History Writing Tasks

Since 2001, secondary history teachers across OUSD have worked together to develop document-based questions (DBQs) and implement them in their classroom with students. They have also come together to revise these assessments based on teacher feedback, and to develop new ones. The DBQ is not only a rigorous assessment that pushes all students to think like historians, it also informs the development of teachers’ instructional practices. By gathering with colleagues to assess student work, history teachers see exemplars of student writing at their grade level, identify areas where their students need to improve, and develop their day-to-day instruction to meet these needs. The collaborative examination of students’ writing supports teachers to make instructional decisions that will best support their students' growth. These assessments, now known as History Writing Tasks or simply "HWTs," are therefore not summative assessments, but data points informing a cycle of inquiry whereby teachers improve their practice and students develop greater literacy and historical thinking skills. 

In 2013-14, the district recognized the value of these history assessments in supporting the literacy goals of the Common Core State Standards and adopted them as a district-wide literacy and historical thinking assessment for grades 6-12.

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the HWT, click here.

For a "Quick Start Guide" to implementing the HWT, click here.

For this year's HWTs and support materials, click here.

For past HWTs and support materials, click here.