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Study Guide

Field 221: Multi-Subject: Teachers of Childhood
(Grade 1–Grade 6)
Part One: Literacy and English Language Arts

Sample Constructed-Response Item

Competency 0004
Analysis, Synthesis, and Application

Use the information in the exhibits to complete the task that follows.

Using your knowledge of content and sound pedagogical practices in literacy and English language arts, analyze the information provided and write a response of approximately 400–600 words in which you:

Be sure to use evidence from all the exhibits in your response.

Exhibit 1: Teacher Notes

Student: Gena B.
Home Language: English

Age: 9 Grade: 4th
IEP?: no

9/15 Reader conferences today. Talked about likes, dislikes, and possibly branching out in independent reading. Gena likes kids' and even grown-up science magazines (with pics). Also reads formulaic series books that her friends like. She is a thoughtful girl. Makes the most of these stories—her ideas about life are a lot more sophisticated and interesting than the series books we talked about!

9/20 oral reading fluency screening (fall)—Gena's rate is 72 WCPM* (more than 10 words below the fall 50th percentile benchmark of 94 WCPM), with an accuracy rate of 94%. Many self-corrections. She remembered some striking details, but overall comprehension was low (70 percent correct).

10/10 Gena is enthusiastic about science. She knows a lot, both vocabulary and concepts. Other students recognize her as an expert and she enjoys the role—already a leader in small-group activities and class discussions.

10/17 I spoke at length with Gena's parents at Open House. They say they read with her every night and she loves being read to, but she rarely wants to help read. They mentioned The Phantom Tollbooth, Harry Potter books, Madeleine L'Engle. We talked about her avid interest in science. Her uncle is a geologist. She loves museums and science documentaries on TV.

*WCPM: Words Correct Per Minute

Exhibit 2: Reading Literature

The teacher makes a record of students' oral reading performance during a screening assessment of their oral reading fluency. After students read a passage, the teacher asks them comprehension questions. Gena's performance record is shown below, followed by a transcript of the conversation between Gena and the teacher about the text.


Who are the characters in this part of the story?


Two friends, Shanni and Raymond.


What do you learn about the characters in this passage? How would you describe Shanni?


She really has an imagination, I think. She sees the clouds are moving and then she thinks, oh, they look like sheep! And that's really entertaining. But then the next second she's annoyed and kind of yelling about it's hot and bright and BO-RING. So, she's kind of, I don't know, she keeps changing her mood.


How about Raymond? What's he like?


Mmm. Shanni's kind of the leader. I think he kind of goes along, following her mood, maybe.


What happens? What's going on in this scene?


They meet at the beach and then they just are talking.


What do they talk about?


The sun hurts Shanni's eyes. And she says, "nothing is happening!" And then Raymond says,"I'm sleepy." And "I forgot to tell you something."


Anything else? How does this part end?


Well. They're just sitting around bored and talking about different things.

Exhibit 3: Reading Informational Text

Near the beginning of a science unit on forces and motion, the teacher has students independently read a brief informational passage in class before introducing them to a longer independent reading assignment on the same topic. As part of the in-class assignment, the teacher has students respond in their journals to questions about the text. The in-class reading assignment, the journal prompt, and Gena's journal entry appear below.

Besides the force of your own muscles, gravity is probably the force you notice most. Gravity is the force that pulls things toward Earth. If you toss a ball upward, gravity pulls it back down to the ground.

Gravity is an effect of gravitation. Gravitation is a force that acts between all masses and causes them to attract one another. It acts everywhere, all the time. Gravitation helps hold the moon in its orbit around Earth. It pulls the moon and Earth toward each other. This pull prevents the moon from flying off in a straight line because of its inertia....

The larger and closer two masses are, the more gravitation affects them. Sometimes the force is very weak, but it’s always there. Earth's gravitation affects you more than any other object's because Earth is so large and so close to you.1

Directions: Read the paragraphs above. Then answer the following questions in your journal. Be sure to refer to details or examples from the passage to explain your ideas.

  1. What is the overall structure the author used when writing this passage? Explain the main idea in each paragraph and how the ideas are related to each other.
  2. How would gravity be different if you lived on the Moon or on Jupiter? Use what you learn in this passage to explain.

Gena B.

Oct. 1

The overall structure is giving a defenishen of gravity

  1. is intraduce something famillier about gravity you know, like when you jump up or throw a ball, you will notisse you will soon land again, that's gravity.
  2. is a phisics defenishen of gravity plus examples, like the moon is always falling tord earth even thogh its going strait.
  3. is some more explination, telling about variabels like the influince of mass and closeness of the two things effecting each other making gravity stronger.

If you lived on the moon then you would feel less gravity. Even thogh your mass would be the same, and the closness would be the same, gravity would be less because the moon has less mass then earth Earth would effect you less on the moon because it woudn't be so close. Jupiter has more mass so it would be stronger.

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

Gena demonstrates strength in her ability to engage with a text and effectively apply her background knowledge during reading. The teacher notes in Exhibit 1 (9/15) that Gena "makes the most of stories" by bringing to bear her "sophisticated" and "interesting" ideas about life. Gena's background knowledge in science is suggested in the teacher's notes (Exhibit 1): 10/10 she knows... [science] vocabulary and concepts ... [she is a classroom] leader" in science; and (10/17) Gena's parents mention her participation in activities likely to build academic background knowledge in science. In Exhibit 3, Gena demonstrates her science background knowledge—directly, by introducing the concepts/terms "physics," "variable," and indirectly, with her ability to comprehend this passage likely to be above her reading level—many key words in the science passage have advanced spelling patterns or are irregular (muscles, force, causes, toward, straight) or are longer multisyllabic words (gravity, gravitation, inertia) and are more challenging to decode than those Gena struggled with in another exhibit. Gena's demonstrated comprehension of the passage in her journal entry suggests she activates background knowledge to scaffold comprehension. Gena demonstrates her literal, inferential, and evaluative comprehension, accurately summarizing the paragraphs and adding an applicable example ("jumping up") and term ("variables"), applying concepts and terms from the reading to a particular case in her accurate response to the second question, and identifying the organizational structure of the passage (definition). We see in Exhibit 2 that although Gena's comprehension is compromised by poor fluency (see next paragraph) she infers the main character's shifting moods (entertained, "annoyed") and character traits (imaginative, a leader in the friendship with Raymond) from the passage used for assessment.

Gena demonstrates a need in reading fluency, as evidenced in Exhibit 1 (9/20) by an Oral Reading Fluency rate significantly below the grade level benchmark along with poor comprehension, and, in Exhibit 2, by the numerous pauses and miscues and gaps in comprehension. While Gena uses context clues effectively to correct miscues, the sheer number of pauses and corrections indicate lack of automaticity, a slow reading rate, and the need for constant attention to decoding that would necessarily undermine comprehension. Gena's miscues frequently occur in the middle of words with complex letter patterns, suggesting she does not attend to all letters as she reads (e.g., reading "sighted" for sighed, "sprod" for sprawled; "beach" for bench; "meeting" for melting; "clamping" for clapping; "dritted" for drifted).

To improve Gena’s decoding skills, I would have her work with another student sorting word cards according to specific patterns (e.g., vowel teams, complex consonant patterns) to help her attend to the middle of the words. Gena should record her sorts in writing, attending to spelling accuracy. I'd ask her to explain her sorts (tapping into her oral language/reasoning strengths) to further solidify her understanding of vowel patterns. Because Gena relies on context cues to support decoding, it will be helpful for her to focus on words individually. Since her decoding adversely affects her fluency, she should also practice reading passages containing targeted letter combinations with teacher guidance to support accuracy.

Focusing attention on specific phonics patterns and using a multimodal approach has been shown by research to be effective in building accurate recognition of the patterns in word context and building automatic word recognition. Sorting and writing words, as well as reasoning about the sorts, will help solidify her recognition of conventional spelling patterns. Frequent oral reading practice will support her ability to apply phonics skills when reading continuous text. Increasing Gena's automaticity will build the fluency Gena needs to support her strong comprehension skills.

Performance Characteristics for Constructed-Response Item

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Table outlining performance characteristics.
Completeness The degree to which the response addresses all parts of the assignment
Accuracy The degree to which the response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills accurately and effectively
Depth of Support The degree to which the response provides appropriate examples and details that demonstrate sound reasoning

Score Scale for Constructed-Response Item

A score will be assigned to the response to the constructed-response item according to the following score scale.

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4 The "4" response reflects a thorough command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response thoroughly addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with thorough accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is well supported by relevant examples and details and thoroughly demonstrates sound reasoning.
3 The "3" response reflects a general command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response generally addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with general accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is generally supported by some examples and/or details and generally demonstrates sound reasoning.
2 The "2" response reflects a partial command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response addresses all parts of the assignment, but most only partially; or some parts are not addressed at all.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with partial accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is partially supported by some examples and/or details or demonstrates flawed reasoning.
1 The "1" response reflects little or no command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response minimally addresses the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with minimum accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is minimally supported or demonstrates significantly flawed reasoning.
UThe response is unscorable because it is unrelated to the assigned topic or off-task, unreadable, written in a language other than English or contains an insufficient amount of original work to score.
BNo response.


1"Gravity" from HSP SCIENCE, New York City, Student Edition. Copyright © 2005 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved. Included by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Any further duplication is strictly prohibited unless written permission is obtained from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.