Study Guide

Field 129: Mild-Moderate Disabilities 
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 5 
Case Study—Analysis of Data to Identify and Effectively Address Student Needs

 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 in which you analyze a student's areas of need. In your response:

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

 start bold Exhibit 1: Student Profile end bold 

Mary is a 12-year-old fifth grader with an intellectual disability. 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 (SLP) 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.


 start bold Exhibit 2: Student Assessment end bold 

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test registered trademark —Third Edition (WIAT registered symbol  roman numeral 3 )
Composite Standard 
Reading Comprehension 52  0.1 percent  Profound
Spelling 46  less than 0.1 percent  Profound
Essay Composition 35  less than 0.1 percent  Profound
Listening Comprehension 68  2 percent  Impaired
Oral Expression 59  0.3 percent  Profound
Adaptive Behavior Evaluation Scale registered —R2: 4 to 12 
(ABES registered trademark symbol —R2: 4 to 12)
Skill Area Standard 
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
This is a secondary table
Composite Standard 
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

 start bold Exhibit 3: Anecdotal Information end bold 

 start bold Comments from Mary's General Education Teacher end bold 

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.

 start bold Comments from Mary's Special Education Teacher end bold 

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.

 start bold Comments from Mary's Parents end bold 

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.

 start bold Exhibit 4: SLP Report end bold 

Speech-Language Pathologist Report

start bold student name colon mary

start bold Age colon end bold 12 years, 2 months

start bold Grade colon end bold Fifth

start bold Date colon end bold 11/30

start bold Speech-Language Pathologist colon end bold Ms. Martin

Mary is a 12-year-old female who received her most recent speech and language evaluation at age 10. Her teacher(s) 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 academic need Mary has is reading comprehension (WIAT, special education teacher anecdotal notes). Students with intellectual disabilities require modeling, explicit instruction and repeated practice.

One research-based instructional strategy for teaching comprehension is using graphic organizers. Graphic organizers can be customized for specific needs. For instance, Mary has trouble comprehending what she reads. I would design a graphic organizer that focuses on literal comprehension first. I will model for Mary how to complete the graphic organizer while reading using a "think-aloud" strategy. We will record the answers on the graphic organizer with text and pictures to help her remember. We will practice going back into the passage to find the answers. As she becomes more proficient, we will move to inferential comprehension questions which require higher level thinking skills.

Graphic organizers support comprehension because they can help organize important content to make it easier to understand. They can help students distinguish what is important from less important details in the passage. They reduce information processing demands and the student can focus on essential information. Graphic organizers used in conjunction with explicit teaching helps student see how the story fits together. Leading Mary through an explicit questioning strategy after each reading/listening session will help her attend to and internalize key story elements of a passage. It is also a visual aid to refer back to as needed. Progress monitoring will be through teacher observation and data collected from the graphic organizers Mary has completed.

One additional area of need Mary has that is evident in the data is initiating tasks independently (student profile, parent comments, general education teacher and special education teacher anecdotal notes). Mary will benefit from explicit instruction and positive reinforcement.

An evidence-based instructional strategy is to provide Mary with a visual work system illustrating each step of the task she is to complete. For example, we will establish a routine of steps that she must always perform at the beginning of a task (i.e., get pencil, write name, and look for number 1). We will begin with one or two tasks that Mary is familiar with and gradually expand the system to include all important tasks. It is important to provide a laminated copy of the visual work system on her desk with pictures and words of each step and she can check off each step after completing it. A cue between the teacher and Mary that the teacher uses to signal when it's time to begin working, such as putting a hand on Mary's shoulder and quietly saying, "It is time to begin working now." She will need lots of modeling, practice, and positive reinforcement. This system will be implemented with fading prompts when Mary demonstrates that she is internalizing the steps.

Work systems are appropriate because they help to create a habit of initiating tasks through repetition of the same beginning steps. The visual support provides additional scaffolding for specific tasks or assignments. Mary's progress will be monitored by the teacher noting increases in self-initiated tasks compared with baseline data over a specific period of time.

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 writer identified one academic need related to communication, language, or literacy development (i.e., comprehension); described a research-based instructional strategy to address the academic need (i.e., graphic organizers); 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, data from graphic organizers). The writer also identified one additional area of need (i.e., initiating tasks independently); described an evidence-based instructional strategy (i.e., visual work system) 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 Mary's needs, describe appropriate strategies to address her needs, and explain the effectiveness of the strategies.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

Based on Mary's performance at school and on tests, she needs help in all academic areas.

The teacher can provide learning stimuli, such as computer programs, since she likes computers. This will not only help her academic skills, but also promote task accomplish rate. For example, she can use a program to help her reading skills. Her task is to achieve 80 percent accuracy with 4 tryouts. Also, the teacher can assign times based on his ability of her reading skills. For example, she needs to complete each reading passage with comprehension questions within three minutes. Using computer programs will also provide achievement data. To reward her achievement for academic skill goals, the teacher can use a treasure box or extra hours on interactive computer program.

The other skill Mary needs is to organize her supplies and materials. She seems to forget to bring her journal to school or home.

One of the things that I would implement to help Mary improve this skill would be to sit and interview Mary on things that help her to remember. Folders work well for many students so when an assignment is completed, she will put it in the appropriate folder. It is a visual reminder of the assignment needing to be handed in and in what subject. As her organization improves and becomes more automatic to her, this scaffolding could be brought down a little at a time until he does these tasks on his own.

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. The writer neglected to include an explanation about the appropriateness of each strategy. The response demonstrates a limited understanding about using data to identify needs, describe appropriate instructional strategies, and explain the effectiveness of the strategies. The instructional strategy to address Mary's academic need (i.e., computer programs) is not instructional. It is for additional practice. The response provides few relevant examples. The writer demonstrates a poor understanding of Mary's needs, of how to describe instructional strategies to address her needs, and of why they are appropriate. Overall, this response reflects a limited understanding of mild/moderate disabilities.

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.