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Reading Literature

RL.9.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.9.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.9.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

RL.9.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.


This grade 9 assessment titled “BURNING A BOOK” cited on is based on a poem by William Stafford. The assessment is intended to inform instruction about a student’s ability to engage in the close reading of complex literary poem, in order to demonstrate deep understanding. In this assessment there are four text-dependent questions that address the reading standards listed above and one constructed-response question.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that it is unclear the amount of time it will take for students to complete this assessment. Since there is a writing prompt included in the assessment, writing and language standards that apply should be added and assessed.


This assessment is a good example of how to design text-dependent questions aligned to specific Common Core Standards. The task could be used as a formative assessment to assess students’ abilities to engage in the close reading of a complex poem. Assessment guidelines that provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance are included in the Teacher’s Guide along with which standards each question addresses. Guiding questions, discussion questions, paired texts, related media, and a parent guide are included in the assessment materials.