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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

2011, High School Biology

  Question 45: Open-Response  
Cattle-like animals called wildebeests live in Africa. The wildebeest population decreased for many years because of a fatal virus. The virus was eliminated in the 1960s by vaccinating the wildebeests against the virus. The graph below shows changes in the size of the wildebeest population from 1961 to 1983.
Graph of the population size of wildebeest over time (years).
  1. Describe the effect of the vaccinations on the death rate in the wildebeest population.
  2. Explain the change in the size of the population from 1961 to 1977 in terms of birth rate and death rate. Assume immigration and emigration rates were equal during this time.
  3. Based on the graph, describe what happened to the wildebeest population size from 1977 to 1983 and explain why this pattern most likely occurred.

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

ScoreDescription
4 Response demonstrates a thorough understanding of how birth and death influence population size. The response correctly describes the effect of the vaccinations on the death rate and explains the change in population size from 1961 to 1977. The response also correctly describes what happened to the population size from 1977 to 1983 and explains why this pattern occurred.
4
3
Response demonstrates a general understanding of how birth and death influence population size.
2
Response demonstrates a limited understanding of how birth and death influence population size.
1
Response demonstrates a minimal understanding of how birth and death influence population size.
0
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: August 8, 2014
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