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The first computer-based assessment of student writing at a large scale was undetaken in 2011. The National Center for Education Statistics released the results in The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2011, the organization announced Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.
Less than a quarter of eighth- and 12th-graders performed at the "proficient" level. In a sample of the nation's population, 24,100 eighth-graders and 28,100 twelfth-graders wrote their responses to tasks completed on computers.
Only 3 percent of students tested were deemed "advanced," and 54 percent of eighth-graders and 52 percent of 12th-graders reached a "basic" level -- meaning they didn't fully master the knowledge and skills they were expected to. And 20 and 21 percent, respectively, scored below basic.
The computer-based assessments provided some interesting information, particulalry about the tools the students chose to use and how that reflected in the assessment results. Students had access on the computer to a thesaurus, spell check, text-to-speech, and copy and paste.
On average, students at both grade levels scored higher when they used the thesaurus. Twelve percent of eighth-graders and 15 percent of twelfth-graders checked the thesaurus at least twice during their assessments.
Seventy-one percent of eighth-graders used the text-to-speech tool at least once. And 74 percent of twelfth-graders checked their spelling at least once.
Next year, the report will have more results to compare to the 2011 results data. That should provide some perspective on how well students do with computer-based assessments.
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