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NAEP Instruments → Cognitive Items and Instruments → Development of the Writing Cognitive Items and Instruments

Development of the Writing Cognitive Items and Instruments


The NAEP writing framework and specifications document guides the item development efforts. Items are written by NAEP item development staff, kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade teachers, and postsecondary teachers around the country. All assessment materials are reviewed by the Writing Standing Committee (see the current committee members), as well as other specialists in writing education and assessment development. The cognitive items are assembled into 25- and 50-minute blocks, each consisting of a single writing prompt. Students are administered either two 25-minute blocks or one 50-minute block. The 50-minute blocks are given at grades 8 and 12 only. The blocks are designed to measure students' abilities in one of three purposes for writing:

  • narrative,
  • informative, and
  • persuasive.

While the 2002 assessment was administered at grades 4, 8, and 12, it should be noted that the 2007 assessment in writing was administered at only grades 8 and 12.

Following approval from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the blocks are assembled into booklets and distributed to schools for the administration of the assessment.

Explore sample items and related student performance data from the assessment.

Last updated 02 February 2010 (GF)

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education