GRADE 8 ELA 2005


For help with questions not addressed below, please call the Measurement Incorporated Grade 8 ELA Helpline at 877-516-2403. The Helpline is available weekdays January 21 Ė February 7 from 8:00 a.m. Ė 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 (SED) provided responses to participantsí questions.


Q: Does it matter if the student in the response assigns the wrong gender to the character in the listening passage?

A: No, this will not be a consideration in scoring the response. Remember that the students do not have the passage to refer to during the test. This is what we refer to as a listening error.

Q: Should the graphic organizer be answered in complete sentences?

A: This is not necessary. Many students just list the information, and as long as it is accurate that is acceptable.

Q: What if a student completes the response on the planning page? Can this information be scored?

A: Only if the student has indicated that this is part of the response. Many students do this by drawing an arrow or writing a note. Remember that extra pages included in the booklet cannot be considered at all.

Q: Should we assign more weight to the extended response (ER) when scoring the cluster?

A: Addressing the ER is a more complex task than any of the other tasks in the cluster. It asks the student to synthesize information and reach conclusions. Also, if you look at the scoring considerations you will see that if the student only answers #29 (ER) then the highest score can only be a 2. If  #29 is not answered, but all the others (26, 27, 28) are answered the score point can be no higher than 2.

Q: If the graphic organizer has information that is potentially accurate but is not from the text can it be considered in scoring?

A: No. What is being tested is the studentís understanding of the text and ability to apply the text to answering the question. Whether this information is valid or not it does not help evaluate these skills; therefore, while we do not penalize the student who does this we also do not consider this information when assessing the quality of the graphic organizer.

Q: What responses would be the most helpful to look at when we are trying to decide between two scores. This seems to be especially tough between 1ís and 2ís. For example, if I am not sure whether a response is a 1 or a 2 what sample responses should I refer to?

A: Here are pairs of responses to help you make those tough calls:
       For a decision on whether the response is a 1 or a 2 look at Guide Paper #1 and Practice Set Paper #4 for high 1ís and Guide Paper #2 and Practice Set Paper #1 for low 2ís. For any decision on the 2/3 line look at Guide Paper #3 for a high 2 and for low 3ís both Guide Paper #4 and Practice Set Paper #7 are good examples.


Q: Why is there no score point 6 in the Practice Set?

A: The student responses came from a small sample of field test booklets that were available right before the rangefinding was conducted. There was only one sample that the teachers felt was clearly a 6. If you see responses that have the same quality, or one that is better than the 6 in the Guide, then go ahead and score it a 6. However, if the response is better than the high 5 but not as good as the 6, fax or call the Helpline. We would hate for a student to lose a well-deserved 6 because of the limitations in this yearís training samples.

Q: Can a brief graphic organizer still lead to a 6?

A: Yes, the graphic organizer is the most straightforward task in the cluster, so brevity or minor errors here do not have as strong an impact on the overall score. These responses are still eligible for the highest score depending on the understanding and attention the student demonstrates in the rest of the cluster.

Q: How important is it to withhold judgment until the entire cluster is read?

A: This is very important. Often, the extended response can greatly affect the final score. You can start deciding on what score line the response falls, but a decision on an overall score should be kept in abeyance until the entire response is read.

Q: If the student chooses different descriptions for each author, how do we score?

A: This definitely would be scorable but we would need to see the entire response, so please fax it to the Helpline. Also, please remember that since we are giving one score for the entire cluster, you must fax the entire response, not just #33.

Q: In Guide Paper #7e, the student chooses one quality, but seems to describe another quality. How do we reconcile this?

A: The student actually blends the two qualities, so this is acceptable.

Q: If in #33 (the ER) the student elects to discuss a quality not in the list, can we score?

A: We did not see any like that in the rangefinding or subsequently in field test scoring. If you find one please fax it to the Helpline and we will consult with SED and get back to you.

Q: Please compare Practice Set Paper # 5 and Practice Set Paper # 6. Why did Practice Set Paper #5 receive a score of 4 while Practice Set Paper #6, which appears to be better, receive a score of 3?

A: Practice Set Paper #5 makes better use of text support throughout the cluster. In Practice Set Paper #6, although the graphic organizer is strong, it is the easiest part of the cluster. As the tasks get more complex Practice Set Paper #6 deteriorates, in spite of having more words, it does not contain as much information. It is not as responsive to the task. Overall, it is general.


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.

Q: How is Guide Paper #5, which received a score of 2, better than Guide Paper #3, which received a score of 1?

A: There are two issues that need to be considered when deciding on how to score these two responses.

1.      The quality of development in response #3 is weaker because there is hardly any elaboration, and it is repetitive in places. Guide Paper #5 has some development of ideas.

2.      Also, we need to look at organization. Guide Paper #3 has no organizational plan, sentences are not really connected here. Guide Paper #5 has a logical progression of ideas and evident connections between sentences.

Writing Mechanics

Q: What is the difference between readability and comprehension?

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