Writing test confuses students; teachers told to intervene
POSTED: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 8:07pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 8:14pm
The state’s new English exams, which for the first time require students to write multiple essays, have caused some confusion this week.
The Texas Education Agency has received reports from districts that students accidentally have written essays on the wrong answer page. If teachers catch the mistake early enough, the students can rewrite their essay onto the correct page.
If the error isn’t noticed until late into the four-hour testing window or afterward, the TEA has told teachers that they must transcribe their students’ essays.
Clear Creek’s assessment director, Robert Bayard, estimated that the district had more than 50 students, about two per elementary school, who wrote their essays on the wrong page, so teachers transcribed them. In Angleton ISD, school officials had to transcribe the essays of two students, according to Pam Reed, the director of academic services.
TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said a trained test administrator at the school is supposed to transcribe the handwritten essays when necessary.
School officials typically are expected to be hands-off during testing to avoid allegations of cheating, which surfaced recently in an Atlanta newspaper’s analysis of unusual swings in students’ test scores.
“We’re going to maintain integrity,” Bayard said about the transcription, “but there’s definitely a distinct time involvement.”
If school officials don’t notice an essay mix-up, the contractors grading the exams should notice if the composition is off-topic and locate the answer sheet with the appropriate essay, Ratcliffe said.
“It’s the first time students have had to write multiple essays so we haven’t had this problem before,” she said. “But we’ll look at it afterwards to see if there’s something we can do in the design of our answer sheets that could help minimize this issue. I don’t think it’s been a big problem, but we have had some reports of it.”