Grade 9: “Departure” by Sherwood Anderson


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Reading Literature

RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.9-10.2 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.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

RL.9-10.4 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.9-10.5 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.


W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


This Grade 9 annotated mini-assessment titled “Departure” by Sherwood Anderson 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 five selected-response questions and one paper/pencil equivalent of a technology enhanced item that together address: citing strong text evidence, determining a theme, analyzing character development, determining meanings of words in context, and analyzing the author’s craft.  There is an optional prompt that calls for a written response.


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.


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 which standards it addresses.  There is an aligned rubric for the writing prompt as well as assessment guidelines.  Information about determining text complexity (quantitative and qualitative data) is included with assessment materials.   (“Departure” has a Lexile of 1060 and a DRP of 64.)