State Writing Results released: 11th grade Norris students turn in strong performance

State Writing Results released: 11th grade Norris students turn in strong performance

Friday, May 24, 2013

The junior class led the way among all Norris grades tested in the state writing assessment.  The writing assessment was administered online and is a required state test. The NeSA-W is designed to measure students’ proficiency in writing prose that adequately and accurately expresses ideas and content, demonstrates effective word choice, shows sentence fluency and the use of linguistic conventions, and presents the writing in an organized, logical manner.  Juniors at Norris turned in a scale score a full 5 points higher than the state average and strongly outpaced state averages in each of the domains assessed by the writing test and noted above.  While statewide, nearly 1/3 students or 32% of juniors did not meet the writing standard, at Norris, just 15% fell below the mark. 85% of this year’s Titans juniors met or exceeded the state writing standards.  
Norris High School Principal Ryan Ruhl described how the high school has engaged its students in writing to produce excellent learning outcomes: “We have focused on ownership in writing.  We find that by allowing kids to write about their passion, they develop a natural appreciation for writing over time.”  He explained that writing across the curriculum is a goal and focus in the high school, whether students are writing and reflecting on personal goals, career choices, or influential persons in history.  “It makes for memorable student writing that is done to a high standard because the students have honed that passion and sense of purpose in their work,” he noted.
Eighth graders also exceeded statewide marks among their cohorts in Nebraska.  Eighth graders performed at an average scale score of 46, eclipsing the statewide average of 45.  The 46 translates to a “meets the standard” level of performance.  The average scale score equated to higher domain scores for Norris eighth graders than their cohorts across the state in every area of writing assessed. Statewide, over 1/3 eighth graders fell below the standard on writing.  Performance was better for the Norris eighth grade class, with 71% meeting or exceeding the state standards.
Fourth graders performed at an average scale score of 42, which substantially exceeds the minimum “Meets the standard” cut score of 39.  65% of Norris fourth graders met or exceeded standards, and 35% fell below the standard based on their cumulative scale score across the areas of ideas, organization, word choice, and sentence fluency. As a group, the fourth graders were slightly below the statewide average.
Note on fourth grade results: The format for testing fourth grade students changed this year,  presenting challenges in aligning instruction to effectively and adequately prepare students for the altered format and new evaluation criteria.  In 2013, students in grade 4 were given paper/pencil tests over two days. The tests were timed, and students were scored with the newly revised writing standards and a more rigorous scoring process applied. The new scoring rubric included higher expectations in four areas of writing: content/ideas, organization, voice/word choice, and sentence fluency/writing conventions.  Because of the new scoring criteria, there is no baseline of comparison yet for progress over years of administration.  We expect improved results for the 2014 student cohorts tested and will use targeted feedback from NeSA-W and classroom-based assessments to overcome skill deficits among those fourth graders who were less than proficient.