E T S Praxis Series

Middle School Social Studies (0089)

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Sample Test Questions

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Sample Question 1

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

"We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other 'tangible' factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does."

(A)

What legal doctrine or principle, established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), did the Supreme Court reverse when it issued the 1954 ruling quoted above?

(B)

What was the rationale given by the justices for their 1954 ruling?

Sample Response That Received a Score of 3:

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that separate facilities are inherently unequal. This reversed the principle of legal segregation that was established by Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In Plessy, the court ruled that separate facilities for whites and blacks were constitutional as long as the facilities were equal.

The rationale for the 1954 ruling was based on the belief that minorities who are separated from the majority culture through racial segregation will not have access to the same experiences, opportunities and privileges as the majority population. The justices concluded that separate facilities could never be equal facilities and that legal segregation in public education would have to end.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

The Supreme Court doctrine issued in 1954 was the 14th Amendment. The rationale given by the justices was that separate did not mean equal. Minority students were not being educated by knowledgeable and well trained teachers. The facilities in which the minority students were to learn in were not adequate. The materials such as textbooks were not widely available to minorities. The segregation was anything but equal.

Sample Question 2

Sample Question 2 shows a map of what is now Europe, Asia, and Africa. The map is labeled, 'Early Expeditions and Explorations.' The map shows the routes taken by three explorers: Marco Polo, Zheng Ho, and Vasco da Gama. Marco Polo's route is marked 1271 through 1291 and runs from modern-day Italy across Asia to northeastern China on the Pacific Ocean. Zheng Ho's route (1405 through 1433) runs from the coast of China across the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean to the coasts  of India, Arabia and East Africa. Da Gama's route (1497 through 1498) runs from Portugal along the west coast of Africa around the Cape of Good Hope and then across the Indian Ocean to India.

The map above shows the routes of some early expeditions and explorations. Choose one of these expeditions or explorations and then do the following.

(A)

Describe the route of the expedition or exploration (its origin, destination, and any other information related to the route taken) and explain how geographic factors (terrain, ocean currents, prevailing winds) influenced the course of the expedition or exploration.

(B)

State the reason for the expedition or exploration, and explain why the expedition or exploration was important.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 3:

(A)

In the Ming Dynasty, the early emperors wanted to display to the world the splendors of China. Zheng He, a court ambassador, was ordered by his emperor to make voyages from China to southeastern Asia, India, Arabia and Africa. From 1405–1433, Zheng He made 7 voyages to the Middle East and the eastern coast of Africa.

Chinese merchant ships had been sailing in the Indian Ocean long before Zheng He's expeditions, and his voyages benefitted greatly from the knowledge accumulated during these earlier contacts. Zheng He planned the route of his voyages so that his fleet would benefit from the seasonal southwestern and northeastern Monsoonal winds and the Monsoon-related oceanic currents (drifts) of the Indian Ocean.

(B)

The reason for the expedition was to collect gifts and to display to the world the wealth and power of China (in the Ming Dynasty). Although the Ming emperors forbade Chinese merchants to trade with foreigners because they thought the foreigners were inferior, the trade restrictions could not prevent the world from discovering China. Not long after, a Portuguese ship landed at China and in 1557 the Portuguese made a settlement on the southeastern coast of China at Macao, near Guanghou. Jesuit missionaries built missions there and began to convert Chinese to Christianity. As they were well-educated in astronomy, math and arts, Chinese learned western astronomy and math. Europeans who wanted China's teas, silk and porcelain brought sweet potatoes and corn from the Americas. The expedition was important because it made China known to the world and paved the way for trade between China and foreign countries and an exchange of culture.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

Marco Polo began his exploration from Italy, came down through the Mediterranean across Asia by land route. Marco was sent by his government in search of spices and gold and the mapping the world. At this time this was "the world" in the minds of the people.

Vasco da Gama took off where Marco Polo left off and succeeded in traveling through the West Indies and around the Cape of Good Hope. Marco Polo, like most other explorers, were commissioned by their governments to seek new lands for Imperialistic purposes, seek slaves, seek spices which were high in demand and seek prestige for that country for having simply discovered something. Marco Polo succeeded in bringing "the Orient" to Italy.

Sample Question 3

Sample question 3 contains two maps.  The first is labeled Cotton Production 1811.  It shows the southeastern portion of the United States, with states and territories identified.  Dots on the map represent 1,000 bales of cotton.  South Carolina, Virginia, Tennesseem Georgia, North Carolina, and the Territory of New Orleans each contain several dots, with South Carolina having the densest area of cotton production.

The second map is labeled Cotton Production 1859.  It shows a slightly larger portion of the U.S., including the area in the first map, but also including Texas, along with Indiana Territory and Kansas Territory, both due north of Texas.  The map shows cotton production was more prevalent than in 1911 in the southeastern states, particularly the gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  Cotton is also present to a lesser extent in Texas, Arkanasas, Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Florida.

(A)

What do the two maps on page 17 reveal about the changes in cotton production in the United States between 1811 and 1859?

(B)

Based on your knowledge of United States history, briefly describe two key developments — political, economic, or technological — that brought about these changes.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 3:

(A)

The two maps illustrate that cotton production was a minor production crop in 1811 and confined to mostly the mid-Atlantic states. It was harvested in the Carolinas with pockets in Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. Obviously, things had changed by 1859 with the most southern states producing the bulk of the cotton.

(B)

One reason for the increase in cotton production between 1811–59 was the introduction of The Cotton Gin. This machine revolutionized the way cotton was harvested. Another aspect was the stabilization of a larger slave population in the South. Cotton is labor intensive and the man power was available through the use of African slaves. Thirdly markets became larger for the cotton. Trade continued to increase within North America as well as with Europe.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

(A)

From the two maps shown, cotton production in the United States more than quadrupled from 1811 to 1859. In 1811, cotton production in the USA was limited to South Carolina and Georgia and some in Virginia, but in 1859, all of the South has been "overcome" by cotton production. It has even stretched west to eastern part of Texas. By 1859, cotton production which was formerly limited to three states has now spread to North Carolina, northern Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Eastern Texas.

(B)

In the 1811 period, cotton production was limited mostly due to limited labor. But as soon as slaves were brought from Africa, labor was abundant and cotton production spread like wild fire.