DECA releases 2002 writing assessment results

DECA releases 2002 writing assessment results The Department of Education and Cultural Affairs is releasing the 2002 South Dakota Writing Assessment results. Students in grades 5 and 9 took the assessment, which included several new features this year.

During the assessment's first four years, narrative and expository prompts were used for grades 5 and 9 respectively. This year grade 5 students received a descriptive prompt, and grade 9 students received a persuasive prompt.

In addition, approximately 2,000 students at each grade level piloted the test online and computers scored their papers. The rest of the students in each of the grade levels took the paper pencil version of the test and their papers were scored by human scorers.

Another new feature of the program is that test scores are now reported by performance level rather than percentile rank. This brings the writing assessment in line with the new Dakota STEP test that will be administered this spring.

Of the students tested:


* 22 percent of grade 5 students who took the paper and pencil version of the assessment fell into the proficient and advanced category.


* 67 percent of grade 9 students who took the paper and pencil version of the assessment fell into the proficient and advanced category.


* 53 percent of grade 5 students who took the online version of the assessment fell into the proficient and advanced.


* 46 percent of grade 9 students who took the online version of the assessment fell in the proficient and advanced category.

Comparisons between this year's scores and previous years' cannot be made because different types of prompts were used this year.

One of the benefits of the online pilot version of the assessment is that immediate analytical scoring for each test taker is available to teachers. The analytical scores are divided into five categories.


* ideas and development.


* unity, coherence and organization.


* word choice.


* sentences and paragraphs and


* grammar and usage and writing messages.

Teachers use the analytic scores to help them adjust their teaching styles and methods in order to strengthening weak areas of student writing skills.

In doing the online pilot version of the assessment, schools found that ninth grade students were very comfortable with the process but that fifth grade students sometimes struggled due to a lack of mastery in keyboarding skills. For this reason, the decision on whether to administer the assessment completely online next year or to revert to the paper and pencil version is still forthcoming. For information on individual school results, log on to http://www.state.sd.us/deca/ TA/testing/stanford/2002/index.htm.

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