We’ll see more in the coming months, but for now, here’s my take on the glimpse they have given us.

As soon as we have a really huge supply of high-scoring essays, we’ll break those down too, but for now, here’s what we have. 

We hope this gives you some degree of comfort about the big mystery, and that we also take comfort in the idea that good writing is always good writing, and that if we’re teaching with the students in our hearts, then all shall be well.

Happy breathing, happy cooler air, happy holidays approaching, and happy teaching days to you! 


Grammar & Writing for the New STAAR

Coming to a Texas town near you!

Grammar and Writing for the New STAAR
October and November, 2022
Hurst, Midland, New Braunfels, Houston

This workshop will deliver concrete strategies to get your students writing in response to reading, with special emphasis on short-answer questions expected on the new STAAR. This two-day session will weave between grammar, writing and reading across the curriculum, using materials Gretchen has authored and adapted from STAAR released tests and live student STAAR essays.

Click here for more details and to register!

User-Friendly Rubrics for Constructed Responses

Special thanks to the amazing Maureen Ucles for creating and sharing these user-friendly rubrics!

There's one for the Short Constructed Response and one for the Extended Constructed Response.

Get them here on our website!

Unsent Messages Webinar Recording

Last summer, Gretchen shared her writing strategies with the WRITE Center community.

Here's the video from her presentation

For a copy of the slides, click here.

Q&A from Writing Project Teachers

After having read one of Gretchen's books, some of the fellows at the UCI Writing Project sent her their observations and questions.

Here's what they wrote along with Gretchen's responses.

In the End, We Are All Just Stories - poem by Autumn Carter

Autumn’s beautiful poem was inspired by Nikki Grimes’s “Jabari Unmasked,” in which she uses words from “We Wear The Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar to end her lines.

Share Your Successes!

We would love to feature your work and the work of your students in our next update! Please send your success stories to us at

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