Study Guide

Field 033: School Psychologist 
Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

Recommendation for individuals using a screenreader: please set your punctuation settings to "most."

The following materials contain:

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 4 
Case Study

 start bold Use the data provided to complete the task that follows. end bold 

Excerpt from Johanna's current Individualized Education Program (IEP)

 start bold Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Educational Performance end bold 


Results from the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT) administered at the end of third grade ("Unsatisfactory" in two of five standards and "Limited Knowledge" in two of five standards) indicate that Johanna has difficulty in the area of mathematics reasoning. Given her current skill level, she would be unsuccessful in the general education classes without special education support.

Based on the observations of Johanna's fourth-grade teacher and special education teacher, Johanna has difficulty solving one- and two-step mathematics reasoning problems. This impedes her progress in the general education setting and the general education mathematics curriculum.


Goal:

Johanna will increase her ability to use and communicate a variety of mathematical strategies to solve fourth-grade reasoning problems involving the four basic operations as measured by classroom assessment and teacher observation.


Objectives:


Johanna will use manipulatives or drawings to represent fourth-grade mathematics concepts related to each operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) with 80 percent accuracy on 12 of 15 attempts by the end of the second quarter.


Johanna will solve one-step mathematics reasoning problems at the third- and fourth-grade level with 80 percent accuracy on 12 of 15 attempts by the end of the second quarter.



Special Education Services:
Type of 
Service
Location of 
Services
Amount of 
Services 
(Time and 
Frequency)
Start 
Date
End 
Date
Person 
Responsible
Direct 
Instruction
Resource 
room
1.5 hours 
3 × per week
9/1 8/31 Special 
education 
teacher

 start bold Continuum of Placement: end bold  In the general education classroom 80 percent or more of the day.


 start bold Amount of time in general education setting: end bold  33 hours per week or 90 percent of instructional time


 start bold Modifications/Accommodations/Adaptations: end bold 

Johanna's scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Fourth Edition (WISC–IV) (administered during her initial evaluation)

Subtest Scaled 
Score
Verbal Comprehension ( V C I )
Similarities ( S I ) 9
Vocabulary ( V O ) 11
Comprehension ( C O ) 10
(Information [ I N ]) (10)
(Word Reasoning [ W R ]) (–)
Perceptual Reasoning ( P R I )
Block Design ( B D ) 10
Picture Concepts ( P C n ) 9
Matrix Reasoning ( M R ) 9
Working Memory ( W M I )
Digit Span ( D S ) 7
Letter-Number Sequencing ( L N ) 6
(Arithmetic [ A ]) (7)
Processing Speed ( P S I )
Coding ( C D ) 9
Symbol Search ( S S ) 6
(Cancellation [ C A ]) (–)
Index Scores
Verbal Comprehension ( V C I ) 100
Perceptual Reasoning ( P R I ) 90
Working Memory ( W M I ) 83
Processing Speed ( P S I ) 89
Full Scale  I Q  ( F S I Q ) 92

Johanna's performance on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT) by skill (administered at the end of third grade)

Skill Oklahoma 
Performance 
Index (OPI)
Level
1.0 Algebraic Reasoning: Patterns and Relationships
1.1 Algebra Patterns 675 Limited Knowledge
1.2 Equations 635 Limited Knowledge
1.3 Number Properties 672 Limited Knowledge
2.0 Number Sense and Operation
2.1 Number Sense 620 Unsatisfactory
2.2 Number Operations 600 Unsatisfactory
3.0 Geometry
3.1 Properties of Shapes 710 Proficient
3.2 Spatial Reasoning 785 Proficient
3.3 Coordinate Geometry 770 Proficient
4.0 Measurement
4.1 Measurement 679 Limited Knowledge
4.2 Time and Temperature 650 Limited Knowledge
4.3 Money 655 Limited Knowledge
5.0 Data Analysis
5.1 Data Analysis 590 Unsatisfactory
5.2 Probability 544 Unsatisfactory

Notes from Johanna's special education teacher

Johanna has shown limited progress in mathematics class and may not meet all her IEP goals by the end of the first semester. In the resource room, she is reluctant to work on mathematics tasks unless the aide or I are nearby to provide assistance. She has particular difficulty determining which operation or strategy to use to solve a particular problem. Johanna uses manipulative materials for support with computation and to visualize concepts, but this approach seems to be less effective than it was initially. Johanna's parents are supportive of her and work with her at home. After several conferences, we agree that Johanna would benefit from a comprehensive reevaluation.

Notes from Johanna's fourth-grade classroom teacher

Even with assignments and assessments modified according to her IEP, Johanna is not progressing in mathematics. She is performing below grade-level expectations in most skills. Johanna works hard at learning mathematics but she is obviously experiencing frustration. This frustration most often manifests as agitation and frequently tears. Once or twice she has shoved manipulatives aside and said, "I'm too dumb to do this!" After talking with Johanna's parents, it seems that it would be a good idea to revisit her IEP.

Comments from Johanna's parents

Johanna has always liked school and learning new things, even though mathematics has been hard for her. She practices math problems each evening and we regularly play mathematics games as a family. Lately she seems less motivated, and recently she stated that she is starting not to like school so much, except for reading and art classes.

Excerpt from Johanna's learning log in mathematics (last week)

Today I only got two of the math problems correct. I tried making drawings of the problem, but I have trouble figuring out whether to add or subtract or multiply. It is  start underline really end underline  frustrating. When I look at a problem, it's hard to know what to do first. I wish I was smarter in math.

Mathematics work samples from Johanna's portfolio (two weeks ago)

Write the symbol for the correct operation in the blank ( plus ,  minus ,  times ,  divide ).



Johanna is a ten-year-old fourth grader who was determined to be eligible for special education services for a specific learning disability in mathematics when she was in second grade. Johanna's special education teacher and parents agree that she is not making sufficient academic progress relative to her efforts and her parents have referred her to Mr. Alaniz, the school psychologist, for a comprehensive reevaluation. Mr. Alaniz is reviewing information in his case file on Johanna.

Write an analysis of approximately  300 to 600  words in which you analyze the data provided. In your analysis:

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 

According to Johanna's performance on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT), she has unsatisfactory knowledge of number sense and operations. This need is also identified in her IEP. Johanna's journal entry and work sample reflect the difficulties she is having in this area. She indicates that she is often confused and does not know how to approach the problems she is supposed to solve. Her lack of progress in mastering number concepts and basic operations may be exacerbated by low average working memory as indicated in her  W I S C Roman numeral 4  Index Scores.

As part of a comprehension intervention plan for Johanna, I would implement a self-instruction strategy to help her learn how to think about math. Teaching this strategy involves five phases. In the first phase, the teacher models the problem solving process, talking aloud about the steps he or she will take to reach a solution. In phase two, Johanna would model the process under the teacher's direct guidance. She will begin to approach a problem independently while describing the steps aloud to herself. The teacher's role is to help Johanna understand what she is doing correctly and incorrectly. In the third phase, Johanna continues to model the process without the teacher, still speaking the steps out loud. By the fourth phase, Johanna will continue to model the process independently, now just whispering the steps to herself. Johanna will achieve the fifth phase when she can guide herself through the problem-solving process, thinking about the steps in her head but no longer speaking them aloud. Inherent in the self-instruction strategy are cognitive skills such as problem definition ("What is it I need to do?"), self-reinforcement ("Good. I'm doing fine."), and evaluation ("Does this solution make sense?").

As part of the comprehensive intervention plan, this self-instruction strategy would be appropriate for addressing Johanna's needs in number sense and operations because Johanna is learning a process that she can apply to any math problem. This strategy helps develop the cognitive skills that are needed for successful problem solving. Using this strategy will also help Johanna feel more in control of what she is learning and, over time, more willing to attempt math problems independently. I would collect twice-weekly progress-monitoring data on Johanna's use of the strategy and her performance solving math reasoning problems. Analyzing the data collected will reveal the extent of Johanna's improvement or lack thereof with regard to math reasoning problems and determine whether this particular intervention is effective.

Johanna's parents will need to reinforce the self-instruction strategy at home. I would teach them the strategy and/or invite them to observe it in action. I would then discuss with them how they could help Johanna apply the strategy to real-world math tasks. For example, if six guests are coming to dinner and each guest gets three deviled eggs, ask Johanna to figure out how many eggs to buy. Her parents can then provide direct guidance as needed and fade that guidance as Johanna becomes more proficient.

The self-instruction strategy builds on Johanna's relatively strong verbal comprehension skills indicated on her WISC–IV scores. To further build on that strength, I would provide Johanna with regular opportunities to work on math tasks with peers and encourage her parents to engage her in frequent conversations about what she is learning in math. Including these actions in a comprehensive intervention plan for Johanna should help improve her math skills and her academic self-esteem.

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 fully achieves the purpose of the assignment by addressing the student's need for improved mastery of number sense and basic math operations. Thorough knowledge and understanding is exhibited when a well-developed, comprehensive 5-phase "self-instruction" strategy for intervention is provided along with how the plan will be monitored and assessed. A clear plan is offered for how the student's intervention strategy extends to the family through math reasoning and further "real-world" application activities and tasks in the home. Additional support is offered in the student's potential strength of verbal comprehension, as well as how to build upon this strength in relation to her math challenges, through frequent opportunities in peer and parental conversations and encouragement around learning math.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

After reviewing the data sets, particularly the WISC–IV, Johanna has difficulty with Working Memory (WMI) and Processing Speed (PSI) as it relates to math.

One strategy that might be helpful is providing Johanna with additional time in class to memorize her basic number sense, such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Multiplication flash cards have been used successfully and are easily accessible. This strategy would be appropriate in improving foundational math recall and processing speed, which would also decrease Johanna's frustration and negative self-statements.

Johanna's family can easily replicate this activity at home, requiring that she use the flashcards at a set frequency. Her parents can also implement a positive reward system when checking Johanna for accuracy. This reinforcement would also help her build a sense of mastery and encouragement by her parents.

Johanna's obvious strength is Verbal Comprehension. She can use and build upon this skill by verbally reciting her math facts with her peers, teachers, and parents, which will help with working memory of basic number sense.

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 response reflects partial knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, providing superficial insight into the extent of the data provided. The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved through a limited explanation and support for the student's central academic and social-emotional needs. The strategy provided in the use of multiplication flash cards is limited, and does not fully address the significance of the student's math reasoning deficits. There is no mention as to how the intervention strategy will be monitored and assessed. While the strategy is transferred to the home environment, it is a mere continuation of the school intervention and does not provide for comprehensive math application in the "real world," which aids in mathematical reasoning for the student. The student's strength of verbal comprehension is identified; however, there is a vague notion of how to build upon this skill and how it can be relevant in improving the student's math challenges.

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.