The data are the reason I designed this course. I simply could not believe the low performance of students on the Text-Dependent Analysis Essays. I know how hard teachers work. I know our teachers are teaching the standards. Something seemed amiss to me.

It’s the first time for Michigan, but several other states already use text-dependent analysis in their state assessment programs and have been doing it long enough to have data. Other states even use the same rubric Michigan will be using on the M-Step in the spring, Text Dependent Analysis (TDA) Scoring Guidelines.

When looking at the rubric, students should earn a Level 3 or 4 to earn a satisfactory score.

So, you see, Michigan is not the first to the party on this. I’m just pointing this out because those who have already been to the party are not yet having good results. The results on the TDA (Text-Dependent Analysis) for the past two years from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania should give you an idea of the challenge ahead for our teachers and students.

  1. There’s a new item type: it’s the Text-Dependent Analysis (TDA). Students will write a text-dependent analysis essay. Your teachers need to know about TDAs first, and they need to be comfortable with this type of essay before teaching it to students. It is not likely your students are being taught to answer this type of essay, even though they are most assuredly writing papers. Heck, teachers in our nation have been assigning writing for each of the three types: narrative, informational, and opinion (elementary) /argument (secondary).
  2. The prompts this year look different than last. That’s because prompts for TDA essays are different than prompts for other types of writing. The MDE has posted samples to provide teachers and students with an idea of how the items will look. Make sure your teachers have a copy of the sample prompts and how they are scored.
  3. There is a corresponding rubric that will be used to score student papers, and the rubric is the same for grades 3-8.
  4. The data will be tied to Claim 2, Writing, when your results come back, even though some of the rubric clearly speaks to Claim One. (Students analyze the reading and then respond through writing.)
  5. We know that anything we do to work with our students should be part of our regular instruction. Students do need to be familiar with the format of the text-dependent analysis, but everything in the rubric includes skills from the curriculum, so you should be fine when teaching students how to write essays.

It’s good stuff. But, it’s hard for a lot of students. (Remember those results from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?) This type of thinking and writing takes time to learn. So, consider reminding teachers the new rubric does align to the Claims and Targets they have already seen. (I’ve included a quick alignment connection below, just in case that might be helpful to you.)


Alignment Between Text-Dependent Analysis Rubric and ELA Standards

You likely understand the importance of alignment, but it will suffice for our purposes now, which is to ensure alignment between what is taught and what is tested. You also know that anything we do to work with our students should be part of our regular instruction. Students do need to be familiar with the format of the text-dependent analysis, but note that skills in the rubric align to skills from your curriculum.

The following is to give you an idea of the difference in the writing prompts past and present. The prompt, and the level of thinking it measures has changed as the examples of prompts comparing 2017 to 2018 for one state’s writing assessment.

In the assignment/prompt on the left, students write an informational paper, while in the assignment/prompt on the right, students must compare information from both passages and then bring the information together around a phrase. The student will also need to think about how to introduce the paper, write the body, and how to conclude the analysis. And I would consider this example an easy third-grade level example!

The change in the assessment requires a change in the instruction and expectations. First and foremost, your teachers need to understand the new text-dependent analysis essay. They need time to think about it, to process it, to understand it. Teachers are smart; they’ll get it. They do need to know how it’s different from other types of questions where they respond in writing and how it’s different from text-dependent questions. Consider giving them that time – and some guidance about the TDAs.