Study Guide

Field 083: Gifted Education 
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 3 
Learning Environments and Instruction

 start bold Read the information below about a student with gifts and talents; then respond to the assignment that follows. end bold 

James, a fifteen-year-old eleventh grader, was identified as gifted in fourth grade at the age of nine. At that time, he was a passionate learner who was very interested in the history of the  U S  space program. That year, working at home, he built a detailed scale model of the International Space Station. He also got excellent grades, and his teachers assessed him as able to complete work well above his grade level in all subjects. He skipped fifth grade, integrating well into his sixth-grade class.

Throughout junior high school, James participated in a science-focused program. In this program, students with scientific talent were encouraged to plan and develop research projects leading to physical products or information products intended to appeal to authentic audiences. For example, the group designed, built, and sold automatic door openers, a project that included learning how to keep inventors' logs and how to file a patent claim. The following year, the group did an environmental study of the local watershed and presented their findings to the town council. James loved this program, which was ungraded. According to the group's advisor, James thrived both intellectually and socially.

In his high school, no such group exists; however, the school has an excellent AP program. His teachers have encouraged him to take advantage of this program, stressing the fact that college credit can be granted for AP courses and that college-level work is expected. Thus far, however, James has taken only one AP class—AP Physics B—for which he received a  B plus,  with a score of 4 on the test itself. He did particularly well on the lab components of the course; his weakness was the mathematical component of the course, even though he achieved all A's and B's on assignments and assessments. He says that he has no desire to take AP Physics C, which involves calculus.

James achieves A's without significant effort in all his other classes. While he is succeeding at school, in his social life, and even athletically, he is not pushing himself or being pushed to do work that is up to his ability. He says he is bored by the academic aspects of school, although he loves the social aspects. James is an avid reader in a variety of genres outside of the school setting. He hates to fail, and when challenged with difficult material in an academic setting, he becomes extremely anxious.

Using your knowledge of evidence-based strategies for differentiating instruction for students who are gifted and talented, write a response 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 

James excelled cognitively and socially in his junior high school’s science-focused program because he prefers working in groups on challenging, hands-on learning projects. The program was ungraded, which lowered his anxiety. In high school, James is bored with the academic aspects of school. Students who are gifted and talented need opportunities to explore and develop their areas of interests. This need is not being met for James in his current setting.

One evidence-based instructional strategy that I would use is Project-based learning (PBL). PBL organizes learning around projects which involve complex tasks that are based on challenging questions or problems. Students are involved in designing, problem-solving, decision making, and investigative activities. PBL gives students the opportunity to work over extended periods of time in groups, allowing the teacher to accommodate the learning needs of gifted and talented students by providing challenging, engaging activities. Students demonstrate mastery of content with culminating products or presentations.

Students are self-directed to a significant degree in their pursuit of problem resolution and the problems are based in real or authentic scenarios. The problems posed are incomplete because students are not given all the information they need in order to solve the problem. Students may redefine the problem as they research it.

This strategy would be effective for James because it builds on his strengths and his cognitive and social needs are met in this setting. James will be motivated to work with authentic problems in an environment that nurtures independence, self-selection of topics, and an emphasis on products. PBL meets the needs of James because the content is advanced and the problems deal with complex concepts. The final product is not a test, which causes anxiety for James, but a meaningful product or presentation which can be graded using a rubric. Active inquiry and collaboration with peers provides students with a positive, supportive learning environment.

Teachers often expect gifted students to also be the most motivated. Unfortunately, many gifted students seem to lack motivation in school. One personal issue James has that would be important to address is his lack of motivation to work up to his ability. He says he is bored by the academic aspects of school and becomes anxious when challenged with difficult material.

Many factors contribute to achievement, motivation being one crucial aspect. Motivated students find value in their school experience. They believe they have the skills to be successful and expect they can succeed in their school environment. When students enjoy scholastic tasks, they are intrinsically motivated to do well. When tasks are too difficult, students become frustrated and anxious.

I would discuss with James the obstacles he believes are keeping him from working up to his ability and what options exist for them. James needs to see beyond the present activity to the long-term benefits it produces. A school assignment may seem unimportant, but he may value such outcomes as acceptance into a prestigious university, a scholarship, or a rewarding occupation. I would encourage him to set short- and long-term academic goals that are meaningful to him and implement a reward system as he achieves his goals.

Sometimes gifted students lack self-management strategies, such as time management and study skills. For example, a good memory and fast processing skills can compensate for note taking and other study skills. James and I would evaluate what study skills he needs to be successful. Being organized and prepared will help to lower his anxiety and increase his motivation. It is important for James to see value in his scholastic experiences and to feel empowered to meet his 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.