My access! Tips and Pointers faq of the Month: Rubrics

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MY Access! Tips and Pointers
FAQ of the Month: Rubrics

Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Two, Issue Two, February 2005

I'd like to compare my state rubrics with the one used by MY Access!. Where can I find more information on the MY Access! scoring rubric?

The Teacher Resources area (click on Resources in the upper right hand side of the screen after you sign into MY Access!) contains information on the scoring rubric for each type of MY Access! prompt (informative, literary, narrative, persuasive and text-based) at the 4- and 6-point scale. You can find this halfway down the list of resources, under "Rubrics".

You can also find the state rubrics for Pennsylvania and California within this section. More states will be added over time. Additional assistance for mapping your instructional program in writing to state standards can be found in the "MY Access! Instructional Guide" beginning on page 66. This document is also located in the Teacher Resources area.

What is the Save Back option in MY Access!?

Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Three, March 2006     

The Save Back option has been added to MY Access! assignment preferences at the teacher level and higher to further reduce the risk of losing content. Turning the Save Back option "on" easily allows the student to revert to a previously saved version. MY Access! save interval is set for 2.5 minutes. Save Back will be "reset" when the student resumes or starts a new revision.
Did You Know?

Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Three, March 2006     

By using the Writer's Models, you can help students learn what an essay with a score 1, 2, 3, etc. looks like. One of our users suggested printing out the model essays and hanging them around the classroom for students to look at. (Thanks, Alma, for this tip!). Students can view the Writer's Models for a prompt by clicking on "Writer's Model" from the drop-down Instruction menu in the Student Workpage.
When I use MY Access!, I sometimes click "Start" or "Resume" and nothing happens. Is there something wrong with the program?

Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Three, May 2006     

If you are trying to click on Start or Resume and it's not taking you to your assignment, you probably have a pop-up blocker activated on your computer. If you haven't disabled your pop-up blocker, certain windows in the MY Access! program won't open.

You can try holding down the CTRL key on your keyboard and clicking Start to see if you can view your assignment. If this works, this will only temporarily disable the pop-up blocker.

If your assignment does not appear, then you will need to find the pop-up blocker and permanently disable it. You can find the pop-up blocker on a toolbar such as Google or Yahoo, or as an option in the Tools menu of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Both Norton Antivirus and Windows Service Pack 2 have built-in pop-up blockers.

You can also run the System Requirement Check located on the login page of My Access!; this will check for any pop-up blockers and give you guidance on how to disable them.

Go to to view a document containing more information on how to turn off pop-up blockers (or read this issue of My eNews! online, Volume 3, May 2006, and click on the link).
From the Scoring Center - Introducing The Approximator™
By Matt Daneker, Director, Vantage Scoring Center
Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Two, September 2005     

Introducing The Approximator™
One of the exciting new features incorporated into MY Access! 6.0 is The Approximator scoring system. This new scoring tool was developed to help teachers offer their students yet another level of feedback to guide and improve their writing. The Approximator can be used to provide an instant estimate of a student's holistic score, and it is available to score both Vantage pilot prompts and any personal MY Prompts that a teacher may create for his or her students to use in the classroom. By making it possible for students to receive such instant feedback, even when using pilot prompts, The Approximator has truly opened up a world of new writing possibilities!

How is it different from IntelliMetric® scoring?
While both IntelliMetric® scoring and The Approximator are grounded in a similar background and concept, there are important differences between the two scoring systems that teachers must take note of. Each IntelliMetric® scoring model is based on a unique training set matched to the judgments of expert scorers. The Approximator, on the other hand, is trained through a pooled approach covering a variety of types of essays within each grade range. This crucial distinction leads to the following "real world" differences for the classroom teacher:

  1. Approximator returns only a holistic score to student portfolios; it does not provide domain scores or feedback to students.

  2. Approximator does not, for the most part, identify "non-scoreable" essays; while it will flag an essay that is "Too Short," it will not identify an essay that is off-topic or simply a copy of the prompt.

  3. The scores determined by Approximator are just that - approximate. Teachers are cautioned against using Approximator to score assessment-level assignments; rather, Approximator ought to be used in a situation where a general evaluation of writing would be acceptable.

How do I use Approximator scoring?
After you have assigned a Vantage pilot prompt to your group, you can turn Approximator scoring on or off when you select the settings for the assignment. You will notice on the "General Settings" tab the "Score by Approximator" option in the upper right hand corner of the screen. If you choose to have essays scored by Approximator, simply select "Yes" from the menu. If, on the other hand, you would prefer to have your students' essays scored by human experts in the Vantage Scoring Center, be sure to select "No" and contact the Scoring Center to make arrangements for the essays to be scored by experts. Keep in mind, you cannot change the setting once you have saved your selection.

How accurate is The Approximator?
Approximator scores provide a fairly reliable *estimate* of the student's writing sample. For this reason, Approximator is best suited for the scoring of practice assignments, in which students write and re-draft essays to correct mistakes and enhance their writing skills. As noted, it is not recommended that Approximator be used to score writing assessments. For more reliable and valid scores for assessment and evaluation purposes, it is recommended that IntelliMetric® prompts or prompts scored by experts in the Scoring Center be used.

We think that you will find this new scoring tool to be a highly valuable addition to the My Access repertoire. Please feel free to contact the Scoring Center by emailing me at if you have additional questions about The Approximator. Don't forget that we will continue to provide expert human scoring of pilot prompt essays at no additional cost; we are eager to work with you!

What is a Vantage Pilot Prompt?
Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Two, Issue Three, March 2005     

Vantage Pilot prompts are, simply put, writing prompts that students can respond to that are not automatically scored by IntelliMetric. These prompts are identified in MY Access!® by the word "(pilot)" in their title. All writing prompts begin as pilot prompts until we have accumulated enough sample student essays to create a model that IntelliMetric can use to automatically score an essay.

How do I assign a Vantage Pilot Prompt and have the essays scored?
You can assign a Vantage pilot prompt at any time for use in your writing instruction. You can score the essays or you can arrange with us to have the essays scored for you. Before you have your students begin the assignment, contact the Scoring Center to arrange for the scoring of the essays.
MY Access!™ 5.0 Facilitates Review of "Non-Scoreable" Essays

by Matt Daneker, Scoring Director

Source: My eNews! For MY Access! Users, Volume Two, Issue Four, April 2005     

MY Access!™ 5.0 incorporates pioneering features to effectively manage essays identified by IntelliMetric® as "non-scoreable." Through the support of enhanced student feedback and expert human review, MY Access! 5.0 users are finding more meaningful treatment of essays that may fall outside of the scoring mainstream.

What is a "non-scoreable" essay?
It has happened to all of our students at one time or another. They wrote an essay, reread it to catch spelling errors, and submitted it to IntelliMetric® for scoring. Only instead of receiving a score, they received the message that the essay is "non-scoreable." Well, what exactly does that mean?

A non-scoreable essay is simply an essay that is unusual in some way, differing from the kinds of essays that comprise the scoring model for a given writing prompt. The essay may be incomprehensible or contain other serious errors, but it need not be poorly written; it needs only to differ from the kinds of essays IntelliMetric® is expecting. Additional work on the essay will be required before such an essay can receive a score.

What are the reasons an essay is marked non-scoreable?
IntelliMetric® is capable of applying several different non-scoreable "tags" depending on the nature of the essay it has reviewed. Following are the various tags that can be assigned to a non-scoreable essay:

  • Too Short - This is, by far, the most common non-scoreable tag; an essay that consists of only a few words or sentences cannot be scored and will be marked as being "Too Short."

  • Off Topic - This is another common non-scoreable tag; an essay that does not respond to the topic embodied in the writing prompt may be graded as "Off Topic." Sometimes an essay that responds to the assigned topic in a unique or unusual manner might also be marked as "Off Topic."

  • Repetitious - This tag may be applied to an essay that uses the same phrases over and over again or is composed of a paragraph that has been copied and pasted several times and submitted as a complete essay.

  • Insufficient - An essay identified as "Insufficient" is generally very short and, while it may represent a good beginning of an appropriate response, fails to demonstrate a complete response to the writing assignment.

  • Too Many Unknown Words - An essay that is written in a foreign language or contains significant spelling mistakes that make comprehension difficult may be returned with this tag.

  • Major Syntax Problems - An essay containing serious grammar or punctuation errors may be identified by this non-scoreable tag.

  • Copied Prompt - An essay that copies directly from the writing prompt itself may be identified as a "Copy of the Prompt." Moreover, if the writing prompt is accompanied by a text, IntelliMetric® will scan the submitted essay to determine if it contains too many words or phrases copied directly from the text.

How will I know an essay is non-scoreable?
If IntelliMetric® has identified an essay as non-scoreable, the essay will be marked as such in the student portfolio. In the first place, students will find the image of a Black Clock in the "Status" column of the student portfolio. Clicking on this image will reveal its meaning - "The Essay May Be Non-Scoreable - Try Revising." Furthermore, the holistic and domain scores will be withheld and replaced by "n/a."

What should my student do with a non-scoreable essay?
As soon as a student sees that the essay has been marked non-scoreable, the student should immediately click on the "Report" column for that essay submission. In place of scores, MY Access! 5.0 will both indicate why the essay was marked as non-scoreable and provide feedback to the student to help him or her improve the next draft of the essay. For example, if an essay is marked as a "Copy of the Prompt," the student will be directed to "restate in your own words information from the prompt or passage." It is vital that students see a non-scoreable grade not as the end of the writing process (i.e., a failing grade), but rather as the beginning of the process of revision and improvement! Students should endeavor to revise the essay and resubmit it for scoring.

What if the essay remains non-scoreable, even after my student has improved it?
A student may find that he or she has revised an essay several times and yet it continues to be marked as non-scoreable. To address this situation, MY Access! 5.0 provides for a daily human review of all essays that are marked as non-scoreable by IntelliMetric®. Any essays that remain non-scoreable at the end of the day will be reviewed by an expert in the Vantage Scoring Center. This scorer will determine whether the essay should, in fact, receive a final score or if it should be confirmed as non-scoreable. These expert reviews are conducted daily but may depend on the volume of non-scoreable essays submitted.

If the decision is made to score the essay, the scores and all appropriate feedback will be returned to the student portfolio. This service has proved invaluable to users of MY Access! 5.0. Human reviewers will make the final decision, for example, whether the subject matter of an essay is fundamentally off-topic or if it could be interpreted as an appropriate response to the writing prompt. Through the human review of non-scoreable essays, about half of all non-scoreable essays are able to receive final scores.

However, if the scorer decides that the essay ought to remain non-scoreable, a Red Symbol will replace the Black Clock in the student portfolio, confirming that the essay cannot be scored as written.

Tips & Pointers for Using MY Access!, E.O. Smith Online Writing Team PD Session on 11/9/07 – Page

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