School Improvement in Maryland

Sample Items: Reading Grade 8

 (1) Selected Response Sample
Read the story 'School Photographer' and answer the following question.


Why does the speaker feel hidden?

  1. No one can see her.
  2. She is looking through the camera.
  3. There is no one around.
  4. Other people are standing in front of her.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_009.xml

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 (2) Selected Response Sample
Read the story 'School Photographer' and answer the following question.


In line 6, when the speaker says, "I see things others don't," she most likely means _____.

  1. people often overlook what's around them
  2. people don't pay attention when their picture is taken
  3. cameras are the most accurate form of record keeping
  4. the camera lens is like a microscope

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_010.xml

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 (3) Selected Response Sample
Read the story 'School Photographer' and answer the following question.


In the first four lines, the speaker likes being a photographer because she _____.

  1. likes to take pictures of her friends
  2. gets to make other people do things
  3. enjoys the feel of the camera in her hands
  4. wants to become a better school photographer

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_011.xml

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 (4) Selected Response Sample
Choose the word or group of words that means the same, or about the same, as the underlined word. Then mark the space for the answer you have chosen.


Mr. Martínez told Dave to enunciate the word carefully, so everyone in the audience would hear it clearly. Enunciate means _____.

  1. examine
  2. write
  3. pronounce
  4. describe

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_013.xml

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 (5) Selected Response Sample
Choose the word or group of words that means the same, or about the same, as the underlined word. Then mark the space for the answer you have chosen.


School was closed due to the adverse weather conditions. Adverse means _____.

  1. windy
  2. difficult
  3. slippery
  4. snowy

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_014.xml

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 (6) Selected Response Sample
Choose the word or group of words that means the same, or about the same, as the underlined word. Then mark the space for the answer you have chosen.


These directions will tell you how to operate the toy.

In which sentence does the word operate mean the same thing as in the sentence above?

  1. Carol knows how to operate that computer.
  2. The doctor will operate on my grandfather tomorrow.
  3. It’s sometimes hard to operate a business.
  4. This engine doesn’t operate well at all.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_015.xml

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 (7) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


Amelia's letter can best be described as

  1. a personal reaction to events
  2. a narrative of an unusual situation
  3. an exploration of a plan for the future
  4. an explanation of a particular time period

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_027.xml

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 (8) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


Which of these questions is NOT answered by the details and events in this passage?

  1. What happened to Amelia's mother?
  2. What is Amelia's attitude toward Sacagawea?
  3. How concerned is Amelia with current events?
  4. Why is Amelia interested in the purchase of Pvt. Cruzatte's rifle?

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_028.xml

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 (9) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


Read this sentence from paragraph 2 of the letter.

Yet, if they do come to Pittsburgh, we shall not fail to celebrate these titans of exploration.

The word in paragraph 2 that most helps a reader understand the meaning of titans is

  1. entourage
  2. progress
  3. heroes
  4. banquets

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_029.xml

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 (10) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


Read this sentence from paragraph 4 of the letter.

But it has been suggested to me that a person of my education and attainments might do well as a teacher for young ladies; and as this suits my temper very well, I think I may try it when I am of suitable years.

In this sentence, the word suitable suggests

  1. advanced
  2. appropriate
  3. matching
  4. noticeable

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_030.xml

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 (11) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Which sentence from the text most clearly identifies this article as nonfiction?

  1. As food became scarce, people grew weaker.
  2. Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning "the ancient one."
  3. They lived by hunting and by growing corn and squash.
  4. Mesa Verde, the beautiful green table, was no longer a good place to live.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_033.xml

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 (12) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


What is the purpose of paragraph 1 of this article?

  1. to describe the Mesa Verde
  2. to tell how the Anasazi lived
  3. to outline an historical mystery
  4. to explain an historical problem

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_034.xml

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 (13) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


The organizational pattern of the article changes from chronological order to main idea and supporting details between paragraphs

  1. 2 and 3
  2. 5 and 6
  3. 7 and 8
  4. 10 and 11

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_035.xml

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 (14) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Based on information in this article, a reader can best conclude that

  1. the Anasazi were a talented but unlucky people
  2. the Anasazi were good farmers but careless with land
  3. the Mesa Verde's animals made it a dangerous place to live
  4. the Mesa Verde's lack of trees caused bad growing seasons

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_036.xml

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 (15) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Information in this article would be most helpful to an individual who is studying the connection between

  1. people's health and their environment
  2. housing styles and their physical setting
  3. types of trees and their growing conditions
  4. native crafts and available, natural material

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_037.xml

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 (16) Selected Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Which strategy would most help a reader check the accuracy of the information in this article?

  1. reviewing a history of Colorado
  2. finding the Mesa Verde on a map
  3. locating a photograph of the Anasazi cliffhouses
  4. reading about the Native Americans of the Southwest

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_038.xml

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 (17) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Read lines 3–5 of the poem

From her gentle manners
lessons were learned
not easily forgotten

The meaning of these lines is that Grandmother

  1. was well educated
  2. taught by example
  3. had a good memory
  4. knew how to behave

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_067.xml

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 (18) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Grandmother’s actions show that she is mostly a

  1. good storyteller
  2. strict grandparent
  3. sorrowful individual
  4. hard working woman

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_068.xml

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 (19) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Which sentence best states an important theme in this poem?

  1. Intelligence is a gift.
  2. Respect for nature is necessary.
  3. Caring for a family is admirable.
  4. Living for a long time is difficult.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_069.xml

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 (20) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


The tone of this poem is best described as

  1. appreciative
  2. courteous
  3. dramatic
  4. solemn

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_070.xml

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 (21) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Read lines 18 and 19 of the poem

Her strong brown hands, once smooth,
carried many generations,

The words “once smooth” are mostly a reference to Grandmother’s

  1. age
  2. appearance
  3. behavior
  4. personality

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_072.xml

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 (22) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Read lines 3-5 of the poem

From her gentle manners
lessons were learned
not easily forgotten

The meaning of these lines is that Grandmother

  1. was well educated
  2. taught by example
  3. had a good memory
  4. knew how to behave

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_073.xml

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 (23) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Grandmother's actions show that she is mostly a

  1. good storyteller
  2. strict grandparent
  3. sorrowful individual
  4. hard working woman

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_074.xml

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 (24) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Which sentence best states an important theme in this poem?

  1. Intelligence is a gift.
  2. Respect for nature is necessary.
  3. Caring for a family is admirable.
  4. Living for a long time is difficult.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_075.xml

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 (25) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


The tone of this poem is best described as

  1. appreciative
  2. courteous
  3. dramatic
  4. solemn

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_076.xml

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 (26) Selected Response Sample
Read the poem 'Grandmother'. Then answer the following.


Read lines 18 and 19 of the poem

Her strong brown hands, once smooth,
carried many generations,

The words "once smooth" are mostly a reference to Grandmother's

  1. age
  2. appearance
  3. behavior
  4. personality

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_078.xml

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 (27) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Which of these sentences from the article most clearly identifies the article as nonfiction?

  1. The contest offered a $25 first prize.
  2. People in the United States seemed hungry for stories about that harsh land.
  3. Jack's book became one of the best-selling books in American literary history.
  4. Jack wondered why his earlier writing hadn't succeeded.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_079.xml

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 (28) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


The two headings in "Adventure's Call" mostly

  1. indicate London's skill as a sailor and miner
  2. share London's interest in different careers
  3. reveal London's desire for adventure on land and sea
  4. highlight moments in London's development as a writer

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_080.xml

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 (29) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


The author of this article would probably agree that—

  1. becoming a writer requires a lot of money
  2. adventuresome jobs are often dangerous jobs
  3. interest in a subject can lead to exciting experiences
  4. family members can often help a person develop a career

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_081.xml

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 (30) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Which of these elements of this article best reflects the reliability of its information?

  1. quotes from Jack London
  2. references to specific dates
  3. references to sailing vessels
  4. book titles read by Jack London

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_082.xml

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 (31) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read paragraph 14.

Which of these is the best paraphrase of this paragraph?

  1. Inspiration comes in different forms, but if you wait, you will miss it.
  2. Don't wait for inspiration to find you. Go after it aggressively, and it will appear.
  3. Delaying the search for inspiration causes you to look in places where it does not exist.
  4. Don't just request inspiration. Look for it everywhere, and you will find it some place.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_083.xml

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 (32) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 16.

Jack became so absorbed in his writing that the work grew to book size.

The word absorbed mostly suggests that Jack—

  1. was deeply involved in his writing.
  2. wanted to sell many copies of his book
  3. excluded everything other than his writing
  4. was intent on the number of pages in his book

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_084.xml

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 (33) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Which additional information would increase a reader's understanding of Jack London?

  1. a sample of Kipling's writing
  2. an excerpt from London's writing
  3. an introduction to "Adventure's Call"
  4. a list of London's books and short stories

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_085.xml

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 (34) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


After reading this article, a reader can conclude that—

  1. memorizing words is the best way to improve vocabulary
  2. people prefer adventure stories more than any other stories
  3. becoming a successful writer requires years of commitment
  4. manual labor allows a person time to think about other ideas

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_086.xml

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 (35) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


The words that best describe the narrator are—

  1. despairing and ready to quit
  2. anxious and struggling for control
  3. secure about and focused on a goal
  4. aware and appreciative of surroundings

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_087.xml

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 (36) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 2.

I turned and forgot about it, pulling upward, kneeing and toeing into the cliff, kicking steps into the shaly rock wherever I could, trying to position both hands and one foot before moving to a new position.

Which of these is the best paraphrase for the sentence?

  1. I focused on moving upward, pressing into the cliff, moving loose rock, placing hands, and one foot before continuing.
  2. I moved around, punching knees and toes into the wall, forcing loose rock aside before holding on with hands and one foot until I moved to another location.
  3. I wanted to move upward so I did by pushing my knees and toes into loose rock when I could and putting my hands and one foot on the cliff and lifting my other foot to a safe spot.
  4. I did not think about the overhang but concentrated on going up by putting my knees and toes into available rock and laying my hands and one foot on the cliff before moving the other foot.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_088.xml

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 (37) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Because of the first person narration, the reader is mostly aware of the character's—

  1. internal response to the physical setting
  2. experience with similar situations
  3. survival skills
  4. reason for attempting this task

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_089.xml

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 (38) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 3.

The problem-interest of it absorbed me at first, but I began to notice that the solutions were getting harder and harder: the cliff was starting to shudder in my face and against my chest.

The hyphenated word "problem-interest" most likely means that the situation is—

  1. oddly memorable
  2. unusually strange
  3. difficult but curious
  4. troubling and impossible

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_090.xml

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 (39) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Which of the narrator's actions most affects the plot of this passage?

  1. staring at the moonlit river
  2. being aware of the sound of his own breathing
  3. experiencing muscle weakness in his arms and legs
  4. removing his foot from the cliff and having nowhere to place it

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_091.xml

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 (40) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 6.

It was about this time that I thought of going back down, working along the bank and looking for an easier way up, and I let one foot down behind me into the void.

Details in paragraph 6 indicate that void means—

  1. crevice
  2. emptiness
  3. moonlight
  4. river

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_092.xml

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 (41) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


After reading this passage, a reader might think about—

  1. being in risky situations
  2. taking well-known advice
  3. the challenge of the outdoors
  4. the benefits of physical fitness

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_093.xml

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 (42) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 6.

It burrowed in like an animal, and I started up again.

Comparing the movement of the narrator's foot to a live animal suggests its—

  1. unusual shape
  2. dark covering
  3. quick movement
  4. automatic reaction

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_094.xml

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 (43) Selected Response Sample
Read this passage titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


After reading this passage, a reader might still want to know—

  1. how difficult the climb becomes
  2. the physical condition of the narrator
  3. why the narrator is climbing the cliff
  4. the possibility of another route up the cliff

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_095.xml

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 (44) Selected Response Sample
Read the article titled 'Deliverance' and answer the following questions. Circle the letter of the correct answer.


Read this sentence from paragraph 2.

I turned and forgot about it, pulling upward, kneeing and toeing into the cliff, kicking steps into the shaly rock wherever I could, trying to position both hands and one foot before moving to a new position.

Which of these is the best paraphrase for the sentence?

  1. I focused on moving upward, pressing into the cliff, moving loose rock, placing hands, and one foot before continuing.
  2. I moved around, punching knees and toes into the wall, forcing loose rock aside before holding on with hands and one foot until I moved to another location.
  3. I wanted to move upward so I did by pushing my knees and toes into loose rock when I could and putting my hands and one foot on the cliff and lifting my other foot to a safe spot.
  4. I did not think about the overhang but concentrated on going up by putting my knees and toes into available rock and laying my hands and one foot on the cliff before moving the other foot.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_096.xml

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 (45) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the article 'Adventure's Call' and answer the following question.


Explain how Jack London's experiences contributed to his career. In your response, use information from the article that supports your explanation.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_016.xml

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 (46) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the story 'Deliverance' and answer the following question.


Explain the mood the author creates in paragraph 7. In your response, use words and details from the paragraph that show how the author creates this mood. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_017.xml

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 (47) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the story 'Deliverance' and answer the following question.


Describe the relationship between the narrator and the rock wall. In your response, use details and examples from the story that support your description.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_018.xml

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 (48) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the article 'The Sharebots' and answer the following question.


Explain whether the author's choice of words and phrases effectively describes the robots and their behaviors. In your response, use words and phrases from the passage that support your explanation. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_019.xml

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 (49) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


Explain whether knowing that the passage from "The Navajo" is non-fiction makes the article easier to understand. In your response, use information from the article that supports your explanation. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_020.xml

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 (50) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


Explain which article more effectively uses words and phrases to persuade a reader about the value of the contributions of Native Americans during World War II. In your response, use information from the article that supports your explanation. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_021.xml

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 (51) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


Explain what information could have been added to the passage from Codetalking to help a reader better understand an important idea in the article. In your response use information from the article that supports your explanation. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_022.xml

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 (52) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


Which article more effectively expresses the author's attitude toward the Code Talkers? In your response use information from the article that supports your answer. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_023.xml

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 (53) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


Explain how a reader could determine the reliability of the information in the passage from The Navajo? In your response, use information from the article that supports your explanation. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_024.xml

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 (54) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read these articles about a secret language, 'Codetalking' and 'The Navajo'. Then answer the following.


What text feature could have been added to "Codetalking" so that a reader could better understand information about Native American languages? In your response use information from the article that supports your answer. Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_025.xml

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 (55) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Explain how the speaker in "Grandmother" feels about Grandmother Asdzan Alts' iisi. In your response, use details and examples from the poem to support your answer. Write your answer on your answer document.


/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_026.xml

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 (56) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


What do the events and details in the letter suggest about the society in which Amelia Hornsby lives? In your response, use details and events from the letter that support your explanation. Write your response on the lines below.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_031.xml

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 (57) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read this passage from 'Dear Mr. President Thomas Jefferson Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm', a novel that takes place when President Jefferson was in office. Amelia Hornsby has grown up in Philadelphia but has recently followed her father, a doctor, to Pittsburgh. Then answer the following.


Explain why the introduction was included in this passage. In your response, use details from the passage that explain why the introduction was included in this passage. Write your response on the lines below.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_032.xml

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 (58) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Write a summary of paragraphs 6 through 11 of "The Lost People of the Mesa Verde." In your response, include the important ideas from paragraphs 6 through 11.

Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_043.xml

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 (59) Brief Constructed Response Sample
Read the passage 'The Lost People of Mesa Verde.' Then answer the following.


Explain the importance of the word "Lost" in the title of this article. In your response, use information from the article that supports your explanation.

Write your answer on your answer document.

/toolkit/vsc/assessment_items/msa_ela_8_044.xml

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