Grade 12: We Grow Accustomed to the Dark


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Reading Literature

RL.12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.12.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

RL.12.6 Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).


This grade 12 assessment titled “WE GROW ACCUSTOMED TO THE DARK” cited on is based on a poem by Emily Dickinson. 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 two text-dependent questions that address the reading standards listed above and two constructed-response questions.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that it is unclear the amount of time it will take for students to complete this assessment. Since there are two writing prompts 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.