This school year I have been spending time studying the most recent New York State ELA assessment that was created to align with the Common Core. Looking at the question stems for the multiple choice, short answer, and extended responses, it is obvious that the assessment is not asking basic comprehension questions. Rather, students are expected to read for understanding and answer questions related to vocabulary in context, inference, figurative language, and author’s purpose.
Which detail would be most important to include in a summary of . . .
The author uses the simile in the passage below to emphasize . . .
This passage is an example of what literary device?
What effect does this sentence provide the reader as the story develops?
Based on the passage, what is the meaning of the word . . .
Based on the passage, it can be inferred that . . .
All of the assessments that I create for my students include these question stems so that my students are familiar with the vocabulary on these assessments. Students are required to go back to the passages selected and read around the text in order to make inferences and understand vocabulary in context. Many of the questions focus on the author’s craft and utilizing context clues.
I do not believe in workbooks for test preparation. If we want to prepare students to succeed on these tests, we need to embed the test vocabulary and question stems into our daily lessons. Since September I have been utilizing these questioning techniques and teaching close reading strategies so that students are able to read, understand, and respond to complex text.
Click here to see a sample of the most recent reading quiz I created for To Kill a Mockingbird and align with the Common Core.