School Improvement in Maryland
Government-Assessment

Guidelines for Writing Extended Constructed Response Items

Sample Extended Constructed Response Items

Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.1 The student will analyze historic documents to determine the basic principles of United States government and apply them to real-world situations.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

  1. Identify those clauses and arguments that might be used by the National Rifle Association to work against gun control.
  2. Identify those clauses and arguments that might be used by Sarah Brady and those working for gun control.
  3. Which side of the issue would cartoonist Eugene Payne of the Charlotte Observer support? Use specific examples from the cartoon to support your answer.

Comments: The directions in Step 2 were made more specific, and the reference to Sarah Brady was removed because it assumed students had certain prior knowledge. Students with the necessary knowledge and skills might be thrown off because they did not know Sarah Brady. The cartoon was moved to follow Step 3 because it was not needed until then. "Clauses" was changed to "phrases" so as not to confuse students with terminology. The name of the cartoonist and newspaper were removed from Step 3 because it added unnecessary reading. These items can be found at http://mdk12.org/assessments/high_school/developed/evolution_ss.html.

REVISION:

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

  1. Identify the phrases from the Second Amendment above and other arguments that might be used to protest gun control.
  2. Identify the phrases from the Second Amendment above and other arguments that might be used to support gun control.
  3. Which side of the issue would the author of the cartoon below support? Use specific examples from the cartoon to support your answer.

Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.2: The student will evaluate how the principles of government assist or impede the functioning of government.

United States citizens vote indirectly for President through the Electoral College. The winning candidate in most states is awarded all of the votes for that state. The votes from all the states are then added up to elect the President.

  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the Electoral College System.
  • Is the Electoral College a good system for presidential elections in the United States? Explain your answer.
  • Include details and examples to support your answer

Comments: The stimulus is not needed for the question; the stimulus is actually teaching the material. While, the first bullet relies on the over-used task of "Describe the advantages and disadvantages..." the second bullet can be answered with a "yes" or "no" and is really a restatement of the first bullet.

Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.2 The student will evaluate how the principles of government assist or impede the functioning of government.

  • Describe the principle of limited government.
  • Describe ways that the Constitution limits government.
  • Which of these ways is most effective? Explain why.
  • Include details and examples to support your answer.

Comments: The verb 'describe' is repeated in two different bullets. The second bullet is not specific enough in how many Constitutional limits are required for a complete answer. Students responded with the same knowledge in answering the second bullet. The opportunities for powerful application are limited. ECRs are now required to have a stimulus.

Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.2.2: The student will analyze legislation designed to protect the rights of individuals and groups and to promote equity in American society.

LegislationYearProvisions
Architectural Barriers Act1968Requires that building built or changed with federal funds must be handicapped accessible
Fair Housing Act1988Prohibits landlords from refusing to rent housing to an individual because of a disability
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act1997Requires that public schools provide a free education to all students with disabilities while meeting their individual needs
  • Explain why Congress passed the legislation in the chart.
  • Explain how different groups required to follow this legislation are affected.
  • How does the legislation in the chart promote "equal protection under the law?" Explain your answer.
  • Include details and examples to support your answer.

Comments: In general, the first bullet should contain a lower-level cognitive question/task, which this ECR does not have; moreover, the cognitive verb 'explain' is used three times in three different bullets. Finally, the content of this ECR is also too narrowly focused and based on historical developments.

Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.2.5: The student will analyze elements, proceedings, and decisions related to criminal and civil law.

Study the headlines below.

Prosecutor Files Criminal Charges in Robbery Case
Homeowner Files Civil Suit Against Building Contractor

Using the headlines:

  • Explain why one case is criminal and the other is a civil case.
  • Describe the differences between the procedures in a criminal case and a civil case.
  • Which of the differences is most important for our legal system? Explain.
  • Include details and examples to support your answer.

Comments: This item is too narrowly focused for an ECR and the headlines do not really engage the students and stimulate them to write a powerful and insightful response. ECRs should represent larger conceptual ideas in Goal 1. The first bullet is worded such that it could be answered with "The prosecutor decided in was a criminal case."

Assessment