STAAR Constructed Responses
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene ii).
There are different tools for different jobs: hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches; paint brush, crayons, and pencils. There are different types of music, different types of dancing, different types of poetry.
And there are different types of writing.
Beginning this year, the STAAR test will have open-ended response questions that the Texas Education Agency calls Short and Extended Constructed Responses. These are very much like the short answer response questions that you should be accustomed to writing.
"House Bill 3906 established a “multiple choice cap,” meaning that no more than 75% of points on a STAAR test can be based on multiple choice questions. Texas educators are helping design new question types that reflect classroom test questions and allow students more ways to show their understanding. All possible new question types are being field-tested with students to ensure validity before they are incorporated into the redesigned summative tests beginning in spring 2023" (STAAR Redesign, TEA).
Here's an example of a short constructed response question and answer:
Q: "Explain how Anthony's behavior in paragraphs 12 through 14 affects the resolution of the plot. Support your answer with evidence from the story"
A: Although Anthony thinks his grandfather's cooking is "just awful," he recalls his day with the grandfather and pretends to love the food "I... I... love it." Anthony's behavior leads to a positive resolution of the plot.
You'll be allowed to write up to 475 characters (not counting spaces) which is about 75 to 95 words.
Here's what the extended constructed response question looks like:
Q: Explain how Anthony's interactions with Grandpa help to develop a theme about how sharing experiences may lead to greater understanding between people.
Write a well-organized informational essay that uses specific evidence from the story to support your answer.
Remember to -
clearly state your controlling idea
organize your writing
develop your ideas in detail
use evidence from the selection in your response
use correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar
Manage your time carefully so that you can -
review the selection
plan your response
write your response
revise and edit your response
You'll be allowed to write up to 2,300 characters (not counting spaces) which is about 400 to 750 words.
The TEA answer key states: A correct response could involve a student providing an extended response explaining how Anthony learns new things about Grandpa as he spends the day with him, which leads to greater understanding. The student would need to provide thorough evidence from the selection to support this controlling idea.
Short Answer Responses
Another type of Open-Ended Response is the short answer response.
Different people use different acronyms to describe the elements of the response, but they all refer to the same thing.
Always make sure you understand your teacher's expectations.
The most important elements to a short answer response (one-paragraph answer) are (1) the answer, (2) the evidence, and (3) the explanation.
(1) To begin, turn the question into a statement:
ex: What was the original purpose of the quilts?
The original purpose of the quilts was to keep everyone warm at night.
(2) Next, you need to find evidence from the text to support your answer. Basically, what did you read that told you (and made you think) the answer to the question?
In the poem, we find these lines:
they were just meant as covers
against pounding january winds
You can put your text evidence in your topic sentence (answer):
The quilts were originally "meant as covers in winters."
or it can be two sentences:
The original purpose of the quilts was to keep everyone warm at night. Lines one and two of the poem state: "they were just meant as covers in winters."
(3) You will always need a final sentence to explain and/ or sum up your answer.
The original purpose of the quilts was to keep everyone warm at night. Lines one and two of the poem state: "they were just meant as covers in winters." Later in the poem, the author gives a deeper meaning to the quilts, but originally, they were just to provide protections from the cold.
*This question was actually a two-part question, so an answer would look like this:
What is the original purpose of the mother’s quilts? Why does the speaker find deeper meaning in them? Cite text evidence to support your answer.
The original purpose of the quilts was to keep everyone warm at night. Lines one and two of the poem state: "they were just meant as covers in winters." Later in the poem, the author gives a deeper meaning to the quilts. She writes about lounging on her mother's arm as she quilts and that her mother was a "river current" and a "caravan master... delivering.. testimonies," memories of her childhood. Even though the quilts were originally just protection from the cold, they came to have a deeper meaning for the poet.
Your ability to write a Short Answer Response is the most important skill you should master (second only to reading).
All acronyms (APE, TEEC. RACE, TREES) teachers use to identify the content of a Short Answer Response are all variations of the same theme.
1st. Turn the question into a statement and answer. Some call it "restating the question"; I call it "Making the Question Part of Your Answer" or MQA.
2nd. Provide evidence from the text that support your answer. Don't just copy-and-paste a sentence or two, embed your text evidence in your own sentences.
Try these sentence stems for citing your evidence:
o The text states…
o According to the writer…
o The evidence in this section…
o The character’s feelings are shown by these statements…
o For example, the passage states…
o As quoted in the passage…
o As the selection implies…
o The reader can assume from the author’s words that…
o After reading the passage, the reader can infer…
o Based on the information in the text, the reader can conclude…
3rd. Elaborate/ explain your evidence.
Here are some sentence stems for transitioning to your elaboration:
o These facts indicate that…
o These facts demonstrate…
o The author is trying to portray the character as…
o This character (or event) is similar to…
o This character (or event) is different from…
o This is a good example of… because…
o His actions were motivated by…
o It appears that… caused… to happen.
o The most important…
4th. Conclude your answer so it doesn't just stop. I like the concept of a concluding sentence being a sentence that sums up/ restates your point.
You should have read "Oranges" by Gary Soto at some point. Here's a framework for answering a question about imagery:
Prompt: Explain how the imagery in the poem reflects the boy’s feelings and impressions.
At the beginning of the poem, the weather is [conclusion about the weather], as seen in the lines [line numbers]: “[quoted lines].” As the speaker nears the girl’s house, the line ”[quoted line]” shows us [explanation of quoted line]. As the poem continues, we see more light and warmth in the lines: “[supporting textual evidence]" which cause the boy to smile, indicating he is [fill in the blank].
At the end of the poem, the orange symbolizes [fill in the blank], [fill in the blank], and [fill in the blank], showing his feelings toward the girl.
Short Answer Responses
A short answer response is not just one sentence.
It is a short paragraph with three parts.
First, read, understand, and answer the question.
How does Malala respond to the closing of her school? Use specific examples from the text in your answer.
Malala was determined to continue her education when the Taliban closed her school.
Second, provide proof (evidence) from the text that supports/ defends your answer.
Even though she was eleven years old, she didn't want to stop learning. "I will get my education if it's at home, school, or somewhere else", she said (paragraph 5). She was determined to fight for her and other's education (paragraph 4). Malala also stated that the Taliban can stop them from going to school, but can't stop them from learning, which shows how much dedication she has.
Finally, conclude your answer with a sentence or two that wraps up your point.
Despite the devastation she felt and the tears she shed, Malala continued to fight for girls' education. Without a doubt, she is a true hero.
Rick Riordan uses direct and indirect character-ization to help the reader fully understand Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief. One way is through Percy sharing his inner thoughts. For example, Percy says, "Am I a troubled kid? Yeah, you could say that" (Riordan 1). The reader can infer that Percy has problems at home and at school. Knowing this about Percy helps the reader understand the main character much better.
Combined, the parts of a Short Answer Response
would look like this.
Malala was determined to continue her education when the Taliban closed her school. Even though she was eleven years old, she didn't want to stop learning. "I will get my education if it's at home, school, or somewhere else", she said (paragraph 5). She was determined to fight for her and other's education (paragraph 4). Malala also stated that the Taliban can stop them from going to school, but can't stop them from learning, which shows how much dedication she has. Despite the devastation she felt and the tears she shed, Malala continued to fight for girls' education. Without a doubt, she is a true hero.
If you can see this,
When does a person become an adult? Why do you think so?
If could change one rule that your family has, what would you change?
What is something that makes your family special?
Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
Are you a good friend? Why do you think so?
How would the world be different if animals could talk?
Would you cheat on a test if you knew you would not get caught? Why or why not?
If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
What is the best gift you have ever given? Why was it so special?
What is the hardest thing about being a kid?
If you were a teacher, and the kids in your class would not listen to you, what would you do?
Where is your favorite place in the world?
If you could give one gift to every single child in the world, what gift would you give?
If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
What five words do you think most describe you?
If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?
When was a time that you felt lucky?
What do you think would be the hardest thing about being blind?
If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?