Here's a story about a school I worked in many years ago. Their test scores were very high. One year, all 3rd graders got a perfect score in reading, but the numbers for writing were weaker. In the following years, the district used this information to launch a required school-wide focus on writing. We gave the kids the message that they were weak in writing, and needed to improve. We also paid for a few released test items ($7 for one student’s response to one item), to analyze these weaknesses. We realized that the students were all proficient and advanced on the actual writing samples. It was the multiple-choice questions, where they had to choose an answer with no context, where they lost points. What did this tell us about the data we had used to “drive” our instruction for several years? They knew how to apply the rules to actual writing, but their actual “weakness” was choosing between tricky multiple-choice answers on isolated rules for writing. Should we spend less time teaching them to be writers, in order to work on testing strategies for multiple choice? Should we drill them on memorizing the rules? What would this do for them, in their lives as writers? What effect would this kind of teaching have on their skills and motivation for real writing?