Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nation's 2011 Writing Assessment Results

The results are in...The Nation's Report Card for 8th grade and 12th grade writing assessments reveal some interesting data, including gender differences.

The following is an excerpt of the results (the full article can be accessed here):

Nation's Report Card Reveals Writing Gender Gap

Female 8th and 12th grade students significantly outperformed their male counterparts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2011 writing assessment, which tested students’ ability to write for specific purposes and audiences. The average score for female 8th graders was 19 points higher than the average score of their male peers. At grade 12, the gender performance gap was 14 points. And those gender differences persisted across every racial and ethnic subgroup. Although the test doesn’t determine the cause of the gap, survey data about the students who took the exam show that female students in both grades were much more likely to agree that writing is a favorite activity.

For the first time in its history, the NAEP writing assessment used computers to evaluate students' writing. The new, interactive test—designed to measure student ability to communicate clearly and accurately in real-world, on-demand situations—shows that the nation’s students as a whole must improve their writing skills; only about a quarter of students at both grades scored at or above the proficient level.

In addition to assessing the quality of students' writing, the computer-based exam shed light on how students write. For example, almost 30 percent of 8th graders used the thesaurus, and 80 percent of 12th graders did not use the cut, copy, and paste features. At both grade levels, students who frequently used the backspace key and the thesaurus tool scored higher than those who engaged in these actions less often.

Other findings include the following:
  • In addition to gender gaps, significant gaps occurred across racial and ethnic groups. At both grades, black and Hispanic students posted lower average scores than white students and Asian students.
  • Eighth grade students whose teachers frequently ask them to use computers to draft and revise their writing scored higher than their peers.
  • Twelfth grade students who report writing at least four pages a week for their English language arts homework scored higher than their peers.

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