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Writing Tools

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.