SAGE Writing assessment comes early

SAGE Writing assessment comes early

Adam Aposhian, Reporter

Spring brings students out of winter into warm weather… and of course testing. From CE finals to AP tests, students know that when the tulips are in bloom, it is time to hit the books. However, this year the SAGE Writing assessment is here for February 2nd through the 20th, far sooner than the usual time for the state assessments.

This is the second year of the SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) testing, which has replaced the previous state assessment, the CRT’s. The SAGE is a computer adaptive assessment on its multiple choice sections, but it differs from the CRT’s in that it has two writing prompts: an argumentative and an informational essay.

Students now have past experience with the test, but they will find the writing section different this year. The source passage sets for the argumentative prompt have been cut by nearly 50% and also instructions on the informational essay have been changed to ask for only 2-3 paragraphs, according to Daron Kennett, from the Utah State Office of Education.

These changes are the driving force behind the change in the SAGE testing timeline for 2015. “Whenever a change like this is made to a large-scale assessment, the entire assessment must be field tested,” Daron Kennett said. “This is a lengthy and involved process which for a writing test includes rangefinding and human scoring.”

Rangefinding is the process of developing a standard scoring rubric for an assessment. Like in the free response portions of the AP tests, or on the essays on the ACT or SAT, the Utah State Office of Education must develop a method to translate students’ work into something measurable. Human scorers then use the rubric to grade the SAGE tests from all over Utah.

This process will be going on from February 23 to April 14, so that the SAGE Writing tests can be graded before the rest of the English Language Arts SAGE begins on April 15.

“The testing window had to be moved to February to accommodate the time required for both of these,” Daron Kennett said. “The February testing window is as late in the school year as possible, given the field testing requirements.”