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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

2014, Grade 8 Science and Technology/Engineering

  Question 9: Open-Response  
Dead plant and animal matter are broken down by different organisms. This decay process benefits other organisms in the ecosystem.
  1. Name two different organisms that help break down dead plant and animal matter.
  2. Describe how living plants benefit from the breakdown of dead plant and animal matter.
  3. Explain what would most likely happen to an ecosystem if all the organisms that break down dead plant and animal matter suddenly disappeared.

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 dead plants and animals are broken down by other living organisms and how this process contributes to the system as a whole. The response correctly names two decomposer organisms, clearly describes how plants benefit from the breakdown of dead plant and animal matter, and clearly explains what would mostly happen to an ecosystem if all the decomposer organisms suddenly disappeared.
4
3 The response demonstrates a general understanding of how dead plants and animals are broken down by other living organisms and how this process contributes to the system as a whole.
2 The response demonstrates a limited understanding of how dead plants and animals are broken down by other living organisms and how this process contributes to the system as a whole.
1 The response demonstrates a minimal understanding of how dead plants and animals are broken down by other living organisms and how this process contributes to the system as a whole.
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.

Grade 8 Science and Technology/Engineering

Question 9: Life Science
Question 10: Physical Sciences

Return to the MCAS 2014 Student Work Directory



Last Updated: September 27, 2017
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