Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Scoring Student Answers to Constructed-Response/Open-Response Questions and Essays

What Is Scored?

Over 6 million total student responses

  • to constructed-response/open-response questions in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)
  • to ELA essays (grades 3–8 and 10)

How Is Scoring Done?

Use of Scoring Rubrics

  • Constructed-response and open-response questions in Mathematics and STE are scored using a rubric, scoring notes, and student responses. These scoring materials indicate what knowledge and skills students must demonstrate to earn each score point.
  • ELA constructed-response (short-response) questions for grades 3 and 4 are scored using a rubric, scoring notes, and student responses. Constructed-response items are worth up to 3 score points. The three-point constructed-response question assesses reading comprehension by requiring students to construct an answer in a shorter format.
  • ELA essays in grades 3–8 and 10 are scored using a rubric, scoring notes, and student responses. The essays are evaluated using two criteria:
    • Idea Development, based on a 1–4 score-point scale for grades 3–5 and a 1–5 score-point scale for grades 6–8 and 10
    • Standard English Conventions, based on a 1–3 score-point scale for grades 3–8 and 10

Scorer Training

Scorer training sessions require that scorers

  • answer each test question to be scored;
  • review the content covered by the question and discuss its scoring rubric and benchmarked student responses;
  • score a set of responses (training pack);
  • discuss training pack responses and scores assigned to them; and
  • score another set of responses (qualifying pack).

A scorer has two opportunities to accurately score a set of qualifying responses. A scorer who is unable to consistently and accurately score the responses will not be allowed to score that item.

Scoring High School Constructed-Response/Open-Response Questions and Essays

All high school Mathematics and STE constructed-response/open-response questions and ELA essays are scored twice by two separate scorers.

Who Does the Scoring?

Professional scorers are hired by the contractor to score all essays and constructed-response/open-response questions. The contractor actively seeks a diverse scoring pool and typically employs scorers with a broad range of backgrounds, including teachers, business professionals, graduate school students, and retired educators.

All scorers will meet, at a minimum, the following requirements:

  • For grades 3–8, all scorers will have at least 48 college credits, with at least two classes related to the content area being scored.
  • For high school, all scorers must have a 4-year college degree and a degree related to the content area being scored.

Last Updated: July 29, 2021

 
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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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