Test Information Guide

Field 07: English
Sample Open-Response Item

The following materials contain:

Sample Test Directions for Open-Response Items

This section of the test consists of two open-response item assignments. You will be asked to prepare a written response of approximately 150–300 words for each assignment. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your response for each assignment. You must write responses to both of the assignments.

For each assignment, read the topic and directions carefully before you begin to work. Think about how you will organize your response.

As a whole, your response to each assignment must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge of the field. In your response to each assignment, you are expected to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the subject area by applying your knowledge rather than by merely reciting factual information.

Your response to each assignment will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

The open-response item assignments are intended to assess subject knowledge. Your responses must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the evaluation criteria by scorers. Your responses should be written for an audience of educators in this field. The final version of each response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your responses should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

Be sure to write about the assigned topics. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review your work and make any changes you think will improve your responses.

Sample Open-Response Item

Objective 0015
Prepare an organized, developed analysis on a topic related to one or more of the following: literature and language; rhetoric and composition; reading theory, research, and instruction.

Read the passage below from "A Dog's Tale" (1903), a short story by Mark Twain; then answer the question that follows.

My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian. This is what my mother told me; I do not know these nice distinctions myself. To me they are only fine large words meaning nothing. My mother had a fondness for such; she liked to say them, and see other dogs look surprised and envious, as wondering how she got so much education. But, indeed, it was not real education; it was only show: she got the words by listening in the dining-room and drawing-room when there was company, and by going with the children to Sunday-school and listening there; and whenever she heard a large word she said it over to herself many times, and so was able to keep it until there was a dogmatic gathering in the neighborhood, then she would get it off, and surprise and distress them all, from pocketpup to mastiff, which rewarded her for all her trouble.... When she told the meaning of a big word they were all so taken up with admiration that it never occurred to any dog to doubt if it was the right one; and that was natural, because, for one thing, she answered up so promptly that it seemed like a dictionary speaking, and for another thing, where could they find out whether it was right or not? for she was the only cultivated dog there was.... She had one word which she always kept on hand, and ready, like a life-preserver, a kind of emergency word to strap on when she was likely to get washed overboard in a sudden way—that was the word Synonymous. When she happened to fetch out a long word which had had its day weeks before and its prepared meanings gone to her dump-pile... then it would belly out taut and full, and she would say, as calm as a summer's day, "It's synonymous with supererogation," or some godless long reptile of a word like that, and go placidly about and skim away on the next tack... the initiated slatting the floor with their tails in unison and their faces transfigured with a holy joy.

Using your knowledge of literature, write a response in which you:

Be sure to cite specific examples from the text to support your answer.

Sample Strong Response to the Open-Response Item

The sample response below reflects a strong knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

One theme of this passage is the way people misuse language to enhance their social status and influence. Twain focuses on the hypocrisy of those who mask their ignorance and insecurity by affecting an elevated speaking style, implying that the strategy is bound to backfire in the long run, making the person look ridiculous rather than grand.

Twain conveys this theme using a satirical approach that relies on personification—attributing human characteristics to dogs. This device allows the author free rein in mocking the absurdities of human behavior. The humorous premise of dogs that act like humans also provides a way of softening what might otherwise seem an unduly sharp and unkind criticism.

The narrator in the passage is a naive young pup who describes, with a straight face, his mother's facility for vocabulary—a talent that makes other dogs "envious." Twain goes on to skewer would-be intellectuals (note references to "education," "dictionary," "cultivated") and poke fun at religious pomposity (note reference to "Presbyterian," the pun of "dogmatic gathering," and the listening dogs "transfigured with a holy joy").

In the process, Twain reminds us not only how intellectually dishonest human beings can be (and, at the same time, how gullible in the face of "some godless long reptile of a word"), but also how words that should carry meaning can be made hollow ("it was only show"), reduced to little more than tools for social aggrandizement and manipulation.

Scoring Rubric

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the open-response item(s).

Performance Characteristics
Purpose The extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment.
Subject Matter Knowledge Accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge.
Support Quality and relevance of supporting details.
Rationale Soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter.

Scoring Scale

The scoring scale below, which is related to the performance characteristics for the tests, is used by scorers in assigning scores to responses to the open-response item(s).

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4 The "4" response reflects a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is fully achieved.
  • There is substantial, accurate, and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is sound; there are high-quality, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the topic.
3 The "3" response reflects an adequate knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is largely achieved.
  • There is a generally accurate and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is adequate; there are some acceptable, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an adequately reasoned understanding of the topic.
2 The "2" response reflects a limited knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved.
  • There is a limited, possibly inaccurate or inappropriate, application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is limited; there are few relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.
1 The "1" response reflects a weak knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is not achieved.
  • There is little or no appropriate or accurate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence, if present, is weak; there are few or no relevant examples.
  • The response reflects little or no reasoning about or understanding of the topic.
U The response is unrelated to the assigned topic, illegible, primarily in a language other than English, not of sufficient length to score, or merely a repetition of the assignment.
B There is no response to the assignment.