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.
    • “TESTING IN PROGRESS-DO NOT DISTURB” signs are posted outside of the testing room.
  • Ensure that students do not have access to digital, electronic, or manual devices (e.g., cell phones, 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 K–2 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 TEs for downloading and printing in the TOMS [Resources] tab.

To ensure that all students are tested under the same conditions, the TE 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 TE 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 TE 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 TE makes a mistake in reading a direction, then the TE should stop and say, “I made a mistake. Let me say it correctly.” Then the direction should be reread.

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

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

Scoring the Speaking Domain Locally

The Speaking domain is administered one-on-one with the student and TE and is the only domain that is scored locally, in-the-moment, by the TE. The TE 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 or for K–2, the Writing Answer Book, which also includes the score sheet to record the student’s scores as the test is administered. This second option requires the TE 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 TE 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 student’s responses.

Initial ELPAC student score sheet—Speaking domain, grade two.

Figure 1. Speaking domain student score sheet

During the administration of the Speaking domain, the TE 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 Using the DEI section in the Initial ELPAC Online Test Administration Manual 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 TE should score what the student says, not what is recorded.

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

  • The TE forgets to record a response.
  • The TE 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 TE should allow the student to complete the response; the TE should score the complete spoken response, 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 TE.

Scoring the Writing Domain Locally—Kindergarten through Grade Two (K–2)

TEs will also need to score the Writing domain responses locally. Students in K–2 will receive a Writing Answer Book. Trained TEs 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 TDS. The Using the DEI section in the Initial ELPAC Online Test Administration Manual 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 in the Answer Book

Scoring the Writing Domain Locally—Grades Three Through Twelve

Students in grades three through twelve enter their Writing domain item responses into the TDS. These responses are then routed to the THSS, where trained TEs 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 [Data Entry Interface and Teacher Hand Scoring System] button.
  2. Select the [Initial ELPAC Teacher Hand Scoring System (THSS)] button.
  3. Log on by entering the TOMS username and password on the Logon screen and selecting the [Secure Logon] button.
  4. Select school.
  5. Select test to score (if no tests are available to be scored, the page will be blank below the headers).
  6. Select item responses to score.
  7. Score item responses.
  8. Reassign items (optional).
  9. Select [Submit Score(s)].

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.

TEs are automatically assigned the role of scorer in the THSS. A TE will receive responses for scoring only for the students to whom the TE 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, Local Scoring 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, Local Scoring 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 [Data Entry Interface and Teacher Hand Scoring System] button.
  3. Select the [Initial ELPAC Teacher Hand Scoring System (THSS)] button.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 with fields for email address and password.

    Figure 3. Logon screen

Step 2. Select School

Overview of the School Selection Screen

After logging on, the Select school screen will appear (figure 4). Scorers will select the school they wish to use by selecting the arrow from the drop-down list. Test examiners associated to more than one LEA will be asked to select the LEA first.

Teacher Hand Scoring System Select school screen with the school drop-down list and Continue button indicated.

Figure 4. Select school screen—Scorer

  1. School drop-down list: This list includes the schools assigned to the scorer.
  2. [Continue] button: This button remains suppressed until the scorer selects the school (figure 4).

Step 3. Select Assessment to Score

After selecting the [Continue] button, the scorer will be directed to the Dashboard—Assessments to score screen (figure 5). The Dashboard view shows the test programs that have been assigned to the scorer. Assessments to score are listed in this table.

THSS Dashboard Assessments screen with callouts described in the numbered list that follows.

Figure 5. Dashboard—Assessments to score screen

  1. Select the [Change school] button to return to the Select school screen.
  2. Test Name: The selected test to score in this column is accessed by selecting the link.
  3. Manner of Administration: This column is for interim assessments only. It indicates whether an interim was administered as Nonstandardized or Standardized/Benchmark. Initial ELPAC assessments show as Unassigned.
  4. Student Count: This column indicates the number of students who took the test.
  5. Items to Score: This column indicates the number of items to be scored.
  6. Items to Submit: This column indicates the number of scored items to be submitted.
  7. Date Last Taken: This column indicates the last date the students took the test.
  8. Navigation arrows: These arrows are used to view test names on other pages if the item list shows more than 25 students.

Step 4. Select Item Responses to Score

Overview of the Items to Score Screen

After selecting the test, the Test Scoring screen will appear (figure 6). The table on this screen is populated with the test items, which are assigned to the scorer to be scored.

THSS Dashboard Test Scoring screen with callouts described in the numbered list that follows.

Figure 6. Dashboard—Test Scoring screen

  1. Select the [Dashboard] link to return to the Assessments to score screen.
  2. Submit: Boxes in this column remain suppressed until all of a student’s item responses have been scored.
  3. Assign: Boxes in this column are available to assign scorers to item responses that are to be scored.
  4. Assignee: This column shows the name of the scorer to which the response is assigned. Use the toggle arrows to sort the names of the assignee in the column.
  5. Student Name: This column indicates the student’s name. Use the toggle arrows to move the student names forward or backward in the column.
  6. Student SSID: This column lists the SSID by student.
  7. Date Taken: This column lists the date and time the student took the test.
  8. Items to Score: This column is separated into two sub columns based on the Item Sequence Number and Max Points. The [Score] link will change to the points earned number once an item response has been scored.
  9. [Score] link: This column provides the scoring status of the item. Select this link to score the student’s response.
  10. [Submit Score(s)] button: The button remains suppressed until the student’s test is scored. After a student’s test is scored and once the Submit checkbox (callout 2 in figure 6) for one or more students has been selected, the user can select this button to submit scores for the student(s).
  11. [Assign] button: This button, which is used to reassign student responses for scoring, remains suppressed until an Assign checkbox (callout 4 in figure 6) is selected.
  12. Navigation arrows: These arrows are used to view student responses on other pages if the list of scores shows more than the designated number of rows of students per page.

Sort the Test Scoring Table

The Test Scoring table can be sorted by assignee, student name, student SSID, and date taken.

Step 5. Score Item Responses

This section explains how to enter scores for responses.

  1. In the Items to Score column of the Test Scoring screen (figure 6), select the [Score] link for the response. The Score Response screen appears, displaying the item rubric, anchor samples, and student response which is located under the [Item & Score] tab (figure 7).

    Score Response screen with the response section called out as number 2 the spinner called out as number 3, and the Add Note feature called out as number 4.

    Figure 7. Score Response screen

  2. In the “Response” section of the Score Response screen (figure 7), the tabs to change between [Item & Score] and [Rubrics & Resources] are at the top with the Points Earned (pencil icon) followed by the “Scoring Note” section, item prompt, stimulus, and the student’s response. Navigation buttons are at the top instead of the bottom of the screen.
  3. Selecting the down arrow on the spinner will go to the next student's item through the full set of students. When the bottom of the list is reached the button will gray out. Selecting the up arrow will return the scorer to the top.
  4. A collaboration feature in the THSS lets a scorer add a note. Previous notes cannot be edited, but new notes can be entered into the Scoring Note field to preserve the history, including reassignment notes. Select the plus sign next to “Add Note” to add a note.
  5. The scorer or score manager will scroll across in Score Response screen to view the item card with the sequence number. Table 2 defines the terms used in figure 7. To view the item’s passage and an example of responses at all score points, select the [Anchor samples] link (figure 10) which is located under the [Rubrics & Resources] tab.

    The three parts of the response section (figure 7) are described in table 2, which follows.

    Table 2. Score Response Screen 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
  6. To enter a score for the response, select the [Edit] pencil icon in the Points Earned field to manually assign a numerical score in the Score field or use the Score drop-down list to increase or decrease the score in increments of one (figure 8). The score cannot exceed the value in the Points column.

    Section of a THSS screen with the Points Earned drop-down list and Save and Cancel buttons indicated.

    Figure 8. Points Earned drop-down list

  7. Select the [Save] button to apply the score or [Cancel] (figure 8). The applied score(s) appears on the Score Item screen (figure 9). The Score Item view moves the student’s item to tentatively scored. Scores can be changed and resaved if there is a different opinion of the score. Scores are not applied until the student’s test has been submitted.

    Test Scoring screen with scores in the Items to Score columns indicated.

    Figure 9. Test Scoring screen with applied item score(s)

  8. In the [Rubric & Resources] tab (figure 10), 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 [Anchor Samples] link (figure 10) located under the Resource field.

      Anchor Screen with the Resource section indicated.

      Figure 10. THSS Anchor Samples “Resources” section

    2. 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.
  9. After finishing entering scores for the response, select [Submit Score(s)] at the bottom of the screen (figure 11). Note that t he [Submit Score(s)] button remains suppressed until all the student tests are tentatively scored.

    The bottom of the Test Scoring screen with the Submit Score(s) button indicated.

    Figure 11. Navigation for the THSS

    1. To navigate to the Score Item screen for a different item, first close out of the item being scored and then select a [Score] link in an Items to Score column (figure 9); 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 [Score].

Reassign Responses

The THSS automatically assigns student responses for hand scoring to the TE 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 TE 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. Select the assessment being scored.
  2. On the Response List table (figure 12), mark the checkbox in the Assign column on the left for any student responses intended to be reassigned.

    Test Scores screen with the Assign column, an Assign checkbox, and the Assign button indicated.

    Figure 12. Response List table

  3. Select the [Assign] button at the bottom of the Response List screen. The Assign Opportunity dialog box appears (figure 13).

    Assign Opportunity dialog box with the Select Assignee drop-down list, Note field, and Cancel and Assign buttons.

    Figure 13. Assign Opportunity dialog box

  4. Select a scorer from the Assignee drop-down list shown in figure 13. Only users associated with the user’s school or LEA will appear.
  5. Enter text in the Note field in the Assign Opportunity dialog box (figure 13). This note will appear in the “Scoring Note” section on the [Item & Score] tab.
  6. Select the [Assign] button. The selected responses are reassigned to the selected scorer. The newly assigned scorer’s name will show in the Assignee column of the table (figure 14); this display is available to score managers only. For scorers, once responses are reassigned, those responses are removed from the original scorer’s response list.

    The Reassigned Scorer's table on the Test Scoring screen with the Unassigned designation and the new assignee's name indicated.

    Figure 14. Reassigned Scorer’s table

Step 6. Submit Student Responses

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

  1. On the Test Scoring table, mark the checkbox under the Submit column for any responses that have final scores (figure 15). To select all responses, mark the checkbox next to the Submit header or each item response checkbox.

    The Response List on the Test Scoring screen with the Submit checkbox and Submit Score(s) button indicated.

    Figure 15. Response List table

  2. Select the [Submit Score(s)] button (figure 15).
  3. In the Score Submit Alert message box (figure 16) that pops up, select the [Continue] button to submit the score or select [Cancel] to exit.

    The Score Submit Alert message box that asks, Do you want to continue to submit?

    Figure 16. Score Submit Alert message box

  4. Once a response has been marked as complete, it is removed from the scorer’s queue (figure 17). The score will disappear from the system.

    Response List table on the Test Scoring screen.

    Figure 17. Response List table with Assignee column

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 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 TE or local scoring data entry staff) or the LEA ELPAC coordinator (if the scorer is the LS correspondence administrator). The site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator must submit a STAIRS incident in TOMS.