Using the DFA

Test Directions Overview

Before administering a test session, verify that the following tasks have been completed:

  • Verify the security of the testing environment prior to beginning a test session. (Refer to the Security of the Test Environment subsection of this manual.)
    • Student seats are arranged so that students cannot view each other’s answers.
    • All displayed instructional materials (for example, vocabulary charts, etc.) are covered or taken down.
    • Post “TESTING IN PROGRESS—DO NOT DISTURB” signs outside of the testing room.
  • Ensure that students do not have access to digital, electronic, or manual devices (e.g., cellphones, smart watches) during testing, unless it is an approved medical support.
  • If applicable, make sure each testing device or workstation has headphones or headsets.
  • Recommended: Launch secure browsers on all testing devices before students sit down to test.

The Initial ELPAC DFA includes all four domains in one document for each grade level in kindergarten through grade two and each grade span: three through five, six through eight, and nine through twelve. There are DFA documents in standard versions and versions for braille and visual impairment.

These DFAs will be available to LEA ELPAC coordinators, site ELPAC coordinators, and ELPAC test examiners for downloading and printing in the TOMS [Resources] tab.

To ensure that all students are tested under the same conditions, the test examiner should adhere strictly to the script for administering the test unless a student is assigned the non-embedded designated support for Simplified Test Directions. The scripts for administering the test can be found in the DFA. When asked, the test examiner should answer questions raised by students but should never help the class or individual students with specific test items. No test items can be read to any student for any domain, unless the student is assigned a Read-Aloud non-embedded designated support for the Writing domain.

All directions that a test examiner needs to read to students are indicated by the word “SAY” and are in boxes so that they stand out from the regular text. They should be read exactly as they are written, using a natural tone and manner. If the test examiner makes a mistake in reading a direction, then the test examiner should stop and say, “I made a mistake. Let me say it correctly.” Then the direction should be reread.

The test examiner should try to maintain a natural classroom atmosphere during the test administration. Before each test begins, the test examiner should encourage students to do their best.

Any time a student logs on to the testing system, the test examiner should follow the DFA script.

Scoring the Speaking Domain Locally

The Speaking domain is administered one-on-one with the student and test examiner and is the only domain that is scored locally, in-the-moment, by the test examiner. The test examiner has two options for capturing the student’s scores in-the-moment. One option is to log on to the DEI before administering the Speaking domain and enter the student’s scores directly into the DEI while administering the test. The second option is to use the score sheet (figure 1) in the DFA for grades three through twelve or the Writing Answer Book for kindergarten through grade two to record the student’s scores as the test is administered. This option requires the test examiner to log on to the DEI as soon as possible after the Speaking domain administration has been completed and enter the scores for the student. If this option is used, the score sheet should be kept secure until data entry. In the event the test examiner misplaces the score sheet prior to entering the scores in the DEI and cannot determine the scores from voice capture, the student might require a Reset Appeal to recapture the scores.

Initial ELPAC Student Score Sheet—Speaking Domain, Grade 2

Figure 1. Speaking domain student score sheet

During the administration of the Speaking domain, the test examiner should not be concerned about the quality of the voice capture response, but instead should focus on scoring the oral response in-the-moment. Do not rerecord the student’s response. The ELPAC Data Entry Interface User Guide can be used as a reference as it provides the steps that must be followed for entering student Speaking domain scores into the DEI.

Audio Capture for the Speaking Domain

During the administration of the Speaking domain, the following guidelines apply to the audio capture tool. The test examiner should score what the student says, not what is recorded.

Rerecording: If the following issues occur, the test examiner may continue to the next question and does not need to rerecord:

  • The test examiner forgets to record a response.
  • The test examiner records the response on the wrong question.
  • There is a red triangle in the review box when ending the test session. If the audio capture times out after two minutes, the test examiner should allow the student to complete the response and score the complete spoken response and not only what was recorded.

Headsets: Use of headsets with a microphone for voice capture is not recommended, to enable interaction between the student and test examiner.

Scoring the Writing Domain Locally—Kindergarten Through Grade Two

Test examiners will also need to score the Writing domain responses locally. Students in kindergarten through grade two will receive a Writing Answer Book. Trained test examiners must score the written responses on the Answer Book using the rubric and anchor samples included in the DFA. Scores for each item must be bubbled in the score sheet (figure 2) that is included in the Writing Answer Book. After, these scores must be entered in the DEI for scores to be captured and matched with other domain scores taken on the test delivery system. The ELPAC Data Entry Interface User Guide can also be used as reference as it provides the steps that must be followed for entering student Writing domain scores into the DEI.

Sample grade one score sheet

Figure 2. Grade one score sheet

Scoring the Writing Domain Locally—Grades Three Through Twelve

Students in grades three through twelve enter their Writing domain item responses into the test delivery system. These responses are then routed to the THSS, where trained test examiners can log on to view students’ responses to each item and enter scores.

Quick Start Instructions to Access the THSS

  1. Navigate to the ELPAC website, select the [Teacher Hand Scoring System] button.
  2. Log on by entering the TOMS username and password on the Logon screen and selecting the [Secure Logon] button.
  3. Select item responses to score.
  4. Score item responses.
  5. Reassign items (optional).
  6. Mark as complete.

More detailed procedures are outlined in the Using the THSS subsection.

THSS User Roles


Scorers use the THSS to score the Writing domain item responses for grades three through twelve. Student responses are assigned to the scorer based on the Test Session ID in which the test was completed. Scorers can reassign items to other scorers in the same school or score managers from within the school.

Test examiners are automatically assigned the role of scorer in the THSS. A test examiner will receive responses for scoring only for the students to whom the test examiner administered the test.

Score Managers

There are two types of score managers: LEA ELPAC coordinator score managers, who can view items completed by any student associated with their LEA, and ELPAC site coordinator score managers, who can view items completed by any student associated with their school. Both types of score managers can reassign students to any scorer within their user level. Score managers inherit scorer properties as part of their role, so they can also score item responses that have been reassigned to them. Table 1 describes the hand scoring roles and their abilities.

Table 1. Hand Scoring Roles and Abilities

Hand Scoring Role TOMS User Role Viewing, Scoring, and Reassigning Abilities
Scorer ELPAC Test Examiner, LST Data Entry
  • Can view and score all student responses for assessments the scorer administers
  • Can view and score all student responses assigned by another scorer or score manager
  • Can reassign student responses to another scorer or score manager within the same school
Score Manager LEA ELPAC Coordinator, LST Correspondence Administrator
  • Can view responses for all students within the LEA
  • Can score student responses for which the score manager has been assigned
  • Can reassign responses to any other scorer or score manager within the LEA
Score Manager Site ELPAC Coordinator
  • Can view responses for all students within the school
  • Can score assigned student responses
  • Can reassign responses to any user eligible to score responses within the same school

Using the THSS

Step 1. Access the THSS

To access the THSS, TOMS logon credentials (i.e., username and password) are required.

  1. Open a web browser and navigate to the ELPAC website.
  2. Select the [Teacher Hand Scoring System] button.
  3. Enter the required email address and password in the Email Address and Password fields in the Logon screen (figure 3) and then select the [Secure Logon] button.
  4. If the password has been forgotten or otherwise needs to be reset, refer to Access, Logons, and Passwords in the CAASPP and ELPAC TOMS User Guide for instructions on resetting.

    Logon screen

    Figure 3. Logon screen

Step 2. Select Item Responses to Score

Overview of the Response List Screen

After logging on, the Response List screen will appear (figure 4). For scorers, the table on this screen populates with the responses assigned to a scorer for scoring.

Response List screen—Scorer

Figure 4. Response List screen—Scorer

  1. [Help] button: This button opens the Teacher Hand Scoring System User Guide.
  2. [Test] drop-down list: This list is used to filter the response list by test.
  3. [Session] drop-down list: This list is used to filter the response list by Session ID.
  4. Student Name: This column indicates the student’s name.
  5. Item: This column indicates the name of the Initial ELPAC Writing domain task type item. It includes item ID, grade level task type, and item description.
  6. Session: This column provides the Session ID in which the assessment was completed.
  7. Status: This column provides the scoring status of the item. Refer to table 2 for information on status types.

    Table 2. Status Types

    Status Meaning
    Not Scored This status indicates that the response needs to be scored.
    Tentatively Scored This status indicates that the response was scored but needs to be marked as complete. The response is still available to be reviewed or reassigned.
  8. [Score] button: This button is selected to score a student’s response.
  9. Navigation links: These links are used to view student responses on other pages, if the response list shows more than 25 students.
  10. [Mark Complete] button: This button completes the hand scoring for selected responses; responses will no longer be accessible.

For score managers, the Response List table will include additional information (figure 5).

Filters for the Response List table—Score Manager

Figure 5. Filters for the Response List table—Score Manager

  1. Grades drop-down list: This list is used to filter the response list by grade.
  2. Subjects drop-down list: This list is used to filter the response list by subject.
  3. Scorers drop-down list: This list is used to filter the response list by assigned scorer.
  4. Assigned To: This column shows the name of the scorer to which the response is assigned.

Filter the Response List Table

Use the drop-down lists on the Response List screen to filter the responses that appear in the table. Scorers can filter the table by test or session. Score managers can filter the table by test, session, grade, subject, or assigned scorer.

  1. Open a drop-down list above the Response List table (figure 6); for a scorer, the options are Test and Session.

    Screen capture of the test filter for the Response List table for scorers, with the Test drop-down menu called out

    Figure 6. Test Filter for the Response List table—Scorer

  2. Select an option; otherwise, enter the desired option in the search field. The table updates to show only responses associated with the selected option.
  3. To apply additional filters, repeat Steps 1 and 2 with a different drop-down list.

Sort the Response List Table

The Response List table can be sorted by student name, item, Session ID, or response status.

  • Select a column header. The table lists the responses by that column in ascending order.
  • To sort the responses in descending order, select the column header again.

Step 3. Score Item Responses

Score Responses

This section explains how to enter scores for responses.

  1. In the Score column of the Response List table (figure 6), select [Score]for a response. The Score Response screen appears, displaying the item rubric, exemplar, and student response (figure 7).

    Teacher hand Scoring System Score Response page

    Figure 7. THSS Score Response screen

  2. In the “Response” section of the Score Response screen (figure 8), the stimulus, item prompt, and student’s response are displayed. The scorer or score manager will scroll up and down this section to review each section, depending on the screen display. Table 3 defines the terms used in figure 8. To view the item’s passage and an example of responses at all score points, select the [Exemplar] link (figure 9).

    THSS Response section, with the stimulus, item prompt, and student response area called out

    Figure 8. THSS “Response” section

    The three parts of the response section (figure 8) are described in table 3, which follows.

    Table 3. Response Section Terms

    Term Definition
    Item Prompt A test question or stimulus presented to a student to elicit a response.
    Stimulus Material or materials used in the test context that form the basis for assessing the knowledge and skills of students.
    Student Response Area The designated area for the student’s response to the item prompt.
  3. In the “Rubric” section (figure 9), review the rubric description and do one of the following:
    1. View anchor samples for each score point as a guide for scoring the student response. Select the [Exemplar] link (figure 9).

      Screen capture of the THSS Rubric section, with the Exemplar links called out

      Figure 9. THSS “Rubric” section

    2. Enter a score for the response. Manually enter a numerical score in the Score field or use the Score drop-down menu to increase or decrease the score in increments of one (figure 10). The score cannot exceed the value in the Points column.
    3. Another resource that may be used while scoring in the THSS is a printed or online copy of the appropriate DFA. The DFAs can be accessed in TOMS.

      Teacher Hand Scoring System “Scoring Criteria” section

      Figure 10. THSS “Scoring Criteria” section

  4. After finishing entering scores for the response, select [Submit Score as Tentative] at the bottom of the screen (figure 10).
    1. To navigate to the Score Item screen for a different item, select [Previous Response] or [Next Response] at the top of the screen (figure 11); the order of responses is determined by the sorting options chosen on the Response List table.
    2. To return to the Response List screen, select [Back to Response List]. The item’s status in the Status column now displays Tentatively Scored.

      Navigation for the hand scoring system with the [back to response list], [previous response], and [next response] buttons indicated.

      Figure 11. Navigation for the Hand Scoring System

Reassign Responses

The THSS automatically assigns student responses for hand scoring to the test examiner who administered the session in which the student test was completed. If a student started a test in one session and completed it in another, the response will be assigned to the test examiner who administered the session in which the student completed the test.

Score managers at the school level (site ELPAC coordinators) can reassign responses to scorers in a school. Those score managers associated with an LEA (LEA ELPAC coordinators) can reassign responses to scorers within the LEA.

What follows is the process for score managers to reassign responses.

  1. On the Response List table (figure 12 ), mark the checkbox in the column on the far left for any items intended to be reassigned.

    Response list table with the selection and [reassign] buttons indicated.

    Figure 12. Response List table

  2. Select the [Reassign] button at the bottom of the Response List screen. A dialog box pops up.
  3. In the Reassign Selected Responses dialog box (figure 13 ), select a scorer from the drop-down list. Only users associated with the user’s school or LEA will appear.

    Screen capture of the Reassign Selected Students dialog box

    Figure 13. Reassign Selected Responses dialog box

  4. Select the [Reassign] button. The selected responses are reassigned to the selected scorer. The newly assigned scorer’s name will show in the Assigned To column of the e table; this display is available to score managers only. For scorers, once responses are reassigned, those responses are removed from the original scorers’ response list.

Step 4. Mark Item Responses as Complete

After scoring responses, the scorer must mark the responses as complete to finish the process.

  1. On the Response List table, mark the checkbox for any responses that have final scores (figure 14).

    Response list table with the selection buttons and the [Mark Complete] button indicated.

    Figure 14. Response List table

  2. Select the [Mark Complete] button (figure 14).
  3. In the window that pops up, select the [Mark Complete] button. Once a response has been marked as complete, it is removed from the scorer’s queue.

Completed THSS scores will be merged with the other domain scores in TOMS. Once all four domain scores are in TOMS, the system will produce the Initial ELPAC SSR which will also be available in TOMS.

In the event a scorer realizes that an error was made scoring a student’s response in the THSS, the scorer must immediately alert the site ELPAC coordinator (if the scorer is the test examiner or LST data entry staff) or the LEA ELPAC coordinator (if the scorer is the LST correspondence administrator). The site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator must submit a STAIRS incident in TOMS.