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Informative writing at grade 8

Grade 8
 Grade 12

An important aspect of informative writing is being able to convey ideas and information to an audience about something the writer knows well. The writing prompt presented here asks students to write about something eighth-graders are familiar with, namely, backpacks. To engage students in the task, create context, and give them a starting point for their writing, they received a letter in an envelope from a fellow student coming from far away. This student is looking for information about backpacks and how they are used. The letter also helps to give students a starting point for their writing in the limited time period available to them.

See additional student responses and the scoring criteria used for this writing prompt in the NAEP Questions Tool. See an illustration of each rating level plotted on the NAEP scale in the writing item maps.

Percentage of eighth-grade students at each rating level in 2007













NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

Sample Eighth-Grade Informative Writing Prompt

Open the envelope labeled E that you have been given. Take out the letter from Rina and read it. Rina, who wrote the letter, is coming to a school in America for the first time and needs to know what a backpack is.

Write a letter back to Rina. In your letter, include a clear description of a backpack and explain in detail what she should keep in it. Remember, the more information Rina has, the better prepared she’ll be to start eighth grade.

Written prompt. Dear Eighth-Grade Student, Hello! My name is Rina and I am moving to the United States with my family in July. In September I will start eighth grade in America. I will miss my friends at home, but I'm excited about the move and about starting eighth grade. I have a friend who said that most junior-high school students in America keep their school work in something called a "backpack". I don't know what that is. Will you write back to me and explain what a "backpack" is and what I should keep in it? Getting a good start in my new school is important to me and your information will really help. Maybe someday I can return the favor to someone else by giving them information they need! Sincerely, Rina

Read more information about what the writing assessment measures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2007 Writing Assessment.

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