Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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2017 MCAS
Grade 8 English Language Arts
Question 10

Idea Development - Score Point 5

The essay is fully developed with the inclusion of strong evidence and details from both passages to explain the similarities between the characters. The introduction describes the life circumstances of Walter Cunningham and Robert Peck. They both struggle to get by and are alike in other ways: "Though the two characters have different circumstances, the similarities between the two are uncanny." In the course of the essay, a clear explanation of their circumstances emerges ("both are impover[i]shed and had humble and kind qualities to them"). Details of the characters' extreme poverty are developed in the first and second body paragraphs: Walter suffers from hookworm "because he did not have shoes," and Robert's situation of being in charge of the family farm at a young age leaves him with adult responsibilities that he cannot meet. Yet the characters maintain a civil outlook despite poverty. Walter is "stubborn" yet "extremely humble and kind" and polite as he refuses an offer of food that, perhaps, he would not be able to pay back ("he politely refused the money"). Robert's encounter with the town clerk is described in a way that emphasizes his humility and self-control: in response to "unsympathetic" comments, "he did not snap back, but g[r]acefully said 'Thank you.'" In a similar way, he thanks his employer when he "got let go from his job." The essay emphasizes and compares the traits of two very similar characters through careful development of details and skillful organization of ideas.

Standard English Conventions - Score Point 3

Consistent control of Standard English conventions is demonstrated in this complex essay. Sentence structures are varied and correct: "Though Walter would be starving without a meal, he politely refused the money because he did not want to take anything from anyone" and "Putting their financial situations aside, both Walter and Robert had similar traits . . . ." Though a few sentences are awkwardly constructed, the level of control in sentence formation, grammar, usage, and mechanics provides a strong foundation for complex expression.
Answer for Idea Development Score Point 5, and Standard English Conventions Score Point 3, page 1 of 2
In the excerpts from the stories To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Part of the Sky by Robert Newton Peck- the two main characters Walter Cunningham and Robert Peck. Walter Cunningham was apart of the known-Cunningham family in his small town. His family farm was suffering from entailment and was struggling to pay it back. He had 'forgotten' his lunch that day, however because he was impoverished, he most likely did not have one. Robert Peck was a thirteen year-old who was left in charge of his father's farm after his death. He went to the town clerk to inquire about how to pay his taxes, however left with the overbearing reminder about how he cannot pay it back. To add onto the fire, he was shortly let go from his job afterwards. Though the two characters have different circumstances, the similarities between the two are uncanny. Walter and Robert both are impovershed and had humble and kind qualities to them.
One of the most apparent similarities between the Walter Cunningham and Robert Peck are that they have a struggling finantial situation. Walter Cunningham was apart of the Cunningham family, which were well known since, "They don't have much, but they get along with it." (Lee, 22). In short, the Cunninghams were poor, the first hint being in the beginning of the excerpt when the main character, Jean Louise highlighted how Walter had hookworms because he did not have shoes. Walter's family could not afford even shoes for him because of their financial situation, and he got hookworms because of it. Walter did not have a lunch either, Jean Louis commenting that, "He didn't forget his lunch, he didn't have any. He had none today nor would he have seen any tomorrow or the next day. He had probably never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life." (Lee, 19). Jean Louis added even further emphasis on how impovershed Walter was, how he had so little food and probably has never seen much money in his lifetime.
Robert Peck was also poor. Because of his less-than plentiful harvest, Peck and his family had little to eat, feed, and sell in the farm. Because of that, "This meant that our teapot money [savings] drained away to vacant." (Peck 3). Peck had to dig into his savings to survive, infering how little money he had at the time. Because his pather died, Robert had to take responsibility of paying the taxes and fees of his house and farm. When consulting with the town clerk, he had many mentions of how he cannot pay off his tax, such as "...I don't have the thirty-five dollars. Not a penny of it." and (Lee, 9), "We want to pay our taxes. But we can't right now." (Lee, 23). Robert does not have enough money to pay off the tax, adding to how impovershed he already seemed.
Both characters are extrememly poor, Walter being he did not have shoes or enough to eat, and Robert being he had to dig into his savings to survive and he could not pay his taxes. The two young men's biggest commonality was their financial situation.
Putting their financial situations aside, both Walter and Robert had similar traits to them- a sense of humbleness and politeness to them both. The first instance that Walter's sense of humbless could be seen is whe Miss Caroline, his school teacher, offered him money to go eat since he did not have a lunch. When encountered with the offer, "Walter shook his head. "Nome thank you ma'am," he drawled softly" (Lee, 9). Though Walter would be starving without a meal, he politely refused the money because he did not want to take anything from anyone. The scene showed his integrity, though stubborn, was extremely humble and kind. The Cunningham family also had a history, that "The Cunninghams never took anything they can't pay back-no church baskets and no scrip stamps. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have." (Lee, 9). Walter is extremly humble, by heart and by blood, not willing to take anything from others.
Robert was portrayed very humbly and polite, as can be seen in the section where he inquires about his finances with the town clerk. Though she was unsympathetic, giving him answers such as, "If I had a dime for every deadbeat that gives me that story, I'd be rolling rich." (Peck, 33), Robert never snapped or fought back. After a hostile and unsympathetic conversation, he did not snap back, but gacefully said "'Thank you,' I told her, even though she hadn't given me much of a cheering." (Peck, 34). When Robert got let go from his job, he did the same action, "Thanking him, I left uproad for home." (Peck, 42). His actions and words tell how patient and kind he was. He never lost his temper, just like Walter he was incredibly kind, and humble; never asking for a loan or help from others.Answer for Idea Development Score Point 5, and Standard English Conventions Score Point 3, page 2 of 2
Even though the Walter and Robert  have different circumstances and backgrounds, the similarities between the two are uncanny, being they both are impoverished and humblely kind.



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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education