The Common Writing Assessment (CWA) is designed as a pre-assessment by the College of William & Mary. It is aligned to Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.

Students are asked to read a passage and respond to a writing prompt. Their extended response is rated in the following areas:

  • Statement of a Claim
  • Inclusion of Supporting Details
  • Elaboration with Information from the Text
  • Use of a Conclusion

These components are assessed because they are critically important in the writing process. As defined in Appendix A: Research Supporting Key Elements of the Standards, “An argument is a reasoned, logical way of demonstrating that the writer’s position, belief, or conclusion is valid. In English language arts, students make claims about the worth or meaning of a literary work or works. They defend their interpretations or judgments with evidence from the text(s) they are writing about. In history/social studies, students analyze evidence from multiple primary and secondary sources to advance a claim that is best supported by the evidence, and they argue for a historically or empirically situated interpretation” (p. 23).

The maximum score a student can achieve on the CWA is 30. The range of scores varies from year to year, although D181 students typically score between 12 - 18. A score of 20 is needed for students to be considered for traditional placement into Enriched Language Arts and/or the Affective Cognitive Enrichment (ACE) program in middle school.