SAT® Essay Writing Scoring for the Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy Now Powered by Turnitin
Nearly seven million students took either the SAT® or PSAT/NMSQT in the 2015-2016 school year.1 Of those test takers, 2.5 million prepared for the SAT exam using an innovative program that was launched by the College Board and Khan Academy in June of 2015.
Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy – developed through a partnership with the College Board and Khan Academy – supports and reinforces what students are learning in the classroom by helping them focus on the knowledge and skills essential for college readiness. All students can access, at anytime and anywhere, free, personalized practice for the SAT based on their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT or previous SAT results.
As part of the practice program, students also have the chance to take six full-length practice exams that include the optional essay–two of which are automatically scored using Turnitin Scoring Engine, right now. Never before have students been able to practice and prepare for the essay portion of the exam and get both immediate as well as consistent scores back.
Score consistency is important, because the accuracy of the score speaks to its relevance for helping students improve. Incorrect scoring can lead to improper preparation. Likewise, accurate scores can help guide students to better writing.
Turnitin Scoring Engine® is more than just a scoring program. Most essay scoring systems consider only text complexity (length of sentences and words) to assess student writing. Scoring Engine looks not just at complexity, but also at the substance of the writing, assessing students ability to read, analyze, and write. This is what the SAT essay portion is really intended to assess.
Looking ahead, students will be able to not only receive scores for their essays, they will also be able to engage in targeted practice with specific and actionable feedback. This formative feedback will be provided through Turnitin Revision Assistant®, another Turnitin program that leverages the same technology that powers the essay scoring, but towards the goal of providing feedback and not just a score.
The key to writing success is practice and timely, actionable feedback. Revision Assistant was designed to specifically address this need. Evlyn, a student in New York, said: “It bettered my writing. When I see feedback, it helps me.”
Revision Assistant will also be integrated into the Official SAT Practice and give students a chance to get feedback that will support their essay writing preparation.
Providing both Turnitin Scoring Engine and Turnitin Revision Assistant within the Official SAT Practice program gives students the chance to improve their writing–the one factor on the SAT that has been highlighted as the “best indicator of academic success.”2
With the College Board and Khan Academy, Turnitin recognizes and supports writing success, whether to prepare students for a test, for the classroom, or for their futures overall.
Turnitin Integrates Formative Writing Tools into College Board Programs to Support Student Practice (Press Release)
Turnitin Scoring Engine is available on a customized basis for writing assessment needs.
Turnitin Revision Assistant is available as a standalone program and also available as part of the College Board’s SpringBoard®, a comprehensive 6-12 math and English instructional program.
Paul Bogard, a respected and passionate writer, offers a convincing argument on the importance of allowing more darkness to fill the earth for distinct health and ecological reasons. With light providing as such a huge factor in daily life, we sometimes forget that darkness can have more healing abilities, and allows nature to return to a nonartificial, primitive state. Bogard uses personal observation for credibility, stirring feelings, and startling facts to deliver a powerful argument.
Throughout the passage, Bogard remains nostalgic about his childhood: “At my family’s cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes. I knew night skies in which meteors left smoky trails across sugary spreads of stars....This winter solstice, as we cheer the days’ gradual movement back toward light, let us also remember the irreplaceable value of darkness.” The description of nature and the stunningly beautiful imagery creates a feeling of deep respect for the darkness. We share in Bogard’s view and as a result, Bogard has undeniable credibility. Bogard knows the power of darkness and through his childhood memories, we lean our ears to listen to him.
Even though credibility makes many appearences throughout the passage, it would have no real meaning without evoking emotion. Bogard strikes the people who disagree with him when he says, “Our bodies need darkness to produce the hormone melatonin, which keeps certain cancers from developing and our bodies need darkness for sleep. Sleep disorders have been linked to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, and recent research suggests one main cause of ‘short sleep’ is ‘long light’.” Bogard’s statement dissolves any doubt, but builds up new feeling. We finally see the true importance of allowing our world to temporarily succumb to darkness. Through the emotion Bogard evokes, we suddenly feel defensive in preserving the darkness for the sake of our mental and physical health. Bogard even makes us think about the future generations: “In a world awash with electric light...how would Van Gogh have given the world his ‘starry night’? Who knows what this vision of the night sky must inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?”
In order to achieve proper credibility and stir emotion, undeniable facts must reside in passage. Bogard has completed his research, and uses it to further his case: “The rest of the world depends on darkness as well, including nocturnal and crepuscular species of birds, insects, mammals, fish, and reptiles. Some examples are well known—the 400 species of birds that migrate at night in North America, the sea turtles that come to lay their eggs—and some are not, such as the bats that save American farmers billions in pest control and the moths that pollinate 80% of the world’s flora.” Using the facts about animals, Bogard extends the argument beyond humans, allowing us to see that darkness does not only have an impact on us, but all of nature. Bogard then says, “In the United States and Western Europe, the amount of light in the sky increases an average of about 6% every year.... Much of this light is wasted energy, which means wasted dollars. Those of us over 35 are perhaps among the last generation to have known truly dark nights.” However, Bogard extends the facts to offer various solutions to wasted and excessive light, such as changing LED streetlights and reducing the use of lights in public buildings and homes during the night. Bogard builds up our world, and then breaks it down in our minds with his writing: “Simply put, without darkness, Earth’s ecology would collapse....”
We can still save our world according to Bogard. We must see the strength and beauty in the darkness, and remember how our world survived without lights. Light can be acceptable, but too much of it can prove worse than permanent darkness.
This response scored a 4/3/4.
Reading—4: This response demonstrates thorough comprehension of Bogard’s text. The writer captures the central idea of the source passage (the importance of allowing more darkness to fill the earth for distinct health and ecological reasons) and accurately quotes and paraphrases many important details from the passage. Moreover, the writer demonstrates an understanding of how these ideas and details interrelate. In the third body paragraph, for example, the writer shows the movement of Bogard’s argument from humans to animals and from problems to solutions (Using facts about animals, Bogard extends the argument beyond humans...Bogard extends the facts to offer various solutions). The response is free of errors of fact and interpretation. Overall, this response demonstrates advanced reading comprehension.
Analysis—3: The writer demonstrates an understanding of the analytical task by analyzing three ways Bogard builds his argument (personal observation for credibility, stirring feelings, and startling facts to deliver a powerful argument). Throughout the response, the writer discusses Bogard’s use of these three elements and is able to move past asserting their significance to deliver an effective analysis of the effects of these techniques on Bogard’s audience. Effective analysis is evident in the first body paragraph in which the writer discusses the audience’s possible reaction to reading about Bogard’s experience with darkness as a child (Bogard knows the power of darkness and through his childhood memories, we lean our ears to listen to him). In the second body paragraph, the writer contends that Bogard’s statement dissolves any doubt, but builds up new feeling. We finally see the true importance of allowing our world to temporarily succumb to darkness. Through the emotion Bogard evokes, we suddenly feel defensive in preserving the darkness for the sake of our mental and physical health. These points of analysis would have been stronger had the writer elaborated on how they work to build Bogard’s argument. However, the writer competently evaluates Bogard’s use of personal observation, emotions, and facts and provides relevant and sufficient support for each claim, demonstrating effective analysis.
Writing—4: The writer demonstrates highly effective use and command of language in this cohesive response. The response includes a precise central claim (Bogard uses personal observation for credibility, stirring feelings, and startling facts to deliver a powerful argument), and each of the subsequent paragraphs remains focused on one of the topics set forth in that central claim. There is a deliberate progression of ideas both within paragraphs and throughout the response. Moreover, the response demonstrates precise word choice and sophisticated turns of phrase (temporarily succumb to darkness, remains nostalgic about his childhood, dissolves any doubt). The concluding paragraph develops the essay rather than just restating what has been said and is also successful for its precise word choice and complex sentence structures (We must see the strength and beauty in the darkness, and remember how our world survived without lights. Light can be acceptable, but too much of it can prove worse than permanent darkness). Although there are occasional missteps where the writer overreaches with language (In order to achieve proper credibility and stir emotion, undeniable facts must reside in the passage), overall, this response demonstrates advanced writing skill.