Study Guide

Field 085: Special Education Comprehensive Assessment 
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 300–600 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

Competency 0015 
Analyze quantitative and qualitative data for a student with disabilities to identify the student's strengths and needs and determine evidence- and research-based strategies for meeting the student's needs, including a strategy for monitoring the student's progress.

 start bold Use the information in the exhibits to complete the assignment that follows. end bold 

Using the student profile and exhibits provided, write a response of approximately 300–600 words in which you:

Be specific in your response, citing evidence from the student profile and exhibits as appropriate. Your response should be approximately 300–600 words.

Exhibit 1: Student Profile

Mary is a 12-year-old fifth grader with an intellectual disability (I D). A comprehensive evaluation when Mary was in prekindergarten determined that she was eligible for special education services. Her full-scale IQ has been assessed at 68. Mary receives direct instruction and support in reading and mathematical skills from her special education teacher for two hours a day in the resource room. She receives instruction in the general education classroom in science, social studies, and nonacademic classes for the remainder of the school day. Mary receives related services from a speech-language pathologist (S L P) twice a week to support the development of her oral language skills.

Mary has many friends in her class. She readily socializes with peers during lunch and in other nonacademic settings. Mary is very interested in cooking and helps prepare meals at home. She also attends a beginners' tae kwon do class once a week. At school, Mary tends to wait for the teacher or a peer to help her before she begins an assignment or task. She has difficulty keeping up with supplies and materials. Mary has a school–home communication journal that she has misplaced twice in the past month.

Mary is able to say the days of the week and recognize the names of most of the days by sight. She has a visual schedule on her desk to help her remember that science is before lunch, social studies is after lunch, and physical education is at the end of the day. Mary can understand and follow two-step directions related to familiar tasks with minimal supervision. On occasion, Mary will cry if she becomes frustrated. This happens most often when she cannot remember something or communicate her ideas clearly.

Mary's Individualized Education Program (I E P) team is reviewing current data for Mary as part of her annual I E P review.

Exhibit 2: Student Assessment

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test®—Third Edition (W I A T®3)

Composite Standard Score Percentile Rank Description
Reading Comprehension 52 0 point 1 percent Profound
Spelling 46 less than 0 point 1 percent Profound
Essay Composition 35 less than 0 point 1 percent Profound
Listening Comprehension 68 2 percent Impaired
Oral Expression 59 0 point 3 percent Profound

Adaptive Behavior Evaluation Scale®—R2: 4–12
(A B E S®—R2: 4–12)

Skill Area Standard Score Percentile Rank Classification
Communication 79 8 percent Borderline
Functional Academics 66 1 percent Extremely Low
Self-Direction 68 2 percent Extremely Low
Leisure 79 8 percent Borderline
Social 70 3 percent Extremely Low
Community Use 77 6 percent Borderline
Home Living 79 8 percent Borderline
Health and Safety 68 2 percent Extremely Low
Self-Care 77 6 percent Borderline
Composite Standard Score Percentile Rank Classification
Conceptual Domain Composite 66 1 percent Extremely Low
Social Domain Composite 77 6 percent Borderline
Practical Domain Composite 79 8 percent Borderline
General Adaptive Composite 70 3 percent Extremely Low

Exhibit 3: Anecdotal Information

Comments from Mary's General Education Teacher

Mary is well liked by her peers, who are happy to help her if she needs it. She can perform previously learned tasks, such as clean-up routines, with minimal supervision. She often misplaces things, so we are developing specific routines for managing her belongings such as her backpack and journal. Mary has made progress in working in a group. She still has difficulty sharing materials.

Mary likes to work on the computer. She can independently access the two applications she uses to practice basic reading and mathematical skills and a drawing application that is a reward for keeping track of her journal. She uses the mouse effectively.

The special education teacher and I work closely to differentiate Mary's assignments and tasks to facilitate her participation and learning. She has difficulty initiating independent tasks. If someone is not immediately available to assist her in getting started, she will get up and go talk to a classmate in another part of the classroom. This behavior may occur two to three times a day during independent work periods.

Comments from Mary's Special Education Teacher

Mary has mastered several early reading skills. She can decode simple one-syllable words and read a short paragraph written at a first-grade level. Mary has difficulty comprehending what she has read and cannot answer inferential questions. She can usually identify the main character or event in a story or the topic of an informational text. If someone reads a text aloud to her, her comprehension is somewhat better. She likes to listen to stories with repetitive text and will occasionally repeat some of the text as she listens. Mary is also learning how to read and follow a simple recipe with visual cues.

Mary receives direct instruction in reading with two other students who have similar needs. After introducing an activity and modeling how to perform it, the other two students will begin to work. However, Mary will often say, "I don't know how" or "It's too hard." Once I help her get started, she will usually complete the activity accurately with only occasional guidance.

Mary can use scissors to cut straight lines and likes to use colorful markers to draw. She is making progress in improving the legibility of her handwriting. Mary can copy a list of five words from the board with accuracy, but she often skips words if asked to copy a complete sentence.

Comments from Mary's Parents

Mary has several friends in the neighborhood. Most of them are two or three years younger than she is, but they share an interest in tae kwon do and drawing. Mary's tae kwon do teacher, Mr. Adan, is good at maintaining her attention and he is careful to provide her with only one or two directions at a time. Mary says Mr. Adan is her "favorite person in the world."

Mary knows how to perform several household tasks and one of her responsibilities is to take the clean dishes from the dishwasher, stack plates and bowls, and put away utensils in a drawer with dividers for knives, forks, and spoons. Recently Mary has begun waiting for a family member to help her get started with this task or for someone to perform it for her. Earlier this week Mary was asked to empty the dishwasher. A few minutes later, we saw her playing in her room. When asked about the dishes, she said her sister was doing it for her because she could not remember where to put the forks.

Mary can dress herself and usually picks clothes that are appropriate for the weather. She takes care of her personal hygiene with the exception of washing her hair, which she refuses to do and resists having someone else do it for her. She also has favorite pants and shirts that she wants to wear for days at a time, even when they become soiled, and will go through the laundry hamper to find them. It takes consistent effort on our part to convince her to wear clean clothes.

Exhibit 4: Speech-Language Pathologist Report

Speech-Language Pathologist Report

Student Name: Mary Age: 12 years, 2 months Grade: Fifth
Date: 11/30 Speech-Language Pathologist: Ms. Martin

Mary is a 12-year-old female who received her most recent speech and language evaluation at age 10. Her teachers and parents reported that her speech can be difficult to understand at times. It was also noted that Mary has fluency difficulties that manifest in long pauses when she is trying to decode a word and when she has difficulty thinking of the word she wants to use in conversation.

Mary was identified with an intellectual disability in prekindergarten, at which time a comprehensive evaluation was conducted and she was determined eligible to receive special education services. Mary's current placement is in a general education classroom 67 percent of the school day.

Mary receives speech and language services twice a week to help refine her articulation. We have also been working on improving Mary's fluency in conversation.

—Ms. Martin, Speech-Language Pathologist

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 

One specific area of need for Mary is in the area of literacy. According to the information we are given by her teachers, Mary can read a short first-grade level reading passage but is struggling to remember what she has read. Improving both Mary's decoding skills and reading comprehension skills may support improvement in this area. It was mentioned that Mary is doing well with learning routines for daily life, and I think that we might be able to use this to create a reading routine. This routine would include teacher modeling of appropriate behaviors readers do every time they read such as making predictions, asking questions, and retelling what we remember. These routines change slightly with differing types of reading material such as we might model asking “what was the problem in this passage?” and “what was the solution?” Other times, the teacher might model using a story map or other type of graphic organizer during reading or directly after in order to help recall facts from what was read. Over time, the teacher will model multiple reading routines and explain that readers use tools every time they read to help them remember and make sense of the words they have read. Modeling has been shown to be an effective tool in teaching students a multitude of new skills. The idea of making these into reading routines will build upon the routines Mary is already mastering in other areas. Progress monitoring in this area can be accomplished by collected work samples from Mary at the end of some reading sessions (such as the graphic organizers or images she may create in relation to the reading) as well as through anecdotal data collection by the teachers or paraprofessionals taking notes at the end of reading work with Mary.

Another area of need is behavioral or social in nature and is more specifically in task initiation. From the reports by her teachers, it appears that Mary will almost always wait for someone else to assist her in starting her work rather than beginning independently once assigned. This is even leading to more distracting behaviors such as when she will get out of her seat to talk to friends while waiting for someone to help her. If she starts work right away, additional distracting behaviors can be avoided, and she will get more work done in a more timely manner due to the quicker start. Task initiation can be supported by breaking down jobs into smaller chunks. When the class or small group is ready to start, I will remind Mary of the first small chunk to do independently and what to do if she isn't sure what comes next. If possible, all steps of each activity would have visual components on a checklist to help Mary understand what to do next. In addition to ensuring that she understands how to begin the task, it would be helpful to also increase her motivation to start work independently. This can be done by adding in an incentive for beginning work without getting out of her seat or getting unnecessary help. An incentive chart can also contain a reminder of what incentive Mary is working for. This chart and incentives can start off with Mary gaining a larger incentive for less compliance, and over time the incentive lessens and the expectations should increase. Incentives considered could be time with friends, time for drawing, or any other feasible desired activity. The charts themselves work to monitor progress as it will be apparent when she is earning more incentives each day or class period as her task initiation skills increase.

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 by responding adequately to all parts of the prompt. The candidate identified an academic need related to communication, language, or literacy development (i.e., reading comprehension); described a research-based instructional strategy to address the academic need (i.e., modeling reading strategies); explained why the strategy would be appropriate in meeting the area of academic need and how the teacher would monitor Mary's progress (i.e., teacher observation and data from graphic organizers). The candidate also identified one additional area of need related to social, adaptive skills or behavior (i.e., initiating tasks independently); described an evidence-based instructional strategy (i.e., incentive chart) and explained its appropriateness, and provided a strategy for monitoring progress. The response reflects accurate subject matter in the identification of Mary's needs, descriptions of appropriate instructional strategies, and detailed rationales explaining the benefits of the strategies. The writer supports the response with relevant examples. Overall, the writer demonstrates a clear understanding of how to interpret data to identify student needs, describe appropriate strategies to address these needs, and explain the effectiveness of the strategies.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

Mary has a need in the area of literacy. She is currently able to independently read a short passage at a first grade reading level according to teacher reports. I would like to use these skills and begin to build on them by increasing her practice time for reading. These reading practice sessions should be mostly reading aloud so that a paraprofessional or teacher can monitor her for struggles with the decoding of new words. I would also like to include comprehension questions for her to answer following each reading passage. These comprehension questions will give her a review of what she read and allow the teacher to see if she understands the content of the passage. This can be used for progress monitoring because we can score the question portions and keep track of the scores. Over time we will review the scores to assess for progress. Additionally, I will increase the difficulty of the level of reading in the passages as it appears Mary is ready to move to a harder level.

Additionally, Mary has a need in the area of behavior and organization. Some behaviors that she requires support in is losing items, remembering steps and planning. She would likely benefit from more than just a visual schedule but more detailed visual reminders of the items she should have before beginning and putting away any task. This might be something like a picture of her home communication folder, other supplies, and backpack together near the door where she can remember to grab them before leaving class or even at home too so she can remember to bring it to school. Having all her necessary items will help her be more successful. Also, we can begin to use a sort of visual planner with pictures of steps and supplies to help Mary remember all that needs to be done for certain jobs. This can be displayed on her desk or for the whole group/class when appropriate to show what is needed. Progress in this area will be monitored through teacher observations.

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 the assignment is only partially achieved. This candidate did not include an explanation about the appropriateness of each strategy. The response demonstrates a limited understanding of using data to identify needs, describing appropriate instructional strategies, and explaining the effectiveness of the strategies. The instructional strategy to address Mary's academic need (i.e., reading aloud and answering questions) is not an effective instructional strategy for improving literacy. Rather, it is a strategy primarily used for additional practice. The response provides ideas but lacks details of how these might address the needs of the student. The writer demonstrates a poor understanding of how to describe instructional strategies to address Mary's needs and of why they are appropriate. Progress monitoring is mentioned but with no elaboration. Overall, this response reflects a limited understanding of how to address Mary's needs.

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.