After decades of paper-and-pencil tests, the new results from the “nation’s report card” in writing come from a computer-based assessment for the first time, but 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.
With the new National Assessment of Educational Progress in writing, students not only responded to questions and composed their essays on laptop computers, but also were evaluated on how frequently they used word-processing review tools like “spell check” and editing tools such as copying and cutting text. Some prompts also featured multimedia components.
According to the NAEP report, the switch from paper and pencil to a computer-based test is tied to recognition of the role technology plays in a 21st-century student’s life. In 2009, a hands-on and computerized science NAEP was administered, and all new NAEP exams are slated to be computerized, including, for example, a 2014 technology and engineering assessment administered entirely on computers.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” says Mary Crovo, the executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. “[Technology] is becoming more the norm than the exception in our nation’s schools and certainly the way students communicate in college and the workplace.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2012 edition of Digital Directions as NAEP Writing Exam Taken on Computers Shows Low Scores