Study Guide

Field 018: World History/Geography 
Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

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Test Directions for the Constructed-Response Assignment

This section of the test consists of one constructed-response assignment. You are to prepare a written response of approximately  300 to 600  words on the assigned topic. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your response to the assignment.

Read the assignment carefully before you begin to write. Think about how you will organize your response.

As a whole, your response must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills of the field. In your response to the assignment, you are expected to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the content area through your ability to apply your knowledge and skills rather than merely to recite factual information.

Your response to the assignment will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

 start bold PURPOSE: end bold  the extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
 start bold SUBJECT MATTER KNOWLEDGE: end bold  accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
 start bold SUPPORT: end bold  quality and relevance of supporting details
 start bold RATIONALE: end bold  soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

The constructed-response assignment is intended to assess subject matter knowledge and skills, not writing ability. However, your response must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the scoring criteria. Your response should be written for an audience of educators in this field. The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your written response must be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

Be sure to write about the assigned topic. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review what you have written and make any changes you think will improve your response.

Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

subarea roman numeral 1 
World History

 start bold Read the information below; then complete the exercise that follows. end bold 

A decades-long civil war in China ended in 1949, when a group of communist revolutionaries led by Mao Zedong overthrew Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist government and established the People's Republic of China.

Using your knowledge of world history, write an essay in which you:

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

 start bold Please note: The sample response provided below is for review purposes only and should not be used in a response on an operational exam. Use of the exact words and phrases presented in this sample response will result in a score of "U" (Unscorable) due to lack of original work. end bold 

The communist triumph in the Chinese Revolution of 1949 had a number of important consequences. One was the effort to create a communist economy in the world's most populous country. Shortly after the revolution, China's newly formed government took over all of the country's large manufacturing establishments and launched the first of a series of Five-Year Plans. These were state-directed economic programs designed to turn China into a self-sufficient nation by expanding its industrial base and increasing factory and agricultural output. During the 1950s, the government also replaced the agricultural cooperatives of the early post-revolutionary period with large state-owned collective farms, which were later merged to form even larger productive units called communes. At the same time, most forms of private ownership were abolished. With the exception of a small black market and perhaps a few tiny enterprises, the state owned and operated all businesses in the Chinese economy.

The results of these initiatives were mixed. On one hand, China did make important advances in a number of areas. Industrial production increased, fears of famine were eliminated, health care improved, and illiteracy was largely abolished. But there were also serious problems. Agricultural output consistently fell short of expectations, which forced the government to make frequent foreign grain purchases and adopt food-rationing programs. At the same time, an increasing number of state-run industrial enterprises operated at a loss. Although Chinese planners adopted various innovations such as the creation of numerous small industries in the countryside, nothing seemed to work. Eventually, in the late 1970s, the government reversed course and began expanding the free market sector of the economy, thus ending China's experiment with communist planning. However, the imposition of central planning had greatly slowed Chinese economic development after World War II, enabling other East Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea to build strong market-based economies and become prominent players in the expanding world economic system.

Another important consequence of the establishment of a communist government in China was the effect it had on Cold War developments in East Asia. The newly formed People's Republic of China had barely consolidated its power before it intervened in the Korean War, driving  U S  units back to the middle of the Korean Peninsula and beyond. Although the United States and its South Korean and UN allies eventually regrouped, the Chinese presence destroyed any hopes they might have had of eliminating North Korea's communist regime. After several years of stalemate, the combatants negotiated an armistice that restored the pre-war boundary between North Korea and South Korea. As a consequence of Chinese intervention, what might have been a major  U S  victory turned out be a draw in which neither side gained ground.

Fear of spreading Chinese influence in Asia also had a major impact on  U S  policy in Vietnam. China's location on the border of North Vietnam strengthened the claims of proponents of the "domino theory," the belief that if all of Vietnam fell to communism, then the remainder of Southeast Asia would eventually do so as well. Although no one believed that North Vietnam alone could accomplish this feat, the domino theory did not seem quite so far-fetched when one looked at a map and saw the largest communist nation in the world positioned just to the north. A strong argument can be made that had Mao Zedong's communist forces not triumphed in the Chinese Revolution,  U S  policymakers would have acted more cautiously in Southeast Asia and allowed competing Vietnamese groups to settle their differences among themselves.

Rationale for the Sample Strong Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The response fulfills the purpose of the assignment (refer to the instructions for the assignment) by describing two consequences of the Chinese Revolution of 1949 (i.e., the creation of a communist economy and the revolution's effect on the Cold War) and by analyzing how each of the identified consequences influenced the development of world history. The writer states the first consequence in the second sentence of the response. The writer goes on to provide sound, relevant examples (i.e., Five-Year Plans, communes, etc.) to demonstrate an accurate understanding of the transformation within China to a communist, state-run economy. The writer then goes on to analyze how China's transformation to a communist economy influenced the development of world history as it impacted life within the borders of China and enabled East Asian nations (i.e., Japan and South Korea) to become "prominent players in the expanding world economic system." Similarly, the writer provides a substantial application of subject matter knowledge in describing the second identified consequence (i.e., the effect of a communist government in China on Cold War developments in East Asia). The writer uses professional language to describe both the stalemate and armistice of the Korean War and then uses the example of the Vietnam War to address how this consequence influenced the development of world history. In particular, the writer analyzes China's location and the widespread belief held by western nations in the "domino theory" as the basis for  U S  intervention in Vietnam. Overall, this response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the consequences of the Chinese Revolution of 1949.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

Following the end of WWII, the world quickly took sides in what became known as the Cold War. Those who favored communism aligned themselves with the Soviet Union and those in the west, or those in favor of democracy, aligned themselves with the United States. Looking toward the success of the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China when he overthrew Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist government. The Chinese Revolution of 1949 put in place a communist government in China, with Mao Zedong at the helm. This overthrow had many implications both for China and the world.

One consequence of the Chinese Revolution was that as the government shifted to communism, the economic system followed suit. The government took control of virtually all aspects of the economy, instituting large state-owned collective farms and eliminating all forms of free enterprise. The government called this economic transition The Great Leap Forward. This movement from an individual to state run economic system was done through several Five-Year Plans, modeled after those that had taken place in the Soviet Union. These plans had mixed results. On one hand, the national income grew and on the other, millions of peasants starved to death. The Great Leap Forward was followed by the Cultural Revolution. These movements, spearheaded by Mao, had a tremendous impact on the day to day lives of the Chinese. The Chinese were taught to put the government and Mao above all else.

Another consequence of the Chinese Revolution was that it helped spur other communist movements around the world; in particular, many Latin American countries began to embrace communism. For example, after seeing the success of both the Soviet Union and subsequently the Chinese Revolution, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries lead the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. The establishment of a communist government within ninety miles of the United States helped spread the red scare within the United States that allowed the era of McCarthyism to take hold. The establishment of a communist government in Cuba changed the relationship between Cuba and the USA, even to this day. Following the Cuban Revolution, an embargo was put in place against Cuba, which has yet to be lifted.

The Chinese Revolution of 1949 had many consequences that impacted the world and China in particular. The way of life was changed for millions of Chinese as they shifted to life under a communist government. On the world scene, the United States changed the way it conducted foreign relations with Cuba.

Rationale for the Sample Weak Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The purpose of this assignment is only partially achieved. Although the writer attempts to address both bullets (refer to the instructions for the assignment), the writer only describes one consequence of the Chinese Revolution of 1949 (i.e., the shift to a command economy) instead of describing two consequences as indicated by the prompt. The writer begins the response by simply restating the prompt in the first paragraph. Then, the writer describes one consequence of the Chinese Revolution in the second paragraph. The writer uses specific examples (i.e., the Great Leap Forward, Five-Year Plans, and the Cultural Revolution) to describe this change in China's economic system. However, the writer demonstrates a partial knowledge and understanding of the subject matter when attempting to describe the second consequence of the Chinese Revolution. The writer does not give a description of the second consequence, stating only that "it helped spur other communist movements around the world." Instead, the writer spends an entire paragraph discussing Cuba and the United States and makes little connection between this consequence and the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Overall, this response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the Chinese Revolution of 1949 and its subsequent impact on world history.

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Characteristics that guide the scoring of responses
Purpose The extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
Subject Matter Knowledge Accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
Support Quality and relevance of supporting details
Rationale Soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

Scoring Scale

Scores will be assigned to each response to the constructed-response assignment according to the following scoring scale.

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4  start bold The "4" response reflects a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is fully achieved.
  • There is a substantial, accurate, and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is sound; there are high-quality, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the topic.
3  start bold The "3" response reflects a general knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is largely achieved.
  • There is a generally accurate and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence generally supports the discussion; there are some relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a general understanding of the topic.
2  start bold The "2" response reflects a partial knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved.
  • There is a limited, possibly inaccurate or inappropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is limited; there are few relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.
1  start bold The "1" response reflects little or no knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is not achieved.
  • There is little or no appropriate or accurate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence, if present, is weak; there are few or no relevant examples.
  • The response reflects little or no reasoning about or understanding of the topic.
U The response is unscorable because it is illegible, not written to the assigned topic, written in a language other than English, or lacking a sufficient amount of original work to score.
B There is no response to the assignment.