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For Language Arts Teachers/

English
CONNECTING
COLLEGE READINESS
STANDARDS

TOTHE CLASSROOM
For Language Arts Teachers/
English
13348
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in Educational Measurement, guides to the conduct of
those involved in educational testing. ACT is committed
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The College Readiness Standards Report for EXPLORE English . . . . . . 2
Description of the College Readiness Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Description of the EXPLORE English Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
The Need for Thinking Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Thinking Your Way Through the EXPLORE Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Assessment-Instruction Link . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Using Assessment Information to Help Support
Low-Scoring Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Instructional Activities for EXPLORE English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Putting the Pieces Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Appendix: Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions . . . . . 63
List of Tables
1 The College Readiness Standards for the
EXPLORE English Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2 EXPLORE English Test Content Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
3 EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
4 College Readiness Benchmark Scores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
5 Estimated PLAN Composite Score Ranges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
6 The Link Between ACT Composite Scores and
College Admission Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
ACT has developed this guide to help classroom
teachers, curriculum coordinators, and counselors
interpret the College Readiness Standards Report
data for EXPLORE

English. The guide includes:


A description of the College Readiness
Standards
TM
and Benchmarks for EXPLORE
A description of the EXPLORE English Test
A set of sample test questions
A description of the Assessment-
Instruction Link
A set of classroom instructional activities
The College Readiness Standards for EXPLORE
are statements that describe what students who score
in the four score ranges 1315, 1619, 2023, and
2425 are likely to know and to be able to do. The
statements are generalizations based on the
performance of many students scoring in these four
score ranges. College Readiness Standards have not
been developed for students whose scores fall in the
112 range because these students, as a group, do
not demonstrate skills similar to each other consis-
tently enough to permit useful generalizations.
The College Readiness Standards for EXPLORE
are accompanied by ideas for progress that help
teachers identify ways of enhancing student learning
based on the scores students receive.
The College Readiness Standards Report for
EXPLORE provides the percentage of your students in
each College Readiness Standards score range in
each of the four content areas the EXPLORE test
measuresEnglish, Mathematics, Reading, and
Science. The report provides data that compare the
performance of your schools students with all
students in a nationally representative comparison
group (norm group).
Local comparisons to the national norm group are
most appropriate when EXPLORE is administered
under conditions similar to those in the norming
studywith all four tests administered in a single
session in the standard order.
Eighth-grade students who test in August through
January will receive Fall Eighth-Grade Norms. Eighth
graders who test in February through July will receive
Spring Eighth-Grade Norms. Ninth-grade students
will receive Ninth-Grade Norms regardless of their
test date. (If your school chooses to test ninth-grade
students in the spring, keep in mind that these
students will have had several more months of
instruction than the norm group. Therefore, spring-
tested ninth graders may show higher levels of
achievement when compared to the fall-tested norm
group than if they had tested in the fall.) Students who
are not in the eighth or ninth grade when they take
EXPLORE will receive Fall Eighth-Grade Norms on
their student reports.
EXPLORE is a curriculum-based assessment
program developed by ACT to help eighth and ninth
graders devise a high school course work plan that
prepares them to achieve their post-high school
goals. As part of ACTs Educational Planning and
Assessment System (EPAS

), EXPLORE is comple-
mented by PLAN

, ACTs tenth-grade program, and


by the ACT

, for eleventh and twelfth graders. We


hope this guide helps you assist your students as they
plan and pursue their future studies.
INTRODUCTION
The role of standardized testing
is to let parents, students, and
institutions know what students
are ready to learn next.
Ralph Tyler, October 1991
Chairman Emeritus of
ACTs Board of Trustees
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2
THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS
REPORT FOR EXPLORE ENGLISH
The College Readiness Standards Report data for
EXPLORE English allow you to compare the
performance of students in your school with the
performance of students nationwide. The report
provides summary information you can use to map
the development of your students knowledge and
skills in writing. Used along with your own classroom
observations and with other resources, the test results
can help you to analyze your students progress in
writing and to identify areas of strength and areas that
need more attention to ensure your students are on
track to be college ready by the time they graduate
from high school. You can then use the Standards as
one source of information in the instructional planning
process.
A sample report appears on the next page.
An explanation of its features is provided below.
COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS RANGES
Down the sides of the report, in shaded boxes,
are the five score ranges reported for the College
Readiness Standards for EXPLORE. To determine the
number of score ranges and the width of each score
range, ACT staff reviewed normative data, college
admission criteria, and information obtained through
ACTs Course Placement Service. For a more detailed
explanation of the way the score ranges were
determined, see page 5. For a table listing the
College Readiness Standards by score range for
English, see page 8. For a discussion of College
Readiness Benchmark Scores, see page 27.
LOCAL AND NATIONAL STUDENT RESULTS
In the center of the report, the percent of students
who scored in a particular score range at an
individual school (Local) is compared with the percent
of all students in the norm group (National) who
scored in the same range. The percent of students for
the norm group is based on the most current set of
nationally representative norms.
THE COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS
The College Readiness Standards were
developed by identifying the knowledge and skills
students need in order to respond successfully to
questions on the EXPLORE English Test. The
Standards are cumulative, which means that if
students score, for example, in the 1619 score
range, they are likely to be able to demonstrate most
or all of the knowledge and skills in the 1315 and the
1619 score ranges. Students may be able to
demonstrate some of the skills in the next score
range, 2023, but not consistently enough as a group
to reach that score range. A description of the way
the College Readiness Standards were developed
can be found on pages 56. A table listing the
College Readiness Standards for English can be
found on page 8.
3
WHAT ARE THE COLLEGE
READINESS STANDARDS?
The College Readiness Standards communicate
educational expectations. Each Standard describes
what students who score in the designated range are
likely to be able to do with what they know. Students
can typically demonstrate the skills and knowledge
within the score ranges preceding the range in which
they scored, so the College Readiness Standards are
cumulative.
In helping students make the transition to high
school, teachers, counselors, and parents can use
the College Readiness Standards for EXPLORE to
interpret students scores and to understand which
skills students need to develop to be better prepared
for the future.
HOW WERE THE SCORE RANGES
DETERMINED?
To determine the number of score ranges and
the width of each score range for EXPLORE, ACT
staff both reviewed EXPLORE normative data and
considered the relationship among EXPLORE,
PLAN, and the ACT.
In reviewing the EXPLORE normative data, ACT
staff analyzed the distribution of student scores across
the score scale. Because EXPLORE and PLAN have a
common score scale, ACT can provide EXPLORE
examinees with an estimated PLAN Composite score.
When the score ranges were being determined,
therefore, both the EXPLORE score scale, 125, and
the PLAN score scale, 132, were reviewed side by
side. And because many students take PLAN to
determine how well they might perform on the ACT,
the course-placement research that ACT has
conducted over the last forty years was also reviewed.
ACTs Course Placement Service provides colleges
and universities with cutoff scores that are used to
place students into appropriate entry-level courses in
college; and these cutoff scores were used to help
define the score ranges.
After analyzing all the data and reviewing different
possible score ranges, ACT staff concluded that
using the five score ranges 112, 1315, 1619,
2023, and 2425 would best distinguish students
levels of achievement so as to assist teachers,
administrators, and others in relating EXPLORE test
scores to students attainment of specific skills and
understandings.
HOW WERE THE COLLEGE READINESS
STANDARDS DEVELOPED?
After reviewing normative data, college admission
criteria, and information obtained through ACTs
Course Placement Service, content experts wrote the
College Readiness Standards based on their analysis
of the skills and knowledge students need in order to
successfully respond to the test questions in each
score range. Experts analyzed numerous test
questions that had been answered correctly by 80%
or more of the examinees within each score range.
The 80% criterion was chosen because it offers those
who use the College Readiness Standards a high
degree of confidence that students scoring in a given
score range will most likely be able to demonstrate
the skills and knowledge described in that range.
DESCRIPTION OF THE
COLLEGE READINESS STANDARDS
The examination should describe
the student in meaningful terms
meaningful to the student, the parent,
and the elementary and high school
teachermeaningful in the sense
that the profile scores correspond
to recognizable school activities,
and directly suggest appropriate
distributions of emphasis in learning
and teaching.
E. F. Lindquist, February 1958
Cofounder of ACT
5
As a content validity check, ACT invited nationally
recognized scholars from high school and university
English and Education departments to review the
College Readiness Standards for the EXPLORE
English Test. These teachers and researchers
provided ACT with independent, authoritative reviews
of the ways the College Readiness Standards reflect
the skills and knowledge students need to
successfully respond to the questions on the
EXPLORE English Test.
Because EXPLORE is curriculum based, ACT and
independent consultants conduct a review every three
to four years to ensure that the knowledge and skills
described in the Standards and outlined in the test
specifications continue to reflect those being taught in
classrooms nationwide.
HOW SHOULD THE COLLEGE
READINESS STANDARDS BE
INTERPRETED AND USED?
The College Readiness Standards reflect the
progression and complexity of the skills measured in
EXPLORE. Because no EXPLORE test form measures
all of the skills and knowledge included in the College
Readiness Standards, the Standards must be
interpreted as skills and knowledge that most
students who score in a particular score range are
likely to be able to demonstrate. Since there were
relatively few test questions that were answered
correctly by 80% or more of the students who scored
in the lower score ranges, the Standards in these
ranges should be interpreted cautiously. The skills
and understandings of students who score in the
112 score range may still be evolving. For these
students the skills and understandings in the higher
score ranges could become their target achievement
outcomes.
It is important to recognize that the EXPLORE Test
does not measure everything students have learned
nor does any test measure everything necessary for
students to know to be successful in high school.
The EXPLORE English Test includes questions from
a large domain of skills and from areas of knowledge
that have been judged important for success in high
school and beyond. Thus, the College Readiness
Standards should be interpreted in a responsible way
that will help students understand what they need to
know and do if they are going to make a successful
transition to high school. As students choose courses
they plan to take in high school, they can use the
Standards to identify the skills and knowledge they
need to develop to be better prepared for their future.
Teachers and curriculum coordinators can use the
Standards to learn more about their students
academic strengths and weaknesses and can
then modify their instruction and guide students
accordingly.
HOW ARE THE COLLEGE READINESS
STANDARDS ORGANIZED?
As content experts reviewed the test questions
connected to each score range, distinct yet
overlapping areas of knowledge and skill were
identified. For example, there are many types of
questions in which students are asked to think about
ways of correcting the organization of a paragraph or
essay. Therefore, Organization, Unity, and Coherence
is one area, or strand, within the College Readiness
Standards for EXPLORE English. The other strands
are Topic Development in Terms of Purpose and
Focus; Word Choice in Terms of Style, Tone, Clarity,
and Economy; Sentence Structure and Formation;
Conventions of Usage; and Conventions of
Punctuation.
6
The strands provide an organizational framework
for the College Readiness Standards statements.
As you review the Standards, you will note a
progression in complexity within each strand. For
example, in the 1315 range of the Organization,
Unity, and Coherence strand, students are able to
use conjunctive adverbs or phrases to show time
relationships in simple narrative essays (e.g., then,
this time), while in the 2425 range, students are
able to determine the need for conjunctive adverbs
or phrases to create subtle logical connections
between sentences (e.g., therefore, however, in
addition).
The Standards are complemented by brief
descriptions of learning experiences from which
students might benefit. Based on the College
Readiness Standards, these ideas for progress are
designed to provide classroom teachers with help
for lesson plan development. These ideas, which
are given in Table 1, demonstrate one way that
information learned from standardized test results
can be used to inform classroom instruction.
Because students learn over time and in various
contexts, it is important to use a variety of instructional
methods and materials to meet students diverse
needs and to help strengthen and build upon their
knowledge and skills. The ideas for progress offer
teachers a variety of suggestions to foster learning
experiences from which students would likely benefit
as they move from one level of learning to the next.
Because learning is a complex and individual
process, it is especially important to use multiple
sources of informationclassroom observations and
teacher-developed assessment tools, as well as
standardized teststo accurately reflect what each
student knows and can do. The Standards and ideas
for progress, used in conjunction with classroom-
based and curricular resources, help teachers and
administrators to guide the whole education of every
student.
WHAT ARE THE EXPLORE
ENGLISH TEST COLLEGE
READINESS STANDARDS?
Table 1 on pages 811 suggests links between
what students are likely to be able to do (the College
Readiness Standards) and what learning experiences
students would likely benefit from.
The College Readiness Standards are organized
both by score range (along the left-hand side) and by
strand (across the top). The lack of a College
Readiness Standards statement in a score range
indicates that there was insufficient evidence with
which to determine a descriptor.
The ideas for progress are also arranged by score
range and by strand. Although many of the ideas
cross more than one strand, a primary strand has
been identified for each in order to facilitate their use
in the classroom. For example, the statement in the
1619 range discuss the purpose and importance of
the opening paragraph for directing the rest of the
piece brings together concepts from several strands,
such as Topic Development in Terms of Purpose and
Focus and Organization, Unity, and Coherence.
However, this idea is primarily linked to the
Organization, Unity, and Coherence strand.
As you review the table, you will note that ideas
for progress have been provided for the 2425 score
range, the highest score range for EXPLORE.
EXPLORE is designed to measure knowledge and
skills achieved through the eighth grade. Ideas for
progress for the 2425 score range are shown to
provide ideas for educational experiences from
which students may benefit before they take PLAN
and the ACT.
7
8
Students who score in the 112 range are most likely beginning to develop the knowledge and skills assessed in
the other score ranges.
112
1315
1619
Standards
ideas for
progress
Standards
ideas for
progress
Standards
ideas for
progress
Table 1: The College Readiness Standards
The Standards describe what students who score in the specified score ranges are likely to know and to
be able to do. The ideas for progress help teachers identify ways of enhancing students learning based
on the scores students receive. The score range at the Benchmark level of achievement is highlighted.
continue reading writers of
various genres and imitating
their work
write longer and more
complicated essays, stories,
reviews, etc.
state the main theme of or
summarize essays they
have written
revise essays by eliminating
sentences or ideas that violate
the essays focus
recognize and experiment
with more sophisticated
organizational structures
(e.g., comparison-contrast,
cause-effect)
revise writing to delete illogical
conjunctive adverbs
discuss the most logical place to
add specific information in a
draft essay
discuss the purpose and the
importance of the opening
paragraph for directing the rest
of the piece
revise writing to make it more
concise and precise
discuss and model tone and
style
Topic Development in Terms
of Purpose and Focus
Organization, Unity, and
Coherence
Word Choice in Terms of Style,
Tone, Clarity, and Economy
Use conjunctive adverbs or
phrases to show time
relationships in simple
narrative essays (e.g., then,
this time)
Revise sentences to correct
awkward and confusing
arrangements of sentence
elements
Revise vague nouns and
pronouns that create obvious
logic problems
Identify the basic purpose or
role of a specified phrase or
sentence
Delete a clause or sentence
because it is obviously
irrelevant to the essay
Select the most logical place
to add a sentence in a
paragraph
Delete obviously synonymous
and wordy material in a
sentence
Revise expressions that deviate
from the style of an essay
read writers of various genres
and imitate their work
revise writing to ensure that
every sentence is necessary to
the purpose of the piece and
that no important information has
been left out
write many simply organized
short texts of various genres
revise writing to ensure that
information is in the best order
identify and revise obviously
wordy, redundant, or cluttered
material
EXPLORE
ENGLISH
TEST
read and discuss the work of
favorite writers
regularly write informal
responses to literature (fiction
and nonfiction) in their journals
identify sentences that convey
the main ideas in a variety of
texts and then practice
composing such sentences
write short texts in a variety of
genres, illustrating simple
organization
use paragraphing as an
organizational device
revise writing to clarify sentences
containing too many phrases
and clauses
check writing to make sure
pronoun references are clear
revise writing to edit out empty
words (e.g., really, very, big,
kind of )
9
vary sentence length by combining
simple sentences
check writing to make sure verb tenses
are consistent
make sure to use adjectives like
well, less, and worst correctly
Sentence Structure and Formation Conventions of Usage Conventions of Punctuation
Use conjunctions or punctuation to join
simple clauses
Revise shifts in verb tense between
simple clauses in a sentence or
between simple adjoining sentences
Solve such basic grammatical problems
as how to form the past and past
participle of irregular but commonly
used verbs and how to form
comparative and superlative adjectives
Delete commas that create basic sense
problems (e.g., between verb and
direct object)
revise writing to correct glaring shifts in
verb tense or voice
revise writing to correct basic grammar
and punctuation errors
practice and understand correct usage of
common homonyms (e.g., their/there,
past/passed)
practice using punctuation correctly in
simple sentences (e.g., He ran, jumped,
and swam.)
check for and correct unnecessary
commas
Determine the need for punctuation
and conjunctions to avoid awkward-
sounding sentence fragments and
fused sentences
Decide the appropriate verb tense and
voice by considering the meaning of the
entire sentence
Solve such grammatical problems as
whether to use an adverb or adjective
form, how to ensure straightforward
subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent
agreement, and which preposition to
use in simple contexts
Recognize and use the appropriate
word in frequently confused pairs such
as there and their, past and passed,
and led and lead
Provide appropriate punctuation in
straightforward situations (e.g., items
in a series)
Delete commas that disturb the
sentence flow (e.g., between modifier
and modified element)
experiment with writing more
sophisticated sentences; check to
ensure verbs agree with subjects and
modifiers dont dangle
revise sentences to ensure that each verb
agrees with its subject when there is
some text between the two
use commas to set off parenthetical
phrases
learn to recognize when commas
are overused
10
2023
2425
Standards
ideas for
progress
Standards
ideas for
progress
Table 1 (continued): The College Readiness Standards
The Standards describe what students who score in the specified score ranges are likely to know and to
be able to do. The ideas for progress help teachers identify ways of enhancing students learning based
on the scores students receive. The score range at the Benchmark level of achievement is highlighted.
Topic Development in Terms
of Purpose and Focus
Organization, Unity, and
Coherence
Word Choice in Terms of Style,
Tone, Clarity, and Economy
Identify the central idea or
main topic of a straightforward
piece of writing
Determine relevancy when
presented with a variety of
sentence-level details
EXPLORE
ENGLISH
TEST
Identify the focus of a simple
essay, applying that knowledge
to add a sentence that
sharpens that focus or to
determine if an essay has met
a specified goal
Delete material primarily
because it disturbs the flow
and development of the
paragraph
Add a sentence to accomplish
a fairly straightforward purpose
such as illustrating a given
statement
Determine the need for
conjunctive adverbs or
phrases to create subtle
logical connections between
sentences (e.g., therefore,
however, in addition)
Rearrange the sentences in a
fairly uncomplicated paragraph
for the sake of logic
Add a sentence to introduce or
conclude the essay or to
provide a transition between
paragraphs when the essay is
fairly straightforward
Revise a phrase that is
redundant in terms of the
meaning and logic of the entire
sentence
Identify and correct ambiguous
pronoun references
Use the word or phrase most
appropriate in terms of the
content of the sentence and
tone of the essay
experiment with using words and
phrases that create clear
transitions in writing
rearrange sentences in a
paragraph in order to improve its
coherence
write introductions that capture
the readers interest, write
conclusions that provide a sense
of closure, and describe the
rhetorical effects that each
creates
continue to edit sentences for
empty language, wordiness, and
redundancy
revise structurally complex
sentences to correct vague or
ambiguous pronoun references
continue reading the work of
writers of various genres; begin
experimenting with a variety of
writing styles
revise fairly straightforward
writing to sharpen focus and
coherence of entire piece
Use conjunctive adverbs or
phrases to express straight-
forward logical relationships
(e.g., first, afterward, in
response)
Decide the most logical place
to add a sentence in an essay
Add a sentence that
introduces a simple paragraph
Delete redundant material
when information is repeated in
different parts of speech (e.g.,
alarmingly startled)
Use the word or phrase most
consistent with the style and
tone of a fairly straightforward
essay
Determine the clearest and
most logical conjunction to link
clauses
experiment with more subtle
organizational structures
revise writing by refining
introductions, conclusions,
and transitions in complex
paragraphs
select and manipulate words,
phrases, and clauses to convey
shades of meaning and tone
avoid clutter and use vivid verbs
and specific nouns
develop awareness of ways
that form and content can be
changed as the audience for
the writing changes
learn how meaning can be
expressed through connotation
11
revise writing to correct faulty
coordination and subordination
of clauses
revise sentences to correct
inconsistencies in verb tense
and pronoun person
check to be sure pronouns agree with
antecedents in increasingly complex
sentences
use punctuation to set off nonessential
information in a sentence
recognize inappropriate uses of commas
Sentence Structure and Formation Conventions of Usage Conventions of Punctuation
Revise to avoid faulty placement of
phrases and faulty coordination and
subordination of clauses in sentences
with subtle structural problems
Maintain consistent verb tense and
pronoun person on the basis of the
preceding clause or sentence
Ensure that a pronoun agrees with its
antecedent when the two occur in
separate clauses or sentences
Identify the correct past and past
participle forms of irregular and
infrequently used verbs and form
present-perfect verbs by using have
rather than of
Use punctuation to set off complex
parenthetical phrases
Recognize and delete unnecessary
commas based on a careful reading of
a complicated sentence (e.g., between
the elements of a compound subject or
a compound verb joined by and)
Use apostrophes to indicate simple
possessive nouns
Recognize inappropriate uses of colons
and semicolons
use sentence-combining techniques to
create more sophisticated sentences;
check to avoid fragments, comma
splices, and run-ons
Recognize and correct marked
disturbances of sentence flow and
structure (e.g., participial phrase
fragments, missing or incorrect relative
pronouns, dangling or misplaced
modifiers)
Use idiomatically appropriate
prepositions, especially in combination
with verbs (e.g., long for, appeal to)
Ensure that a verb agrees with its
subject when there is some text
between the two
Use commas to set off simple
parenthetical phrases
Delete unnecessary commas when an
incorrect reading of the sentence
suggests a pause that should be
punctuated (e.g., between verb and
direct object clause)
recognize the difference between its and
its, your and youre, who and whom
use commas to set off nonessential
appositives or clauses
use semicolons to indicate relationships
between independent clauses
12
Table 2: EXPLORE English Test Content Areas
40 questions, 30 minutes, 4 essays (300 words each)
Content Area Percentage of Questions
Usage/Mechanics 64%
Punctuation Punctuating breaks in thought 15%
Punctuating relationships and sequences
Avoiding unnecessary punctuation
Grammar Assuring grammatical agreement 20%
and Usage Forming verbs
Using pronouns
Forming modifiers
Observing usage conventions
Sentence Relating clauses 29%
Structure Using modifiers
Avoiding unnecessary shifts in construction
Rhetorical Skills 36%
Strategy Making decisions about adding, revising, or 12%
deleting supporting material
Making decisions about appropriateness of expression
for audience and purpose
Judging relevancy
Organization Establishing logical order 12%
Making decisions about cohesion devices: openings,
transitions, and closings
Style Managing sentence elements effectively 12%
Editing and revising effectively
Choosing words to maintain style and tone
WHAT DOES THE EXPLORE
ENGLISH TEST MEASURE?
The EXPLORE English Test is designed to
simulate one stage in the writing processthe editing
and revising of a nearly finished draft. The emphasis
of the English Test is on students application of sound
writing practices. The test measures students ability
to use the conventions of standard written English.
Students are also required to choose language or a
style that is appropriate to a certain audience or
writing goal, to choose among a variety of organiza-
tional formats, or to determine an overall writing
strategy appropriate to the essay topic. The English
Test essays and their accompanying test questions
are primarily generated by, and are reviewed by,
practicing classroom teachers, and thus reflect
current teaching techniques and curricular emphases.
Additional information about the EXPLORE English
Test is provided in Table 2.
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPLORE
ENGLISH TEST
The test questions range from those at the sentence level to those at the paragraph
level and from those that ask about a section of the essay to those that ask about the
essay as a whole. The sample essay below illustrates the test format.
13
Jogging at Lake Tom
In the end, everyone gives up jogging. Some find that
their strenuous efforts to earn a living drains away their
energy. Others suffering from defeat by the hazards of the
course, from hard pavement to muddy tracks, and from
smog to sleet and snow. These can also collapse in their
sneakers. My experience was different, however; I had a
revelation.
It happened two summers ago at Lake Tom. I had been
accustomed to running every day, but that week I decided
to be lazy. I sailed, basked in the sun, and
ate wonderful: lobster, steak, and baked potatoes. By the
fourth day I had to face the truth which my body was
slowly changing to becoming dough.
So I tied on my running shoes and loped out to the
main road in search of a five-mile route.
1. A. NO CHANGE
B. drain
C. had drained
D. is draining
2. F. NO CHANGE
G. suffered
H. suffer
J. suffering with
3. A. NO CHANGE
B. Still others
C. They also can
D. Its also possible to
4. F. NO CHANGE
G. ate wonderfully:
H. eating wonderful:
J. eat wonderful:
5. A. NO CHANGE
B. truth about
C. truth:
D. truth, I saw
6. F. NO CHANGE
G. become
H. being
J. DELETE the underlined portion.
1
2
6
5
4
3
Sample EXPLORE English Test Essay
14
7. A. NO CHANGE
B. Out of curiosity, Lookout Hill Road was turned
onto
C. Having become curious, Lookout Hill Road was
the route I turned onto
D. Lookout Hill Road, having become curious, was
the route I turned onto
8. F. NO CHANGE
G. longest, steepest,
H. longest steepest,
J. longest and steepest,
9. A. NO CHANGE
B. house (painted).
C. house, and it was painted.
D. house.
10. F. NO CHANGE
G. laces, of my running
H. laces of my running,
J. laces; of my running
Out of curiosity I turned onto Lookout Hill Road and soon
discovered how the road had come by its name. I was
chugging up one of the longest, steepest inclines in the
region. Perched at the top was a ramshackle house, and
only a desire to get a closer look kept me going.
I was exhausted when I reached the crest of the hill.
There I found a native New Englander rocking on the front
porch of the house, which was painted. Mister, I panted,
you sure live on a big hill!
He studied me closely for a moment and then
responded, Yep, and Ive got the good sense not to run up
it. That night I tied the laces of my running shoes around
a rock and dropped them in Lake Tom.
Answer Key
Question Answer
1 B
2 H
3 B
4 G
5 C
6 J
7 A
8 F
9 D
10 F
7
8
9
10
Sample EXPLORE English Test Essay (continued)
THE NEED FOR THINKING SKILLS
15
Every student comes to school with the ability to
think, but to achieve their goals students need to
develop skills such as learning to make new
connections between texts and ideas, to understand
increasingly complex concepts, and to think through
their assumptions. Because of technological
advances and the fast pace of our society, it is
increasingly important that students not only know
information but also know how to critique and manage
that information. Students must be provided with the
tools for ongoing learning; understanding, analysis,
and generalization skills must be developed so that
the learner is able to adapt to a variety of situations.
HOW ARE EXPLORE
TEST QUESTIONS LINKED TO
THINKING SKILLS?
Our belief in the importance of developing
thinking skills in learners was a key factor in the
development of EXPLORE. ACT believes that
students preparation for further learning is best
assessed by measuring, as directly as possible, the
academic skills that students have acquired and that
they will need to perform at the next level of learning.
The required academic skills can most directly be
assessed by reproducing as faithfully as possible the
complexity of the students schoolwork. Therefore, the
EXPLORE test questions are designed to determine
how skillfully students solve problems, grasp implied
meanings, draw inferences, evaluate ideas, and make
judgments in subject-matter areas important to
success in intellectual work both inside and outside
school.
Table 3 on pages 1621 provides sample test
questions, organized by score range, that are linked
to specific skills within each of the six English strands.
It is important to note the increasing level of skill with
writing that students scoring in the higher score
ranges are able to demonstrate. The questions were
chosen to illustrate the variety of content as well as
the range of complexity within each strand. The
sample test questions for the 1315, 1619, 2023,
and 2425 score ranges are examples of items
answered correctly by 80% or more of the EXPLORE
examinees who obtained scores in each of these four
score ranges.
As you review the sample test questions, you will
note that each correct answer is marked with an
asterisk. Also note that a page number next to most
sample test questions indicates where you will find the
complete essay text. Italicized portions preceding
many test questions are sentences taken directly from
each essay. When a page number is not given (N/A),
the italicized portion provides sufficient information to
answer the question.
Learning is not attained by chance,
it must be sought for with ardour and
attended to with diligence.
Abigail Adams in a letter to
John Quincy Adams
16
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Topic Development in Terms of Purpose and Focus Strand
Score
Range
Topic Development in Terms
of Purpose and Focus
Delete a clause or sentence because
it is obviously irrelevant to the essay
Determine relevancy when presented
with a variety of sentence-level details
Add a sentence to accomplish a fairly
straightforward purpose such as
illustrating a given statement
1315
1619
2023
2425
For a long-distance vacation with family or
friends, especially when driving, larger vehicles will be
available to rent.
A. NO CHANGE
B. friends (usually in the summer)
*C. friends,
D. friends
Routine chores such as feeding the chickens or taking the
horses down to the creek to be watered were great adven-
tures to me. I also thought traveling to New York City for
the first time was quite an adventure.
A. NO CHANGE
B. Tia and Toms mom thinks farming is always an
adventure.
C. Chickens always fascinated meespecially when
baby chicks were hatched.
*D. DELETE the underlined portion.
The pictures they painted on the walls and ceilings at
Lascaux include beautiful, lifelike representations of ani-
mals that they knew and hunted.
The essay would convey a more nearly complete impres-
sion of the cave paintings if the writer were to add which
of the following sentences at this point?
A. The colors might have been even better had the
painters had pots in which to mix them.
*B. The animals that appear most prominently are bulls,
horses, and deer.
C. Modern painters have done justice to animals both
wild and domestic.
D. Because the hunters were busy painting, some animals
might have gotten away.
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
6566
24
6364
17
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Organization, Unity, and Coherence Strand
Score
Range
Organization, Unity, and
Coherence
Use conjunctive adverbs or phrases
to show time relationships in simple
narrative essays (e.g., then, this time)
1315
1619
2023
2425
Sarah would repeat this process over and over and over
again until, finally, hundreds of small pieces of cloth had
been joined together.
*A. NO CHANGE
B. however,
C. therefore,
D. one says,
Due to the secure nature of the test, it was not
possible to provide a sample test question for
this skill.
Normally, after two false starts on trails that ended in
nowhere, I found some prints that I had made hours earlier
coming up the mountain.
A. NO CHANGE
B. Days later,
C. Seriously,
*D. Finally,
For the sake of unity and coherence, Sentence 6 should
be placed:
A. where it is now.
B. before Sentence 2.
C. before Sentence 3.
*D. before Sentence 4.
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
6768
7071
69
Select the most logical place to add a
sentence in a paragraph
Use conjunctive adverbs or phrases
to express straightforward logical
relationships (e.g., first, afterward,
in response)
Rearrange the sentences in a fairly
uncomplicated paragraph for the sake
of logic
18
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Word Choice in Terms of Style, Tone, Clarity, and Economy Strand
Score
Range
Word Choice in Terms of Style,
Tone, Clarity, and Economy
Revise vague nouns and pronouns
that create obvious logic problems
Delete obviously synonymous and
wordy material in a sentence
Delete redundant material when
information is repeated in different
parts of speech (e.g., alarmingly
startled)
Identify and correct ambiguous
pronoun references
1315
1619
2023
2425
I yelled to Tia and Tom and the three of us ran for the trac-
tor, which was now closer than the fence, just as Mert [the
bull] began to charge. It arrived at the tractor only seconds
after we had breathlessly clambered atop the high wheel
frames.
A. NO CHANGE
B. They
C. We
*D. He
By the fourth day I had to face the truth: my body was
slowly changing to becoming dough.
A. NO CHANGE
B. become
C. being
*D. DELETE the underlined portion.
I found the trail signs, but now the wind was blowing hard,
and the swirling snow obscured my view of seeing things.
A. NO CHANGE
B. obscuring my view.
C. blinds and also changes my view.
*D. obscured my view.
I watched in fascination as it was woven into an intricate
blanket on the loom.
A. NO CHANGE
*B. the yarn
C. this
D. these
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
N/A
6566
1314
69
19
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Sentence Structure and Formation Strand
Score
Range
Sentence Structure and
Formation
Use conjunctions or punctuation to
join simple clauses
Determine the need for punctuation
and conjunctions to avoid awkward-
sounding sentence fragments and
fused sentences
Recognize and correct marked distur-
bances of sentence flow and structure
(e.g., participial phrase fragments,
missing or incorrect relative pronouns,
dangling or misplaced modifiers)
Revise to avoid faulty placement of
phrases and faulty coordination and
subordination of clauses in sentences
with subtle structural problems
1315
1619
2023
2425
Only small electrical or clean hydrogen-powered vehicles
will be permitted in cities, and the energy to run them will
come from solar power plants.
*A. NO CHANGE
B. which the energy
C. having the energy
D. the energy providing
That was the way of the American, he who visited Paris in
1845.
A. NO CHANGE
B. American. He who
*C. American, who
D. American. Who
Others suffering from defeat by the hazards of the course,
from hard pavement to muddy tracks, and from smog to
sleet and snow.
A. NO CHANGE
B. suffered
*C. suffer
D. suffering with
A bike-and-ride system will allow commuters to ride their
bicycles to railways having ridden into the city on them.
A. NO CHANGE
B. into the city that will later take them into the railways.
C. to railways having carried them into the city.
*D. to railways that will carry them into the city.
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
6364
1314
N/A
6364
20
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Conventions of Usage Strand
Score
Range Conventions of Usage
Solve such basic grammatical
problems as how to form the past
and past participle of irregular but
commonly used verbs and how to form
comparative and superlative adjectives
Solve such grammatical problems as
whether to use an adverb or adjective
form, how to ensure straightforward
subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent
agreement, and which preposition to
use in simple contexts
Ensure that a verb agrees with its
subject when there is some text
between the two
Ensure that a pronoun agrees with its
antecedent when the two occur in
separate clauses or sentences
1315
1619
2023
2425
Due to the secure nature of the test, it was not
possible to provide a sample test question for
this skill.
According to a recent report from the Worldwatch Institute,
the most optimistic scenario calls for some dramatic
changes in our everyday lives.
*A. NO CHANGE
B. optimistically most,
C. most optimistically
D. mostly optimistically
In the end, everyone gives up jogging. Some find that their
strenuous efforts to earn a living drains away their energy.
A. NO CHANGE
*B. drain
C. had drained
D. is draining
Due to the secure nature of the test, it was not
possible to provide a sample test question for
this skill.
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
6364
1314
21
Table 3: EXPLORE Sample Test Questions by Score Range
Conventions of Punctuation Strand
Score
Range Conventions of Punctuation
Delete commas that create basic
sense problems (e.g., between verb
and direct object)
Delete commas that disturb the
sentence flow (e.g., between modifier
and modified element)
Use commas to set off simple
parenthetical phrases
Recognize and delete unnecessary
commas based on a careful reading
of a complicated sentence (e.g.,
between the elements of a compound
subject or a compound verb joined
by and)
1315
1619
2023
2425
Due to the secure nature of the test, it was not possi-
ble to provide a sample test question for this skill.
I was chugging up one of the longest,steepest inclines in
the region.
*A. NO CHANGE
B. longest, steepest,
C. longest steepest,
D. longest and steepest,
I could see that the trail had ended though because
up ahead hand-hewn signs jutted from the snow, indicating
the directions and distances of other trails.
A. NO CHANGE
B. ended, though, because, up ahead
C. ended though, because up ahead,
*D. ended, though, because up ahead
I told my parents that thirteen is too old for camp.
*A. NO CHANGE
B. parents that,
C. parents, that
D. parents. That
Sample Test Questions
Corresponds to
essay on page:
7273
1314
69
23
In our increasingly complex society, students
ability to think critically and make informed decisions
is more important than ever. The workplace demands
new skills and knowledge and continual learning;
information bombards consumers through media and
the Internet; familiar assumptions and values often
come into question. More than ever before, students
in todays classrooms face a future when they will
need to adapt quickly to change, to think about issues
in rational and creative ways, to cope with
ambiguities, and to find means of applying information
to new situations.
Classroom teachers are integrally involved in
preparing todays students for their futures. Such
preparation must include the development of thinking
skills such as problem solving, decision making, and
inferential and evaluative thinking. These are, in fact,
the types of skills and understandings that underlie
the test questions on EXPLORE.
HOW CAN ANALYZING
TEST QUESTIONS BUILD
THINKING SKILLS?
On pages 2425, you will find an additional essay
and some sample test questions. The sample test
questions provide a link to a strand, a Standard, and
a score range. Each sample test question includes a
description of the skills and understandings students
must demonstrate in order to determine the best
answer. The descriptions provide a series of
strategies students typically might employ as they
work through each test question. Possible flawed
strategies leading to the choice of one or more
incorrect responses also are offered. Analyzing test
questions in this way, as test developers do to
produce a Test Question Rationale, can provide
students with a means of understanding the
knowledge and skills embedded in the test questions
and an opportunity to explore why an answer choice
is correct or incorrect.
Providing students with strategies such as these
encourages them to take charge of their thinking and
learning. The sample test questions that appear in
Table 3 on pages 1621 can be used to develop
additional Test Question Rationales.
THINKING YOUR WAY THROUGH
THE EXPLORE TEST
Learning is fundamentally about
making and maintaining connections . . .
among concepts, ideas, and meanings.
American Association for Higher Education,
American College Personnel Association,
& National Association of Student
Personnel Administrators, June 1998
24
A Discovery in France
Some of the oldest surviving works of art in the world
were discovered by accident during a childs game. Imagine
a youth playing in a field. Consequently, the childs dog
follows a thrown ball into a hole in the ground and vanishes,
but can still be heard barking underground. Scrambling down
after the dog, the astonished child sees in the dim light rocky
cavern walls decorated with paintings of wild animals. As
startled as a hunter at the sudden appearance of game, that
child became the first spectator in thousands of years to
behold the cave paintings of Lascaux, France.
According to experts who examined the cave, the
paintings date from the end of the Old Stone Age. The people
whose painting the cave was painted by were wandering
hunters. They had not yet learned how to plant grain,
domesticate animals, or make pottery. The pictures they
painted on the walls and ceilings at Lascaux include
beautiful, lifelike representations of animals that they knew
and hunted. Working only with natural materials, the
Lascaux painters created subtle shadings of color. The
artists accomplishments are remarkable, because they had
only small, grease-burning lamps for light.
Why were the Lascaux pictures painted, and for whom?
According to one theory, the animals were painted as part of
a hunting ritual. Because one animal is sometimes painted
right over another, perhaps the ceremonial act of drawing
pictures to inspire the hunters was, indeed, more important
than producing finished works of art.
The essay is a description of some of the oldest
surviving works of art. If the students read through the
essay once before answering the questions, as the
directions instruct, they will get a general sense of the
essay; such an initial reading should help inform their
thinking as they respond to the questions. In the case
of informational writing, such as this essay, all the
information needed to answer the questions is
provided in the essay. During a testing situation,
it would be useful for students to raise the sorts of
questions they ask themselves in the process of
their own writing, such as, How should the essay be
organized? and How formal or informal should the
essays style be?
1. A. NO CHANGE
B. However, the
C. Nevertheless, the
*D. The
The first sample question deals with the
organization of ideas and the correct use of
transitional words. In this example, the student
should go through each of the possible choices
to determine which is best. The first choice
(Consequently, the) is clearly wrong because there
is no cause-and-effect relationship between the
youths playing in the field and the dogs following
a ball down a hole. The second choice (However,
the) is incorrect because it implies an oppositional
relationship between the second and third sentences,
where no such relationship exists. The third choice
(Nevertheless, the) also implies an oppositional
relationship between the youths playing in the field
and his dogs following a ball down a hole, where
no such relationship logically exists. Hence, no
transitional word is needed here and choice D
(The) is the correct choice.
3
Use conjunctive adverbs
or phrases to express
straightforward logical
relationships (e.g., first,
afterward, in response)
2023 score range
Test Question Rationale
Organization,
Unity, and
Coherence
1
2
25
2. F. NO CHANGE
G. by whom the cave painting was
*H. who painted the cave
J. by whom the cave painting was painted
The second sample question measures the
students sense of precision in the choice of words,
effective management of sentence elements, and
use of relative pronouns. The student who correctly
answers this question has, first and foremost, rejected
choices F, G, and J due to their unnecessarily
convoluted and wordy construction. Students who
select choice H (who painted the cave) have an
understanding of clear and concise language. This
question presents students with a revising and editing
task that measures the students awareness of clarity
in writing and their skill in eliminating redundancy.
3. The essay would convey a more nearly complete
impression of the cave paintings if the writer were to
add which of the following sentences at this point?
A. The colors might have been even better had the
painters had pots in which to mix them.
*B. The animals that appear most prominently are
bulls, horses, and deer.
C. Modern painters have done justice to animals both
wild and domestic.
D. Because the hunters were busy painting, some ani-
mals might have gotten away.
The last sample question measures the students
understanding of appropriateness of expression in
relation to purpose, specifically focusing on the writing
task of adding supporting material. This question is an
attempt to place the student in the writers shoes by
offering a set of choices that a writer might encounter
in the act of composing or revising. If the student
carefully reads the question, she or he can determine
that the focus here is on strengthening the essay by
adding supporting material. Choice A can be rejected
because it deviates from the paragraphs flow by
talking about matters of painting technique. Choice C
can also be rejected because, by mentioning what
modern painters might have done, it goes completely
off topic. Choice D can be best described as
irrelevant. The correct answer, choice B, offers a
sentence that logically elaborates on the preceding
sentence.
Add a sentence to
accomplish a fairly
straightforward purpose
such as illustrating a
given statement
2425 score range
Test Question Rationale
Topic
Development in
Terms of Purpose
and Focus
Delete obviously
synonymous and wordy
material in a sentence
1619 score range
Test Question Rationale
Word Choice in
Terms of Style,
Tone, Clarity, and
Economy
26
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO LINK
ASSESSMENT WITH INSTRUCTION?
Assessment provides feedback to the learner and
the teacher. It bridges the gap between expectations
and reality. Assessment can gauge the learners
readiness to extend their knowledge in a given area,
measure knowledge gains, identify needs, and
determine the learners ability to transfer what was
learned to a new setting.
When teachers use assessment tools to gather
information about their students, then modify
instruction accordingly, the assessment process
becomes an integral part of teaching and learning.
Using assessment to inform instruction can help
teachers create a successful learning environment.
Students can use assessment as a tool to help
them revise and rethink their work, to help integrate
prior knowledge with new learning, and to apply their
knowledge to new situations. Connecting assessment
to classroom instruction can help both teachers and
students take charge of thinking and learning.
As teachers review student performances on
various measures, they can reexamine how to help
students learn. As Peter Airasian, the author of
Classroom Assessment, says, Assessment is not an
end in itself, but a means to another end, namely,
good decision making (p. 19). Linking assessment
and instruction prompts both teachers and students to
take on new roles and responsibilities. Through
reflecting together on their learning, students and
teachers can reevaluate their goals and embark on a
process of continuous growth.
ARE YOUR STUDENTS DEVELOPING
THE NECESSARY SKILLS?
EXPLORE can be administered in eighth or ninth
grade to provide students with an early indication of
their educational progress in the context of the post-
high school educational and career options they are
considering. The results from EXPLORE can be used
to help students make adjustments in their course
work to help ensure that they are prepared for what
they want to do in and after high school.
EXPLORE and PLAN are developmentally and
conceptually linked to the ACT and thus provide a
coherent framework for students and counselors and
a consistent skills focus for teachers from Grades 8
through 12.
Because EXPLORE is linked to PLAN, students
receive an estimated PLAN Composite score along
with their EXPLORE scores. These scores can be
used to evaluate students readiness for high school
and to plan an appropriate course of study.
THE ASSESSMENT-INSTRUCTION LINK
Every objective, every lesson plan,
every classroom activity, and every
assessment method should focus on
helping students achieve those
[significant] outcomes that will help
students both in the classroom and
beyond.
Kay Burke, editor of Authentic
Assessment: A Collection
27
As students and others review test scores from
EXPLORE, PLAN, and the ACT, they should be aware
that ACTs data clearly reveal that students ACT test
scores are directly related to preparation for college.
Students who take rigorous high school courses,
which ACT has defined as core college preparatory
courses, achieve much higher test scores than
students who do not. ACT has defined core college
preparatory course work as four or more years of
English, and three or more years each of
mathematics, social studies, and natural science.
ACT works with colleges to help them develop
guidelines that place students in courses that are
appropriate for their level of achievement as
measured by the ACT. In doing this work, ACT has
gathered course grade and test score data from a
large number of first-year students across a wide
range of postsecondary institutions. These data
provide an overall measure of what it takes to be
successful in a standard first-year college course.
Data from 98 institutions and over 90,000 students
were used to establish the ACT College Readiness
Benchmark Scores, which are median course
placement scores achieved on the ACT that are
directly reflective of student success in a college
course.
Success is defined as a 50 percent chance that a
student will earn a grade of B or better. The courses
are the ones most commonly taken by first-year
students in the areas of English, mathematics,
social studies, and science, namely English
Composition, College Algebra, an entry-level College
Social Studies/Humanities course, and College
Biology. The ACT scores established as the ACT
College Readiness
Benchmark Scores are 18
on the English Test, 22 on
the Mathematics Test, 21
on the Reading Test, and
24 on the Science Test.
The College Readiness
Benchmark Scores were
based upon a sample of
postsecondary institutions
from across the United
States. The data from
these institutions were
weighted to reflect
postsecondary institutions
nationally. The Benchmark
Scores are median course placement values for these
institutions and as such represent a typical set of
expectations.
College Readiness Benchmark Scores have also
been developed for EXPLORE and for PLAN, to
indicate a students probable readiness for college-
level work, in the same courses named above, by the
time the student graduates from high school. The
EXPLORE and PLAN College Readiness Benchmark
Scores were developed using records of students
who had taken EXPLORE, PLAN, and the ACT (four
years of matched data). Using either EXPLORE
subject-area scores or PLAN subject-area scores, we
estimated the conditional probabilities associated with
meeting or exceeding the corresponding ACT
Benchmark Score. Thus, each EXPLORE (125) or
PLAN (132) score was associated with an estimated
probability of meeting or exceeding the relevant ACT
Benchmark Score. We then identified the EXPLORE
and PLAN scores, at Grades 8, 9, 10, and 11, that
came the closest to a 0.5 probability of meeting or
exceeding the ACT Benchmark Score, by subject
area. These scores were selected as the EXPLORE
and PLAN Benchmark Scores.
All the Benchmark Scores are given in Table 4.
Note that, for example, the first row of the table should
be read as follows: An eighth-grade student who
scores 13, or a ninth-grade student who scores 14, on
the EXPLORE English Test has a 50 percent
probability of scoring 18 on the ACT English Test; and
a tenth-grade student who scores 15, or an eleventh-
grade student who scores 17, on the PLAN English
Test has a 50 percent probability of scoring 18 on the
ACT English Test.
EXPLORE PLAN
Test Score Test Score ACT
Subject Test Grade 8 Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Test Score
English 13 14 15 17 18
Mathematics 17 18 19 21 22
Reading 15 16 17 19 21
Science 20 20 21 23 24
Table 4: College Readiness Benchmark Scores
USING ASSESSMENT INFORMATION
TO HELP SUPPORT
LOW-SCORING STUDENTS
28
Students who receive a Composite score of 13 or
below on EXPLORE will most likely require additional
guidance and support from their teachers and family
in order to meet their academic goals, particularly if
one of those goals is to attend a four-year college or
university.
Because EXPLORE, PLAN, and the ACT share
a common score scale, each student who takes
EXPLORE receives an estimated PLAN Composite
score range. This estimated score range predicts how
a student might expect to perform on PLAN as a high
school sophomore. The estimated score ranges, for
both eighth-grade test takers and ninth-grade test
takers, are reported in Table 5.
Table 5 indicates that, for an EXPLORE Composite
score of 12, when EXPLORE is taken in Grade 8 the
lower limit of the estimated PLAN Composite score
range is given as 13 and the upper limit is given as 16.
That is, an estimated PLAN Composite score range of
13 to 16 is reported for eighth-grade students with
EXPLORE Composite scores of 12. Similarly, when
EXPLORE is taken in Grade 9, a students EXPLORE
Composite score of 12 results in an estimated PLAN
Composite score range of 11 to 14.
Since both EXPLORE and PLAN are designed to
be curriculum-based testing programs, some
students performance on PLAN will fall outside their
estimated PLAN Composite score range. If students
do not maintain good academic work in school, their
actual PLAN Composite scores may fall short of their
estimated score ranges. Conversely, some students
who improve their academic performance may earn
PLAN Composite scores higher than their estimated
score ranges.
Eighth or ninth grade is a good time for students,
parents, counselors, and teachers to take stock of a
students progress. EXPLORE test scores and other
performance indicators should be discussed in the
context of the students future goals, previous
academic preparation, and plans for future high
school course work.
As educators and parents look over a students
academic performance, the way the students scores
and goals match up can suggest a course of action.
Estimated PLAN Composite
EXPLORE Score Range
Composite for 8th Graders for 9th Graders
Score Low High Low High
1 8 11 8 12
2 8 11 8 12
3 8 11 8 12
4 8 11 8 12
5 10 13 8 12
6 10 13 9 12
7 10 13 9 12
8 10 13 9 12
9 10 13 9 12
10 11 14 10 13
11 12 15 11 14
12 13 16 11 14
13 14 17 12 15
14 15 18 13 16
15 16 19 14 17
16 17 20 15 18
17 18 21 16 19
18 19 23 18 21
19 19 23 19 22
20 20 24 20 24
21 21 25 21 25
22 23 27 22 26
23 24 28 23 27
24 25 29 24 28
25 27 30 26 30
Table 5: Estimated PLAN
Composite Score Ranges
29
As educators and parents look over a students
academic performance, the way the students scores
and goals match up can suggest a course of action.
For example, a student who wishes to become a
journalist will need a solid English background. A high
English Test score can be used as evidence that the
goal is realistic. A low score (or subscore) suggests
the student should consider ways of improving his or
her English skills through additional course work
and/or additional assistance in the area.
First, using the College Readiness Standards,
school personnel might explain EXPLORE scores to
students and parents. Then, using reports and test
data from classroom teachers, grade point averages,
and data from district and state tests, educators and
parents can help students make decisions about
which academic areas students might need additional
assistance with, which student goals might need to be
redirected, and which junior high or high school
courses to take.
A rigorous high school curriculum is often the
strongest predictor of entering college and earning a
degree. . . . This suggests that for students who plan
to go to college, demanding coursework as early as
eighth grade will increase their chances for college
success. As [high school] course requirements
become standard, it is important to ensure that the
corresponding course content prepares students
for the rigors of college (Noeth & Wimberly, 2002,
p. 17).
In addition to planning for high school course work,
taking remedial classes if necessary, and beginning to
match career goals to known talents, eighth-grade
students who want to attend a four-year college or
university should begin educating themselves about
such schools. Some students, particularly those whose
parents did not attend college, may not have access to
information about postsecondary education. Though
many students . . . attending urban schools may have
the desire and expectation, they may not have the
skills, knowledge, and information they need to enter
and complete a postsecondary program. Many . . .
do not have the informational resources, personal
support networks, continual checkpoints, or structured
programs to make college exploration and planning a
theme throughout their daily lives. . . . Students need
their schools, parents, and others to help them plan for
college and their future careers (Noeth & Wimberly,
2002, p. 4).
College admission policies vary widely in their
level of selectivity. ACT Composite scores typically
required by colleges having varying levels of
selectivity are shown in Table 6. This information
provides only general guidelines. There is
considerable overlap among admission categories,
and colleges often make exceptions to their stated
admission policies.
Admission Typical Class Rank Typical ACT Composite Scores
Policy of Admitted Students of Admitted Students
Highly Selective Majority of accepted freshmen in top 10% 2530
of high school graduating class
Selective Majority of accepted freshmen in top 25% 2126
of high school graduating class
Traditional Majority of accepted freshmen in top 50% 1824
of high school graduating class
Liberal Some of accepted freshmen from lower 1722
half of high school graduating class
Open All high school graduates accepted 1621
to limit of capacity
Table 6: The Link Between ACT Composite Scores and College Admission Policies
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A
LOW-SCORING STUDENT?
Low-achieving students tend to be those students
who score low on standardized tests. Students who
slip behind are the likeliest to drop out of school and
least likely to overcome social and personal
disadvantages.
According to Judson Hixson, a researcher at the
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
(NCREL), students who are at risk should be
considered in a new light:
Students are placed at risk when they
experience a significant mismatch between
their circumstances and needs, and the
capacity or willingness of the school to accept,
accommodate, and respond to them in a
manner that supports and enables their
maximum social, emotional, and intellectual
growth and development.
As the degree of mismatch increases, so does
the likelihood that they will fail to either
complete their elementary and secondary
education, or more importantly, to benefit from
it in a manner that ensures they have the
knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary
to be successful in the next stage of their
livesthat is, to successfully pursue post-
secondary education, training, or meaningful
employment and to participate in, and
contribute to, the social, economic, and
political life of their community and society as
a whole.
The focus of our efforts, therefore, should be
on enhancing our institutional and professional
capacity and responsiveness, rather than
categorizing and penalizing students for
simply being who they are. (Hixson, 1993,
p. 2)
Hixsons views reveal the necessity of looking at all
the variables that could affect students performance,
not just focusing on the students themselves.
Low-achieving students may demonstrate some of
the following characteristics:
difficulty with the volume of work to be completed;
low reading and writing skills;
low motivation;
low self-esteem;
poor study habits;
lack of concentration;
reluctance to participate in class or to ask for help
with tasks/assignments; and
test anxiety.
Many of these characteristics are interconnected.
For example, a low-scoring student cannot complete
the volume of work a successful student can if it takes
a much longer time for that low-scoring student to
decipher text passages because of low reading skills.
There is also the issue of intrinsic motivation: students
may have little desire to keep trying if they do not
habitually experience success.
Some low-scoring students may not lack
motivation or good study habits, but may still be in the
process of learning English; still others may have
learning disabilities that make it difficult for them to do
complex work in one or two content areas.
Again, we must not focus only on the students
themselves, but also consider other variables that
could affect their academic performance, such as
job or home responsibilities that take time away
from school responsibilities;
parental attitude toward and involvement in
students school success;
students relationships with their peers;
lack of adequate support and resources; and
lack of opportunities.
For example, some students who score low on
tests are never introduced to a curriculum that
challenges them or that addresses their particular
needs: Much of the student stratification within
academic courses reflects the social and economic
stratification of society. Schools using tracking
systems or other methods that ultimately place low-
income and marginal students in lower-level
academic courses are not adequately preparing them
to plan for postsecondary education, succeed in
college, and prepare for lifelong learning (Noeth &
Wimberly, 2002, p. 18).
30
As Barbara Means and Michael Knapp have
suggested, many schools need to reconstruct their
curricula, employing instructional strategies that help
students to understand how experts think through
problems or tasks, to discover multiple ways to solve
a problem, to complete complex tasks by receiving
support (e.g., cues, modifications), and to engage
actively in classroom discussions (1991).
Many individuals and organizations are interested
in helping students succeed in the classroom and in
the future. For example, the Network for Equity in
Student Achievement (NESA), a group of large urban
school systems, and the Minority Student
Achievement Network (MSAN), a group of school
districts in diverse suburban areas and small cities,
are organizations that are dedicated to initiating
strategies that will close the achievement gap among
groups of students. Many schools and districts have
found participation in such consortia to be helpful.
According to Michael Sadowski, editor of the
Harvard Education Letter, administrators and teachers
who are frustrated by persistent achievement gaps
within their school districts have started to look for
answers within the walls of their own schools. Theyre
studying school records, disaggregating test score
and grade data, interviewing students and teachers,
administrating questionnairesessentially becoming
researchersto identify exactly where problems exist
and to design solutions (Sadowski, 2001, p. 1).
A student may get a low score on a standardized
test for any of a number of reasons. To reduce the
probability of that outcome, the following pages
provide information about factors that affect student
performance as well as some suggestions about what
educators and students can do before students
achievement is assessed on standardized tests like
EXPLORE.
WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS THAT
AFFECT STUDENT PERFORMANCE?
Many factors affect student achievement. Diane
Ravitch, a research professor at New York University,
has identified several positive factors in her book The
Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational
Crisis of Our Time (1985, pp. 276 and 294). These
factors, which were common to those schools that
were considered effective in teaching students,
include
a principal who has a clearly articulated vision for
the school, and the leadership skills to empower
teachers to work toward that vision;
a strong, clearly thought-out curriculum in which
knowledge gained in one grade is built upon in
the next;
dedicated educators working in their field of
expertise;
school-wide commitment to learning, to becoming
a community of learners;
a blend of students from diverse backgrounds;
high expectations for all students; and
systematic monitoring of student progress through
an assessment system.
There are also factors that have a negative impact
on student achievement. For example, some students
may not know about, know how, or feel entitled to
take academic advantage of certain opportunities, like
college preparatory courses, college entrance exams,
and extracurricular learning opportunities (Goodwin,
2000, p. 3).
All students need to be motivated to perform well
academically, and they need informed guidance in
sorting out their educational/career aspirations.
Teachers who challenge their students by providing a
curriculum that is rigorous and relevant to their world
and needs (Brewer, Rees, & Argys, 1995; Gay, 2000),
and who have a degree and certification in the area in
which they teach (Ingersoll, 1998) and ample
opportunities to collaborate with their peers
(McCollum, 2000), are more likely to engender
students success in school.
MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE
Using assessment information, such as that
provided by the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT tests in
ACTs Educational Planning and Assessment System
(EPAS), can help bring into view factors that may
affecteither positively or negativelystudent
performance. Reviewing and interpreting assessment
information can encourage conversations between
parents and teachers about what is best for students.
Using data is one way of making the assumptions you
have about your students and school, or the needs of
students, visible.
31
Collecting assessment information in a systematic
way can help teachers in various ways. It can help
teachers see more clearly what is happening in their
classrooms, provide evidence that the method of
teaching theyre using really works, and determine
what is most important to do next. As teachers
become active teacher-researchers, they can gain a
sense of control and efficacy that contributes to their
sense of accomplishment about what they do each
day.
There are many different types of assessment
information that a school or school district can collect.
Some types yield quantitative data (performance
described in numerical terms), others qualitative data
(performance described in nonnumerical terms, such
as text, audio, video, or photographs). All types, when
properly analyzed, can yield useful insights into
student learning. For example, schools and teachers
can collect information from
standardized tests (norm- or criterion-referenced
tests);
performance assessments (such as portfolios,
projects, artifacts, presentations);
peer assessments;
progress reports (qualitative, quantitative, or both)
on student skills and outcomes;
self-reports, logs, journals; and
rubrics and rating scales.
Reviewing student learning information in the
context of demographic data may also provide insight
and information about specific groups of students, like
low-scoring students. Schools therefore would benefit
by collecting data about
enrollment, mobility, and housing trends;
staff and student attendance rates and tardiness
rates;
dropout, retention, and graduation rates;
gender, race, ethnicity, and health;
percent of free/reduced lunch and/or public
assistance;
level of language proficiency;
staff/student ratios;
number of courses taught by teachers outside
their endorsed content area;
retirement projections and turnover rates; and
teaching and student awards.
WHAT CAN EDUCATORS AND
STUDENTS DO BEFORE STUDENTS
TAKE STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Integrate assessment and instruction. Because
EXPLORE is curriculum-based, the most important
prerequisite for optimum performance on the test is
a sound, comprehensive educational program. This
preparation begins long before any test date. Judith
Langer, the director of the National Research Center
on English Learning and Achievement, conducted a
five-year study that compared the English programs
of typical schools to those that get outstanding results.
Schools with economically disadvantaged and
diverse student populations in California, Florida,
New York, and Texas predominated the study.
Langers study revealed that in higher performing
schools test preparation has been integrated into the
class time, as part of the ongoing English language
arts learning goals. This means that teachers discuss
the demands of high-stakes tests and how they relate
to district and state standards and expectations as
well as to their curriculum (Langer, 2000, p. 6).
Emphasize core courses. ACT research
conducted in urban schools both in 1998 and 1999
shows that urban school students can substantially
improve their readiness for college by taking a more
demanding sequence of core academic courses in
high school. Urban students taking a more rigorous
sequence of courses in mathematics and science and
finding success in those courses score at or above
national averages on the ACT. Regardless of gender,
ethnicity, or family income, those students who elect
to take four or more years of rigorous English courses
and three or more years of rigorous course work in
mathematics, science, and social studies earn higher
ACT scores and are more successful in college than
those who have not taken those courses (ACT &
Council of Great City Schools, 1999). Subsequent
research has substantiated these findings and
confirmed the value of rigor in the core courses
(ACT, 2004a; ACT & The Education Trust, 2004).
32
Teach test-taking strategies. Students may be
helped by being taught specific test-taking strategies,
such as the following:
Learn to pace yourself.
Know the directions and understand the answer
sheet.
Read carefully and thoroughly.
Answer easier questions first; skip harder
questions and return to them later.
Review answers and check work, if time allows.
Mark the answer sheet quickly and neatly; avoid
erasure marks on the answer sheet.
Answer every question (you are not penalized for
guessing on EXPLORE).
Become familiar with test administration
procedures.
Read all the answer choices before you decide
which is the best answer.
Students are more likely to perform at their best on
a test if they are comfortable with the test format,
know appropriate test-taking strategies, and are
aware of the test administration procedures. Test
preparation activities that help students perform better
in the short term will be helpful to those students who
have little experience taking standardized tests or who
are unfamiliar with the tests formats.
Search out other sources of help. School
personnel in urban or high-poverty middle schools
can investigate programs such as GEAR UP, which
provides federal funds for schools to prepare low-
income middle school students for high school and
college preparation through multiple school reform
efforts. School districts, colleges, community
organizations, and businesses often form partnerships
to provide teachers with enhanced professional
development opportunities to ensure they have the
necessary tools and strategies to teach middle school
and high school effectively (Noeth & Wimberly,
2002, p. 18).
WHAT DO THE EXPLORE ENGLISH
TEST RESULTS INDICATE ABOUT
LOW-SCORING STUDENTS?
Students who score 13 or below on the EXPLORE
English Test are likely to have some of the knowledge
and skills described in the EXPLORE English College
Readiness Standards for the 1315 range. Low-
scoring students may be able to demonstrate skills in
a classroom setting that they are not able to
demonstrate in a testing situation. Therefore, these
students need to become more consistent in
demonstrating these skills in a variety of contexts or
situations.
The EPAS English College Readiness Standards
indicate that students who score 13 or below tend to
demonstrate some of the following skills:
Use conjunctive adverbs or phrases to show time
relationships in simple narrative essays (e.g., then,
this time)
Revise sentences to correct awkward and
confusing arrangements of sentence elements
Revise vague nouns and pronouns that create
obvious logic problems
Use conjunctions or punctuation to join simple
clauses
Revise shifts in verb tense between simple
clauses in a sentence or between simple
adjoining sentences
Solve such basic grammatical problems as how to
form the past and past participle of irregular but
commonly used verbs and how to form
comparative and superlative adjectives
Delete commas that create basic sense problems
(e.g., between verb and direct object)
Overall, these students need practice solving
sentence-level writing problems of a more sophis-
ticated sort, though. They also need to talk about
organizational strategies in writing, about how
important it is to choose the transition word that is
exactly right for the context, about how to carefully
reorder sentences in order to emphasize certain
aspects of the material, and about what information
might be considered irrelevant to specific texts or
portions of texts. Students who score 13 or below on
the EXPLORE English Test are, in general, less able
33
to deal with writing issues that ask them to make
decisions about large pieces of text. These decision-
making skills are necessary to EXPLORE: on the
actual test, sentences are not presented in isolation,
as they are in examples we present in this guide. On
EXPLORE, all sentences are part of a larger essay,
and students often cannot answer questions correctly
without referring to and making decisions about larger
pieces of text.
WHAT DOES RESEARCH SAY ABOUT
THE PROFICIENT WRITER?
A great deal of research in the 1970s and 80s
examined what student writers actually do as they
create their work. Researchers hoped to learn what
the average student needs to be taught in order to
become proficient at the craft of writing. Among the
leaders in these investigations were Emig (1971), Perl
(1979), Calkins (1980), Flower and Hayes (1981), and
Graves (1983). Emigs research (1971) suggested that
creating a finished piece of writing is not a simple,
linear process but a recursive one, in which writers
move back and forth between stagesfor example,
drafting, editing, revising, drafting new portions,
generating other ideas, and then revising and editing
again. This finding shifted teachers focus from the
end productthe finished essay, story, or research
paperto the process that proficient writers use as
they build their work. Emig identified five stages of the
writing process, stages that do not always necessarily
proceed in this order:
Prewritinggenerating ideas, thinking about the
piece one is planning to work on
Draftingwriting out a rough copy of the piece
Revisionliterally, this means reseeing,
rearranging, revisioning the piece that has been
drafted
Editingfixing mechanical errors such as spelling
or grammatical mistakes
Publicationthe sharing of a finished product
Teaching students how to effectively use this
process, and helping each student find his or her own
recursive writing strategies, has been emphasized in
writing education and research for the past thirty
years now. Teachers promote learning about the
writing process in a variety of ways. For example,
teachers can help students work at their writing
through
use of writers workshops where teacher and
students comment on student writers in-process
work,
collaborative writing circles where peers help
each other rework drafts, and
conferences between teacher and student before
the students work is finished and ready for
publication.
Besides helping students work through the writing
process, many teachers use writing as a way of
helping their students learn across content areas
(Langer & Applebee, 1987). Through daily informal
journal writingwhether that journal writing consists of
the student jotting down questions about literature
read, taking notes on current events, entering drafts of
a homework assignment, or recording experiments in
biology classthe student will gain understanding of
the subjects he or she is studying. All students, but
particularly students who score low on standardized
tests, need daily, informal writing practice. Such
consistency of practice has been shown to improve
students attitudes toward writing in general.
Moreover, combined with careful responses from their
teachers, daily informal writing encourages students
to use a more sophisticated thinking process during
writing (Christenbury, 1998).
But just because a student writer receives
instruction in the writing process, just because a
student is provided with daily opportunities to record
experience in journals, that students finished piece of
writing will not automatically be one most would rate
proficient. What is it, then, that makes the difference
between the work of writers whose end product is
good enough and writers whose end product is not?
Researchers have recently compared the thought
processes of expert, or more accomplished, writers
with those of novice, or less mature, writers. Bryson
and Scardamalia describe the thought process of the
expert writer as being one which involves problem
solving at a sophisticated level. As expert writers
compose, these researchers say, they move between
solving problems of contentdeciding what to say
and solving problems of rhetoricdeciding how to
say it. As these writers work, the content they use for
their text is reconfigured and they often see it in a new
light. As the content changes, so the form in which
the writers present the content changes. Each
decision the writers make about which ideas to
include in their papers, for example, forces them to
make new decisions about where to place those
34
ideas in relation to the material already present. Each
decision the writers make about what tone to present
their ideas in forces them to make decisions about
what material is appropriate to that tone. With this
back-and-forth problem-solving process comes a
sense of creating something entirely new, which may
be the reason so many expert writersRobert Frost,
for exampledescribe their experience of writing as
being one of discovery (p. 147). The novelist E. M.
Forster captures the experience of many expert
writers when he recounts the anecdote of an old lady
asking, How can I tell what I think till I see what I
say? (Forster, 1927, p. 101).
In contrast, novice writers do not describe their
writing process as being one in which they learn
something new. These less mature writers show little
evidence of working out a connection between form
and content. Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) found
that novice writers conceive of a writing project as
being simply the telling of what they know about the
topic, rather than seeing the project as being a way of
learning a new aspect of the topic. According to this
research, writers who are knowledge tellers say that
their biggest problem in writing is finding enough
material to fill the page-number requirement given
them by their teacher. These knowledge tellers dont
solve problems of either form or content very often,
because the way they conceive of the task of writing
bypasses both content-area problems and rhetorical
problems (p. 147).
Novice writers thinking, then, during draft writing,
is more linear than the thinking of expert writers.
Novice writers, in these researchers findings, look to
the teacher to tell them what to write about, and what
form to present the information in. In the novice
writers thinking process, decisions about form and
content do not interconnect or influence each other,
as they do in the expert writers thinking process.
Novice writers show little concern about planning,
about emphasizing main ideas or using specific or
graceful language. They begin writing as soon as
theyre given the assignment and decide theyre
finished when theyve filled up enough pages.
Its important to be aware that these two models of
thinking-when-writing are generalizationsboth
proficient writers and novice writers use many different
methods to compose their work. But the research
usefully suggests that what novice writers need is to
learn how to transformnot merely telltheir
knowledge. Some ideas of ways teachers might help
student writers develop the skills and the thinking
processes that help them transform, not simply tell,
in their writing are included in the next pages.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP
NOVICE WRITERS WRITE BETTER?
Though, according to 1998 NAEP data, over 80
percent of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students
report that their teachers talk to them about their
writing and ask them to write more than one draft of a
paper at least sometimes, there is some evidence that
in some schools low-scoring students are required to
perform writing tasks that consist primarily of fill-in-
the-blank or short-answer exercises (Britton, 1975;
Applebee, 1981; Carbo, 1994) rather than tasks in
which writing is used for thinking. In a 1991 chapter
called Teaching Writing to Students at Risk of
Academic Failure, Bryson and Scardamalia (1991)
state that
Writing instruction for chronic low achievers
typically focuses on techniques for
remediating so-called basic skills such as
spelling, grammar, and handwriting. A central
assumption made by many educators of
low-achieving students is that the acquisition
of so-called low-level text production skills is
a necessary prerequisite to the acquisition of
composing skills associated with writing as
a powerful tool for personal learning, such
as problem solving strategies and rhetorical
knowledge. (p. 142)
These researchers suggest that the assumption that
students need to spend time on remediation rather
than learning the higher-order thinking skills that are
a part of the expert writers repertoire is a large part
of what causes these students to be low achievers
in writing.
What do these researchers describe as ways to
improve the writing of such students? The following
list is a combination of suggestions from Language
Arts: A Chapter of the ASCD Curriculum Handbook
(Christenbury, 1998); suggestions from Bryson and
Scardamalias article Teaching Writing to Students at
Risk for Academic Failure (1991); and ideas from
other education researchers, including Mayher, Lester,
& Pradl (1983), Fulwiler (1987), Shaughnessy (1977),
Lerner (1989), Delpit (1995), and Heath (1983):
Its important that students have multiple, daily
opportunities to write ungraded work in every
class. The more students are asked to write short,
informal texts, the more comfortable they become
35
with the act of writing and the more proficient they
are apt to become at all kinds of writing. Research
indicates that using ungraded journals in science,
social studies, or mathematics classes as well as
in English classes can help students think about
content concepts more clearly and help them
become more comfortable using writing as part of
the thinking process (Mayher, Lester, & Pradl,
1983; Fulwiler, 1987).
Its important to develop writing topics that are
appropriate to students ages and interests. For
teachers, this means learning about students lives
and working as much as possible to encourage
writing assignments that build on students
strengths (Christenbury, 1998).
Low-scoring students need opportunities to
imitate, practice, appropriate, and modify a wide
variety of discourses. Low-achieving students in
particular may not have had access to
experiences that teach them the style of academic
discourse; they may need carefully designed
scaffolding to support their efforts to acquire
experience with the use of language that charac-
terizes academic literacy (Heath, 1983;
Shaughnessy, 1977).
As well as opportunities to learn a new style of
writing and speakingwhat weve here called
academic discoursestudents need teachers
who respect and build on the strengths of their
home language. Teachers need to learn about the
writing styles and values of students from cultures
other than their own. While they help those
students learn to write in standard English,
teachers must work to identify and eliminate
sociocultural biases that constrain traditional
school-based definitions of literacy (Bryson &
Scardamalia, 1991; Delpit, 1995).
In their more formal writing experiences, students
need some prewriting assistance. They can be
given a list, a first sentence, a poem to imitate, or
a chart to fill in, to help them think about ways of
organizing their writing (Christenbury, 1998).
In their more formal writing experiences, students
also need enough time to write and rewrite their
work. They need to be allowed to write drafts in
which concern about mechanics is not paramount
(Shaughnessy, 1977). They need time to be away
from their writinga day or twoso that they can
come back and evaluate it with fresh eyes
(Christenbury, 1998).
Low-achieving students need teachers who make
overt the covert cognitive activities that underlie
expert-like composing; they need modeling and
discussion of problem-solving strategies in writing
(Bryson & Scardamalia, 1991).
All students need opportunities to get feedback
about their writing-in-process and they need time
for revision. With teacher assistance, students can
learn how to respond to their peers writing,
critiquing other students work and helping them
to revise and improve it. Peer review is helpful for
the critic, as wellseeing flaws in others work
can help a student notice the flaws in his or her
own (Christenbury, 1998). Developing a social
context for writing through collaborative writing
sessions helps everyone become a reader and a
writer (Bryson & Scardamalia,1991).
Students need opportunities to write in a variety of
genres to a variety of audiences. When students
write only personal essays, when they write only
for the audience of the teacher, their motivation
can diminish (Christenbury, 1998).
Use of computers can encourage low-scoring
students to write longer compositions and to
revise more. Computers can be used to help
students present their writing to audiences other
than the teachervia e-mails to fellow students,
news posted on electronic bulletin boards, or
class newsletters developed with the help of a
word processing program (Lerner, 1989).
Finally, sentence-combining activities, in which
students are instructed to combine simple
sentences using conjunctions and punctuation in
order to form more complex sentences, have
been found to be particularly useful with low-
scoring adolescent students (Lerner, 1989).
WHAT KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
ARE LOW-SCORING STUDENTS
READY TO LEARN?
For students who score 13 or below on the
EXPLORE English Test, their target achievement
outcomes could be a combination of the College
Readiness Standards listed in the 1315 (on page 33)
and 1619 (on page 37) ranges. Additional
information will need to be reviewed to determine
which skills in the 1315 range students can and
cannot demonstrate. For example, if there are several
skills students cannot demonstrate in the 1315
range, students should focus on them first, and then
36
possibly work on some from the 1619 range as
needed. The College Readiness Standards for the
1619 range include the following:
Identify the basic purpose or role of a specified
phrase or sentence
Delete a clause or sentence because it is
obviously irrelevant to the essay
Select the most logical place to add a sentence
in a paragraph
Delete obviously synonymous and wordy material
in a sentence
Revise expressions that deviate from the style of
an essay
Determine the need for punctuation and
conjunctions to avoid awkward-sounding
sentence fragments and fused sentences
Decide the appropriate verb tense and voice by
considering the meaning of the entire sentence
Solve such grammatical problems as whether to
use an adverb or adjective form, how to ensure
straightforward subject-verb and pronoun-
antecedent agreement, and which preposition to
use in simple contexts
Recognize and use the appropriate word in
frequently confused pairs such as there and their,
past and passed, and led and lead
Provide appropriate punctuation in straightforward
situations (e.g., items in a series)
Delete commas that disturb the sentence flow
(e.g., between modifier and modified element)
By no means should these be seen as limiting or
exclusive goals. As stated earlier, it is important to use
multiple sources of information to make instructional
decisions and to recognize that individual students
learn at different rates and in different sequences.
Whats important is to get students writing texts of
varied kindswhether these are
expressive, informal texts, such as journal entries;
imaginative, expository, descriptive, or persuasive
texts;
songs, notes, lab reports, or speeches to be
delivered in class;
imitative poems; or
formal research reports, responses to literature,
and thought-filled essays.
When this kind of varied, regular writing occurs in
classrooms, students ability to create sophisticated
pieces of writing will improve. As a result, editing skills
like those tested on the EXPLORE English Test will
improve.
WHAT STRATEGIES/MATERIALS
CAN TEACHERS USE IN
THEIR CLASSROOMS?
According to Bryan Goodwin, senior program
associate at the Mid-continent Research Education
Laboratory (McREL), it is important to note that
improving the performance of disenfranchised
students does not mean ignoring other students.
Indeed, many of the changes advocatedsuch as
making curricula more rigorous and creating smaller
school unitswill benefit all students (Goodwin,
2000, p. 6). Means and Knapp (1991) express a
similar view:
A fundamental assumption underlying much of
the curriculum in Americas schools is that
certain skills are basic and must be
mastered before students receive instruction
on more advanced skills, such as reading
comprehension, written composition, and
mathematical reasoning. . . . Research from
cognitive science questions this assumption
and leads to a quite different view of childrens
learning and appropriate instruction. By
discarding assumptions about skill hierarchies
and attempting to understand childrens
competencies as constructed and evolving
both inside and outside of school, researchers
are developing models of intervention that
start with what children know and provide
access to explicit models of thinking in areas
that traditionally have been termed
advanced or higher order. (p. 1)
Pages 4046 provide a teacher-developed activity
that could be used in a classroom for all students, not
just those who have scored low on a standardized
assessment like EXPLORE. Called Learning to Write
Focused, Vivid Memoirs, the activity asks students to
write, read, and discuss both well-written and poorly
written memoirs, devise a list of qualities that the well-
written memoirs share, and then, working both on their
own and in small peer-review groups, write and revise
memoirs of their own.
37
HOW IS THE ACTIVITY ORGANIZED?
A template for the instructional activity appears on
page 39. Since the instructional activity has multiple
components, an explanation of each is provided
below.
The primary English Strands are displayed across
the top of the page. The strand names Topic
Development in Terms of Purpose and Focus and Word
Choice in Terms of Style, Tone, Clarity, and Economy
have been abbreviated to Topic Development and
Word Choice, respectively.
The Guiding Principles section consists of one or
more statements about instruction, assessment,
thinking skills, student learning, and other educationally
relevant topics.
The Title and Subject Area(s)/Course(s) information
allows you to determine at a glance the primary
focus of the activity and whether it might meet the needs
of your student population.
The Purpose statement describes knowledge and
skills students may have difficulty with and what will
be done in the activity to help them acquire that
knowledge and skills.
The Overview section provides a brief description
of how the knowledge and skills listed in the
purpose statement will be taught and suggests an
estimated time frame for the entire activity.
The Links to College Readiness Standards section
indicates the primary knowledge and skills the
activity will focus on. These statements are tied directly
to the strands listed at the top of the page.
The next section, Description of the Instructional
Activity, is divided into three interrelated parts:
Materials/Resources, Introduction, and Suggested
Teaching Strategies/Procedures. The section provides
suggestions for engaging students in the activity, and
gives related topics and tasks. The activity addresses a
range of objectives and modes of instruction, but it
emphasizes providing students with experiences that
focus on reasoning and making connections, use
community resources and real-life learning techniques,
and encourage students to ask questionsquestions
leading to analysis, reflection, and further study and to
individual construction of meanings and interpretations.
Valuable Comments/Tips from Classroom
Teachers are provided for the activity. As the
title indicates, this text box includes ideas from current
classroom teachers.
The Suggestions for Assessment section offers
ideas for documenting and recording student
learning. This section describes two types of
assessments: Embedded Assessments and Summative
Assessments. Embedded Assessments are assessments
that inform you as to where your students currently are
in the learning process (a formative assessment that
is primarily teacher developed and is integral to the
instructional processat times the instruction and
assessment are indistinguishable). The second type
of assessment is a Summative Assessment (a final
assessment of students learning), which provides a
description of the knowledge and skills students are
to have mastered by the end of the activity and the
criteria by which they will be assessed.
The Links to Ideas for Progress section provides
statements that suggest learning experiences
(knowledge and skills to be developed) that are
connected to the Suggested Strategies/Activities.
The Suggested Strategies/Activities section
provides a brief description of ways to reteach
the skills or content previously taught or to extend
students learning.
The teacher-developed activity that follows provides
suggestions, not prescriptions. You are the best judge
of what is necessary and relevant for your students.
Therefore, we encourage you to review the activity,
modifying and using those suggestions that apply, and
disregarding those that are not appropriate for your
students. As you select, modify, and revise the activity,
you can be guided by the statements that appear
in the Guiding Principles box at the beginning of
the activity.
K
J
I
H
G
F
E
D
C
B
A
38
TITLE
Subject Area(s)/Course(s)
Purpose
Overview
Links to College Readiness Standards

Description of the Instructional Activity


Materials/Resources

Introduction
Suggested Teaching Strategies/Procedures
Suggestions for Assessment
Embedded Assessment (name of assessment)
Embedded Assessment (name of assessment)
Summative Assessment (name of assessment)
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
Links to Ideas for Progress

Suggested Strategies/Activities
Guiding Principles

39
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand(s):
A
D
E
F
G
C
J
K
Comments/Tips from Classroom Teachers
B
I
H
LEARNING TO WRITE FOCUSED,
VIVID MEMOIRS
Eighth- and Ninth-Grade Language Arts
Purpose
This activity helps students learn how to write
lively memoirs. Skills this activity focuses on include
creating vivid, detailed pictures with words; making
decisions about what to include or exclude so that the
memoirs are clearly focused; and creating intriguing
openings and deliberate conclusions.
Overview
Assuming 40-minute class periods, this unit
should take about two months. During this time,
students will be exposed to well-written and poorly
written memoirs. In reviewing both sets of memoirs,
students will devise a list of qualities that well-written
memoirs share. Using the well-written memoirs as
guides, students will, working alone and in pairs, write
short memoirs. This activity is one students should
find particularly meaningful; it gives students a
chance to think and write about their own lives.
Links to College Readiness Standards
Identify the central idea or main topic of a
straightforward piece of writing
Identify the basic purpose or role of a specified
phrase or sentence
Add a sentence to accomplish a fairly
straightforward purpose such as illustrating
a given statement
Description of the Instructional Activity
Materials/Resources
A variety of memoirs the teacher could read
parts or all of to the class (see suggestions
on page 41)
Dictionaries
Thesauruses
Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing
& Learning
Encyclopedias
Pens, pencils, colored pencils, rulers, self-adhesive
notes, staplers, scissors, index cards, glue sticks,
varieties of paper, etc.
Articles, newspaper columns, book or movie
reviews, short stories, essays, etc., organized by
genre and available for in-class checkout
Overhead projector
Photocopier
Collection of poetry books
Space for small-group conferences
Computers for preparing drafts
(Atwell, 1998, pp. 98103)
Optional Assessments:
Self-Evaluation of Memoir (p. 45)
Responding as a Reader
Rubric for Student Memoir Direct Writing
Assessment (p. 46)
40
Guiding Principles
Lively writing is specific, not vague, abstract,
or general. It builds the generalizations on the
page and in the readers mind from specific
pieces of information that surprise and delight
the reader. (Murray, 2001, p. 39)
Writing teachers should themselves be
writers. (Teaching Composition: A Position
Statement, National Council of Teachers of
English, 2001)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Topic Development
41
IntroductionAs an introduction to the memoir-
writing unit, read aloud an illustrated memoir such as
Cynthia Rylants picture book When I Was Young in
the Mountains or Pat Moras My Own True Name.
Cynthia Rylants book is particularly useful because of
its repetitive language, language that less confident
writers can use to frame their own memoirs.
After reading one of these books aloud, ask
students to respond to questions such as the
following:
In what ways is this writers life story different from
or similar to your own life story?
How do the pictures in this book help explain the
words in the book? (Wilhelm, 1997, p. 122).
Which senses are stimulated by the writers
words?
Why do you think Rylant decided to repeat the
phrase when I was young in the mountains?
Suggested Teaching Strategies/ Procedures
Throughout the unit, open the class period by reading
aloud portions of memoirs. Suggestions for good
class read-alouds include:
Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (particularly
the chapter The Most Important Day)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya
Angelou
Guts by Gary Paulsen
A Summer Life by Gary Soto
The Dark Child by Camara Laye
The movie Stand by Me might be used, with
parental permission, as an example of a nonprint
version of a memoir. It could be used in conjunction
with the Stephen King story The Body (in the
collection of Kings stories called Different Seasons)
and/or with Kings memoir of the writing life, On
Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. The movie Never Cry
Wolf could be used in conjunction with the Farley
Mowat memoir of the same name. For more visual
learners or learners who are less proficient readers,
the teacher could provide a variety of photograph-
laden memoirs or picture books, such as The Desert
Is My Mother by Pat Mora, or, with parental
permission, comic-book memoirs such as Art
Spiegelmans Maus.
Have students take notes about the memoirs or
parts of memoirs as you read. Have students write a
sentence or two describing parts of the readings that
particularly interested them or parts that particularly
didnt interest them; have them include rationales for
their statements. Have students record any words or
phrases that helped them visualize the actions or
characters in the memoirs.
Though the class will often discuss the memoirs,
another option is to encourage students to write notes
and pass them to each other. Note-passing is a form
of literacy that most students are familiar and
comfortable with; bringing this underground form of
writing into the legitimate curriculum should add
interest for students. After each reading, have
students exchange notes about the memoirs with the
person next to them. Have each student write a one-
or two-sentence response to their classmates note
about the memoir, returning the annotated note to
their classmate. (Give students examples of possible
responses: I liked this better because. . . . I agree and
also I think that. . . .) Occasionally collect the students
notes and review them without adding grades or
comments.
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Topic Development
The purposes of the note writing are to (1) focus
students attention as they listen to the memoirs; (2)
start students writing often, in short bursts, and in a
relatively risk-free way; (3) focus students thinking on
what works for them in writing in general and in
memoirs in particular; (4) help students generate
ideas for their own memoirs; and (5) help students
learn what others liked and disliked in the readings,
and why (adapted from Karelitz, 1988, pp. 88112).
After the class has read or listened to many
memoirs, have students begin to articulate important
qualities shared by the memoirs. In addition, write
one or two weak memoirs (all plot, no focus, one-
dimensional characters, unrealistic dialogue, few
visual details, etc.) on a transparency and ask the
students to provide reasons why the memoir doesnt
work. Record student comments on an easel as
students express them. Keep this list, as well as the
list of what works, on display to help guide students
as they write their own memoirs (Atwell, 1998,
pp. 389392). Remember to convey to students that
all writers write badly before they write wellthat is,
help ensure that students arent overly intimidated by
the standards.
As students begin to generate ideas about
experiences theyll include in their memoirs, and
particularly if they are not confident or are reluctant
writers, introduce the brainstorming technique of
clustering. Start with a very simple and familiar
concept like breakfast. Instruct students to call out
words they associate with the word breakfast. Write
(or have students write) the associative words on the
board. Once many words are listed, circle words and
organize them into any groups or categories that
develop (like smells and tastes or yummy
breakfasts and crummy breakfasts).
Based on ideas generated in the brainstorming
session, have students write three- or four-sentence
paragraphs about the topic of breakfast. The
paragraphs can be very short, so that students arent
overwhelmed or intimidated.
Providing the class with many small brainstorming/
writing experiences can help students build
confidence in themselves and trust in their teacher
(adapted from Wilson, 1986, pp. 48). It can also help
generate ideas for memoirs. Topics for clustering (and
for memoirs) might include my earliest memory or
the neighborhood of my childhood or my memory
of my first day as a first grader.
Have students begin to write their memoirs. If they
choose, they can use formats like When I was young
in. Other lines to use when starting out a first draft
are available in Kenneth Kochs book Wishes, Lies,
and Dreams (pp. 13 and 22):
I used to, but now I___.
I used to think, but now I know_____.
I seem to be, but really I am_____.
Though some students may not finally use any of
these formats to begin their memoir, having a
structure such as a repeated line can be helpful in the
early drafting stages, particularly for writers who lack
confidence. Using repetition can be one way to
organize an essay, memoir, or story. Repetition can
help students generate new ideas or ease anxieties
about beginning writing (Kutz & Roskelly, 1991,
pp. 234237).
After everyone has completed a rough draft,
talk about the importance of opening lines. Around
the room post memorable first lines from fiction and
essays and from the memoirs read aloud to the class.
Have the class talk about these first lines: What is it
about these openings that makes you want to keep
reading? How are the openings of the memoirs weve
read different from the first lines of the fiction books
below? Some examples of first lines from fiction
might be:
Comments/Tips from Classroom Teachers
If students are reluctant readers, ask them
to take notes with pictures instead of words.
Have students draw important or favorite
moments from the texts; they can show in
drawing how different events and ideas relate
to each other in the story. Have students first
use this activity when listening to a portion of
the memoir, then have them move to drawing
pictures of a memoir they read silently.
Emphasize that there are no right or wrong
ways to do thisits value lies primarily in
helping unskilled readers learn how to
visualize what they read. (Wilhelm, 1997,
p. 124)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Topic Development
42
They murdered him. (The Chocolate War, p. 1)
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing
youll probably want to know is where I was born,
and what my lousy childhood was like, and how
my parents were occupied and all before they had
me, . . . but I dont feel like going into it, if you
want to know the truth. (The Catcher in the Rye,
p. 1)
Not so long ago, a monster came to the little town
of Castle Rock, Maine. (Cujo, pp. 23)
None of them knew the color of the sky. (The
Open Boat, p. 57)
As the students write, work on your own memoir.
In mini-lessons share portions of your writing with the
class, describing your struggles as you thought
through the topic, tried to make it vivid, and revised.
As students rework their drafts, those who have
not used the first line When I was young in can
practice crafting sentences that might work as
intriguing first lines. Encourage students to
consciously imitate first lines that they have partic-
ularly liked (Atwell, 1998, p. 167).
Work as much as possible on the same timeline
as the students. For example, when students are
working on concluding their essays, demonstrate your
own struggles with composing an ending by asking
for suggestions for closing sentences, by talking
about the kind of impact different closing paragraphs
would make, or by discussing aspects of the opening
you might want to bring into the ending of your own
memoir. Possible questions to share with students
include:
Where do you want to leave your main character
(yourself) at the end of this memoir?
With what feeling do you want to leave the reader?
Does the ending of the piece promote a sense of
So what? If the piece does promote this sense,
how can this situation be remedied? Would a
conversation with a partner help?
The conclusion of the memoir should be fresh and
well paced in relation to the rest of the memoir;
it shouldnt be too repetitive, shouldnt drag on, but
shouldnt come too quickly either (Atwell, 1998,
p. 167).
Post final versions of the memoirs around the room
as a means of publishing student work.
Suggestions for Assessment
Embedded Assessment (Self-Evaluation of
Memoir)Have students use the rubric on page 45 to
assess the first drafts of their memoirs. Have students
staple their first drafts to the rubric sheet and hand
them in for you to check before they begin on their
second drafts.
Embedded Assessment (Responding as a
Reader)Responding as a reader, not a judge, read
the students second drafts. As a reader, try to make
the real-world costs of miscommunication clear to
your students. Make marginal comments like This is
very clear to me or Im not learning anything new in
these sentences or I dont understand what you
mean by most fun here, instead of directive fix-it-up
statements or judgmental statements such as fuzzy
thinking or weak opening (Weinstein, 2001,
pp. 9597).
Have students rewrite their memoirs using these
marginal notes as guides. Have them turn in all drafts
of the memoir to help you assess their progress.
Summative Assessment (Rubric for Student
Memoir Direct Writing Assessment)At the end of the
unit, after students have turned in final papers, their
ability to write memoirs will formally be assessed.
Have all students write about the topic Great days in
my life in two impromptu essays. Make it clear to the
students that in these assignments they are only to
write about legal and healthy activities. Have students
write these essays on three different daysa day and
a half for each essay. On a fourth day, have students
choose one of these two essays to revise and turn in
for a final grade.
Show students the rubric before they begin work
on this summative assessment; tell them that the main
focus of the grading will be issues discussed in the
unitstrong openings and closings to the memoir;
clear sentences and precise, detailed language; and
a focused story. Have students provide you with both
drafts of this final essay, and tell students they will be
judged largely on progress made from first to final
drafts. Grade the essay using the rubric on page 46,
and return the rubric and essay to the student.
43
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Topic Development
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
Links to Ideas for Progress
Write short texts in a variety of genres, illustrating
simple organization
Use paragraphing as an organizational device
Revise writing to edit out empty words
(e.g., really, very, big, kind of )
Suggested Strategies/Activities
Provide each student with copies of Kenneth
Patchens poem Moon, Sun, Sleep, Birds, Live from
John Frederick Nimss poetry anthology Western
Wind. This poem provides students with a multitude of
fresh sensory words. Students can look over their own
memoirs and decide whether they might add some of
these words to their work.
44
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Topic Development
45
Name: ______________________________________________ Period: _________________ Date: _________________
Directions: A memoir is a story about a specific occurrence in the writers life. A memoir should use vivid,
specific language, detail, and sensory images to engage the reader. A memoir should begin with an intriguing
first line and end in a way that leaves the reader with a sense of closure. A memoir should also include some
kind of revelation that helps show the reader why the event was significant to the writerthe answer to the
question of So what? discussed in class.
This is a rubric for individual student use. Students may use this to evaluate their own papers.
Score Criterion
3 Strong evidence of mastery
2 Adequate evidence of mastery
1 Minimal evidence of mastery
0 No evidence of mastery
_______ I used opening sentences that would catch the readers interest; I used what I learned from our
discussion of first lines in class.
_______ I cut and shaped the essay so that it described only one incident and that incidents effect on me.
_______ I tried to cut out or reduce places where the story drags.
_______ I used lively and specific detail to describe the people and places in the memoir.
_______ I used dialogue where it seemed appropriate; I tried to make the dialogue realistic.
_______ I explained why this incident was important to me; I explained how I think about it now.
_______ I described what I thought about this incident.
_______ I tried to make the ending of the memoir connect to other aspects of the story, especially the opening.
_______ I cut out sections that seemed to digress or were irrelevant to my main story.
_______ I checked over my use of punctuation and grammar.
_______ Total
Adapted from Schools of California Online Resources for Education (SCORE). Retrieved June 23, 2005, from
http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/SCORE/actbank/tautoinc.htm
Self-Evaluation of Memoir
46
Name: ______________________________________________ Period: _________________ Date: _________________
Directions: The final direct writing assessment that you turn in will be graded based on the criteria below. Five is
the highest number you can receive in each category; the highest overall grade possible is 25. One is the lowest
number you can receive in each category; the lowest overall grade possible is 5. Please review this rubric to make
sure you understand the basis on which your final work will be judged. When you hand in your direct writing
assessment, you will hand in other drafts of that same work as well. Your teacher will return this rubric to you with
your essay and drafts, providing you with both a numerical grade and written comments about your progress in
each of the judged aspects of writing.
Teacher Grade
Criteria Score Point Five Score Point Three Score Point One (Score Point number) Teacher Comments
Ideas
Organization
Word Choices
Sentence
Fluency
Conventions
Improvement
The paper is clear and
focused. It holds the
readers attention. Relevant
details enhance the theme.
The organization enhances
and showcases the central
idea or theme. The order,
structure, or presentation
of information is com-
pelling and moves the
reader through the text.
The opening of the piece
draws the reader in, the
ending provides closure.
Words convey the
intended message in a
precise, interesting, and
natural way. The words are
powerful and engaging.
The writing has an easy
flow, rhythm, and cadence.
Sentences are well built,
with strong and varied
structure.
The writer demonstrates a
good grasp of standard
writing conventions (e.g.,
spelling, punctuation,
grammar and usage,
paragraphing).
Second draft shows clear
improvement (if needed)
over first; the writer has
taken advice and
integrated changes well.
The writer is beginning to
define the topic of the
story, but the piece either
needs to be developed or
is too unfocused and
broad.
The organizational
structure is strong enough
to move the reader
through the text without
too much confusion.
The language is functional,
but it lacks energy.
Language needs to be
more specific.
The text is more pleasant
or businesslike than
musical, more mechanical
than fluid.
The writer shows
reasonable control over
standard writing
conventions.
Second draft shows some
improvement over first;
the writer could have done
a more thorough job of
revision.
The paper has little sense
of purpose or central
theme. Details are missing
or sketchy.
The writing lacks a clear
sense of direction. Ideas
are strung together in a
random fashion, with no
identifiable structure, no
real lead-in or conclusion
to the piece.
The writer struggles with a
limited vocabulary. Vague
language, clichs, or
incorrect words are used.
The reader has to work to
understand this paper.
There are many rambling,
incomplete, or choppy
sentences. There is little
variation in sentence
structure; too many
connectives are used.
Errors in spelling,
punctuation, capitalization,
usage, grammar and
paragraphing distract the
reader.
Second draft shows little,
if any, improvement from
first; the writer doesnt
appear to have put much
thought into revision.
Based on the 6+1 traits of analytical writing assessment, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
Total
Summative AssessmentRubric for Student Memoir Direct Writing Assessment
47
WHY ARE ADDITIONAL
INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
INCLUDED?
The set of instructional activities that begins
on page 48 was developed to illustrate the link
between classroom-based activities and the skills and
understandings embedded in the EXPLORE English
Test questions. The activities are provided as
examples of how classroom instruction and
assessment, linked with an emphasis on reasoning,
can help students practice skills and understandings
they will need in the classroom and in their lives
beyond the classroom. It is these skills and
understandings that are represented on the
EXPLORE English Test.
A variety of thought-provoking activities, such as
small- and large-group discussions, analysis of written
materials, and both independent and collaborative
activities, are included to help students develop and
refine their skills in many types of situations.
The instructional activities that follow have a
similar organizational structure as the one in the
previous section. Like the other activity, these
activities were not developed to be a ready-to-use
set of instructional strategies. ACTs purpose is to
illustrate how the skills and understandings
embedded in the EXPLORE English Test questions
can be incorporated into classroom activities.
For the purpose of this part of the guide, we have
tried to paint a picture of the ways in which the
activities could work in the classroom. We left room for
you to envision how the activities might best work for
you and your students. We recognize that as you
determine how best to serve your students, you take
into consideration your teaching style as well as the
academic needs of your students; state, district, and
school standards; and available curricular materials.
The instructional activities are not intended to drill
students in skills measured by the EXPLORE English
Test. It is never desirable for test scores or test
content to become the sole focus of classroom
instruction. However, considered with information from
a variety of other sources, the results of standardized
tests can help you identify areas of strength and
weakness. The activities that follow are examples of
sound educational practices and imaginative,
integrated learning experiences. As part of a carefully
designed instructional program, these activities may
result in improved performance on the EXPLORE
English Testnot because they show how to drill
students in specific, isolated skills but because they
encourage thinking and integrated learning. These
activities can help because they encourage the kind
of thinking processes and strategies the EXPLORE
English Test requires.
INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR
EXPLORE ENGLISH
WRITERS HANDBOOK
College Readiness Standards
Solve such basic grammatical problems as how
to form the past and past participle of irregular
but commonly used verbs and how to form
comparative and superlative adjectives
Delete commas that create basic sense problems
(e.g., between verb and direct object)
Provide appropriate punctuation in straightforward
situations (e.g., items in a series)
Description of the Instructional Activity
The teacher might tell her students that one of
their tasks during the year is to put together
handbooks for writers. These can be collections of
rules and advice on grammar, usage, and
punctuation, written in their own words, using their
own working language from early drafts as examples
of error. They will choose rules that they, as student
writers, have found particularly useful. These
handbooks could be used as guides by younger
students as they enter middle school, or handed
down to younger siblings, or kept and used in later
years by those who wrote them.
Students can form small editorial groupsgroups
that will meet periodically throughout the year
to look over the mistakes in grammar, usage, and
punctuation others (teacher or student reviewers)
have noted in their writing.
The task of each editorial group, in reviewing past
errors, is to determine which rules of punctuation,
grammar, or usage they have broken most often in
their writing. Each group can place these rulesones
they consider most helpful for student writers to
knowin their handbook. In addition, each group
can try to find the most illustrative examples of their
errors to accompany each rule.
The teacher might have the students look over
books such as Writers INC., by Patrick Sebranek
(particularly the sections called Basic Elements of
Writing and Proofreaders Guide), or Karen Elizabeth
Gordons The Well-Tempered Sentence:
A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager,
and the Doomed. Students might study these books in
part to use as models for the format of the handbook
each group will develop, and in part to decide which
aspects of the books they find most useful and would
most like to emulate. Through their analyses of these
books, the class as a whole might develop a set of
standards and guidelines for their own handbooks.
This set of standards can be used by the editorial
groups as a rubric to critique their own work against
as they go. The teacher can emphasize that not every
group will come up with the same rules and that
students understanding of the rules may change as
their writing experiences change.
The students might be told to use one section of a
three-section spiral notebook for questions they have
about correctness in their own and others writing or
speaking. The teacher might require students to jot
down five or ten phrases they have heard in local
speech or on television that clearly depart from the
rules they are developing for writing. How might that
same phrase be different if it were written down?
Students might also take note of questions they have
about correctness in novels or stories they are reading
in classfor example, why do some published writers
write sentences with comma splices in them? In this
way and others, students might be encouraged to
delineate the difference between rules for spoken
English and rules for Standard Written English.
48
Guiding Principles
Error is an important sign of active learning,
for the error shows how speakers are making
predictions and trying out solutions, taking
risks with the language theyre using. (Kutz &
Roskelly, 1991, p. 134)
Grammar and mechanics are best learned in
the context of actual writing. (Zemelman,
Daniels, & Hyde, 1993, p. 52)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strands: Conventions of Usage; Conventions of Punctuation
49
The first time the editorial groups meet (and
perhaps each small group can name itself
WordMasters & Co., for example) the teacher can
demonstrate the process she is expecting. She can
hand out fairly polished drafts of student writing from
the year before, or from another class (having asked
the student authors for permission, of course) and ask
the editorial groups, first, to react to the writing in
general, one person relaying to the class the groups
reaction. Second, the groups might decide what, if
any, important rules have been broken in their piece
of writing. Are there any run-on sentences? Are there
any comma splices or sentence fragments?
Punctuation problems? After the editorial groups have
decided what rules have been broken in the piece of
writing they are studying, the class might come
together as a whole to discuss, and potentially argue
about, the errors they have found, and which of the
examples they have collected illustrate that error best.
When students have completed their handbooks,
the student groups might take several weeks to share
the books, looking for feedback from other editorial
groups. When the handbooks have been revised,
students might design covers and title pages for them
and send them, along with an accompanying letter, as
writing guides to students who will soon be entering
middle school.
Suggestions for Assessment
Performance Assessment Along with the
handbooks and any standards sheets students have
filled out as they developed the books, each editorial
group might collaboratively write a cover letter
explaining why their handbook is the best one for
future student use. In making this sales pitch, each
group might describe the process they used in writing
their handbook, explaining why their process was
the best. Each group might also persuasively
describe the aspects of the handbook they think will
be particularly appealing or useful to the student
writers who will use it.
Ideas for Progress
Read writers of various genres and imitate
their work
Write short texts in a variety of genres, illustrating
simple organization
Suggested Strategies/Activities
The journalism teacher might give a presentation
to the class one day, describing the kinds of rules he
or she finds most helpful for beginning journalists to
know. The class can compare newspaper article style
to the style of a short story: Which uses shorter
paragraphs? Shorter sentences? Does either use
sentence fragments? Why? Students might ask the
journalism teacher questions about the errors they
have found in their own papers and the rules they
have developed.
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strands: Conventions of Usage; Conventions of Punctuation
50
MAKING AN ANTHOLOGY
College Readiness Standards
Use the word or phrase most consistent with the
style and tone of a fairly straightforward essay
Delete obviously synonymous and wordy material
in a sentence
Description of the Instructional Activity
By collecting a group of well-written poems,
essays and short stories, by comparing some well-
written works with some poorly written ones, by writing
a few poems of their own, and by putting those few
through an editorial process, students can begin to
see the importance of choosing words carefully and
putting them together well in all the writing they do.
Each student might be required to put together
an anthology of 10 to 15 poems, quotations, songs,
essays, cartoons, and short stories centered around
a favorite topic of the students choosing. (Look for
12 well-written poems, songs, cartoons, and articles
about bicycles, for example). The teacher could
distribute a handout outlining the anthology project
and the goals of the project: to encourage students
to begin noticing why certain written works are
appealing to them, to begin developing a sensitivity to
the writers efficient use of words, and to use this new
sensitivity when critiquing the poetry, fiction, and
essays they write themselves. Each student might be
required to illustrate one or two of the pieces in his or
her anthology; each student might be required to write
a brief reaction to all of the individual pieces he or she
has chosen; each student might be required to write a
short piece about what effect the different genres of
writing have on writing content.
The teacher might check out as many books of
poetry, essays, and short stories as possible from the
library and set the students to their task. Students
could roam freely in their reading, comparing pieces,
talking in pairs or in small groups, explaining
informally to each other which pieces they like best
and why.
The teacher might occasionally begin class by
sharing with students poems from John Frederick
Nimss anthology Western Wind. The teacher might
tell students that this is a different kind of anthology
one put together by a working poet. The teacher
might read Robert Frosts poem Dust of Snow along
with Nimss three other versions in different types of
diction, to sensitize students to empty language and
inappropriate shifts in diction. The teacher might read
Gwendolyn Brookss We Real Cool and Walt
Whitmans Song of Myself from chapter eleven to
demonstrate what different sentence lengths, and use
of parallelism, can do in poetry. At the end of each
period students might choose to perform dramatic
readings of their favorite finds. In addition, the class
could listen to recordings of certain poets and writers
reading their own work.
When the anthologies are finished (and students
have created titles and covers), each student might
be encouraged to write one or two poems on his or
her chosen theme or topic to include in the anthology.
The teacher might pass out copies of Leopold Sedar
Senghors poem I Want to Say Your Name from
Kenneth Kochs book Rose, Where Did You Get That
Red? if she feels students need a form to work from.
The teacher might ask students to imitate Senghors
poem, writing about someone whose name they like,
or perhaps about their own name. After the students
have finished their poems, they could be asked to get
in pairs and look over each others work, particularly
noting vivid words and clear, well-constructed
sentences.
Guiding Principles
If writing is thinking and discovery and
selection and order and meaning, it is also
awe and reverence and mystery and magic.
(National Council of Teachers of
English/International Reading Association
[NCTE/IRA], 1996, p. 34)
Treat reading and writing as similar
processesconstructive, recursive, and often
messy. (Kutz & Roskelly, 1991, p. 246)
Using familiar forms can help alleviate some
of the anxiety of student writers, while
providing vehicles for imaginative creations.
(Kutz & Roskelly, 1991, p. 239)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Word Choice
51
Suggestions for Assessment
Checklist and Multiple-Choice QuizIn addition
to providing students with a checklist to help them
ensure that they have not forgotten any pieces
required in their anthology (all 12 poems, two reaction
pieces, one short piece about ways different genres
affect writing content, for example), the teacher could
ask that students complete a short multiple-choice
assessment. The teacher might provide students with
short essays in which wordy and redundant
sentences, and sentences that display a style different
from that of the rest of the essay, are underlined. In
small groups, students might choose from three other
teacher-written phrases the best possible solutions to
each writing problem. Students might also make up
their own solutions to each writing problem,
discussing the advantages and disadvantages
of each student-created solution.
Ideas for Progress
Continue to edit sentences for empty language,
wordiness, and redundancy
Revise writing to make it more concise and
precise
Revise writing to correct faulty coordination and
subordination of clauses
Select and manipulate words, phrases, and
clauses to convey shades of meaning and tone
Suggested Strategies/Activities
The teacher might provide the students with two
poems written on the same topicone poorly written,
one written more professionally. Students could be
asked to compare the two poems. What is it about the
language and phrasing that makes the one poem
stronger than the other? Students could work as a
group to improve the weaker one, editing it for
wordiness or empty language, rewriting phrases to
make them more precise or vivid.
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Word Choice
52
WRITING ABOUT POLITICAL
CARTOONS
College Readiness Standards
Determine the need for conjunctive adverbs
or phrases to create subtle logical connections
between sentences (e.g., therefore, however,
in addition)
Add a sentence to introduce or conclude the
essay or to provide a transition between
paragraphs when the essay is fairly
straightforward
Decide the most logical place to add
a sentence in an essay
Description of the Instructional Activity
Along with the social studies teacher, the English
teacher might distribute copies of three political
cartoons from the time period students are studying in
their social studies classes. After students have
examined the cartoons, the class as a whole might
discuss political cartoons in general and these in
particular. How do political cartoons, in general, work?
What, if anything, is funny about these? Students
might be asked to bring in political cartoons from
current newspapers to discuss for the next few days.
Once students are clear about how political
cartoons in general work, the social studies teacher
might help students remind each other of the
historical circumstances surrounding the creation of
the three political cartoons from history. As a whole
class and being aware that they are to write informal
essays about one of the cartoons, the class could
discuss one historical cartoon, teasing out the
meaning of it, deciding on the authors probable
political orientation, critiquing the artistry of it, and
perhaps imagining a cartoon created by those who
have opposing opinions on the subject.
Next, the teacher might demonstrate ways for
students to organize their thoughts in the essay they
are soon to write. The teacher could show students
how to cluster their ideas; he could show students
visual organizers representing different organizational
patterns. The teacher might also show students how
to reorganize sentences and paragraphs using the
cut-and-paste commands on a computer. Finally, the
teacher could distribute examples of exemplary
student papers, perhaps written about the same
historical time period or topic. Through analysis of
these papers, the teacher might encourage students
to develop a set of performance standards for the
paper they will write. Once consensus has been
reached about the performance standards and
benchmarks illustrated by the papers, a rubric can
be written on the board, then made into a handout
so students can judge their own work against it as
they write.
Students might then gather in small groups to
discuss the cartoons they want to write about. In their
small groups and perhaps using the social studies
teacher as a research aide, each student could rough
out a first draft of the informal essay he or she will
write. The essay might describe the cartoon, its
relationship to the history of its time, and the students
reaction to the cartoon. Students can help each other
by serving as sounding boards as each writes, and
reads aloud, the rough drafts. Students could use a
checklist on Essay Organization like that shown on
page 53 to help them discuss each others work.
Using the set of performance standards they
devised earlier, students can revise and rethink the
content and organization of their papers, visiting with
the teacher for short, individual, student-centered
conferences as needed. Then students might
exchange their second drafts with classmates,
reading each others papers silently, writing comments
on the standards sheet, then passing these
comments privately to each author. After students
Guiding Principles
Writers move fluidly from whole to part and
back again, shaping and defining their overall
purpose as they develop specific examples
and refine passages. They are problem-
solvers, deciding as they go along how to
tackle the many different challenges that
arise. (NCTE/IRA, 1996, p. 36)
In the higher performing schools, the
teachers often segmented new or difficult
tasks, providing their students with guides for
ways to accomplish them. (Langer, 2000,
p. 35)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Organization, Unity, and Coherence
53
revise their papers, the English teacher might
continue to guide students through the
proofreading/copyediting phase of the writing
process, emphasizing correct grammar, usage,
and punctuation.
Suggestions for Assessment
Performance AssessmentAlong with their
essays and accompanying rubrics, students might
compose reflective letters, explaining what they like
about what theyve written, what theyd like to
improve, and what theyd do next time to write an
even stronger piece. This could help the teacher
focus his response, which should be addressed to the
writer, should respond to the writers concerns, and
should emphasize what works well in the piece.
Ideas for Progress
Write many simply organized short texts of various
genres
Revise writing to ensure that information is in the
best order
Revise writing to ensure that every sentence is
necessary to the purpose of the piece and that
no important information has been left out
Suggested Strategies/Activities
The teacher might help students think out ways
to structure a slightly more sophisticated essay, such
as a personal narrative. The teacher might provide
students with two different kinds of short personal
narratives and walk students through one, asking
students to help her analyze the structure or organiza-
tional patterns used. In small groups, students could
analyze the second narrative, creating an outline
upon which, they imagine, that second narrative
might have been built.
Aspects of Essay to Check Yes/No; Comments
Essay begins with broad generalization? _____________________________________________________________
Thesis statement is last sentence in first paragraph?___________________________________________________
Body of essay uses facts and examples to illustrate statements?________________________________________
Statements that relate to each other are placed in same paragraphs? ___________________________________
Linking or transition statements or phrases are used effectively? ________________________________________
Transition words are used effectively between sentences?______________________________________________
Paragraphs flow into one another; whole essay has sense of flow? ______________________________________
Strongest point is in the last paragraph of body? ______________________________________________________
Main point of essay is reworded at beginning of last paragraph?________________________________________
Clincher last sentence wraps up the essay well?_____________________________________________________
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strand: Organization, Unity, and Coherence
Checklist on Essay Organization
54
WRITING A CHILDRENS BOOK
College Readiness Standards
Identify the central idea or main topic of a
straightforward piece of writing
Add a sentence that introduces a simple
paragraph
Provide appropriate punctuation in straight-
forward situations (e.g., items in a series)
Description of the Instructional Activity
In this month-long activity, middle school students
are invited to write stories for a very specific
audience: first, second, or third graders, perhaps the
children at the elementary school down the street.
This activity will give middle school students a very
clear understanding of the ways writing can be
changed depending on the intended audience.
As a warm-up and idea-generating activity, the
teacher might read one or two childrens books out
loud (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,
Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, for example, or one of
a series of books from which students could copy the
plot format, such as Curious George by H. A. Rey).
The students might be asked to get into groups and
rewrite the same story in the form of a letter from
Alexanders mother to her sister, as a dialogue
between Alexanders two brothers, or as a journal
entry written by Alexander many years later, recalling
that day. Afterwards, the teacher might invite
discussion of the following questions: What changes
when the audience changes? What changes when
the imaginary writer changes? How is the content of
the writing connected to the form that writing takes?
The teacher might ask each student to analyze his
or her favorite childrens book. Each student might
write the teacher a letter describing five favorite
aspects of his or her chosen book (rhythmic repetitive
writing, funny main character, lively language, for
example). In a response letter, the teacher could help
each student sort out ways to make these favorite
qualities into goalsa sort of personal rubric
to strive to achieve in the book each student is
soon to write.
Students might then visit the elementary school
children they are going to write the books for. Each
middle school student might be paired with an
elementary school student. The elementary school
student could read his current favorite picture book to
the middle school student. The middle school student
could then ask questions to discover what most
interests the elementary school student. For example,
if the student discovers her audience is fascinated
by weather disasters, she could write a story in which
a tornado hits a nearby town. If the audience is
active in ballet, the middle school author could write
a story that takes place in a ballet school.
During the next weeks the middle school English
class could be run like a writing workshop, with
students working singly or in small groups to write
their childrens books. After the stories have been
written, students might receive feedback from their
peers and revise their stories based on that feedback.
Then the teacher, acting as editor, could provide
students with a review of any grammar, usage, and
punctuation problems she has found in the books.
She might provide the whole class a brief grammar
and punctuation lesson, which students might use
as they make the final versions of their work. Once
each book is revised to the teachers and students
satisfaction, students can create cover pages, title
pages, and illustrations for their books.
Guiding Principles
Teachers can help learners tolerate the
uncertainty and confusion of writing-in-
progress, hold off premature formatting and
editing, and let their writing find its own form.
(Kutz & Roskelly, 1991, p. 179)
In . . . higher performing schools, students
not only worked together in physical proximity,
but they gained skill in sharing ideas, reacting
to each other, testing out ideas and
arguments, and contributing to the intellectual
tenor of the class. (Langer, 2000, p. 41)
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strands: Topic Development; Organization, Unity, and Coherence;
Conventions of Punctuation
55
The culmination of this activity will occur the day
each middle school student presents each elementary
school student with the story written for him or her.
Each middle school student might read his or her
story to their audience-of-one, and notice how the
elementary school student reacts.
Elementary school students might be asked to
interview their middle school partners and, with the
editorial help of the middle schoolers, write a two-or-
three-sentence authors bio for the back cover of
their books.
Suggestions for Assessment
Self-AssessmentAfter giving their books to the
elementary students and reading the books through
with them, middle school students might be asked to
write about the experience. In the form of a letter to
the teacher, students could answer the following
questions: What was difficult about writing the
childrens books? What was easy? Did the students
feel successful in achieving the goals they outlined
in their rubrics? What part of the childrens book they
wrote do they feel best about? What would they like
to improve? How do they think their book compares
to their favorite childrens book and why? And finally,
how would the book they wrote be different if it were
written for an older student?
Ideas for Progress
Write many simply organized short texts of various
genres
Read writers of various genres and imitate their
work
Develop awareness of ways that form and content
can be changed as the audience for the writing
changes
Suggested Strategies/Activities
Students could be asked to write a short story
or essay based on the style, tone, and plot of one of
their current favorite childrens books. If they chose,
they could use the characters in the childrens book,
writing a sort of sequel. Each student would be
expected to bring the book they chose to class and
to study it as they write their imitation, analyzing the
way the writer creates mood, style, tone, and action.
Students could be asked to pair up and review
each others stories. Each student could be given a
checklist that focuses on transition sentences and
appropriate punctuation.
Linking Instruction and Assessment
Strands: Topic Development; Organization, Unity, and Coherence;
Conventions of Punctuation
PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
56
ACT developed this guide to show the link
between the EXPLORE English Test results and daily
classroom work. The guide serves as a resource for
teachers, curriculum coordinators, and counselors by
explaining what the College Readiness Standards say
about students academic progress.
The guide explains how the test questions on
the EXPLORE English Test are related to the College
Readiness Standards and describes what kinds
of reasoning skills are measured. The sample
instructional activities and classroom assessments
suggest some approaches to take to help students
develop and apply their reasoning skills.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
ACT recognizes that teachers are the essential
link between instruction and assessment. We are
committed to providing you with assistance as you
continue your efforts to provide quality instruction.
ACT is always looking for ways to improve its
services. We welcome your comments and questions.
Please send them to:
College Readiness Standards
Elementary and Secondary School Programs (32)
ACT
P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168
WHAT OTHER ACT PRODUCTS AND
SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE?
In addition to the College Readiness Standards
materials, ACT offers many products and services that
support school counselors, students and their
parents, and others. Here are some of these
additional resources:
ACTs Websitewww.act.org contains a host of
information and resources for parents, teachers, and
others. Students can visit www.explorestudent.org,
which is designed to aid students as they prepare for
their next level of learning.
The ACTa guidance, placement, and admissions
program that helps students prepare for the transition
to postsecondary education while providing a
measure of high school outcomes for college-bound
students.
PLANa comprehensive assessment program
designed to improve tenth-grade students postsec-
ondary planning and preparation and to enable
schools to assist students and their parents in this
important process.
WorkKeys

a system linking workplace skill areas to


instructional support and specific requirements of
occupations.
ACT Online Prep
TM
an online test preparation
program that provides students with real ACT tests
and an interactive learning experience.
The Real ACT Prep Guidethe official print guide to
the ACT, containing three practice ACTs.
DISCOVER

a computer-based career planning


system that helps users assess their interests,
abilities, experiences, and values, and provides
instant results for use in investigating educational
and occupational options.
A mind, stretched to a new idea,
never goes back to its original
dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
1. GENERAL REFERENCES
Adams, A. (1973). [Letter to John Quincy Adams, May
8, 1780]. In L. H. Butterfield & M. Friedlaender
(Eds.), Adams family correspondence: Vol. 3, April
1778September 1780 (p. 313). Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
Airasian, P. W. (1991). Classroom assessment. New
York: McGraw Hill.
American Association for Higher Education, American
College Personnel Association, & National
Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
(1998, June). Powerful partnerships: A shared
responsibility for learning. Retrieved June 3, 2005,
from http://www.aahe.org/assessment/joint.htm
American College Testing Program. (1992). Content
validity of ACTs educational achievement tests.
Iowa City, IA: Author.
ACT. (1996a). Language arts for a successful transition
to college: The content foundations of the ACT
Assessment. Iowa City, IA: Author.
ACT. (1996b). Linking assessment to instruction in your
classroom: Language arts guide to EXPLORE,
PLAN, and the ACT Assessment. Iowa City, IA:
Author.
ACT. (1998). Maintaining the content validity of ACTs
educational achievement tests. Iowa City, IA:
Author.
ACT. (2000). Content validity evidence in support of
ACTs educational achievement tests: ACTs
19981999 national curriculum study. Iowa City,
IA: Author.
ACT. (2001). EXPLORE technical manual. Iowa City,
IA: Author.
ACT. (2003). Content validity evidence in support
of ACTs educational achievement tests: ACT
National Curriculum Survey 20022003.
Iowa City, IA: Author.
ACT. (2004a). Crisis at the core: Preparing all students
for college and work. Iowa City, IA: Author.
ACT. (2004b). Item writers guide for the EXPLORE
English Test. Iowa City, IA: Author.
ACT. (2005a). EXPLORE program guide. Iowa City,
IA: Author.
ACT. (2005b). The real ACT prep guide: The only
official prep guide from the makers of the ACT.
[Lawrenceville, NJ:] Thomson Petersons.
ACT. (2005c). Your guide to EXPLORE. Iowa City,
IA: Author.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
57
This bibliography is divided into four sections. The first section lists the
sources used in describing the EXPLORE Program, the College Readiness
Standards for the EXPLORE English Test, and ACTs philosophy regarding
educational testing. The second section, which lists the sources used to develop
the instructional activities and assessments, provides suggestions for further
reading in the areas of thinking and reasoning, learning theory, and best practice.
The third section lists diverse literary works suggested by classroom teachers
that could be used in conjunction with the instructional activities on pages 4855.
The fourth section provides a list of resources suggested by classroom teachers.
(Please note that in 1996 the corporate name The American College Testing
Program was changed to ACT.)
58
ACT, & Council of Great City Schools. (1999).
Gateways to success: A report on urban student
achievement and coursetaking. Iowa City, IA:
Authors.
ACT, & The Educational Trust. (2004). On course for
success: A close look at selected high school
courses that prepare all students for college.
Iowa City, IA: Authors.
Applebee, A. N. (1981). Writing in the secondary
school: English and the content areas. NCTE
Report No. 21. Urbana, IL: National Council of
Teachers of English.
Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology
of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Brewer, D. J., Rees, D. I., & Argys, L. M. (1995).
Detracking Americas schools: The reform without
cost? Phi Delta Kappan, 77(3), 210214.
Britton, J., Burgess, T., Martin, N., McLeod, A.,
& Rosen, H. (1975). The development of writing
abilities (pp. 1118). London: MacMillan Education.
Bryson, M., & Scardamalia, M. (1991). Teaching
writing to students at risk for failure. In B. Means,
C. Chemeler, & M. S. Knapp (Eds.), Teaching
advanced skills to at-risk students: Views from
research and practice (pp. 141175). San
Francisco & Oxford: Jossey-Bass.
Bryson, M., Bereiter, C., Scardamalia, M., & Joram, E.
(1991). Going beyond the problem as given:
Problem solving in expert and novice writers. In R.
Stumberg & P. Frensch (Eds.), Complex problem
solving (pp. 141167). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Burke, K. (1992). Significant outcomes. In K. Burke
(Ed.), Authentic assessment: A collection. Palatine,
IL: IRI/Skylight Publishing.
Calkins, L. (1980). The art of teaching writing.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Carbo, M. (1994). Sharply increasing the reading
ability of potential dropouts. In R. Morris (Ed.),
Using what we know about at-risk youth: Lessons
from the field (pp. 2530). Lancaster, PA:
Technomic.
Christenbury, L. (1998). Language arts: A chapter
of the ASCD curriculum handbook. In ASCD
curriculum handbook: A resource for curriculum
administrators (pp. 120133). Alexandria, VA:
The Association of Supervision and Curriculum
Development.
Danielson, L. (2000). The improvement of student
writing: What research says. Journal of School
Improvement, 1, 27.
Delpit, L. (1995). Other peoples children: Cultural
conflict in the classroom. New York: The New
Press.
Emig, J. (1971). The composing processes of twelfth
graders. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers
of English.
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59
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Ingersoll, R. (1998). The problem of out-of-field
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Langer, J., Close, E., Angelis, J., & Preller, P. (2000,
May). Guidelines for teaching middle and junior
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Learning & Achievement.
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some basic considerations concerning college
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2. REFERENCES FOR EXPLORE
ENGLISH INSTRUCTIONAL
ACTIVITIES
Anson, C. (1997). In our own voices: Using recorded
commentary to respond to writing. In M. D.
Sorcinelli & P. Elbow (Eds.), Writing to learn:
Strategies for assigning and responding to writing
across the disciplines, No. 69, Spring 1997.
New Directions for Teaching and Learning.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Angelou, M. (1969). I know why the caged bird sings.
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Arter, J., & McTighe, J. (2001). Scoring rubrics in the
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assessing and improving student performance.
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Associated Writing Programs. (1997). 1997 Pedagogy
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Atwell, N. (1998). In the middle: New understandings
about writing, reading, and learning (2nd ed.).
Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
Christensen, F. (1978). Notes toward a new rhetoric
(2nd ed.). New York: Harper and Row.
Cormier, R. (1999). The chocolate war (reissue ed.).
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60
Crane, S. (1993). The open boat and other stories
(reissue ed.). Mineola, NY: Dover.
Delany, S. L., & Delany, A. E. (1993). Having our say:
The Delany sisters first hundred years. New York:
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Forster, E. M. (1927). Aspects of the novel. New York:
Harcourt, Brace & World.
Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in my life. New York: Farrar,
Straus & Giroux.
Gates, B., Klaw, S., & Steinberg, A. (1979). Changing
learning, changing lives: A high school womens
studies curriculum from the group school. Old
Westbury, NY: Feminist Press.
Gordon, K. E. (1983). The well-tempered sentence:
A punctuation handbook for the innocent, the
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Karelitz, E. B. (1988). Note writing: A neglected genre.
In T. Newkirk & N. Atwell (Eds.), Understanding
writing: Ways of observing, learning, and teaching
K8 (2nd ed.) (pp. 88112). Portsmouth, NH:
Boynton/Cook.
Keller, H. (1991). The story of my life (reissue ed.).
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knowledge: A compendium of standards and
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King, S. (1982). Different season. New York: Viking
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King, S. (1994). Cujo (reissue ed.). New York: New
American Library.
King, S. (2000). On writing: A memoir of the craft. New
York: Scribner.
Koch, C., & Brazil, J. M. (1978). Strategies for teaching
the composition process. Urbana, IL: National
Council of Teachers of English.
Koch, K. (1973). Rose, where did you get that red?
Teaching great poetry to children. New York:
Random House.
Koch, K., & P. S. 61 in New York City. (1970). Wishes,
lies, and dreams: Teaching children to write poetry.
New York: Vintage Books/Chelsea House.
Kutz, E., & Roskelly, H. (1991). An unquiet pedagogy:
Transforming practice in the English classroom.
Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
Langer, Judith A. (2001, November). Beating the odds:
Teaching middle and high school students to read
and write well (2nd ed., rev.). (Report Series No.
12014). Albany, NY: State University of New York,
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New York: Hill & Wang.
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New York: Oxford University Press.
Mora, P. (1994). The desert is my mother. Houston:
Arte Publico Press.
Mora, P. (2000). My own true name: New and selected
poems for young adults, 19841999. Houston:
Arte Publico Press.
Mowat, F. (1963). Never cry wolf. Boston: Little, Brown.
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National Council of Teachers of English. (1995).
Teaching the writing process in high school.
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Teaching composition: A position statement.
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of Teachers of English.
Nims, J. F. (Ed.). (1974). Western wind: An introduction
to poetry. New York: Random House.
Paul, R., Binker, A. J. A., Martin, D., & Adamson, K.
(1995). Critical thinking handbook: High school.
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61
Paulsen, G. (2001). Guts: The true stories behind
Hatchet and the Brian books. New York:
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Psychological Corporation. (1993). A handbook of
performance activities: Reading grades 7 through
12. Strategies for Instruction. San Antonio, TX:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
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ed.). Boston: Little Brown.
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tautoinc.htm
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for writing and learning. Wilmington, MA: Great
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English.
Soto, G. (1999). A summer life. New York: Laureleaf.
South Carolina State Department of Education. (1996).
English language arts framework.
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House.
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English/language arts handbook: Classroom
strategies for teachers. Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann.
Viorst, J. (1972). Alexander and the terrible, horrible,
no good, very bad day. New York: Antheneum.
Weinstein, L. (2001). Writing at the threshold: Featuring
56 ways to prepare high school and college
students to think and write at the college level.
Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of
English.
Wilhelm, J. D. (1996). Standards in practice grades
68. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of
English.
Wilhelm, J. D. (1997). You gotta be the book: Teaching
engaged and reflective reading with adolescents.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Wilson, R. W. (1986). Write on! Express and enjoy
yourself. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.
Retrieved June 3, 2005, from http://www.yale.edu/
ynhti/curriculum/units/1986/4/86.04.15.x.html
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (1993). Best
practice: New standards for teaching and learning
in Americas schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
3. SELECTED LITERARY WORKS
SUGGESTED BY CLASSROOM
TEACHERS
Bambara, T. C. (1972). Gorilla, my love. New York:
Random House.
Brooks, G. (1981). To disembark. Chicago: Third
World.
Cisneros, S. (1991). Woman hollering creek and other
stories. New York: Random House.
Clifton, L. (1980). Two-headed woman. Boston, MA:
University of Massachusetts.
Cofer, J. O. (1995). An island like you. New York: Puffin
Books.
Giovanni, N. (1993). Ego-tripping and other poems for
young people. New York: Lawrence Hill.
Hogan, L. (1990). Mean spirit. New York: Ivy Books.
Johnson, A. (1993). Toning the sweep. New York:
Orchard Books.
Nye, N. S. (Ed.). (1992). This same sky: A collection of
poems from around the world. New York: Four
Winds.
Nye, N. S. (1995). The words under the words:
Selected poems. Portland, OR: Eighth Mountain.
Oliver, M. (1990). American primitive. Boston: Little,
Brown.
Rosen, K., Gorman, R. C., & Yava, A. (1992). The man
to send rain clouds: Contemporary stories by
American Indians. New York: Penguin.
Rosenberg, L. M. (Ed.). (1996). The invisible ladder:
A young readers anthology of contemporary
poetry. New York: Henry Holt.
Sasaki, R. A. (1991). The loom and other stories.
St. Paul, MN: Graywolf.
62
Silko, L. M. (1996). Yellow Woman and the beauty
of spirit: Essays on Native American life today.
New York: Simon & Schuster.
4. RESOURCES SUGGESTED BY
CLASSROOM TEACHERS
Print Sources
Brandt, D. (2001). Literacy in American lives.
Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Kohl, H. (1967). 36 children. New York: New American
Library.
Kuykendall, C. (1992). From rage to hope: Strategies
for reclaiming Black and Hispanic students.
Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan:
The journey of new teachers in diverse
classrooms. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Macrorie, K. (1990). Twenty teachers. New York:
Oxford University Press.
Meier, D. (1996). The power of their ideas: Lessons for
America from a small school in Harlem. Boston,
MA: Beacon Press.
Norton, D. (1993). The effective teaching of language
arts (4th ed.). Old Tappan, NJ: Merrill.
Purcell-Gates, V. (1997). Other peoples words: The
cycle of low literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
Rigg, P., & Kazemek, F. E. (1996). Enriching our lives:
Poetry lessons for adult literacy teachers and
tutors. Newark, DE: International Reading
Association.
Rose, M. (1989). Lives on the boundary: The
struggles and achievements of Americas
underprepared. New York: Macmillan.
Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the black kids sitting
together in the cafeteria? And other conversations
about race. New York: Basic Books.
Websites
(All retrieved by ACT June 3, 2005.)
Childrens Defense Fund.
http://www.childrensdefense.org
The Education Trust.
http://www.edtrust.org
The Educators Reference Desk.
http://www.eduref.org
The Internet TESL Journal.
http://iteslj.org
National Coalition of Education Activists.
http://www.nceaonline.org
National Council of Teachers of English.
http://www.ncte.org
National Womens History Project.
http://www.nwhp.org
PBS TeacherSource.
http://www.pbs.org/teachersource
Rethinking Schools Online.
http://www.rethinkingschools.org
63
Passage A
Life in the Year 2030
What will the world be like in the futurethe year
2030, for example? According to a recent report from the
Worldwatch Institute, the most optimistic scenario calls for
some dramatic changes in our everyday lives. Industrial
societies will no longer run on oil, coal, and natural gas
fossil fuels that cause global temperatures to rise. Solar
energy will become our primary power source. A typical
urban landscape of the future will have solar collectors
dominating its rooftops as television antennas do today.
The Worldwatch scenario promises energy-efficient
private transportation. Automobiles in 2030 will get at
least 100 miles per gallon of fuel and there will be fewer
of them on the road. Only small electrical or clean
hydrogen-powered vehicles will be permitted in cities,
and the energy to run them will come from solar power
plants. Social visits and shopping will be done by bicycle.
For a long-distance vacation with family or friends,
especially when driving, larger vehicles will be available
to rent.
In this hopeful vision, our work styles will have
changed. Many people will live closer to their jobs. Many
others will work at home or in satellite workplaces,
connected to colleagues and supervisors by electronic lines
Passage corresponding to sample test questions found on pages 16, 19, and 20
A2. *A. NO CHANGE
B. which the energy
C. having the energy
D. the energy providing
A3. *A. NO CHANGE
B. friends (usually in the summer)
*C. friends,
D. friends
A1. *A. NO CHANGE
B. optimistically most,
C. most optimistically
D. mostly optimistically
A3
A3
A2
A1
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
64
rather than crowded highways. Daily trips to work will
give way to occasional visits. A bike-and-ride system
will allow commuters to ride their bicycles
to railways having ridden into the city on them.
Homes will be weather-tight and well insulated,
greatly reducing the need for both heating and cooling.
Appliances will be far more efficient than those in use
today. The greatest energy savings will come from
refrigerators, air conditioners, and clothes dryers. Small
fluorescent light bulbs will use 18 watts to create the same
amount of light as a 75-watt bulb does today and will last
seven times as long. Residents of this best of all possible
worlds will enjoy smaller utility bills, cleaner air, and a
brighter prospect for their future days.
A4. A. NO CHANGE
B. into the city that will later take them into the railways.
C. to railways having carried them into the city.
*D. to railways that will carry them into the city.
A4
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
65
Passage B
Mert the Bull
Visiting my friends Tia and Tom on their parents
farm was one of the highlights of my childhood. Routine
chores such as feeding the chickens or taking the horses
down to the creek to be watered were great adventures to
me. I also thought traveling to New York City for the first
time was quite an adventure. But my biggest adventure
came one Sunday afternoon when Tia, Tom, and I decided
to play on an old rusted-out tractor that sat in the field
where Mert the bull grazed. Tia assured me she and her
brothers used the field as a shortcut all the time and the
bull never bothered them. Although I was afraid of the
bull, I really did want to play on the tractor.
That old farm vehicle, with its large wheel frames and
high spindly seat, fascinated me. So when Tia and Tom
boldly climbed over the fence, I followed after them,
carefully watching Mert grazing in a far corner. He looked
a lot like Ferdinand, the calm and harmless bull I had read
about in a childrens book. As I continued to watch,
however, Mert began to paw the ground with angry,
impatient swipes. The next moment he was snorting
angrily and facing our way.
I yelled to Tia and Tom and the three of us ran for the
tractor, which was now closer than the fence, just as Mert
began to charge. It arrived at the tractor only seconds after
Passage corresponding to sample test questions found on pages 16 and 18
B1. A. NO CHANGE
B. Tia and Toms mom thinks farming is always an
adventure.
C. Chickens always fascinated meespecially when
baby chicks were hatched.
*D. DELETE the underlined portion.
B2. A. NO CHANGE
B. They
C. We
*D. He
B1
B1
B2
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
66
we had breathlessly clambered atop the high wheel
frames. For the next hour, we were taken for a bumpy ride
as Mert furiously bashed the tractor, pushing it several
feet with each charge. All we could do was hang on.
We were luckyeventually, Mert pushed the tractor up
against the fence. We swiftly climbed over the tractor
frame and down the other side of the wooden fence to
safety. At that moment, I doubted that I would ever trust
Tias or Toms claims about harmless bulls again.
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
67
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
Passage C
A Quiet Evening Quilting
As evening entered into night, Sara scratched
the head of a wooden match across the gritty
sandpaper strip on the box. The match flared, and
she held its flame next to the wick of a kerosene
lamp, which ignited quickly. Sara blew out the
match and then turned a brass knob to adjust the
brightness of the light. She then replaced the globe
of pale white glass atop the bowl of the lamp.
Sara moved the glowing lamp close to the edge
of the table; drawing her chair near, she sat so that
an arc of light fell on her lap. From a wicker sewing
basket Sara took a pincushion pierced by five
needles. The needles, sporting tails of white, blue,
red, mauve, and gray, gleamed in the light.
Next, Sara pulled scraps of cloth cut in two-by-
three-inch pieces from the basket and arranged them
in stacks according to their color. These pieces of
cloth with different textures and different weaves
came from different pieces of her memory: an old
linen tablecloth, her favorite dress from high school,
the curtains that had hung in the parlor windows.
Finally, she removed a pair of scissors from her
sewing basket. These scissors always pleased Sara,
for they were shaped like a bird. To open and shut
Passage corresponding to sample test question found on page 17
68
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
the blades was to watch the birds beakit may have
been a heron, Sara wasnt surework back and forth.
The screw holding the blades together was the birds
unblinking right eye, the handles its long legs.
Sara smiled and sat back in her chair. Then, holding
two small scraps of gray cloth and the gray-threaded
needle, she moved her hands under the lamps brightness.
In and out of the cloth she ran the needle, producing
countless tiny, even stitches. Sara would repeat this
process over and over and over again until, finally,
hundreds of small pieces of cloth had been joined together.
Then she had her quilt.
C1.*A. NO CHANGE
B. however,
C. therefore,
D. one says
C1
69
D1. A. NO CHANGE
B. ended, though, because, up ahead
C. ended though, because up ahead,
*D. ended, though, because up ahead
D2. A. NO CHANGE
B. obscuring my view.
C. blinds and also changes my view.
*D. obscured my view.
D3. A. NO CHANGE
B. Days later,
C. Seriously,
*D. Finally,
Passage D
Sawyer Ridge Trail
According to the guidebook in my hand, Sawyer Ridge
Trail couldnt be hiked this early in the summer. Still, I was
almost at the summit and I had seen very little snow. Maybe
the guidebooks author was the type to worry needlessly.
When I crested a ridge near the peak, however, the path
leveled off and simply disappeared under snowy hillocks. I
could see that the trail had ended though because up ahead
hand-hewn signs jutted from the snow, indicating the
directions and distances of other trails.
I walked past the signs, through a stand of firs, and
over a ridge, where I found a sheltered spot that overlooked
a river valley. There I ate my lunch and listened to the wind
rustle the evergreens. When I started to feel chilled, I got up,
rearranged my pack, and returned to the trail Id just come
up.
But I couldnt find it. I found the trail signs, but now
the wind was blowing hard, and the swirling snow
obscured my view of seeing things. I saw no bootprints to
follow back down. In fact, I saw no tracks of any kind. I
checked the time; it was 3:30 in the afternoon. Normally that
would have given me plenty of daylight, but I knew that in
the mountains, darkness comes early. I also knew I wasnt
equipped to spend a night at this altitude. I felt an urge to run.
Normally, after two false starts on trails that ended in
nowhere, I found some prints I had made hours earlier
coming up the mountain. My spirits surged. As I started
down the trail, I realized I had only barely kept my panic
under control. In the future, I decided, I would take hiking
guidebooks more seriously.
Passage corresponding to sample test questions found on pages 17, 18, and 21
D3
D2
D1
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
70
Passage E
Boise Waterfall
[1] In Boise, Idaho, a waterfall spills into a rocky
pool, then forms a clear mountain stream. [2] The stream
becomes a river and twists across a semi-arid plateau.
[3] From there the river wanders through farmland and
then vanishes underground. [4] Amazingly, all of this
rivers activity takes place within the shadow of tall
office buildings a few feet from a city park. [5] The
river, you see, is the centerpiece of Boises Nature Center.
[6] When at last it surfaces, it falls from a rock cliff into
wetlands.
The Center reproduces four environmental systems
found in Idaho; the heart of each is the river. Although it
travels only 550 feet, ducks, geese, mink, squirrels, and
quail call it home. Keeping them company are fish:
salmon, sturgeon, bass, and trout. And the fish, more than
anything else, draw visitors to the Center.
For a fish-eye view of the world, peer through an
underwater window. Fat rainbow trout patrol their territory,
chasing smaller fish from prime feeding areas. In the
tangles of a sunken log, a three-foot-long sturgeon floats,
motionless. At the bottom, natures vacuum cleanerthe
suckerfeeds on algae and waste.
Step to another window and suddenly youre
alongside the spawning grounds. Safe within redds
(shallow gravel nests), tiny eggs bob in the current.
Look closely for a dark dot in the orange egg. If you
come back in two weeks, the dot will be an eye, the egg
will have a tail, and youll have witnessed the first stages
of a trouts life.
E1
Passage corresponding to sample test question found on page 17
E1. For the sake of unity and coherence, Sentence 6 should
be placed:
*A. where it is now.
B. before Sentence 2.
C. before Sentence 3.
D. before Sentence 4.
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
71
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
Built entirely with volunteer labor and paid for by
donations, the Boise Nature Center is unique. Plenty of
cities have aquariums. Others have zoos. Still others have
wildlife refuges. Only Boise has blended them all together
in a fascinating and educational mix.
72
Passage F
Camp Tawakanee
I didnt want to go to Camp Tawakanee again last
summer. I told my parents that thirteen is too old for camp.
Nonsense, they said. My parents always say nonsense
when they want to end a conversation. I persisted. I
pointed out that Id been to camp for the last seven years.
At four weeks per year, I figured Id done my time.
My mother gave my father a look. He asked me what
I wanted to do instead of going to camp. I wanted to hang
out at the mall. Nonsense, my parents repeated. My
mother told me for the umpteenth time that one of the best
experiences of her life was being crowned Queen of Camp
Tawakanee the summer that she turned thirteen. My father
gave my mother a look that warned her not to overdo it.
Of course I wound up back at Camp Tawakanee. At
first it was just as bad as I expected. For one thing, I had to
sleep on a top bunk while Susan Graham, in the bunk
below, rolled in her sleep and shook the whole bed. For
another thing, we had too much of what my mother calls
structured time: calisthenics at six oclock, breakfast at
seven, three morning activities, lunch, two afternoon
activities, dinner, an evening activity, and lights out at nine
oclock. I get plenty of structured time during the school
year without having more of it in the summer.
My counselor, Frannie, turned out to be lots of fun,
which was a good thing because she was a terrible cook.
On our cabins overnight, she charred the hamburgers. She
also managed to ruin the marshmallows. It sounds bad, but
it was funny. I didnt even know you could ruin
marshmallows. By the end of the second week, I had
Passage corresponding to sample test question found on page 21
F1. *A. NO CHANGE
B. parents that,
C. parents, that
D. parents. That
F1
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions
73
adjusted to Camp Tawakanee. My attitude, you might
say, had changed.
As the session went on, camp grew on me. My parents
somehow figured it out. You seem to be having a good
time, they wrote.
I crumpled the letter. Nonsense, I said.
Appendix
Passages Corresponding to Sample Test Questions