Frequently Asked Questions
Proficiency in writing is part of the
North Carolina Student Accountability Standards. The purpose of this
brochure is to respond to questions and concerns about the Gateways for
Writing in Grades 5 and 8. Gateways are points at which students must
demonstrate proficiency in writing according to state standards in order
to be promoted to the next grade level. In addition to state standards,
students are responsible for meeting local promotion requirements.
The new standards for Grade 5 will go
into effect during the 2000-2001 school year (for students who took the
Grade 4 writing assessment in 1999-2000). The new standards for Grade 8
will take effect the following year, 2001-2002 (for students who will take
the Grade 7 writing assessment in 2000-2001).
What role do the state-wide writing
assessments play in the Gateways?
Students demonstrate proficiency in
writing by scoring a 2.5 or higher on a 4-point focused holistic scale for
the Grades 4 and 7 writing assessments. For more information about the
writing assessments and the scoring criteria, please review the writing
Do the writing gateways apply to
students with disabilities/students with limited English proficiency?
The Student Accountability Standards do
apply to exceptional children and to students with limited English
proficiency. Students with disabilities may be exempted from the standards
by the Individual Education Program Team, if it is determined that the
students do not have the ability to participate in the North Carolina
Standard Course of Study. For students in grades 3 through 8 with limited
English proficiency who are exempt from statewide testing due to the
language barrier, a portfolio may be used to document students' progress
and English language proficiency.
What happens if a student does not
achieve a 2.5 on the writing assessment?
State Board of Education policy requires
that the student be given focused intervention and assistance to enhance
writing skills. Principals, teachers, and parents should work together to
provide opportunities and to support the student's developing skills. To
be promoted, a student must demonstrate "adequate progress" in
writing by the end of 5th and 8th grades. To view
a chart of the Intervention Cycle click here.
What if the student does well all year
long but performs poorly on the state writing assessment?
Local agency plans may have provisions
for determining whether a student's poor performance on the test was the
result of extenuating circumstances. Again, State Board of Education
policy does require that the student be given focused intervention and
assistance to enhance writing skills. A student who performs well on
out-of-class assignments may still need some additional assistance in
mastering on-demand, timed writing tasks. Additionally, students must be
able to write in different contexts. For example, a student who writes
strong creative pieces may need help with developing organized support for
an expository piece.
Will the student be required to retake
the state writing assessment?
The state will not administer a second
assessment in writing. Local education agencies are responsible for
developing a plan for schools to determine if a student has made
"adequate progress" to be promoted to the next grade. Local
plans may include provisions for on-demand as well as process writing as
part of a student's portfolio to demonstrate overall progress in writing.
Since the state assessment is
on-demand writing, should students focus entirely on this kind of writing?
On-demand writing is one component of
strong writing program, which should also include a variety of approaches
and assignments to enhance a student's writing skills. While students may
need additional assistance in planning and time management specifically
related to on-demand writing, they also should be practicing these skills
in assignments that focus on process writing and are not time limited.
Additionally, students who have difficulty with on-demand writing may need
general tips for test taking.
Does the student need to demonstrate
adequate progress in the specific mode of writing assessed by the state or
in writing overall?
State Board of Education policy does not
specify a particular mode of writing on which a student's progress is to
be judged. Common to all modes and consistent through all levels of
writing assessment in North Carolina, the four criteria of Main Idea,
Supporting Detail, Organization, and Coherence are the foundations of
effective writing. No student should focus solely on one mode or one type
of writing, but rather the development of the writing skills reflected in
the scoring criteria. This strategy allows for students who have not
scored at the proficient level on the Grades 4 or 7 writing assessments to
receive instruction in the Grade 5 or 8 curriculum while improving the
same skills taught and assessed at the previous grade. However, the mode
and type of writing used to determine a student's adequate progress
remains a local decision.
Must the student be placed in a
separate "remediation" class?
No. Students who did not demonstrate
proficiency on the state writing assessment may receive intervention and
assistance within a regular classroom, through a variety of instructional
What might the intervention strategies
Based on local agency policies,
individual schools and teachers will determine the plan of instruction
that best meets students' needs. Along with parental involvement,
strategies may include but are not limited to alternative learning models,
smaller classes, tutorial sessions, and/or modified instructional