Nation's Report Card Home

Sample Questions

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




Big Discount Sample Student Response

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

Sample "Effective" response:

Dear Pickett Springs Council,


                On behalf of our great town, I must write to you to plead against the introduction
of the Big Discount chain of stores. These large chains are not only a threat to our towns own
stores but a threat to the environment as well. I�m writing you to plead my case and help save
our happy little town from the agendas of big business.
Sure, it sounds like a great idea to bring in Big Discounts and get the lowest prices
on our groceries, but nobody here is honestly that bad off. Massive nation-wide chains such as
this one are in the business of shutting down our fellow townsfolk. What�s wrong with paying
an extra twenty cents if you know it�s putting food on your table and the family running the
store? This community has built itself upon people helping each other to achieve their pursuit
of happiness. Just picture this�Big Discounts come into town flaunting about the lowest prices
and how nobody can match the large cuts they have made. This sends all of the business from
the sweet Waller Family General Store over to the Big Discounts chain and puts all power in
their hands. Eventually the Waller�s are going to have to file bankruptcy because our
selfishness has prevented us from forking over twenty cents more for that loaf of bread. It
seems silly to me that we would blackball our own people and our own friends just to keep our
pockets a few cents heavier.
            Now after the many stores, ran by our very own citizens, have been run out of
business the Big Discounts that we ourselves brought in would show their gratification to us by
upping their prices! They would monopolize every grocery item in town. True, they would still
offer the lowest prices in town�but that�s because there would be no other prices to have it
compared to! This is how big businesses, such as Big Discounts, make their money and
continue to rule the nation. We cannot fall victim to the tricks put forth by the thundering
wheels of big business, haven�t we survived this long? My life has been quite satisfactory for
the most part and y�all have lived the same time I have. We here in Pickett Springs have been
self sufficient and shall continue to be as long as we deny Big Discounts from sticking it�s
monopolizing head in our business.
            Not only would our businesses feel the effects, but our environment as well. They
plan to come in to our mid-west town and plop down a �massive new structure�? Where is all
this land coming from? The corn and bean fields, or the many acres of grazing land for our
livestock? This building would interject directly in the middle of our cozy little town and
completely ruin our ecosystem. We would not only lose money from our businesses but our
farmers would lose crop and livestock money that is highly essential to their well-being. If you
firmly believe that Big Discounts will bring in more money for the town then you are very sadly
mistaken. Big Discount is out to make themselves money and if leeching off of small towns is
what they must do in order to achieve that goal, then by golly they will do it.
            What I�m saying is, don�t bring in this massive chain store. For the sake of our town
and all that we have grown up with and loved, do not ruin Pickett Springs with this business.
Thank you for hearing me out.



Scoring Commentary and Data Results

"Effective" responses to this task develop strong and focused reasons and evidence to support their positions and show strong audience awareness. In this example, the writer exhorts "fellow townsfolk" to oppose building a store, appealing to their sense of community and shared history. Seeming pros and actual cons of a big discount store are effectively developed and organized, and voice and tone are very controlled; the reader never loses sight of "who" this writer is (a member of the community) and what he or she believes. Precise word choices and sophisticated sentence variation support the persuasive purpose.


Percentage of twelfth-grade students in each response category: 2011
Effective Competent Adequate Developing Marginal Little or no skill Omitted
4 19 38 29 9 2 #

# 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.