Writing Assessment

Per legislation passed by the General Assembly, the 2015 TCAP Writing Assessment will be required in all grades 3-11 in the 2014-15 school year. The 2015 Writing Assessment will be similar to last year.

Please contact tncore.questions@tn.gov with any questions about test design and tned.assessment@tn.gov with any questions about test administration.

2015 TCAP/WA Details



The test will be administered online to all students on the MIST platform except for students that require Braille test forms.

Grade bands

There will be a total of six unique test forms. Test forms will be written for the following grades/bands:

  • Grade 3
  • Grades 4-5
  • Grades 6-7
  • Grades 8
  • Grades 9-10
  • Grade 11
  • All students in Grades 3-11 will read two written texts, otherwise known as stimulus passages. No multimedia texts will be included.
  • Like last year, written texts will include social studies or science topics in order to demonstrate the possible range of informational reading. Text prompts will not require background information. Scoring will not privilege prior knowledge about the topic.
  • Texts will be chosen for a variety of factors, including quality, style, and subject matter, and will be reviewed by teachers for sensitivity. All texts will be authentic passages from previously published sources or well-known authors.
  • All texts will be appropriately complex for the given grade/band as determined by the staircase of complexity in Tennessee’s English Language Arts/Literacy standards (in the case of a grade band such as 4-5, texts will be aligned to the middle of the complexity range between the two grades). Text complexity will be determined using quantitative and qualitative factors. More information about text complexity is available here.
Writing Mode

Note: Based on feedback from teachers and districts shared after the 2014 administration, we have reduced the length of the 3-5 Writing Assessments. Students in grades 3-5 will be asked to write one essay.

Students in Grades 3-5 will read two texts and write one essay:

  • One prose constructed response essay about both texts. The essay will be either informational/explanatory or opinion.

Students in Grades 6-11 will read two texts and write two essays:

  • The first prose constructed response essay will be about the first text and will be informational/explanatory.
  • The second prose constructed response essay will be an argument about both texts.


  • There will be a four-week testing window from Feb. 2 – Feb. 27, 2015.
  • For scheduling purposes and to balance load on servers, districts will be given the opportunity to select a testing window this summer. Information on scheduling has been provided in a separate communication regarding EdTools assessment calendars.
Test Time

All students in grades 3 through 5 will have a ninety (90) minute time limit. Teachers may institute a break of 5–15 minutes, at their discretion. All students in grades 6 through 11 will have a one hundred twenty (120) minute time limit. Teachers may institute a break of 5–30 minutes, at their discretion. These time limits must be observed.


MIST Platform
  • Windows XP or 7
  • OS X 10.6 or later
  • Ipad2 or later
  • Linux Ubuntu 12.04 or later
  • iOS 6 or later
  • Android 4.0 or later
  • Chrome OS 33 or later
  • Android tablets
  • Chromebooks
  • Windows 8 tablets
  • 20 kb/s per student
  • 150 kb/s per student for audio accommodations
Helpdesk Support

For questions or issues relating to the MIST platform, call Measurement, Inc. help desk at 1-877- 516-2403 or email at TCAPhelp@measinc.com.

Videos & Practice Prompts for Students and Teachers

MIST Videos
  • This video is designed for students and walks them step-by-step through the process of logging on to and using MIST.
  • This video provides an introduction to MIST, including information about new features that have been added, accessibility information and accommodations, what test administration is like for teachers and students, and how to access practice materials.
Practice Prompts

Writing prompts are available for students and teachers to practice online on the MIST literacy portal. PDF versions are also available for download on TNCore.

For questions about how to access the MIST literacy portal, please contact your building or system testing coordinator.

For additional technical questions or issues relating to MIST, contact the Measurement, Inc. helpdesk at 1-877-315-2656 or TCAPhelp@measinc.com.

Tools, Accessibility Features, and Accommodations

For more details about accommodations, please see the Accommodations Manual

Features for all Students

The following tools will be provided to all students:

  • Pencil (provided by proctor)
  • Blank scratch paper (provided by proctor)
  • Highlighter (MIST)
  • Notepad: provides a space for students to type notes while reading passages (MIST)
  • Flag items for review (MIST)
  • Zoom in/out (MIST)
  • Writing process tools including bold, underline, copy, cut, and paste (MIST) – Note: students may copy, cut and paste within their written response, but not from the reading passage
  • Spell check
Accessibility Features

The following features will be available to all students but must be turned on prior to administration. The designated school-level team must identify the following features in advance:

  • General masking for answers and texts (ability to mask/block parts of the text on the screen)
  • Background/font color (color contrast)

Accommodations for the 2015 TCAP Writing Assessment will be consistent with the 2013-14 administration. The following features are reserved only for students with the accommodation listed in his/her IEP or 504 plan.

  • Text-to-speech
  • Braille paper version
  • Printed paper version of texts

Scoring and Accountability

  • The 2015 TCAP Writing Assessment will be centrally scored by Measurement Inc. for all grades, 3-11.
  • The scoring process is robust and is driven by Tennessee students and educators. This winter, educators will participate in a process called rangefinding using actual student work from a small-scale pilot in TN classrooms. Decisions made by the rangefinding committee will directly inform how Measurement, Inc. trains their scorers.
  • Measurement, Inc. closely trains and monitors their scorers to ensure validity. Scorers must meet minimum education requirements, participate in extensive training, and successfully score several rounds of qualification sets built from actual TN student responses before they are permitted to score live student responses. Scorers are also closely monitored by scoring leadership throughout the scoring window to ensure validity in scoring and identify and correct potential validity issues.
  • The rubrics used to score the 2015 test will remain the same as the 2014 TCAP Writing Assessment. See here for the rubrics in each writing mode.
Data Return

Districts will receive individual performance reports that summarize student performance on a rolling basis from early May to early June 2015.

Reporting and Accountability

As part of the Summer 2015 test score release, we will be publicly reporting writing performance on the 2015 Writing Assessment.

The 2015 TCAP Writing Assessment will continue to have no effect upon district or school level accountability including AMOs. The scores will not be factored into students’ grades, teacher value- added scores and should not be used for teacher evaluation purposes.

Support Plan

Practice Prompts

Across the school year, the department will offer multiple practice prompts to help teachers and students prepare for the 2015 TCAP Writing Assessment. These materials are optional and can be administered and scored locally by teachers.

Summer 2014
  • Prompts from the 2014 TCAP Writing Assessment will be released for all grades, 3-11 in PDF format on www.tncore.org and on the MIST literacy portal for online practice. These prompts are the same prompts that were featured on the 2013-14 test. They will include scoring materials, including anchor papers with exemplar student responses, so that teachers can score student work. While last year’s design is slightly different than the 2015 design explained above, these prompts will assess the same writing skills and can provide helpful practice for students.
Fall/Winter 2014
  • New practice prompts that mimic the design of the 2015 Writing Assessment will also be released for all grades, 3-11 in PDF format and also available online through the MIST literacy portal for online practice.

Practice prompts from the 2013-14 school year will continue to be available in PDF format on www.tncore.org and on the MIST literacy portal for online practice. Scoring materials for these prompts are also included on www.tncore.org.



2014 TCAP Writing Assessment

Tennessee is a predominately English language speaking state. All assessments are provided in English only. Tennessee does not offer assessments formatted in the native language of our students other than English.

Last Update: January 21, 2015