*For help with questions not addressed below, please call the Measurement Incorporated Grade 8 ELA Helpline (877) 516-2403. The line is available weekdays January 22-February 7 (Monday-Friday) from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

INTRODUCTION - After the videotaping of the training sessions, the Scoring Leaders participated in Question and Answer sessions. Staff from Measurement, Inc. and the State Education Department provided responses to participants' questions. Many of the questions refer to particular student answer papers in the Practice Sets, and responses may refer to the Scoring Guide. The following transcript places questions of a specific nature first. The questions/answers are organized by content area: Listening; Reading; and Writing and Writing Mechanics. For questions regarding general scoring information, please refer to General Q&A.


Q: Much of the information students use for the graphic organizer (#27), short response #26, and short response #28 can also be used in the extended response (#29). How does repetition of information from question to question affect the score?

A: Students should not be penalized for repeating in the extended response any relevant information used in the graphic organizer and/or short responses. The graphic organizer and the short responses often act as scaffolding, helping students choose information and ideas that will be relevant in the extended response. The extended response should always be assessed on the basis of how well it responds to the task given in that question, regardless of whether the information presented may have been used to respond to a previous question as well.

Q: In the extended response (#29), when discussing the method used by the author, must a response refer to both the students and the doctor to receive the highest score?

A: Yes. To receive a score of "6" the requirements of the task must be fulfilled. Although not all responses receiving a score of "6" are perfect, any errors in such a response would be minor. The extended response is important, as it is the most complex task in the cluster. Without reference to both the students and the doctor when discussing the method used by the author, the extended response is incomplete and does not demonstrate a thorough understanding of the text and the task.

Q: Short response #28 asks what conclusions the author draws. Some students might attempt to draw a picture in response. How would this affect the score?

A: The questions are intended to assess the ability of the student to communicate in standard written English. Drawings and graphics can not be scored. If a student responds with both a written and a graphic response, only the written portion should be considered when assessing the responseís merits.


Q: Does a cluster of responses have to be perfect to receive a score of "6"?

A: No, but errors would be minor. For example, Guide Response #11, which received a score of "6," contains an incorrect entry in the graphic organizer (#30), rendering the graphic organizer partially inaccurate. However, the cluster overall demonstrates a thorough understanding of the texts and the task.

Q: If a graphic organizer has three correct entries but also includes incorrect information, is it still considered to be complete and accurate?

A: Yes. Three correct pieces of information fulfills the requirements of that question.

Q: Some responses exhibit confusion about the gender of Matthew and/or Merrick. Is this a serious error?

A: Mistakes about the gender of characters in texts have always been considered to be minor inaccuracies that do not affect the score.

Q: How important is organization in the extended response?

A: Organization is one of the factors to be considered in assessing the merits of the extended response. Good organization adds clarity to the communication of information and ideas. Focus and development can be strengthened by effective organization.

Independent Writing

Q: What is the difference between details and elaboration?

A: Details provide information. When that information is developed or expanded upon with more information, the additional details become elaboration.

Q: How important is recognition of the intended audience?

A: The audience for whom the response is intended relates to focus. Since the task is to write an article for the school newspaper, responses in which students address their contemporaries demonstrate a stronger connection to the task. Keep in mind, however, that focus is but one factor to consider when assessing the merits of a response.

Q: When a response drifts off topic, how does it affect the score?

A: The effect will vary depending on the actual response. When a response drifts from the topic, focus can be affected. A minor drift in an otherwise well-developed response will probably not affect the score, but a more serious drift in a less well-developed response probably will have an impact.

Writing Mechanics

Q: What is the difference between readability and comprehension?

A: Readability refers to the ease or difficulty of reading through the mechanical errors. Comprehension refers to the effect the mechanical errors have on the readerís ability to understand the meaning of what is written.