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NAEP Writing Computer-Based Assessment Tutorials

Prior to taking the first NAEP computer-based writing assessment (WCBA), students at grades 8 and 12 were given tutorials to familiarize them with the way material is presented on the computer screen. Students also saw a second type of tutorial to familiarize them with the questions about their educational experiences that follow the cognitive section of the assessment. Both types of tutorials (for the cognitive portion of the test and for the questionnaire portion) were available in English and Spanish. A handout, Ideas for Planning and Reviewing Your Writing, was given to each student in the assessment. See the handouts for grade 8 PDF File (1.1 MB) and grade 12 PDF File (1.1 MB). The tutorials were made available to students taking the assessment at the start of the testing period.

The student questionnaire tutorial described the questionnaire that was presented to students after they completed the first portion of the assessment. The student questionnaire collected information about sampled students' demographic characteristics, classroom experiences, and educational support to help NAEP provide a more complete picture of student performance.

Accessibility and the WCBA

A key goal of NAEP is to include as many students as possible. The writing computer-based assessment is designed to comply with federal policy, which instructs that electronic information technology be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. The writing assessment features optional settings that reduce the need for accommodations:

  • A ‘text-to-speech’ function on computers that can read aloud all or selected portions of directions, tasks, and stimulus materials. (Some stimulus materials, such as videos, have separate play buttons.)
  • Adjustable font size up to 48 point (letters about 2/3 inch tall).
  • Choice of color schemes, including a high contrast option.
  • Electronic spell-check and a thesaurus.

Accommodations available for the writing computer-based assessment

As with other NAEP assessments, accommodations such as alterations in the testing setting or timing were provided. For this assessment, if needed, additional accommodations were available, such as screen magnification greater than 48 points and the ability to enlarge graphics. Accommodations such as signed directions could be provided by the school staff. Any change that altered the skill that the assessment is designed to measure was not allowed.

Grade 4 computer-based pilot

Students at grade 4 were included in a pilot assessment. The tutorials they were given are available below.

The measurement goals of this innovative computer-based writing assessment are described in detail in the Writing Framework for the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress PDF File (3.1 MB).

Image credits (in all cognitive tutorials above): NASA/JPL/Cornell; NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell; © Andrew Manley/iStockphoto #3584924; © Vadim Yelizarov/iStockphoto #6962243; "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams, from THE COLLECTED POEMS: VOLUME I, 1909-1939, copyright © 1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Last updated 07 September 2012 (MS)