Study Guide

Field 001: Assessment of Professional Knowledge:
Early Childhood (PK–3)
Sample Constructed-Response Assignments

The following materials contain:

Directions for the Constructed-Response Assignments

This section of the test consists of two constructed-response written assignments. One is a case study, consisting of two charges. The other is a work product. You are to prepare a written response of approximately 200–300 words to each assignment.

Read each assignment carefully before you begin to type. Each written assignment appears on the screen with an answer box. Type your response in this answer box.

Each of your responses will be scored on the extent to which you effectively communicate a whole message to the specified audience for the stated purpose. You will be assessed on your ability to apply professional knowledge in your response. Your response to each assignment will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

Be sure to write about the assigned topic. You may not use any reference materials. Your response must be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work. Remember to review what you have written and make any changes you think will improve your written response. The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of edited English as used in the United States.

Sample Case Study Assignment

Use the case study below to complete the assignment that follows.

Background

Mr. Henderson, a new preschool teacher, is preparing his classroom for the upcoming school year. His class will include 15 four- and five-year-old children with a wide range of strengths and needs. A full-time teaching assistant, Ms. Lee, will work with Mr. Henderson in the classroom. Mr. Henderson and Ms. Lee have set up several activity centers for the classroom, including a book corner, a sand table, an art center, a block center, and a dramatic play center.

Introduction to the Centers

Mr. Henderson plans to spend the first morning introducing the centers to the children. He will show them the materials in each center and remind them that they must put materials away when they are done using them. He plans to point out that each center has duplicates of most toys, books, and art materials, so more than one child can use each type of material at a time. After visiting all of the centers, Mr. Henderson will gather the children in a group and work with them to create a list of rules for how to behave during center time. The children will play in groups of three in the centers each morning after circle time. The groups will rotate through all of the centers every morning, spending 20 minutes in each center. A ringing bell will indicate when it is time for the children to move to the next center in the rotation. Mr. Henderson and Ms. Lee will rearrange the groups to ensure that the children play with different classmates each week.

Center Materials

The materials available to the children in the activity centers are shown below.

Book CornerSand TableArt CenterBlock CenterDrama Center
picture books
Big Books
bean-bag chairs
toy cars and trucks
rakes
shovels
sieves
containers
plastic animals
paper
tempera paint
paintbrushes
crayons
scissors
paste
smocks
wooden blocks
foam blocks
plastic blocks
hats
costumes
dolls
props (e.g., doctor kit, doll stroller, pots and pans)
mirror

Mr. Henderson’s Reflections during Week One

Overall, the children greatly enjoy the centers. Several have told me that they are happy to have so many different things to play with at school. It's becoming clear which center is each child's favorite and which children play well together. However, a few children are having trouble making transitions between centers, while a couple of others are very dependent on me or Ms. Lee. For example, Keshia becomes quite anxious when it is time to go to the centers, and starts to cry if I don't allow her to stay close to me during the morning. Some of the other children often leave the center they are supposed to be in to come over to me or Ms. Lee, saying that a classmate was bothering them or they were tired with what they were doing. Ms. Lee and I have both noticed that some materials are being misused (e.g., crayons being broken, pots and pans being banged together). The transitions between centers seem to be causing particular difficulty. Some children don't want to stop what they're doing, while others move to a new center without cleaning up. Yesterday, Joe and Christa refused to give up the foam blocks when it was time for them to move to the next center, which resulted in arguing and crying among several children.

Case Study Assignment

Write a response in two parts based on the elements of the case study presented above.

Part One

Part Two

While you should use ideas from the articles, your writing and the development of your argument must be your own.

Sample Strong Response to the Case Study Assignment

Part One

One strategy that Mr. Henderson used to try to ensure the children's success was to include a range of different types of centers with many learning materials. This was a good strategy because a high-quality preschool environment should include a wide range of developmentally appropriate hands-on learning experiences. The types of materials Mr. Henderson provided in the learning centers in his classroom are age- and developmentally-appropriate for four- and five-year-old children. Providing duplicates of materials in each center is an excellent way to eliminate children's frustration due to having to wait their turn and, as a result, reduces the potential for conflict.

Part Two

One additional strategy Mr. Henderson could have used to help ensure the children's success would have been to provide more specific examples of what children should be doing in each center. This could have been accomplished by Mr. Henderson's and Ms. Lee's spending more time in each center, modeling and role playing appropriate behavior and use of materials with the children. This strategy would have been effective for several reasons. For children who have trouble sharing, a specific role play within the context of a center can provide a model of how to behave with other children in that new environment. Also, some of the materials may be unfamiliar to some of the children, so it would be beneficial for Mr. Henderson and Ms. Lee to provide explicit examples and guidance in using the materials appropriately.

Sample Work Product Assignment

Use the information below to complete the assignment that follows.

Imagine that you are a new elementary teacher. Your principal has asked you to serve on a faculty committee whose goal is to identify ways to increase teachers' use of reflective practice. Members of the school community have been concerned about declining student achievement in recent years, and increased use of reflective practice by teachers has been identified as one way to enhance teaching and learning at the school. Increased use of reflective practice by teachers is a goal for the following year.

Write a response to other members of the committee describing your ideas about the issue of teachers' use of reflective practice. Your response should:

Sample Strong Response to the Work Product Assignment

Teachers' use of reflective practice is important for several reasons. First, reflective practice helps teachers gain a better understanding of their own teaching styles and strengths and helps them identify areas of their professional practice that are in need of improvement. Second, reflective practice enables teachers to use unsuccessful or disappointing lessons to improve their future performance and to address student learning needs more effectively. Finally, when the use of reflective practice is implemented schoolwide, it helps create a school culture that is focused on continuous improvement.

Two steps that school staff can take to increase teachers' use of reflective practice are for teachers to keep journals about their teaching experiences and to form faculty study teams. In the journals, teachers would make notes about classroom experiences, reflecting on practices that are working and those that are not working. Faculty study teams could consist of one or two teachers working together or all of the teachers in a grade level working together. Teams could target a particular aspect of teaching, such as classroom management or interdisciplinary instruction, and use a shared problem-solving approach to identify strategies that will promote improvement in the targeted area.

Keeping a journal would increase teachers' use of reflective practice by providing teachers with ongoing opportunities to examine their classroom experiences. As teachers develop the habit of regularly recording their thoughts about classroom experiences, reflection would become a routine part of their overall instructional practice. Faculty study teams would increase teachers' use of reflective practice by providing teachers with the opportunity to enrich their personal reflections through discussion and collaboration with peers who have different levels of knowledge and experience. Both steps help create a school culture in which reflection is an essential component of professional practice.

Performance Characteristics

Responses are scored holistically based on the following performance characteristics:

Purpose The extent to which the response fulfills the assignment
Professional Knowledge The extent to which the response accurately and effectively applies relevant professional knowledge
Rationale and Support The extent to which the response provides sound reasoning and relevant, specific support

Scoring Scale

The four points of the scoring scale correspond to varying degrees of performance.

Score Point Score Point Description
4
The "4" response reflects a thorough understanding of relevant knowledge and skills.
  • The response thoroughly fulfills the purpose of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates an accurate and effective application of the relevant professional knowledge.
  • The response reflects sound, effective reasoning and provides high-quality, relevant support.
3
The "3" response reflects a general understanding of relevant knowledge and skills.
  • The response largely fulfills the purpose of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates a generally accurate application of the relevant professional knowledge.
  • The response reflects adequate reasoning and provides general, relevant support.
2
The "2" response reflects a partial understanding of relevant knowledge and skills.
  • The response partially fulfills the purpose of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates a partially accurate application of the relevant professional knowledge.
  • The response reflects limited reasoning and provides limited and/or partially irrelevant support.
1
The "1" response reflects little understanding of relevant knowledge and skills.
  • The response fulfills little of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates an inaccurate and/or ineffective application of the relevant professional knowledge.
  • The response reflects poor reasoning and provides little or no relevant support.
U
The response is unrelated to the assignment, is unreadable, is primarily in a language other than English, or does not contain a sufficient amount of original work to score.
B
There is no response to the assignment.