The following essays are offered for the purpose of practice evaluations. They were written in class by a group of high school seniors in Southern California who had studied argumentative strategies in English class. They had 45 minutes to complete the task. For several weeks before the assignment, the community and the campus had been talking about establishing a smoking area for students who smoke. The proposal was controversial because it is illegal in California for anyone under 18 to buy, possess, or use tobacco. Thus, the school would be condoning an illegal activity were it to establish the smoking area.
The writing assignment was as follows:
The school principal is proposing to establish a smoking area on campus for students who smoke. In an argumentative essay, take a stand either for or against this proposal. Completed essays will be forwarded to the principal for his consideration. Be certain to state your position clearly after providing appropriate background information. Provide good reasons or support for your position, using convincing details. Finally, include a conclusion that states the significance of the topic for the whole campus.
 The fact that more students than ever before are smoking on campus has caused a lot of discussion among students and teachers. Our school newspaper, The Scroll, even ran a series of articles about it. On the one hand, smoking is illegal for anyone under 18, so students who smoke, and teachers who let them, are breaking the law. On the other