Results from the 2011 writing assessment, the first NAEP assessment administered on computer, provide important information on students’ ability to write on the computer for specific purposes and audiences, and the extent to which they use commonly available word-processing tools when composing their writing.
Students were given two writing tasks and had 30 minutes to complete each of the tasks. Before being presented with the first task, students were shown a tutorial to familiarize them with the way material is presented on the computer screen and show them how to use the software program provided in the assessment. Students used laptop computers provided by NAEP. They were able to use common tools for editing, formatting, and viewing text, but did not have access to irrelevant or distracting tools such as clip art, font type and color, or the Internet.
Data were obtained for actions related to editing, formatting, or viewing text and compiled to obtain the average number of times students at each grade engaged in the action during the assessment. Below is a representation of the word-processing software the students used (only a few of the buttons are operational in this example). On the left-hand side of the page is a task about which students wrote their response. On the right-hand side of the page is a sample student response from the assessment. Words that were misspelled by the student are underlined in red as they would have been during the actual assessment.
An image of a computer screen representing the word-processing software used by students is provided. The left side of the image shows a toolbar with icons as well as a screen that contains directions for completing a writing task. The right side of the main image shows a typical word processing screen, complete with standard toolbar at the top as well as a sample student response.
Outside of the computer screen image is an interactive list of 4 types of writing tools. Users can click on each tool type to explore how students used the word-processing software.
- Clicking on “Editing Tools” results in the following explanation on the left side of the computer screen image: “Students used the editing tools to make changes to their responses. The backspace and delete keys are located on the keyboard.” The word processing side of the screen image shows the cut, copy, and paste icons on the toolbar labeled with call-out boxes.
- Clicking on “Formatting Tools results in the following explanation on the left side of the computer screen image: “Students used the formatting tools to emphasize specific words or sections of their responses.” The highlighter icon in the toolbar outside of the left screen image is labeled with a call-out box. The word processing side of the screen image shows the bold, italics, underscore, indent, and outdent icons on the toolbar labeled with call-out boxes.
- Clicking on “Text-viewing Tools” results in the following explanation on the left side of the computer screen image: “Students used these tools to change how they viewed the writing prompts and their responses. They used the text-to-speech tool to hear the prompt read aloud.” The text-to-speech and zoom icons in the toolbar outside of the left screen image are labeled with call-out boxes. The collapse/expand response button and the scrollbar on the word processing side of the screen image are labeled with call-out boxes.
- Clicking on “Review Tools” results in the following explanation on the left side of the computer screen image: “Students used these tools to correct misspellings and to enhance their writing with appropriate synonyms or antonyms from the thesaurus. Within both the spell-check tool and the thesaurus tool, students could replace words in their responses by selecting from the alternatives provided by the software. The spell-check icon and the thesaurus link on the word processing side of the screen image are labeled with call-out boxes. In addition, a call-out box with the words “spell-check (right click) appears next to a red-underlined misspelled word within the sample text.