A Look at the OGT
Analyzing a Question
The Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) is a major topic of conversation among teachers.
Comments are frequently made about "teaching to the test." Yet the OGT is designed
to test what is being taught, namely, the Ohio Academic Content Standards.
Each issue of In Perspective will feature "A Look at
the OGT," a column that suggests ways to improve students' understanding of the
standards and students' performance on the OGT. Some of the topics you'll find in
"A Look at the OGT" will discuss an analysis of questions and student responses,
ways to teach difficult standards, and classroom-based assessments for determining
whether or not students meet the expectations established by Ohio's standards.
A large portion--about 65 percent--of the Reading OGT is based on reading and responding
to informational, persuasive, and technical text. Since most middle and high school
literature books contain very little nonfiction, teachers often find themselves
working long hours just to locate suitable nonfiction. "A Look at the OGT" will
include links to instructional lessons that contain both literary and informational
text embedded in standards-aligned lessons.
Approaching the Extended-Response Item
This inaugural column of "A Look at the OGT" addresses what students can do when
they approach an extended-response item. If they are to apply their knowledge and
skills gained through a standards-based education, they need to read carefully not
only the passages, but also the questions they'll respond to when they take the
test. Often, students have met the expectations of a particular standard but are
unable to demonstrate their success on a major test such as the OGT. They tend to
make mistakes in reading accurately the task described by a question, or they don't
go back to the passage to find accurate details and examples. Some students answer
one part of a question, but they forget to address the other part.
Have you thought about what your students will do when they look at a test item
that calls for an extended response?
- Will they read it and start writing?
- Will they look at it quickly and then go on to the next multiple-choice item?
- Will they read it, try to remember what was in the passage, and write an answer from memory?
If your students fit into one of the three categories, then you'll want to read
this article and work with your students to help them analyze questions and respond
fully to what is asked.
Mistakes Students Make
- Leaving an extended-response item blank.
Remind your students that extended-response questions are worth four points--enough
to make a difference in their performance on the test. They should always attempt
to answer these open-ended questions to get at least partial points.
- Quickly reading the question and starting to
write. Before answering a question, students should analyze it carefully
and think about their response to the question. Writing without this analysis leads
many students into making major mistakes that result in lost points.
- Explaining a point but failing to give examples
from the passage to support the explanation. It's important to answer the
entire question, not just one part of it. To find examples from the passage, students
should go back to the passage and mark examples as they find them. Sometimes it's
helpful to the scorers when students use quotation marks around examples to show
that they're taken directly from the passage.
Analyzing the Questions
How to Read a Question
- Analyze the question.
- Look at all parts of the question.
- What is it really asking?
Most extended-response questions contain at least two parts. The first part asks
students to explain or discuss something--a theme, the author's purpose, or a main
point--and the second part asks them to give a specified number of examples or details
from the text to support their explanation or discussion.
Before answering an extended-response question, students should analyze the question
carefully, looking at all parts of it. They should consider what the question is
really asking--how much information is expected. Remind students always to go back
to the passage to look for examples to support their answers.
The following question was included in the March 2004 baseline administration of
the Ohio Graduation Test:
This four-point extended-response question follows the passage "Living Treasure"
by Laurence Pringle. You can read the passage by selecting the link for the
March 2004 full-text reading test and going to pages 13-15
in the OGT test booklet. Print the passage and copy it for your classes.
When you share this four-point question with students, remind them to read carefully
to determine what they need to do when they answer the question. Some key action
verbs in this question are explain and
give. Students should know immediately from the two verbs that the question
contains two parts. Suggest that they think silently by using the method often practiced
in response to reading difficult text--"think-alouds." A think-aloud about the question
might go like this:
Let's look at a student response to the item. (Student responses for each score
point, along with rubrics and scorers' comments, are found on pages 50-63 of the
OGT scoring guide.)
In Student Response A, the writer attempted to include three examples but was not
successful in doing so. The first example is clear. "First he tells us how many
animals we have discovered and then that we are finding more all the time." The
second example is found in the last sentence, suggesting that the rain forest has
not yet been fully explored. It's likely that this student thought the second part
of the first example--"we are finding more all the time"--was another example. However,
it simply clarified the first example. "We are finding more all the time" is not
an example. The student probably could have found another example but didn't think
it was necessary to do so, thus losing a point.
There are no student responses in the scoring guide to illustrate what happens when
the student includes examples but omits the explanation, but it is clear from reviewing
the rubric that the student will receive no points unless the explanation is included.
Examples without an explanation would receive a score point of 0.
Write All About It: Newspapers
This resource offers strategies for teaching the parts and functions of a newspaper.
This instructional unit, maintained by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, integrates
many reading and writing tasks based on parts of a newspaper. The activity that
directs students to "analyze today's lead story" is especially useful for showing
students how to support their ideas with details and examples from the text. (author/ncl)
NAEP Assessment Item, Grade 8: Lost People: How Induce Them
Students use details from the text to write a persuasive response. This is a sample
constructed response test item used in a past NAEP assessment. From this test item,
a visitor may view the reading passage and choose to access information regarding
general performance on this item, a scoring guide and student responses, and performance
on this item by various subgroups. NAEP Reference Number: 1994-8R8, No. 6. (Author/ncl)
ReadingQuest: Making Sense in Social Studies
The ReadingQuest web site is designed to help teachers with reading comprehension
strategy instruction. Many resources are available, including directions for more
than 25 reading comprehension and content reading strategies and printable handouts
and masters for transparencies. While designed with social studies in mind, this
resource can be used to support students in any area of content-based reading. (Author/ncl)
NAEP Assessment Item, Grade 12: Minow: How to Improve Children's
After reading the passage, students draw conclusions about the author's arguments.
This is a sample constructed response test item used in a past NAEP assessment.
From this test item, a visitor may view the reading passage and choose to access
information regarding general performance on this item, a scoring guide and student
responses (in the case of constructed response items), and performance on this item
by various subgroups. The NAEP web site also allows visitors to build a printable
database of questions by clicking on "Add Question" in the upper right-hand corner
of the screen. NAEP Reference Number: 2002-12R8, No. 5. (Author/ncl)
NAEP Assessment Item, Grade 12: Minow: Would Speech Apply
Today or Not?
After reading an excerpt from a historical speech, students make predictions about
its applicability to present-day issues. Responses are supported with examples from
the passage. This is a sample constructed response test item used in a past NAEP
assessment. From this test item, a visitor may view the reading passage and choose
to access information regarding general performance on this item, a scoring guide
and student responses (in the case of constructed response items), and performance
on this item by various subgroups. The NAEP web site also allows visitors to build
a printable database of questions by clicking on "Add Question" in the upper right-hand
corner of the screen. NAEP Reference Number: 2002-12R8, No. 8. (Author/ncl)
Bartleby Nonfiction is an online literary resource providing free access to a wide
array of nonfiction works, including many political, social, and historical documents.
This Internet publishing site houses anthologies and volumes, representing many
genres and periods, that may be downloaded and printed. Teachers may use these resources
(e.g., essays, letters, speeches) to plan instructional lessons and to supplement
classroom libraries. (author/ncl)
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