Office of State Assessment

NYSESLAT Scoring FAQs, May 2008

Teachers are strongly encouraged to use the training materials (Anchor Sets) to aid them in scoring. Many questions will be answered by referring to these materials first.

For additional questions regarding scoring the NYSESLAT, please contact Harcourt’s Customer Support Center (CSC) at 1-800-763-2306 or e-mail customersupportcenter@harcourt.com.


Q:   Who can score the NYSESLAT Writing?

A:  The person responsible for administering/scoring the NYSESLAT must be a certified teacher or administrator, able to carry out standard examination procedures, and must have special training in administering/scoring the NYSESLAT. To ensure accurate and reliable results, the examiner should become thoroughly familiar with these procedures before attempting to administer/score the test.

Q:   Does the NYSESLAT Writing Scoring require one or two scorers per student test this year?

A:  Since the multiple choice is machine scored, only one teacher is necessary to score the Prewriting and Writing sections.

Q:   Can itinerant teachers travel from building to building with the documents to facilitate their scoring process?  

A:  No, teachers should not be traveling with test materials from building to building.  However, if tests will be scored at an off-site location, all test materials must be securely packaged, and provisions in the examination storage certificate found in the NYSESLAT School Administrator’s Manual must be adhered to.

Q:   What is Holistic Scoring?

A:  It is an evaluation of what the student says, not how the student says it. It consists of assigning a single score based on a rater’s overall impression of a student’s response. It concentrates on comprehensible and meaningful content rather than solely on the length of writing and sentence-level skills.  Some questions considered during Holistic Scoring are:

  • How well is the prompt addressed by the student?
  • Is the content meaningful?
  • Does the writing "flow"? (Is there continuation between thoughts? Is it easy to read?)

Q:   What is an Anchor Set?

A:  It is a clear-cut example of the rubric score points and a sampling that represents different types of papers at each score point. Usually containing two to three student responses per score point, the anchor sets are used for comparison with other papers—both in training and live scoring. Anchors enable the reader to internalize the score points, which leads to consistency and accuracy in scoring. The anchors are also used as reference points when making scoring decisions.

Q:   If a teacher fails to read a prompt exactly as it appears in the Directions for Administration (DFA) document, should the students’ responses be rated based on the teacher’s "misread" prompt or based on the prompt as it appears in the DFA?

A:  Students’ responses must be rated based on the prompt that appears in the DFA document.

Writing Questions:

Q:   If a writing response is not related to the prompt in any way, how should it be scored?

A:  If a response is completely off topic and has no contextual relevancy to the Writing prompt, it should be given a score point zero, regardless of how well it is written. However, since the Writing prompts are graphic-based with very little text, if a student chooses to write about a recognizable part of the graphic or only addresses the writing prompt, the response should be considered relevant and should be scored according to the rubric.

Q:  Since each level of the test covers several grades, should the scorer consider the grade level of the student in scoring the writing section?

A:  No. The score received by students in different grade levels is reflected by their placement on the vertical scale, but their performance level is indicated by their grade-standing within the grade level, as defined by the standard-setting committee.

Students with Disabilities:

Q:   I currently have a student who has an IEP. His testing modifications say he should not be graded on spelling. How will that apply to the NYSESLAT since spelling is part of the assessment?

A:  Teachers can score the writing without taking into consideration spelling when students have an IEP that explicitly disallows scoring spelling. Moreover, the rubric is holistic, and spelling is only a very small component, so this type of scoring should not greatly affect the validity of the score.

Last Updated: January 6, 2010