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Writing within ELA – The Strongest Measure

ACT Aspire scores in reading, math, English, science, STEM and ELA are sufficiently reliable and precise to use for accountability as an indicator of student achievement. The ELA score is a combination of the English, reading and writing test scores. This combined score offers a global view of student performance across the three component ELA tests and is appropriate for use in accountability. For Fall 2017, you will see some changes to the ACT Aspire reports that reflect a stronger emphasis on the combined ELA score. The overall writing test score will no longer be reported, but the four domain scores from the writing test will remain on the report because these offer additional information about a student’s relative strengths and weaknesses across the different competencies of writing that are assessed. Additionally, in Fall 2017 the ELA score will include a new, empirically derived benchmark that provides a valuable reference point for understanding student performance on a college-readiness trajectory that is linked to the ELA benchmark on the ACT assessment (also to be introduced in Fall 2017). Continued investment in the development of ACT Aspire reporting capabilities will provide, in the near future, comparisons to norms and aggregates.

Since federal accountability has never accepted a use of a writing score to serve as an assessment of reading or ELA, ACT did not anticipate that states, districts, and schools would use aggregate scores to track performance and growth over time.  ACT will be eliminating reporting of the total writing score in Fall 2017 because such scores cannot be used for federal accountability, and the reporting of such scores has caused some confusion and misuse.  ACT Aspire will continue to report the Writing domain scores, which have diagnostic value to students and educators in identifying specific competencies and weaknesses in the writing process.  

In 2016, the ACT Test introduced an ELA score, which is a combined average of reading, English and writing. This September, ACT will also report a college and career readiness benchmark on the ACT for ELA.  ACT Aspire also provides an ELA score and accompanying benchmarks.  The ELA score, produced by combining the performance across reading, English and writing, represents both the most comprehensive measure of the content required for college and career readiness across ELA, and is an appropriately reliable score for use measuring this broad domain. The ACT Aspire ELA score is similar to all other ACT Aspire test scores in possessing appropriate levels of technical rigor to support its use in accountability, growth and measurement of student performance.  All ACT Aspire technical documentation continues to report both the level of precision of all reported scores and caution against inappropriate uses.