Item Spotlight: An In-Depth Look at a Literary Analysis Task

Several times a year, we give readers an in-depth look at the thought process that goes into the production of New Meridian test questions and Literary Analysis Tasks. The goal is to better understand how test items align with academic standards to produce high-quality assessments.

The Question: In a retired Grade 4 Literary Analysis Task (LAT) The Peacock and Juno and the Peacock, text and video are intentionally paired. Students are presented with standards-based questions directed at each medium and asked to use the text and video to write an essay.

The Expert: Laura Beltchenko is a literacy and educational professional from Libertyville, Illinois, one of several dozen educators involved in New Meridian’s collaborative process to develop high-quality, engaging assessment items.

The Analysis: Quality literacy instruction strongly suggests students analyze text. To accomplish this task, students need to understand what the text says both explicitly, or clearly stated textual evidence, and implicitly, or suggested information that must be derived via context clues and cues to fully interpret what the text is revealing to the reader. This also holds true as students interpret information from varying forms of multimedia.

By Grade 4, students should be able to demonstrate the fundamentals of text analysis to participate in discussions or to answer a variety of questions both explicitly and implicitly stated. In The Peacock and Juno, text and video are paired and students are presented with questions and an essay that presents an issue to analyze.

Summarization is a lifelong skill that is important in a student’s school career and beyond. Among the questions posed to the students in this LAT is recognizing information that would be included in a summary. Selecting from a predetermined list of grouped items, students determine what items should be included by dragging and dropping to create a concluding statement.

In the case of this LAT, students will select quotes that should be included in a summary. Knowing the central message and the key ideas and details (RL.4.2) fulfills the goal of knowing what to include. Students must understand that the design of a summary is not like writing the conclusion of book report that generally includes opinions on what you liked or disliked. Summaries are succinct, including the most important information such as facts or quotes from the plot, setting, character or narrator.

Although students in this LAT are not required to place the answer choices in a correct order, the developmental skill of knowing what to include will follow a progression where the order of events or details become an important part of writing a satisfying summarization. This aspect of the LAT sets the pace for what students should do when writing their concluding statement or summary for their Literary Analysis Task.