In 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the first large-scale computer-based assessment in writing. The assessment tasks reflected writing situations common to both academic and workplace settings and asked students to write for several purposes and communicate to different audiences. National results for representative samples of students at grades 8 and 12 are reported as average scale scores and as percentages of students performing at three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. Additional results are reported based on students’ demographic characteristics, educational experiences, and the frequency of engaging in actions available to them in word-processing software.
While the report of the assessment contains a trove of information and insights on a range of issues related to student academic writing, we want to highlight a finding that is of great importance as the majority of states are in the midst of transitioning to next generation online assessment:Students who had greater access to technology in and out of school and had teachers that required its use for school assignments, used technology in more powerful ways to write and scored significantly higher on the NAEP writing achievement test.
While much more is available in the full report, here is a snapshot of some of the data that support this finding (click on the images to magnify them):
Such clear and direct relationships are few and far between in education – and these findings raise many implications for states and districts as they shift to online assessment. A future blog post will explore the characteristics of students more or less likely to have access to the sorts of technology-enhanced teaching and learning associated with improved student academic performance on the NAEP writing exam.