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Writing Specifications for the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (Pre-Publication Edition)

The purpose of this chapter is to present an introduction to the 2011 NAEP Writing Specifications. Key sections of the chapter are as follows:

  • Need for a New Framework and Specifications
  • Comparison of the 1998 and the 2011 NAEP Writing Frameworks
  • Framework and Specifications Development Process
  • Overview of the 2011 NAEP Writing Assessment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has, since 1969, been an ongoing national indicator of what American students know and can do in major academic subjects, including Writing. NAEP administers writing assessments at regular intervals to grade 4, 8, and 12 students attending both public and nonpublic schools, collecting a significant, nationally representative sample of student writing at these grades.

Two documents explain the 2011 Writing assessment. The Writing Framework for the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress presents an overview of the content and design of the assessment and is intended for a general audience. Recommendations for the content and design of the assessment presented in the Framework were a result of extensive literature reviews; the discussion of many experts in writing instruction and assessment and representatives of other constituencies who were members of the project committees; and extensive commentary from various focus groups representing a wide variety of national organizations in education and business.

This document, the Specifications for the 2011 NAEP Writing Assessment, was developed for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), NAEP contractors, and other interested individuals to provide more specific information about task development, delivery of the assessment, evaluation of responses, and other aspects of test development. The Specifications document also provides key developmental considerations, requirements, recommendations, and parameters to NCES and future NAEP contractors. The content of the Specifications was derived from the Framework and was supported by additional research, extensive discussion by members of the project committees, and by reviews from a variety of groups representing other constituencies.

The NAEP Writing data will measure and report national, state, large urban district, and subgroup trends in writing achievement but will not target the performance of individual students or schools. Although the public will have full access to NAEP results and released tasks, NAEP does not seek to influence the curricula or assessments of any state.