To understand how we got into this situation with writing instruction and testing, we need to go back a bit… to the creation of the Common Core Standards (and make no mistake, our Florida Standards are still Common Core, no matter what they renamed them to fool people).
Also implied in Coleman's statement, and his "shift," is the idea that a focus on personal narratives also makes children narcissistic, interested only themselves. The truth is more complicated.
Keep in mind that if your student takes the writing test on a computer, he/she is scored by one human scorer and by a computer, and the scores are verified against each other. In the end, writing to text has become a big instructional shift and is taking over our schools’ writing programs, simply because it makes the testing cheaper. Your student now hates writing so the state can save money.
A great writing program won’t teach to the test, and won’t hold “writing to text” as a superior form of writing. A great writing program will teach students what real writers do instead of teaching formulas. A great writing program will give students freedom write about what they love and about what frustrates them.
You can’t have great, unengaged writers. Great writing comes only out of engagement. And engaged writers will do well on any test, and probably have fun doing it. When our son took the SAT and got a perfect score, we wondered about his essay. He had always been a really good writer, so we were interested in seeing his "perfect" piece of writing. When the essay arrived via email, we read it. We were expecting his usual great writing, but instead we saw that this “perfect” essay was a piece of drivel. We asked him why he’d written it the way he did. He had looked up what the SAT scorers wanted: many words, and many of those words big words. He had given them that, using words like multifarious, and scored well. He knew how to play the testing game because he had been taught to write for real in the first place. But he never mistook the writing he did for the test to get a score as either real, or quality, writing.