Test Information Guide

Field 73: History/Social Science
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 written analysis of the information in given primary and secondary historical sources surrounding a discipline-specific inquiry question related to U.S. history.


Use the information provided in the exhibits to complete the assignment that follows.

Using your knowledge of U.S. history, write a response of approximately 150–300 words in which you:

Be sure to cite specific evidence from the sources in your response.

Exhibit 1

Discipline-Specific Inquiry Question

What was the political consideration or considerations for limiting the franchise to males in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Exhibit 2

Source #1

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, 1881

Context: This six-volume work was published in installments between 1881 and 1922. The authors and editors listed for the second volume were all prominent leaders of this movement, and their work remains a major primary source for historians of the period. In this excerpt they discussed the inclusion of "male" in the Fourteenth Amendment: "when the right to vote at any election … is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State."

[T]he political status of the negro was next in order; and to this end various propositions were submitted to Congress. But to demand his enfranchisement on the broad principle of natural rights, was hedged about with difficulties, as the logical result of such action must be the enfranchisement of all ostracised classes; not only the white women of the entire country, but the slave women of the South. Though our Senators and Representatives had an honest aversion to any proscriptive legislation against loyal women, in view of their varied and self-sacrificing work during the war, yet the only way they could open the constitutional door just wide enough to let the black man pass in, was to introduce the word "male" into the national Constitution. After the generous devotion of such women as Anna Carroll and Anna Dickinson in sustaining the policy of the Republicans, both in peace and war, they felt it would come with an ill-grace from that party, to place new barriers in woman's path to freedom. But how could the amendment be written without the word "male" ? was the question.

Robert Dale Owen, being at Washington and behind the scenes at the time, sent copies of the various bills to the officers of the Loyal League in New York, and related to them some of the amusing discussions. One of the Committee proposed "persons" instead of "males." "That will never do," said another, "it would enfranchise all the Southern wenches." "Suffrage for black men will be all the strain the Republican party can stand," said another. Charles Sumner said, years afterward, that he wrote over nineteen pages of foolscap to get rid of the word "male" and yet keep "negro suffrage" as a party measure intact; but it could not be done.

Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton, ever on the watch-tower for legislation affecting women, were the first to see the full significance of the word "male" in the 14th Amendment, and at once sounded the alarm.

Source #2

Senator Charles Sumner, personal correspondence, August 17, 1866

Context: Sumner was the senator from Massachusetts from 1851 to 1874 who was a leader of the abolitionist cause among national officeholders and, later, of the Radical Republican faction during Reconstruction.

I repeat now what I have said constantly, that I see small chance of peace or security so long as the freedmen are denied equality of rights. I have insisted upon impartial, not universal, suffrage; in other words, there must be only one rule for the two colors. All this might have been easily established had the President gone with Congress. Now we have before us terrible strife, and perhaps war again. Among the practical measures of the last Congress was one for the revision and consolidation of our statutes, which I have long had at heart; also another, following British example, with regard to the metric system. On the main question of equal rights Congress did much, but not all it ought to do.

Sample Strong Response to the Open-Response Item

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

After the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, the rights of formerly enslaved persons became the key question for the Republican Party then in control of Congress. In 1866, there were contentious discussions over the proposed Fourteenth Amendment granting suffrage to Black males. Stanton, Anthony, and Gage protested the insertion of the word "male" in the Constitution because they believed it would impede women's suffrage, postponing it indefinitely.

Political considerations lay behind the Republicans' determination to extend the vote to Black males. Sumner recognized that there was still violence and resistance in the South, even "perhaps war again." Union troops were stationed in the South to keep peace. Ensuring that Black males could vote was in the interests of Republicans and would help them maintain political control over the defeated Southern states.

A second political consideration was maintaining unity within the party. The sources suggest that Republicans disagreed about whether the phrase "universal suffrage" should be used in the amendment. Although Republican senators "had an honest aversion to any proscriptive legislation against loyal women" (by which they seem to have meant White, Republican women from the North), they balked at the idea of extending the vote to Black women or, as one Republican called them, "Southern wenches." They felt that doing so would threaten the passage of the amendment. As one member of the committee argued, "Suffrage for black men will be all the strain the Republican party can stand." Republican leaders thus backed off the cause of universal suffrage, although not, apparently, without some reservations. As Stanton, Anthony, and Gage report, Sumner later claimed to have made considerable efforts to avoid inscribing the word "male" into the constitution before conceding that "it could not be done."

In the end, the Fourteenth Amendment gave the vote to Black men but established new barriers to women's right to vote. Women would not gain the vote until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

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.