NAEP computer-based writing test

Education Week has reported on the results of the first computer-based writing assessment, and the news is grim.  “Only about one-quarter of the 8th and 12th graders performed at the proficient level or higher. And the proficiency rates were far lower for black and Hispanic students.” For the first time, The National Assessment for Educational Progress combined technology with composition in the writing test. Students in grades eight and twelve composed their responses using laptops. Evaluation of their responses included their utilization of various editing techniques like cutting and pasting as well as word processing tools like spell-check and grammar check.  The change in the test reflects the role of technology in schools today.  Due to the different format, the results are not comparable to previous tests. 


According to the article, “Only 27 percent of students in both grades tested scored at or above the proficient level.  The data also reveal some persistent achievement gaps. For instance, at the 12th grade level, 9 percent of black students and 12 percent of Latinos scored proficient or above, compared with 34 percent of white students.” In the eighth grade, girls outperformed boys, with 37% of girls reaching the proficiency level, as opposed to 18% of boys.


These statistics are troubling at best. Rather than being consigned only to language arts classes, grammar and composition need to be integral parts of each discipline. Teachers across the board from elementary through high school level need to model good written and oral expression. Being able to produce coherent, well written prose is a critical skill for life. 

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