This sample essay was born from the necessity to provide my students with "4" (score) writing samples in the new STAAR, 26-line format. As Texas schools transition from the TAKS test to the new STAAR test, we're plagued with an utter lack of sample materials to model for students.
This particular essay is a .pdf file...and was scanned directly from the sample I used on the document camera. It is written, intentionally, in my handwriting...as I try very hard to use samples that resemble (as much as possible) what students will actually produce. This is particularly necessary as students transition from writing a 2-page essay to a single-page one and must re-learn how to manage their space.
The topic (persuasive) is: "Write a letter to your city council persuading them whether or not to ban the use of cell phones in businesses." Although I included a brief paragraph for counter-argument, please note that this is not a requirement for the persuasive essay on the STAAR test. I actually encourage many of my students NOT to include a counter-argument because they already struggle in the area of writing with depth, and I do not want them to sacrifice that space. Please note that the last paragraph contains the call-to-action, which is a requirement of the persuasive essay (and is the primary difference between the persuasive and expository).
Further, please note that I instruct my students to put a salutation and faux signature outside the box, which is not graded. I have found that students stay focused on their audience (when asked to write to a particular one) much better when there is a salutation present. If you choose to do this, please be sure to train your students to create a faux "John Doe" since their names are not allowed on the writing sample.
This essay is also written on a 26-line page that has been measured to match the lined paper students will be given on the actual test.