Bob Regan, Big History Project Team
Washington, USA

Investigation 0 is our baseline writing assessment. We intend it to be used by teachers and our team to get a picture of students’ writing skills at the start of the year. To achieve this goal, we’ve designed this assessment to be completed by students without the help of BHP Score’s signal-check feature.

Last year, we rolled out a new version of BHP Score that provided machine scoring for all of the essays in the course, including Investigation 0. We included instructions that discouraged students from signal checking this assignment, but it seems neither these instructions nor the reasons for them were obvious enough.

So, we’re making a last-minute change. We’re turning off the signal-checking feature for Investigation 0. Once deployed, this update will allow students to write and save drafts, and then turn them in. You will see a score in your view (that is, the teacher view). Your students will not see these scores. It will be up to you, the teacher, to decide whether to share this information. We hope this will give you a better view of your students’ writing skills at the start of the year and of their growth from this point forward.

For those of you who want to signal check Investigation 0, it is possible. Investigation 2 is identical to Investigation 0, but with signal checking turned on. Our intention is to have students complete Investigation 2 at the conclusion of the second unit of the course, so you should be able to see student progress even over this short period of time.We know this is a last-second change and some of you have already started your school year. We apologize to anyone who has already completed Investigation 0 and has had problems. However, we think this change is necessary and will give the overwhelming majority of teachers a better view into student progress.

If you have any questions whatsoever, do not hesitate to reach out to us at

Bob Regan
Big History Project

One thought on “Updates to Investigation 0

  1. I think this change is productive. Beginning-of-the-year writing is a tool for teachers to see if there are “red flags” with student writing (are students able to write coherent sentences? are they able to complete a complex writing assignment? are they able to use conventions of writing?). This piece should not come with lots of feedback; it is effectively a tool for teachers to measure a pulse of early writing. As I was out running this morning, I was reflecting on the Investigation 0 writing and its role as a snap-shot piece. I like this change to our instructional approach. Nice change, Bob and BHP team!


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