Brief
Constructed
Responses
Written responses for the
Maryland School Assessment
5th Grade Team
Sequoyah Elementary School
Montgomery County Public Schools
Outcomes
By the end of the night, we will have...
Examined the
grading
rubric for BCRs
and ECRs
Looked at
sample
responses
with scores
Compared
student work
to sample
responses
Practiced a
reading and
math BCR with
your child
Discussed
strategies for
support
What is a Reading BCR?
• It is answer to a question about a text a student has
read. It is used to assess how well a student understands
the text they have read.
• It is not a one sentence answer. Responses require
multiple sentences including text support.
• BCRs show understanding of and insight into a text.
• There is no magic formula for BCRs, but there are some
guidelines to follow:
– What is the question asking? Make sure you answer the
question!
– Provide text relevant support that is meaningful to your answer.
– Make a connection between the support and the answer.
– Don’t assume anything. Write everything out as if the BCR
reader knows nothing.
What do the scores tell me
about my child?
What do the scores tell me
about my child?
How is a Reading BCR scored?
MSA Reading - BCR Rubric - Grades 3-8
Score 3 - The response demonstrates an understanding of the complexities of the
text.
Addresses the demands of the question
Effectively uses text-relevant1 information to clarify or extend understanding
Score 2 - The response demonstrates a general understanding of the text.
Partially addresses the demands of the question
Uses text-relevant information to show understanding
Score 1 - The response demonstrates a minimal understanding of the text.
Minimally addresses the demands of the question
Uses minimal information to show some understanding of the text in relation to the question
Score 0 - The response is completely incorrect, irrelevant to the question, or
missing.2
Note 1: Text-relevant: This information may or may not be an exact copy (quote) of the text but is
clearly related to the text and often shows an analysis and/or interpretation of important ideas.
Students may incorporate information to show connections to relevant prior experience as
appropriate.
Note 2: An exact copy (quote) or paraphrase of the question that provides no new relevant
information will receive a score of "0".
Kid-Friendly Checklist
Captain Kate
"I'll carry that," Seth said, and he reached for the plank. But Kate ignored him and
tucked one end of it under her arm. As she turned around, she felt the other end of the
long board bump something, and she glanced back in time to see Seth slip off The Mary
Ann, his arms flailing.
Kate dropped the board and ran to the edge of the boat just as Seth clawed his way to
the surface of the water, gasping for breath. "I'll get a rope," she cried, but Seth was
already struggling toward the ladder on that side of The Mary Ann, weighed down by his
wool jacket and heavy shoes. Kate leaned over to help him, but he ignored her hand and
pulled himself onto the boat.
"Don't you act so innocent," he said, teeth chattering.
Kate took a step back speechless. He thought she'd pushed him in on purpose.
"Last week of March is a bit cold for swimming, laddie," a voice called from the next
boat. "Better come aboard the Captain's Fancy and warm up at our stove."
"Thanks, Mr. O'Brian," Kate called, finding her voice. "Come on, Seth, you've got to get
out of those wet things so you don't take a chill." She didn't want to have to put off the first
trip down the waterway because her stepbrother was sick.
Soon, Seth was wrapped in a blanket and sipping a cup of hot, heavily sweetened tea
as they sat in the cabin of the neighbor's boat. "So how'd you manage to fall in, laddie?"
Mrs. O'Brian asked as she hung Seth's clothes near the stove to dry.
"I didn't fall in. I was pushed."
"Oh, now, our Katie would never do a thing like that," the woman said, and her husband
nodded his agreement.
Kate blushed. "I was carrying the plank, and I bumped him with it, but I didn't do it on
purpose."
"Of course you didn't," Mrs. O'Brian said. Turning to Seth she asked, "What's your name,
boy? I never seen you 'round here before."
"My name's Seth Hillerman, and I've never been around here before, ma'am. My father
married Kate's mother last fall."
Mr. O'Brian raised his eyebrows. "So there'll be a new captain for The Mary Ann this
year! What's your father's given name, Seth?"
But before he could answer, Kate quickly said, "Mama will be the captain, just like last
season. Seth's father's gone off to fight in the war." How could the O'Brians think another
man would ever take Papa's place at The Mary Ann's tiller?
"Here, Katie," Mrs. O'Brian said, "have some of these cookies and then pass them to
your brother."
15Stepbrother, Kate corrected silently, reaching for the plate.
(Later, once The Mary Ann has completed business in Washington City.)
After a late lunch of bread and cheese, Seth said cheerfully, "If we aren't starting home
till tomorrow, I'm going to have a look at Washington City."
"You can do that on some trip when we have to wait in line to be unloaded," Kate said.
"This afternoon we have to scrub down the boat and get rid of all this coal dust." She ran
her finger down the wall by the table, making a clean track in the thin layer of grime. "We
have to gather up the coal left along the sides of the hatches when The Mary Ann was
unloaded, too."
"Why this sudden urge to clean down there when you've never even bothered to keep
the cabin neat?"
Kate's eyes narrowed, but she managed to control the flare of anger that threatened to
burst forth. "It's not a 'sudden urge.' It's what boaters always do. Any coal that's left after
The Mary Ann's unloaded belongs to us—it's what keeps us warm all winter. I want you
and Zeke to shovel the lumps into sacks we can sling across the mules when we get
home. And that's an order from your captain, by the way," Kate added.
"That order doesn't have anything to do with running the boat, so I don't have to obey it.
Zeke can clean out the hatches by himself."
Kate was tired of arguing. "Then I'll help Zeke while you scrub the cabin inside and out."
But before Seth could reply, Zeke pointed at Kate and shook his head adamantly, then
tapped his chest and nodded.
"Well, if you think you can manage by yourself, I'll help Seth scrub. You know where to
find the sacks and a shovel."
After Zeke left the cabin, Kate said, "I didn't realize you were more concerned about
staying clean than getting the job done, Seth."
25"The job's getting done, isn't it? As long as Zeke's along, you and I don't have to do
the dirty work. And don't look so shocked, Kate. We both know who cleans The Mary
Ann and mucks out the stable.
"That's because Zeke doesn't steer," Kate said indignantly. "The two of us drive the
mules and steer, and he drives the mules and does the chores. It's perfectly fair."
"Zeke could steer—between the locks, anyway—and you know it. But you like things the
way they are."
"Are you suggesting I'm not treating Zeke fairly?" How dare Seth talk to her like that!
"If the shoe fits, wear it. But if you don't stop arguing and start scrubbing, you won't be
finished by dark."
Kate glared at Seth. If he hadn't come to her rescue barely an hour ago, she'd have a
few words for him. "Come on then," she said. "Let's get started."
"You can start whenever you like. I already told you I'm going to see Washington City."
Speechless, Kate stared after her stepbrother as he sauntered out of the cabin. How
dare he! Who did he think he was, going off to see the city when there was all this work
to be done? Light-headed with anger, Kate rolled up her sleeves and prepared to attack
the grimy cabin alone. "You'll regret this, Seth Hillerman," she muttered. "Just you wait."
Sample Student Response #1
Annotation: The reader answers the setting is
important because it is the travel to Washington,
which is a source of "the argument which showed
how stubborn each of them were." The reader
elaborates that if they weren't in Washington "Seth
wouldn't have been eager to explore which caused
conflict with Kate…" The reader does answer the
question and offer text support for the answer. To
improve this response, the reader might be more
specific about the arguments between them and
show how those arguments were specific to that
setting.
Sample Student Response #2
Annotation: The reader answers, "The setting is
important because it's perfect for accidents and
arguments and rescues." The reader does answer
the question but fails to provide adequate text
support for the accidents, arguments, and rescues,
all of which occur within the passage. To elaborate,
the reader could explain what particular elements
about the setting make it "perfect" for the listed
types of events.
Sample Student Response #3
Annotation: The reader answers the setting is
important "because without it it can't set the mood
for the story" and continues specifically "because
without the cold water, Seth couldn't have a grudge
with Kate." The reader does answer the question
and uses minimal text to support the answer. To
improve this response, the reader should explain the
reference to cold water. Because Kate is pivotal in
Seth's landing in the cold water, Seth could be angry
with her. Additionally, setting the mood for the story
should be addressed. By stating the exact mood that
is created with the help of the setting, the reader can
link the setting as a proper place for the water
accident that gives rise to the mood of the passage.
Sample Student Response #4
Annotation: The reader answers, "With out the
seting nobodey would know ware the storey is
takeing place. And it would noto make sences." The
reader does show an understanding of what a
setting is but does not indicate why the setting is
important or provides text support, which addresses
the setting. To improve this response, the reader
should identify the setting and explain the sense of
certain events occurring in that setting.
Time to Discuss
• Using the rubric, sample responses, and your child’s
response, talk with your child:
–
–
–
–
What are things he/she is doing well?
What are things he/she needs to work on?
What was he/she missing?
What should he/she continue to do?
• If time, work with your child to fix his/her response.
How to Help
• The best way to prepare for a BCR is to ask your child
questions about what he/she is reading and have them
respond fully with text support.
• Nonfiction Question Samples:
– How would someone use the information in this text?
– How did the author organize the information in this text to
make it more helpful to the reader?
– What does the author want the reader to learn about ___ from
this text?
– Summarize what you have read about ___.
– What is the author’s opinion about ___.
– How does information in this article support the main idea ___?
– What can you conclude/predict about ___?
– Is ___ a good title for this article? Why or why not?
How to Help
• Fiction Question Samples:
–
–
–
–
–
What was the main problem in this story and how was it solved?
How did the setting contribute to the mood of the story?
What can you tell about the character based on his/her actions?
What did the author mean when he said “…” in the story?
What lesson do you think someone would learn by reading this
story?
– Summarize.
– Explain how (character) is like someone you know.
– What would another title for this story be?
What do the scores tell me
about my child?
What do the scores tell me
about my child?
What do the scores tell me
about my child?
How is a Math BCR scored?
Score 2 - The response demonstrates a complete understanding and analysis of a problem.
- Application of a reasonable strategy in the context of the problem is indicated.
- Explanation1 of and/or justification2 for the mathematical process(es) used to solve a problem is
clear, developed, and logical.
- Connections and/or extensions made within mathematics or outside of mathematics are clear.
- Supportive information and/or numbers are provided as appropriate. 3
Score 1 – The response demonstrates a minimal understanding and analysis of a problem.
- Partial application of a strategy in the context of the problem is indicated.
- Explanation1 of and/or justification2 for the mathematical process(es) used to solve a problem is
partially developed, logically flawed, or missing.
- Connections and/or extensions made within mathematics or outside of mathematics are partial or
overly general, or flawed.
- Supportive information and/or numbers may or may not be provided as appropriate.3
Score 0 - The response is completely incorrect, irrelevant to the problem, or missing.4
Note 1: Explanation refers to students' ability to communicate how they arrived at the solution for an item using the
language of mathematics.
Note 2: Justification refers to students' ability to support the reasoning used to solve a problem, or to demonstrate
why the solution is correct using mathematical concepts and principles.
Note 3: Students need to complete rubric criteria for explanation, justification, connections and/or extensions as
cued for in a given problem.
Note 4: Merely an exact copy or paraphrase of the problem will receive a score of "0".
Kid-Friendly Checklist
How is a Math ECR scored?
Score 3 - The response demonstrates a comprehensive understanding and analysis of a problem.
- Application of a reasonable strategy in the context of the problem is indicated.
- Explanation1 of and/or justification2 for the mathematical process(es) used to solve a problem is
clear, fully developed, and logical.
- Connections and/or extensions made within mathematics or outside of mathematics are clear and
stated explicitly.
- Supportive information and/or numbers are provided as appropriate. 3
Score 2 - The response demonstrates a general understanding and analysis of a problem.
- Application of a reasonable strategy in the context of the problem is indicated.
- Explanation1 of and/or justification2 for the mathematical process(es) used to solve a problem is
feasible, but may be only partially developed.
- Connections and/or extensions made within mathematics or outside of mathematics are partial or
overly general, or may be implied.
- Supportive information and/or numbers are provided as appropriate. 3
Score 1 - The response demonstrates a minimal understanding and analysis of a problem.
- Partial application of a strategy in the context of the problem is indicated.
- Explanation1 of and/or justification2 for the mathematical process(es) used to solve a problem is
logically flawed or missing.
- Connections and/or extensions made within mathematics or outside of mathematics are flawed or
missing.
- Supportive information and/or numbers may or may not be provided as appropriate.3
Score 0 - The response is completely incorrect, irrelevant to the problem, or missing.4
Note 1: Explanation refers to students' ability to communicate how they arrived at the solution for an item using the language of
mathematics.
Note 2: Justification refers to students' ability to support the reasoning used to solve a problem, or to demonstrate why the solution is
correct using mathematical concepts and principles.
Note 3: Students need to complete rubric criteria for explanation, justification, connections and/or extensions as cued for in a given
problem.
Note 4: Merely an exact copy or paraphrase of the problem will receive a score of "0".
ECR Sample
Sample Student Response #1
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #1:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns,
and Functions): 0
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 1
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: In this
response, the student explains the first step in
solving the problem, and by indicating a
relevant starting point on the number line ("I
went over to two"), this response demonstrates
a minimal understanding and analysis of
number lines.
Sample Student Response #2
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #2:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns, and
Functions): 1
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 1
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: The student
repeats the answer in the space for Step B, so no credit
in Step B is derived from the second page of this
response. However, the correctly plotted point on the
number line in Step A is a partial explanation of the
mathematical process used to solve the problem.
Admittedly, the explanation uses no words, only
symbols, but the symbol (the point) drawn on the
number line is correct and relevant to the problem.
Therefore, Step B is considered to demonstrate a
minimal understanding and analysis of the problem.
Sample Student Response #3
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #3:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns, and
Functions): 1
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 2
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: The response
demonstrates a general understanding and analysis of
the problem. In the first part of the response, the
explanation for the mathematical process used to solve
the problem ("put lines inbetween all of the smaller
lines, each represents ; marked the first one") is
partially developed, as the student never justifies why
each line represents . The student simply lists the
steps taken to solve the problem, without specifying
why those steps were correct. In the second part of the
response, the student fully justifies the underlying
mathematics ("Because number lines never change the
location of a number").
Sample Student Response #4
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #4:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns,
and Functions): 1
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 2
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: This
response demonstrates a general
understanding and analysis of the problem.
The student describes the mathematical
process of plotting the point ("2 wholes so go
past 2 on the number line; put the point half
way between 2 and 2 ") and logically justifies
why that process is correct ("number line is
split in 's; is half of "). However, the second
part of the response is incorrect, ("point would
need to be at 2½ or a equivalent fraction;
point's location will change").
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #5:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns, and
Functions): 1
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 3
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: This response
demonstrates a comprehensive understanding and
analysis of the problem. The mathematical process
used to solve the problem ("I put after the 2 but before
the mark") comes with a justification that is fully
developed and logical ("because it is less than ; first
line shows "). In addition, the justification for the
mathematical process used to solve the second part of
the question is fully developed, logical, and clear, given
the words ("the halfway point is still the same") and
symbols (comparison of the two number lines drawn in
Step B), which show that 2 is equivalent to 2 and that
2 is equivalent to 2 .
Sample Student Response #6
Sample Response
Score for Sample Student Response #6:
Step A - Content (Knowledge of Algebra, Patterns, and
Functions): 1
Annotation for Step A, Using the Rubric: The point is
plotted correctly.
Step B - Processes of Mathematics: 3
Annotation for Step B, Using the Rubric: This response
demonstrates a comprehensive understanding and
analysis of the problem. The mathematical process
used to plot the point is explained ("2 is halfway
between 2 and 2 ") and justified clearly and logically
("if 2 fractions have the same numerator and one's
denominator is double the other fraction the one with
the smaller denominator is 2 × the other fraction"). In
the second part, the explanation for why the location of
the point will not change is fully developed, logical, and
clear ("even if the number line is changed; the value of
2 stays the same; point represents the value of 2 ; also
constant."
How to Help
• The best way to prepare for a BCR or ECR is to ask your
child to explain everything that they are doing to solve
the problem. Pretend like the person they are talking to
knows absolutely nothing about how to solve a math
problem.
• It’s not enough to just say what they did; they must also
say WHY they did it.
Time to Discuss
• Using the rubric, sample responses, and your child’s
response, talk with your child:
–
–
–
–
What are things he/she is doing well?
What are things he/she needs to work on?
What was he/she missing?
What should he/she continue to do?
• If time, work with your child to fix his/her response.
Questions?
Comments?
Please complete the feedback
form so that we may improve
this event for the future.
Thank you for supporting your
child’s education. We truly
appreciate all of your support!
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Brief Constructed Responses