COMMON CORE STANDARDS
RL.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
RL.4.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
RL.4.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
RL.4.6 Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
DESCRIPTION OF ASSESSMENT
This annotated mini-assessment titled “Paired excerpts from YANG THE ELDEST AND HIS ODD JOBS and OUT OF THE DUST” cited on achievethecore.org is intended to inform instruction about a student’s ability to engage in the close reading of two complex texts (one in prose and one in poetry) in order to demonstrate deep understanding. In this mini-assessment there are five selected-response questions and three paper/pencil equivalents of technology enhanced items that address the Reading Standards for Literature listed above. Additionally, there is an optional writing prompt, which is aligned to both the Reading Standards for Literature and the Writing Standard.
It is highly recommended that the writing prompt not be made optional. This mini assessment is designed to be completed in one class period; however educators are encouraged to allow students additional time as necessary.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This mini-assessment is an exemplary 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 a school year and/or to assess the growth in students’ abilities to engage in the close reading of a complex text. An annotated Teacher’s Guide for the assessment gives specific rationale for each answer option and lists the specific standard(s) addressed. There is an aligned rubric for scoring text-based writing prompts developed by Student Achievement Partners. Information about determining text complexity (quantitative and qualitative data) is included with assessment materials. (“Yang the Eldest and His Odd Jobs” = Flesch Kincaid 4.3, Lexile 850. “Out of the Dust” is a poem; given the unconventional punctuation of non-prose texts like poetry, quantitative measures cannot accurately determine the grade level of a text. Although the poem is written in free verse and contains very complex language features, the moderately complex meaning and knowledge demands make it appropriate for the average 4th grader.)