Analysis and comparison of state and school district scoring of middle school writing proficiency testing
This study obtained relevant data to determine which writing assessment process would be best for testing middle school students. The state of Ohio's hired assessment service compared to a local school district's assessment process revealed differences and similarities. This evaluation research used comparisons and surveys.
Information obtained from four state scorers revealed that the majority felt the state scoring system was unreliable. In order to test that theory, 50 student papers were scored by this researcher and thirty local district scorers. There were no significant differences in the resulting scores. Surveys were given to local school district scorers and language arts teachers. The expectation was to gain information regarding the school district's assessment writing process. Fifty percent of both groups had mixed reactions regarding the value of the school district's prompts. A generalized conclusion was that half of the scorers and teachers were not satisfied with the prompts.
Students in the district got a choice in selecting a topic from three prompts. The state eliminates choice; students are required to write about the two listed prompts. The varieties of geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic school districts are given the same two prompts. A larger selection of prompts is recommended. Using the local district's process, a significant improvement was shown in the student's scores at sixth grade when compared to their fourth grade scores. Using the local district's process students could receive feedback on their testing performance. Individual feedback could have acted as a catalyst for the writing improvement.
Both the state and the district used holistic rubrics. Is holistic scoring the best method of evaluating student papers? Does it reflect the student's ability? The responses from the scorers and teachers were somewhat ambiguous. This researcher recommends the six-trait analytical rubric for scoring student writing.
The state's assessment cost per student is seven times that of the local school district. The involvement of districts in the assessment of student writing could save millions of dollars, instead of going to assessment services. Money could be directed to educational improvement, such as smaller class size, individual attention, and interdisciplinary curricula.
0525: Educational psychology
0288: Educational evaluation