Wednesday, 22 May 2013



This article attempts to give methods in designing writing test which might be useful for teachers or lectures who want to evaluate their learners’ achievement in learning process. The contents of the paper are (1) introduction (2) general concept of writing (3) Curriculum, Syllabus, and School Based Curriculum (4) writing test (5) designing writing test for vocational high school students using picture-cued tasks (6) conclusion. The writer would like to over some suggestions that are hopefully useful for English teacher, students, and the next researcher. The use of picture-cued tasks in writing test for vocational high school should be maintained frequently and recommended to English teachers at vocational high school.

1.     Introduction
Perception about testing writing is usually not actualized in what the students’ achievement and what appropriateness between the students’ testing writing and the student has learned in teaching process. Brown (2004: 218), states that it follows logically that the assessment of writing is no simple task. As you consider assessing students’ writing ability, as usual you need to be clear about your objective or criterion. What is it you want to test: handwriting ability? Correct spelling? Writing sentences that are grammatically correct? Paragraph construction? Logical development of a main idea? All of these, and more, are possible objectives. And each objective can be assessed through a variety of tasks.

There are many kinds of writing test. Madson states (1983: 101), “the reason for this is fairly simple: a wide variety of writing tests is needed to tests the many kinds of writing tasks that we engage in”. Vocational High School is a formal education with any skills to be a ready worker after graduate. In this case, we must be a wise to create an appropriate tests for the students of Vocational High School.

2.     General concept of Writing

Before conducting the test design of writing, we must know the genres of written language. Scrutinized the different genres of written language is to make that context and purpose are clear. According to Brown, there are three kind of writing: 1) Academic Writing ( Papers and general subject reports, Essays and compositions, Academically focused journals, Short-answer test responses, Technical reports, Theses and dissertations, 2) Job-related writing (Messages, Letters/e-mails, Memos, Reports, Schedule or labels or signs, Advertisements, announcements, Manuals, 3) Personal Writing ( Letters, e-mails, greeting cards, invitations, Messages, notes, Calendar entries, shopping lists, reminders, Financial documents, Forms, questionnaires, medical reports, immigration documents, Diaries, personal journals, Fiction.

There are four Types of writing performance; Imitative (to produce written language, the learners must s\attain skills in the fundamental, basic tasks of writing letters, words, punctuations, and very brief sentences. This category includes the ability to spell correctly and to perceive phoneme-grapheme correspondences in the English spelling systems. It is a level at which learners are trying to master the mechanics of writing. At this stages, form is the primary if not exclusively focus, while context and meaning are of secondary concern), Intensive (controlled or beyond the fundamentals of imitative writing are skills in producing appropriate vocabulary within a context, collocations and idioms, and correct grammatical features up to the length of a sentence. Meaning and context are of some importance in determining correctness and appropriateness, but most assessment tasks are more concerned with a focus on form, and are rather strictly controlled by the test design), Responsive (Assessment tasks require learners to perform at limited discourse level, connecting a sentences into a paragraph and creating a logically connected sequence of two or three paragraphs, tasks respond to pedagogical directives, lists of criteria, outlines, and other guidelines. Genres of writing include brief narratives and descriptions, short reports, lab reports, summaries, brief responses to reading, and interpretations of charts or graphs. Under specified conditions, the writers begin to exercise some of choice among the alternative forms of expression of ideas. The writer has mastered of fundamental sentence-level grammar is more focus on discourse conventions that will achieve the objectives of the written texts. Form-focused attention is mostly at the discourse level, with a strong emphasis on the context and meaning. Extensive (extensive writing implies successful management of all the processes and strategicness of writing for all purposes, up to the length of an essay, a term paper, a major research project report, or even a thesis. Writers focus on achieving a purpose, organizing and developing and ideas logically, using details to support or illustrate ideas, demonstrating syntactic and lexical variety, and in many cases, engaging in the process of multiple drafts to achieve a final product. Focus on grammatical form is limited to occasional editing or proofreading of a draft,
Micro- and Macro-skills of writing will assist you in defining the ultimate criterion of an assessment procedure. The earlier micro-skills apply more appropriately to imitative and intensive types of writing tasks, while the macro-skills are the essential for the successful mastery of responsive and extensive writing. Micro-skills; 1) Produce grapheme and orthographic patterns of English 2) Produce writing at an efficient rate of speed to suit the purpose 3) Produce an acceptable core of words and use appropriate word other patterns 4) Use acceptable grammatical systems (e.g., tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, and rules 5) Express a particular meaning in different grammatical forms 6) Use cohesive devices in written discourse. Macro-skills; 1) Use the rhetorical forms and conventions of written discourse 2) Appropriately accomplish the communicative functions of written texts according to form and purpose 3) Convey links and connections between events, and communicate such relations as main idea, supporting idea, new information, given information, generalization, and exemplification 4) Distinguish between literal and implied meanings when writing 5) Correctly convey culturally specific reference in the context of the written text 6) Develop and use of battery of writing strategies, such as accurately assessing the audience interpretation, using prewriting devices, writing with fluency in the first drafts, using paraphrases and synonyms, soliciting peer and instructor feedback, and using feedback for revising and editing.

Suwandi (2010: 3) states School based Curriculum (KTSP) which is rooted from the 2004 English curriculum is designed according to the government regulation in the sense that the curriculum has to be competence-based and that at the end of the day learners are expected to be able to communicate in English as one of their life skills and that they are expected to be able to handle written texts not only for pursuing further studies, but also for learning independently in order to be independent members of community. Curriculum and syllabus should be the standard of teaching and assessing. Indonesian’s Government has behaved School Based Curriculum since 2004. English curriculum is designed in order to that the end of the day the learners are expected to be able to communicate in English as one of their life skills and they are expected to be able to handle written text not only for pursuing further studies, but also for learning independently in order to be independent members of community.
In this case, the implementation of school based curriculum must consider the three based component: 1) Standar National Pendidikan (SNP) which set up in PP 19 tahun 2005 explained in Peraturan Menteri Pendidikan Nasional, 2) Syllabus and Lesson Plan (PP 19 tahun 2005) must be an appropriate formula in teaching learning process and evaluation, 3) Lesson Plan need to be explored done in order to prove the readiness of teaching learning process.


As stated in introduction that there are many kinds of writing test. According to Brown, There are some kinds of writing tests below:
a.       Imitative Writing
-          Tasks in (Hand) writing letters, words, and punctuations
·         Copying
·         Listening cloze selection tasks
·         Picture-Cued Tasks
·         Form completion tasks
·         Converting numbers and abbreviations to words
-          Spelling Tasks and Detecting Phoneme-
Grapheme Correspondence
·         Spelling test
·         Picture-cued tasks
·         Multiple choice techniques
·         Matching phonetics symbols
b.      Intensive (Controlled Writing)
-          Dictation and Dicto-Comp
-          Grammatical Transformation Tasks
-          Picture-Cued Tasks
·         Short sentence
·         Picture description
·         Picture sequence description
Scoring scale for controlled writing
2 Grammatically and lexically correct
1 either Grammar or vocabulary is incorrect both not both
0 both grammar and vocabulary are incorrect
-          Vocabulary assessments tasks
-          Ordering Tasks
-          Short-answers and sentence completion tasks
Another reason for the variety of writing tests in use in the great number of factors that can be evaluated: mechanics (including spelling and punctuation), vocabulary, grammar, appropriate content, diction (word selection), rhetorical maters of various kinds (organization, cohesion, unity; appropriateness to the audience, topics, and occasions); as well as sophisticated concerns such a logic and style. The list is enough to boggle this mind.


      From the wide variation of written tests, picture-cued task in designing English written test for vocational high school students. The writer wrote about picture-cued above.
a.       Imitative writing
*      task in [hand] writing letters, words, and punctuation
Here, the students are given tasks that contain some familiar pictures and the pictures are not ambiguity in identified. Then the students write the word that picture represents. For example: copier, typewriter

*      Spelling tasks and detecting phoneme- grapheme correspondence
The students are given pictures with focusing object on familiar words that may be unpredictable spelling. This format presents some challenging words or words pair. For example: locker/rocker, puncher/ panzer,   etc
b.      Intensive (controlled) writing
      Picture-cued is used in English classroom around the world. The advantages of using picture-cued such are: separate reading and writing connection and offering nonverbal means to stimulate written responses.
*      Short sentences
The students are given a picture. Then they write the description of the picture briefly. For example, a red blues women is anger in calling

*      Picture description
More complex pictures are showed to the students. And they write the description of these pictures with preposition. For example, there are four officers in the room; there are three notebooks on desk, a pot of plant on locker, and so on

*      Picture sequence description
Picture sequence is pictures that have story line and contain clues in sequence to stimulate written skills of the students. For example, a blue coat man seems so sad, suddenly a butterfly flies closer his, and then he chases the butterfly and feels happy leaving his stuff on the ground
Picture-cued tasks are good for vocational high school that the students are prepared to work after graduate.

c.       Scoring Methods
In this study, the writer used picture-cued test because it is easy to scores and administer. Brown (2003:228) said that “this kind of task are designed to be controlled, even at this very simple level, a few different correct responses can be made for each item in the sequence”. If the criteria in this task are both lexical and grammatical choice, the writer needs to design a rating scale to account for variations between completely right and completely wrong in both categories. Scoring scale for controlled writing is;
 2 = grammatically and lexically correct.
 1 = either grammar or vocabulary is incorrect, but not both.
0 = both grammar and vocabulary are incorrect.

Vocational High School is a formal education with any skills that the students are ready to be workers after graduate. Teaching English in Vocational High School is different with teaching in general high school. If we use the test beyond the context of the students’ knowledge, they will be frustrated in doing the test itself. The topics they study suit with their majors in elementary level.  In this case, we must be a wise to create an appropriate tests for the students of Vocational High School. So the picture-cued tasks will be an appropriate technique in assessing writing.
Brown, H. Douglas. 2004. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. New York: Person Education Inc
English Teaching Journals. 2010. Designing A Classroom Language Test For Junior High School Student by Suwandi. Semarang: English Department IKIP PGRI Semarang
Madson, Harold. S. 1983. Techniques in Testing. New York: Oxford University Press

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