Education Commissioner Releases MCAS Essay Questions, Commends Students- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 12, 2001
Contact:Jan O'Keefe at 781-338-3117

Education Commissioner Releases MCAS Essay Questions, Commends Students

Malden - Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll today released the essay questions given to fourth, seventh, eighth and tenth graders Wednesday.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "The MCAS essay test given yesterday to nearly 300,000 Massachusetts public school students was a very important part of our program to raise expectations and standards of achievement for all students in Massachusetts. The questions are written broadly so that they are accessible to all students. We asked students to demonstrate two things in their compositions in response to the questions: that they are able to read questions for understanding, and that they are able to write to be understood. Those are two essential skills for all of our children, whether they are from poor or well off families, are in cities or suburbs, are going to college or into the workplace.

"I am most proud of this testing program and want all parents, teachers and the general public to see this test and know what we are expecting of our students.

"Also, I want to congratulate the students across the state who -- while perhaps feeling pressure--took to this challenge in a positive way. I have faith in our students," Driscoll added.

Students who missed the test yesterday will take a different make-up question on May 10, and the Commissioner will release those essay questions the next day, as well. The rest of the MCAS test period occurs May 14-25, with students having test sessions on average less than an hour a day in multiple choice, short-answer and open-response questions in the other subjects tested by the state. The entire test is expected to be released by the end of this school year.

Following are the essay questions for grades four, seven, eight and ten.

Grade Four MCAS 2001 Essay Question

Writing Assignment

"Think about people you know or have met. Choose ONE person who has made a big difference in your life. Write about that person AND describe his or her positive effect on your life."

Grade 7 MCAS 2001 English Composition Test

Writing Assignment

"Age has a funny way of making changes. It is probably easy for you to look back and see that you and your friends have made some major changes since you left the elementary grades. Your teachers and friends may be different, your school may be different, and some of your interests are probably different.

Think back to fourth grade and describe how school has changed for you as a seventh grader."

Grade 8 MCAS 2001 English Composition Test

"Each year many children are involved in accidents while riding on their bikes, scooters, or while skateboarding, rollerblading, and skiing. Some people suggest that there should be a law requiring a person under the age of 16 to wear a helmet while engaging in any of these activities. Others disagree, arguing that wearing protective gear like helmets takes all the fun out of these sports.

Imagine that Massachusetts is considering such a law. Your class has been assigned to write an essay for the state legislature. Your essay will be sent to lawmakers who will then decide whether to draft the new law and put it to a vote.

Writing Assignment

Write a persuasive essay stating whether children under the age of 16 should be required to wear helmets while biking, scooting, skateboarding, rollerblading, and skiing. Give at least two reasons to support your position. Remember, you must argue in such a convincing manner that others will agree with you. The outcome of the state legislature's vote on helmets could be decided by your essay."

Grade 10 MCAS 2001 English Composition Test

Writing Assignment

"A frequent theme in literature is the conflict between the individual and society.

From a work of literature you have read in or out of school, select a character who struggles with society. In a well-developed composition, identify the character and explain why this character's conflict with society is important."

Last Updated: April 12, 2001

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