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  • Far more detailed institutional reports–
  • student level scoring validity
  • possibility of improved student test-taking motivation
  • available for 8th graders now
  • flexible scheduling
  • Lower price– $38
  • Special trial price this spring only $22

Regular readers here know of my interest in, and on balance enthusiasm for, the CWRA– the College Work Readiness Assessment, which I have administered as a school head over the course of three years, presented on about half a dozen times and written about about here a dozen times.

Run, don’t walk, to register for the 30 minute free webinar CAE, CWRA’s parent, is offering this week and next about the forthcoming changes in the CWRA.   If you can’t attend one of these sessions, you’ll do pretty well as an alternate reviewing the five page overview of CWRA changes I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post.  (Be sure to click “more” to see it if you are interested).

As enthusiastic as I’ve been, I’ve also been a gentle critic on the following fronts.

  • The institutional reporting lacks detail and specificity for use in identifying program gaps and targeting institutional improvement.
  • It is too expensive.
  • Students lack motivation to perform because they have no stake in the game– there is no student-level report.
  • There are enough or pertinent norm groups for comparison– particularly in the lack of independent school comps.
  • It doesn’t have enough possible purposes beyond an institutional check on student learning.
  • It isn’t available for middle school students.
  • Is automated scoring of essays proven and reliable enough?

And now, here it is: the new CWRA plus addresses nearly all of these issues.  I feel almost as if they were listening to me.  (Smile)

The new CWRA plus is debuting with a trial run this spring at a price of only $22 for the trial, and if you lead a high school or middle school and haven’t tried the CWRA yet, why would you not put 100 of your 8th grade or 9-12 grade students at that price just to see what happens?  (There is still a minimum price tag of $2000 per administration)

Beginning next school year, the CWRA plus will replace the CWRA and become the new CWRA.

The price will drop to $38 from $45, which to my eyes seems a very good value for a standardized test.

As can been seen in the document below, there is far more detailed institutional reporting so schools can make better use of the results they get.

Sadly, I will say, the new test does supplement the continuing performance task essay with a set of 25 multiple choice (selected response) questions– sadly because part of the joy of the CWRA is that it is not a MC/SR test– and now it is, in part- but the balance still rests on the essay.

With the new SR, and this is huge, the scoring can be brought to reliability at a student level, and students and parents can get their individual student results.   So schools can come to understand their individual student learning profiles better, students can know they’re getting these results and perhaps be more motivated for a high effort, and schools can advise students in their learning path to improve these skills.

This also raises the potential students can use their results for their records, adding CWRA scores to their transcripts and SAT scores for instance, as part of their college applications.

Another implication of the value of student-level reliability is that results can be broken into sub-groups.  Do your boys score equally to your girls– and how might they differ?   Racial/ethnic groups could be broken out now.    Or, as the webinar suggested, add a few questions of your own and track the results.   Ask how many hours of homework students do per day or week, and then compare scores of high and low homework-time students.   Ask test-taking students whether they are intensive athletes or not, and compare results.   Ask if they are boarding or day students, and compare the results.   Many new opportunities would seem to abound for action research.

The test, which can now be scheduled outside of the “norming cycle” scheduling as needed, can also have new potential applications.  Could a college perhaps ask students, either as a requirement or an option, to take the CWRA as part of their college application process.   Another developing option, fascinating to consider the implications of, would seem to be selective high schools using the CWRA+ as a supplement or replacement for their current admissions testing.

The CWRA also offers more norm group options, as can be seen in the sample in the document below, including an independent school/NAIS norm group, which will hugely add value to NAIS schools using this test.

Over the past four years I’ve had many middle school educators ask me about the availability of the test for their students, and I’ve had to tell them, regrettably there is no such option.  Now, however, CWRA plus is available to 8th graders, which is good in itself but I’d point out doesn’t make it really an option for evaluating institutional value add by comparing student results in 5th or 6th grade with that of their 8th grade graduates.

The length of the CWRA remains the same: 90 minutes plus a few more for administration set-up.

CAE/CWRA document summarizing key CWRA developments. 

St. Gregory students discuss taking the CWRA. 

From Virginia Beach district