NAEP 2011 Writing Assessment: Issues in Developing a Framework and Specifications
During 2006-2007, broadly representative committees will have the opportunity to revisit the Writing Framework for the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which in its current version dates to 1989-90 with revisions, primarily to test specifications, in 1995-96 (National Assessment Governing Board, 2002). Much of the substance of the Framework, including its emphasis on three major purposes for writing and on the writing process, goes back even further, to the objectives for the 1983-84 assessment (NAEP, 1982). (See appendix for a summary of the NAEP objectives from 1969-2007.)
This paper is designed as a discussion-starter, attempting to frame a number of issues and debates in writing assessment that could be constructively revisited by the Framework Committees. Underlying all of these issues is a larger one: What information about how students in the United States write should NAEP provide to interested members of the general public, to policymakers, and to educators? Although a seemingly simple question, buried within it are a variety of difficult issues on which there is currently little consensus, including how to describe the domain of writing tasks; the relationships among component skills, content knowledge, and generalized writing “fluency”; and the relevance of computer-based applications to definitions of writing achievement as well as to assessment techniques.