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What questions are used in the NAEP writing assessment?

Explore tasks from the writing assessment, and see how the NAEP writing tasks relate to student performance.


Explore NAEP Writing Tasks

Students at grades 8 and 12 were given two writing tasks and had 30 minutes to complete each one. While writing tasks can sometimes involve composing and editing processes that continue for days or weeks, on-demand writing situations also occur where writers must compose text under time constraints. The results from the 2011 writing assessment are intended to provide information about what students can accomplish in on-demand writing situations. Tasks reflect grade-appropriate real-world issues and are designed to measure one of three communicative purposes: to persuade, to explain, and to convey experience.

  • Lost World measures students' ability to convey experience.
  • Making a Change and Use of Technology measure students' ability to explain.
  • Big Discount measures students' ability to persuade.
  • Following each task below is a sample student response, scoring commentary, data results, and the scoring guide that was used to score the response.

Grade 8: Lost World
Grade 8: Making a Change
Grade 12: Use of Technology
Grade 12: Big Discount




Use of Technology Sample Student Response

Below is a sample student response at the "Effective" level.

Sample "Effective" response:

Dear College Admissions Committee,

                In today�s world, technology permeates all aspects of life. The devices that were
once expensive and rare are available on a huge scale. Whether for entertainment,
communication or academic endeavours, teenagers use technology in their everyday lives. The
benefits to each technological innovation are seemingly endless. Social networks are the
perfect example of the diverse technology that has become incredible commonplace.

                My involvement in the social network Facebook has opened up many
opportunities. This website has allowed me to reconnect with old friends from elementary
school whom I never thought I would encounter again. Through this online network, we are
able to have ongoing discussions while in different states. In addition, my Facebook account
gives me many opportunities to talk with relatives who live overseas that I did not have access
to before. For example, I have an uncle who lives in England whom I would only get to talk to
by phone every three months or so. Now, I talk to him whenever I need to and I get to see him
and my younger cousins in the pictures that they post. I have become closer with all of them
through our friendship online because it make communication across great distances incredibly

                Facebook has also helped me in academic projects. Whenever we have a group
assignment to complete a project, we communicate our ideas through social networking. We
are able to have group brainstorms, flesh out our plans, and set up meeting times and
locations that work for everyone. I have found, through various projects using this method of
organization, that Facebook is the most reliable form of communication that we teenagers use.
We check it more often than our e-mails and respond more quickly than if someone were to
leave a voice mail. The social network Facebook has made academic projects in which we work
in groups much more efficient because it provides a common form of communication.

                Another benefit to social networking sites is that even though we use them for
serious work, they can be used for play as well. The entertainment that is available through the
multitude of application available on Facebook is astounding. With only a few exceptions, as a
member of a social network you have   access to any type of game or quiz you think would be
fun to play. The game Farmville has become infamous due to the enormous number of people
who took part. The  entertainment value of social networking is another reason why these sites
have become so pervasive in modern society.

                Social networking sites, like Facebook, provide people around the world with new
opportunities to communicate (socially and academically) and   to entertain themselves. The
extent to which they are used in our lives may be great, but that is because they have so many
different uses. No other form of communication provides an equal number of useful functions.
I think social networking has made great strides in improving the way we interact on a daily



Scoring Commentary and Data Results

"Effective" responses to this task develop explanations with well-chosen details, maintaining an effective balance between broad assertions and supporting detail and a clear progression of ideas. This response explains the significance of social networking sites to the writer, supporting assertions about the social, academic, and entertainment value of such sites with details from the writer's experiences and experiences of others. Further, sentence structure is consistently well-controlled and varied, precise word choices support clarity, and a formal but pleasant tone�suitable for a college admissions essay�is maintained throughout.

Percentage of twelfth-grade students in each response category: 2011
Effective Competent Adequate Developing Marginal Little or no skill Omitted
5 21 34 25 11 3 #

# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because the percentage of responses rated as �Off-task� is not shown. Off-task responses are those that do not provide any information related to the assessment task.


Score & Description


Responses in this range demonstrate effective skill in responding to the writing task. All elements of the response are well-controlled and effectively support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate competent skill in responding to the writing task. Elements are usually well-controlled and clearly support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate adequate skill in responding to the writing task. Most elements are controlled and support the writer's purpose and audience.


Responses in this range demonstrate developing skill in responding to the writing task. While some elements are controlled and provide some support for the writer's purpose and audience, others are not.


Responses in this range demonstrate marginal skill in responding to the writing task. Many elements are not controlled and provide weak support for the writer's purpose and audience.

Little or No Skill

Responses in this range demonstrate little or no skill in responding to the writing task. Elements are seldom controlled and provide almost no support for the writer's purpose and audience.