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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

2015, Grade 8 Science and Technology/Engineering

  Question 22: Open-Response  
Scientists can learn how the environment in an area has changed over time by studying the fossils found in that area. The diagram below shows some of the fossils found in undisturbed rock layers in an area.
The diagram shows four rock layers. Layer 1 is the top layer and has bird and leaf fossils. Layer 2 has frog, dragonfly, and fern fossils. Layer 3 has crab and snail fossils. Layer 4 is the bottom layer and has fish and shell fossils.
  1. Identify the oldest layer of rock found in this area.
  1. Explain why the layer you identified in part (a) is the oldest found in this area.
  1. Based on the fossils in each rock layer, describe how the environment in the area has changed over time. Include evidence from the diagram to support your answer.

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 rock layers and fossils provide evidence of how an area has changed over time. The response identifies the oldest rock layer and clearly explains why it is the oldest layer. The response clearly describes how the environment in the area has changed over time and includes evidence from the diagram to support the answer.
4
3 The response demonstrates a general understanding of how rock layers and fossils provide evidence of how an area has changed over time.
2 The response demonstrates a limited understanding of how rock layers and fossils provide evidence of how an area has changed over time.
1 The response demonstrates a minimal understanding of how rock layers and fossils provide evidence of how an area has changed over time.
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 21: Technology/Engineering
Question 22: Earth and Space Science

Return to the MCAS 2015 Student Work Directory



Last Updated: October 12, 2017
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