Grade 3: CACTUS JAM by Ruth J. Luhrs


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Reading Literature

RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

RI.3.2 Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

RI.3.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.

RI.3.7 Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

RI.3.8 Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).


W.3.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.


This Grade 3 mini-assessment titled “CACTUS JAM by Ruth J. Luhrs” cited on is intended to inform instruction about a student’s ability to engage in the close reading of a complex text in order to demonstrate deep understanding.  In this mini-assessment there are six selected-response questions that address the reading standards listed and one (optional) constructed-response question that addresses the writing standard listed. It is designed to be completed in one class session.


It is highly recommended that the writing prompt not be made optional.


This mini-assessment is a good example of how to design text-dependent questions aligned to specific Common Core Standards. It could be used as a formative assessment at the start of the school year.  An annotated Teacher’s Guide for the assessment gives a specific rationale for each answer option and lists the standards addressed. Information about determining text complexity (quantitative and qualitative data) is included with assessment materials. A scoring rubric and guidelines for assessing  the written response are included.