Commonwealth of Virginia

Standards of Learning Assessment Program

Blueprints for Grade Eight

English: Reading, Literature, and Research

©1997 by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education, James Monroe Building,

101 N. 14th Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23219. All rights reserved. Except as permitted by law, this material may not be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner. Please contact the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education at (804) 225-2102, Division of Assessment and Reporting, to request written permission.

Standards of Learning (SOL) Test Blueprint

Introduction

What is a test blueprint?

A test blueprint is a guide for test construction and use. The Standards of Learning (SOL) test blueprints serve a number of purposes. One, they serve as a guide to test developers as they write test questions and construct the SOL tests. Two, they serve as a guide to educators, parents and students in that they show (a) the SOLs covered by the test and which, if any, have been excluded; (b) which SOLs are assigned to each reporting category; (c) the number of test items in each reporting category and on the total test; (d) general information about how the test questions were constructed; and (e) the materials that students are allowed to use while taking the test.

How is the test blueprint organized?

There is a blueprint for each test (e.g., grade 3 English, grade 5 mathematics, grade 8 science, U.S. History). Each blueprint contains the following information:

1. Test Development Guidelines: guidelines used by Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement and the members of the Content Review Committees in developing the SOL tests. This section contains three parts:

A. General Considerations — lists general considerations that were used in developing the test as well as considerations specific to a particular content area.

B. Item Format — lists information on how items for the test are constructed.

C. Ancillary Materials — lists any materials (e.g., calculators, rulers, protractors, compasses, dictionaries) that students are allowed to use while taking each test.

2. Blueprint Summary Table: a summary of the blueprint which displays the following information:

• reporting categories for each test;

• number of test items in each reporting category;

• Standards of Learning (SOLs) included in each reporting category. SOLs are identified by numbers and letters that correspond to the original SOL document (letters are assigned to the "bullets" in the original document);

• SOLs which are excluded from the SOL test;

• number of operational items on the test;

• number of field-test items on the test; and

• total number of items (operational and field-test items) on the test.

3. Expanded Blueprint: provides the same information as the Blueprint Summary Table except that the full text of each SOL is included. In addition, SOLs that are excluded from the test are categorized by the reason they were not included.

What is a reporting category?

Each test covers a number of SOLs. In the test blueprint, SOLs are grouped into categories that address related content or skills. These categories are labeled Reporting Categories. For example, a Reporting Category for the Grade 5 Mathematics test is "Computation and Estimation." Each of the SOLs in this reporting category addresses computation using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division or require the student to estimate the answer to a problem. When the results of the SOL tests are reported, the scores will be presented in terms of scores for each Reporting Category and a total test score.

Are some SOLs assigned to more than one reporting category?

"Bullets" under a particular SOL are sometimes coded to different reporting categories. For example, the Science SOL 2.7a which deals with the effects that weather and seasonal changes have on the growth and behavior of living things is assigned to the reporting category "Life Processes and Living Systems" in the Grade 3 Science test. However, SOL 2.7b which deals with the effects of weather and seasonal changes on weathering and erosion of the land surface is assigned to the reporting category "Earth/Space Systems and Cycles." Each "bullet" is assigned to only one reporting category.

Why are some SOLs not tested on the SOL tests?

In some content areas, there are SOLs that do not lend themselves to multiple-choice testing. For example, in English, the oral language SOLs cannot be appropriately assessed in a multiple-choice format. In other cases, an SOL listed in one content area is covered by a similar SOL in another content area. For example, English SOL 4.9 which addresses the use of available technology to research a topic is covered by a similar SOL at grade 5 (Computer/Technology SOL C/T 5.3).

At the end of the blueprint for each test, the SOLs not tested are listed in "SOLs Excluded from Testing." In the expanded blueprint the SOLs excluded from testing are categorized by the reason they are not being tested.

Will all SOLs listed in the blueprint be assessed each time the SOL tests are given?

Due to the large number of SOLs in a content area for a grade span, every SOL will not be assessed on every SOL test form. By necessity, to keep the length of a test reasonable, each test will sample from the SOLs within a reporting category. However, every SOL is eligible for inclusion on each form of an SOL test.

Grade 8: English

Reading/Literature and Research

Test Development Guidelines

A. General Considerations

1. All items included in this test will address the knowledge and skills specified in the reading/literature and research strands of the 1995 Virginia Standards of Learning in English for grades 6-8.

2. The items will be free of stereotyping or bias directed at a particular age, gender, economic status, racial, ethnic or religious group, or geographic region.

3. The test will be untimed. The reading/literature and research test should be administered in a single day.

4. There is no penalty for guessing. Students will be scored on the number of correct answers out of the total number of operational items on the test.

5. A variety of types of reading selections will be included in the test. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and functional text may be used at the eighth grade. Fiction selections may be contemporary fiction, historical fiction, folklore, science fiction, or mysteries. Nonfiction selections may be biographies, autobiographies, history-related articles, or science-related articles. Functional text may be sets of directions or instructions, editorials, or critical reviews.

6. Selections will be appropriate for eighth-grade students in terms of interest, experiences, length and reading level, as determined by the Content Review Committee. Selections will be similar in format to excerpts from trade books, content textbooks, magazines, or practical reading tasks.

7. Whenever possible, reading selections and corresponding test items will appear on facing pages.

8. Students may not use a dictionary or thesaurus for any portion of this test

B. Item Format

1. Each item will be a multiple-choice item containing four choices. Choices such as "None of the above," "All of the above," and "Not here" will not be used.

2. Each item will be linked to a reading selection and will be written at a level appropriate for eighth-grade students.

C. Ancillary Materials

None

Grade 8: English

Reading/Literature and Research

Blueprint Summary Table

Reporting Categories

No. of Items

Grade Six

SOLs

Grade Seven

SOLs

Grade Eight

SOLs

Understand a variety of printed materials/resource materials.

21

6.3a, b

6.5a-c, d, f

6.9

7.4

7.6a-d

7.10a-c

8.2

8.4a-c

8.6a-c

Understand elements of literature.

21

6.4a-e

6.6a, b

7.5a, b, d

7.7a-e

8.3a-e

SOLs Excluded from This Test

6.1

6.2 a-c

6.5.e

6.6.c

7.1a-d

7.2a-c

7.3a, b

7.5.c

7.6.e

7.10.d

8.1a-d

8.3.f

8.4.d


Total Number of Operational Items

42

Field-Test Items*

10

Total Number of Items

52

*These field-test items will not be used to compute students' scores on the test.

Reporting Category: Understand a variety of printed materials/resource materials.

Number of Items: 21

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category:

6.3 The student will read and learn the meanings of unfamiliar words.

a) Use knowledge of word origins and derivations.

b) Use word-reference materials.

6.5 The student will demonstrate comprehension of a variety of selections.

a) Identify questions to be answered.

b) Make, confirm, or revise predictions as needed.

c) Use context clues to read unfamiliar words.

d) Draw conclusions and make inferences based on explicit and implied information.

f) Compare and contrast information about one topic contained in different selections.

6.9 The student will select the best sources for a given purpose, including atlases, dictionaries, globes, interviews, telephone directories, encyclopedias, electronic databases, and the Reader’s Guide.

Grade Seven SOLs in This Reporting Category:

7.4 The student will use analogies, idioms, similes, and metaphors to extend understanding of word meanings.

7.6 The student will read and understand information from varied sources.

a) Use knowledge of text structures to aid comprehension.

b) Make, confirm, or revise predictions as needed.

c) Distinguish fact from opinion in newspapers, magazines, and other print media.

d) Summarize what is read.

7.10 The student will apply knowledge of resources in preparing written and oral presentations.

a) Use print and electronic sources to locate books and articles.

b) Use a thesaurus to select more exact descriptive, specific, or effective vocabulary for writing.

c) Use graphic organizers to organize information.

Grade Eight SOLs in This Reporting Category:

8.2 The student will apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, and idioms and will use analogies, metaphors, and similes to extend vocabulary development.

Reporting Category: Understand a variety of printed materials/resource materials.

Number of Items: 21

Grade Eight SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

8.4 The student will comprehend what is read from a variety of sources.

a) Draw on background knowledge and knowledge of text structure to understand selections.

b) Analyze details for relevance and accuracy.

c) Read and follow instructions to assemble a model or simple structure.

8.6 The student will analyze mass media messages.

a) Identify the persuasive technique being used.

b) Describe the possible cause-effect relationships between mass media coverage and public opinion trends.

c) Evaluate advertisements, editorials, and feature stories for relationships between intent and factual content.

Reporting Category: Understand elements of literature.

Number of Items: 21

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category:

6.4 The student will read a variety of fiction (realistic, fantasy, historical, and biographical) and nonfiction (expository and argumentative).

a) Use knowledge of literary forms to aid comprehension and predict outcomes.

b) Describe how the author’s style elicits emotional response from the reader.

c) Distinguish between first- and third-person point of view.

d) Compare and contrast authors' styles.

e) Explain how character and plot development are used in a selection to support a central conflict or story line.

6.6 The student will read and write a variety of poetry.

a) Describe the visual images created by language.

b) Describe how word choice, speaker, and imagery elicit a response from the reader.

Grade Seven SOLs in This Reporting Category:

7.5 The student will read a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

a) Describe setting, plot structure, and theme or conflict.

b) Analyze relationship between author’s style, literary form, and intended impact on reader.

d) Describe how word choice and language structure convey an author’s viewpoint in newspaper and magazine articles and critical reviews.

Reporting Category: Understand elements of literature.

Number of Items: 21

Grade Seven SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

7.7 The student will read a variety of poetry.

a) Compare and contrast the use of a speaker and the impact on the reader.

b) Describe the impact of specific word choices, such as jargon, dialect, multiple meanings, invented words, concrete or abstract terms, and sensory or figurative language.

c) Explain how sentence structure, line length, and punctuation convey mood or meaning of a poem.

d) Describe how rhythm contributes to the purpose or theme of a poem.

e) Compare and contrast the rhythm of poems with similar or dissimilar themes.

Grade Eight SOLs in This Reporting Category:

8.3 The student will apply knowledge of the characteristics and elements of various literary forms, including short stories, essays, speeches, lyric and narrative poems, plays, and novels.

a) Explain the use of symbols and figurative language.

b) Describe inferred main ideas or themes.

c) Describe cause-effect relationships and their impact on plot.

d) Describe how authors use characters, point of view, and tone to create meaning.

e) Compare and contrast the use of the poetic elements of word choice, dialogue, rhyme, rhythm, and voice.

Grade Six SOLs Excluded from This Test

The following SOLs are not measurable in a multiple-choice format.

6.1 The student will analyze oral participation in small-group activities.

6.2 The student will listen critically and express opinions in oral presentations.

a) Distinguish between facts and opinions.

b) Compare and contrast points of view.

c) Present a convincing argument.

6.5 The student will demonstrate comprehension of a variety of selections.

e) Organize information for use in written and oral presentations.

6.6 The student will read and write a variety of poetry.

c) Compare and contrast plot and character development in narrative poems, short stories, and longer fiction selections.

Grade Seven SOLs Excluded from This Test

The following SOLs are not measurable in a multiple-choice format.

7.1 The student will give and seek information in conversations and in group discussions.

a) Use oral vocabulary and style appropriate for listeners.

b) Communicate ideas and information orally in an organized and succinct manner.

c) Ask probing questions to seek elaboration and clarification of ideas.

d) Make supportive statements to communicate agreement or acceptance of others' ideas.

7.2 The student will identify the relationship between a speaker’s verbal and nonverbal meanings.

a) Use verbal communication skills, such as word choice, pitch, feeling, tone, and voice.

b) Use nonverbal communication skills, such as eye contact, posture, and gestures.

c) Compare/contrast a speaker’s verbal and nonverbal messages.

 

7.3 The student will identify persuasive messages in nonprint media, including television, radio, and films.

a) Identify persuasive technique used.

b) Distinguish between fact and opinion.

7.5 The student will read a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

c) Describe connections between historical and cultural influences and literary selections.

Grade Seven SOLs Excluded from This Test (continued)

The following SOLs are not measurable in a multiple-choice format.

7.6 The student will read and understand information from varied sources.

e) Organize and synthesize information for use in written and oral presentations.

7.10 The student will apply knowledge of resources in preparing written and oral presentations.

d) Credit secondary reference sources.

Grade Eight SOLs Excluded from This Test

The following SOLs are not measurable in a multiple-choice format.

8.1 The student will use interviewing techniques to gain information.

a) Prepare and ask relevant questions for the interview.

b) Make notes of responses.

c) Compile and report responses.

d) Evaluate the effectiveness of the interview.

8.3 The student will apply knowledge of the characteristics and elements of various literary forms, including short stories, essays, speeches, lyric and narrative poems, plays, and novels.

f) Explain how a literary selection can expand or enrich personal viewpoints or experiences.

8.4 The student will comprehend what is read from a variety of sources.

d) Evaluate and synthesize information to apply in written and oral presentations.