LINCOLN, Neb. — The percentage of Nebraska students deemed proficient in a statewide writing test dipped from 72 percent to 70 percent in the last year that the state administered the much-maligned exam.

The Nebraska Department of Education delayed the release of the writing test results until Friday after some districts questioned how the results were calculated, the Lincoln Journal Star reported ( ).

Valorie Foy, the department’s director of assessment, said the only problem found was an error in how English Language Learners were calculated, which affected the scores of districts with large ELL populations.

The reading, math and science test results were released last month. The writing test is given to fourth-, eighth- and 11th-graders.

Lincoln Public Schools officials raised concerns about district scores last month, but said the ELL calculation error did not greatly affect their scores. Nor did it explain the big drop the district saw this year.

“We’ll pay attention to (the scores) but there are just some things that would make them a bit less reliable than what we would want them to be,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of instruction at LPS.

While the issue this year was with calculating results, the administration of the writing test has been plagued with problems over the past few years.

Earlier this year, the state board of education decided to abandon the tests in favor of gauging writing performance in different ways.

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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