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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

2011, High School Biology

  Question 32: Open-Response  
Male peafowl, called peacocks, have long, colorful tail feathers. Among peacocks there is variation in the size, brightness, and pattern of the tail. Scientists observed the mating success of two groups of peacocks. The graph below shows the scientists’ data.
Bar graph of peacock mating data.
  1. Explain what the data show about the advantage of longer, more colorful tails for peacocks.
  2. Identify one disadvantage that longer, more colorful tails have for peacocks.
  3. Explain in detail how the longer, more colorful tails evolved in peacocks despite causing disadvantages for the males.

Scoring Guide and Sample Student Work
Select a score point in the table below to view the sample student response.

ScoreDescription
4 The response demonstrates a thorough understanding of how selection and evolution change genetic diversity of populations. The response correctly explains what the data show about the advantage of longer, more colorful tails, correctly identifies one disadvantage of longer, more colorful tails, and clearly explains how the longer, more colorful tails evolved in the peacock despite disadvantages.
4
3
The response demonstrates a general understanding of how selection and evolution change genetic diversity of populations.
2
The response demonstrates a limited understanding of how selection and evolution change genetic diversity of populations.
1
The response demonstrates a minimal understanding of how selection and evolution change genetic diversity of populations.
0
The response is incorrect or contains some correct work that is irrelevant to the skill or concept being measured.

Note: There are 2 sample student responses for Score Point 4.

High School Biology

Question 12: Anatomy and Physiology
Question 23: Genetics
Question 32: Evolution and Biodiversity
Question 44: Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Question 45: Ecology

Return to the MCAS 2011 Student Work Directory



Last Updated: September 29, 2016
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