Test Information Guide

Field 54: English as a Second Language
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 0010
Prepare an organized, developed analysis related to one or more of the following: foundations of second-language instruction; second-language and content learning.

Use the information below to complete the exercise that follows.

A middle school ESL teacher uses a variety of strategies for monitoring English language learners' academic language proficiency and literacy development. In one informal assessment, the teacher has sixth-grade English language learners silently read a short passage from a sixth-grade social studies textbook and then complete a brief written task related to the text. Shown below is an excerpt from the passage.

The teacher asks students to describe the main ideas of this passage in their own words. Shown below is one student's written response. This student is an expanding-level English language learner.

Using your knowledge of second-language and content learning, write a response in which you:

Be sure to cite specific evidence from the information provided to support your response.

Sample Strong Response to the Open-Response Item

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

The student's summary shows strength in general academic vocabulary, or "Tier 2" words. The student shows s/he comprehends these words from the passage by using them in the summary in original ways. The passage states that the EU was created so that European countries could increase their collective power. The student shows understanding of the words "increase" and "power" by writing that the reason countries want to join the EU is to increase their own power. S/he also logically concludes that the EU is a "powerful" force in the world. The student produces his/her own general academic vocabulary words such as "force," "possible," and "exist." General academic vocabulary is used throughout all types of academic texts, so this student can use it across content areas.

An area for improvement would be writing conventions. The student can produce complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions, but when it comes to adding details, s/he often resorts to tacking on short sentences beginning with conjunctions, e.g., "And they can use the euro. And they can enter ... freely." The student should learn how to incorporate a series of independent clauses with the same subject into a single sentence to avoid repetition and consolidate ideas within written sentences.

An effective instructional strategy would be a shared writing lesson that challenges students to describe a geography-related picture by using a single descriptive sentence. Students would brainstorm three or four descriptors of the picture, to be written in short sentences on the board. The teacher would then demonstrate how to combine those sentences into a single longer sentence, perhaps including instruction on conjunctions and punctuation. Next, the students would work in pairs using new pictures and a graphic organizer to guide them through three steps: (1) writing ideas, (2) writing short sentences, and (3) combining the short sentences into one. The pairs would work together to ultimately develop a single sentence for publishing on the bulletin board. This lesson will give the student writing about the EU a strategy for crafting smooth, effective sentences in the content areas, so instead of tacking on short descriptions, s/he could write, "[Countries] ... can increase their political and economic power, use the euro, and enter ... freely."

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.