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NEWS RELEASES 2000-01

NEWS RELEASES 2000-01 :: MAY 25, 2001

STATE WRITING TEST SCORES MOVE UP FOR FOURTH AND SEVENTH GRADES

Scores on the N.C. Writing Assessment are up for students in grades four and seven this year, continuing a growth trend of the past several years. Scores are down slightly for 10th graders. Students in grades four, seven and 10 take a writing assessment annually.

Since 1996, the percentage of students earning a score at grade level has risen consistently for fourth and seventh graders. The performance of 10th graders has fluctuated more. The 10th grade scores have improved annually since 1992-93 except for 1997-98 and 2000-01 when the scores dipped.

The writing assessment scores for grades four and seven will not be included this year in the calculations that determine which schools' staff are eligible for bonuses under the state's accountability program. The State Board of Education decided in March to suspend the writing test results from the ABCs growth calculation.

Many students with disabilities who were previously excluded from the writing test were required to participate in the statewide writing assessments this year. This kept this year's results from being comparable with previous years' results. The writing assessment is scheduled to reappear in the growth calculations after three years' of new writing test data have been gathered. The results will be included in the performance composite figures for each school.

Results of the fourth grade writing assessment show that 68.8 percent of the fourth graders wrote well enough to score at or above the standard of 2.5 on a four-point scale. This represents an increase of 11.2 percentage points from the 57.6 percent who achieved this level in 1999-2000.

More fourth graders, 4.8 percent, received the highest scores of 3.5 and 4.0. Last year, 4.7 percent of fourth graders scored that well. Slightly more students, 3.1 percent, received the lowest scores of 1.0 and 1.5 compared to 2.8 percent in 1999-2000.

Fourth graders were asked to write a personal narrative composition in response to the following: Think about a time when you had fun with a friend or relative. Write a story about a time you had fun with a friend or relative. A total of 100,930 fourth grade essays were scored this year.

At the seventh grade level, 73.3 percent of the students wrote well enough to score at or above the 2.5 standard compared to 71.9 percent who scored at this level on an expository composition in 1999-2000.

A total of 7.3 percent of the seventh graders received the highest scores of 3.5 and 4.0. In 1999-2000, 5.8 percent of seventh graders scored that high. As with the fourth graders, 3.4 percent scored 1.0 or 1.5, the lowest scores. This was up from 2.6 percent in 1999-2000.

Seventh graders were asked to write a well-organized point-of-view composition on the following topic: Take a position on whether wild animals should or should not be kept in zoos. State your position and explain why you think wild animals should or should not be kept in zoos. A total of 98,178 seventh graders were tested in writing.

The 10th grade writing assessment is the English II End-of-Course test and is based on world literature. This year, students were asked to write a composition in response to the following prompt:

In many works of literature, the action, mood or setting contributes to the establishment of a central theme (message or main idea).

From the novels, short stories, full-length plays, poems, biographies, and autobiographies you have read, choose one work and identify its central theme. Explain how the action, mood, or setting contributes to the establishment of a central theme, and explain the effect of the action, mood or setting on the overall work. The work you choose must be from world literature other than British (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) literature and American (United States) literature. Give the title and, if you remember, the author of the work.

Of the 86,034 essays scored at the 10th grade level, approximately 53.9 percent of the students wrote well enough to score at or above 3.0 on a 6-point scale, the standard for 10th grade. This represents a decrease of 4.1 percentage points from the 58 percent who achieved this level in 1999-2000. A total of .07 percent of students received the highest scores of 5.5 and 6.0. A total of 6.6 percent of students received scores of 1.0 and 1.5, the lowest scores.

Writing assessments generally are under review by the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction. A task force has recommended a list of changes to the writing assessment, and this list is under consideration by the Board and State Department employees for future years' assessments.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.