High school writing standards assess students’ proficiency in composing several types of writing. The Common Core State Standards Initiative specifically addresses expository, argumentative and narrative writing and the research process; however, some states, including California, also require competency in technical and business writing. By understanding high school writing expectations, students are better able to produce writing that meets or exceeds the standards.

Narrative Standards

High school writing standards require students to produce a variety of narratives both real and imagined. Examples of high school narrative writing may include short stories, biographies and autobiographies. Specifically, teachers may require students to tell about personal experiences in which they learned something interesting, thought provoking or life changing. By successfully incorporating dialogue, details and sensory language, high school students should create well-developed characters and plots.

Expository Standards

Expository writing uses evidence, facts or examples to explain, inform or describe. High school writing standards require students to produce expository writing that cohesively develops informative texts with a distinctive introduction, body and conclusion. Students incorporate concrete language, relevant vocabulary, figurative language and rhetorical devices such as metaphors, similes and analogies to produce well-developed, sophisticated writing. Examples of expository texts include compare/contrast papers such as “Malcolm X and Dr. Martin L. King: More Alike than Different” and cause and effect compositions such as “The Connection between Drinking Sodas and Childhood Obesity.”

Business and Technical Standards

According to a report published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, more than 52 percent of high school graduates lack sufficient writing and communication skills. To prepare students for real life writing situations, California requires its high school students to master business and technical writing skills. Paying close attention to correct formatting and spacing, students learn to write business letters, resumes and memos. In addition, students create technical documents such as how-to manuals, product assembly directions, and troubleshooting guides.

Argumentative and Persuasive Standards

Persuasive and argumentative writing require students to provide information and develop an argument. Persuasive writing standards require students to compose essays that develop claims and counterclaims or pros and cons while providing evidence to support each claim. The goal is to persuade the readers to change the way they think about a topic. “Should High School Students Complete Community Service Hours?” or “Should the Government Reform Immigration Laws?” offer examples of persuasive writing topics.

Research Process Standards

By combining information from multiple sources, students use the steps of the research process to develop research questions and to find solutions to those problems. Students may use this process for all forms of writing. First, students choose a topic and develop a question to answer. Next, they gather relevant information from reliable digital and print sources such as books, journals and online databases. Later students evaluate the sources for their credibility and authority by looking at each source for its strengths and limitations. Finally, students integrate the information from their research and properly cite sources to avoid plagiarism.

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