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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: MARCH 1, 2002


This spring, North Carolina educators will move one step closer to significant changes in the state's writing assessment program when students in grades four, seven and 10 field test new writing assessments. The new assessments are expected to be given to all students in these grades beginning with the 2002-03 school year.

North Carolina has assessed the writing skills of public school students since 1983-84 when the first statewide writing assessments were given in grades six and nine. Since that time, state education leaders have refined writing assessments to accommodate both the subjective nature of writing as well as the need for standardized assessments in this important skill.

On March 5, students in grades four and seven will take the "old" version of the writing assessment for the last time. Students at the fourth grade level will be asked to write a personal or imaginative narrative. Seventh graders will write a clarification or point of view essay.

A sample of fourth and seventh graders will field test the new writing assessments during a scheduled testing window of March 11 through April 12. The new fourth grade writing assessment will continue to focus on narrative writing, both personal and imaginative. The new seventh grade assessment will focus on argumentative writing.

At the 10th grade level, all students will participate in field testing the new 10th grade writing assessment during the same March 11-April 12 time frame. The former 10th grade writing assessment, also called the English II End-of-Course (EOC) test, is no longer required statewide. For the 2001-02 school year, local school systems may choose to offer the old EOC writing assessment, which is literature-based, but at their own expense and with local grading. The new 10th grade writing assessment will be required statewide for all students who are following the College/University Prep, College Tech Prep and Career Prep Courses of Study in 2002-03. It is a once-a-year assessment and will replace the English II EOC test.

One year ago, the State Board of Education's Writing Assessment Task Force made a number of recommendations to strengthen the writing assessment program in North Carolina. These recommendations included moving toward a more detailed scoring model that will provide teachers and students with more information about the strengths and weaknesses of each student's performance. The changes underway also will move the 10th grade assessment away from a literature analysis-based writing assignment to an informational type of writing assignment.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said, "We are pleased to be able to begin implementing the recommendations of the Writing Task Force. Although the new scoring method is more labor intensive, it will provide more information to teachers and it will better match the way that good writing is taught."

The new analytical scoring model will become North Carolina's standard for grading writing assessments beginning in 2002-03. This scoring model provides a specific score for each writing sample in the following areas: main idea, support and elaboration, organization, conventions of grammar and language usage, and synthesis. The former scoring method, to be used for the last time this spring, provides only one score on a four-point, focused and holistic scale.

For more information about writing assessments, please contact Lou Fabrizio, Department of Public Instruction, director of Accountability Services, 919.807.3770. Additional information also is available at the following Web address:

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 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 Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.