GRADE 6 READING - 2008 Released Test


A Different View

1 Twelve-year-old Quinterro stood at the edge of the mountain pass high above the city of Lima, Peru. He aimed his binoculars at the city below. It was late afternoon, and lights were starting to sparkle. Quinterro scanned the streets and the buildings, letting the binoculars bring the busy place into focus for him. He picked a mark on the old main street of Lima, adjusted the lenses, and stood still for a few minutes.

2 Lowering the binoculars, Quinterro looked back at his family. He squirmed as he thought of his life, day after hot summer day, watching the llamas. Supper was cooking slowly on the fire. Quinterro’s older brother Ireneo was talking quietly to his father. Behind them the llamas munched on the scrubby mountain grass. Quinterro sighed. His family seemed so content. Why couldn’t he feel the same? Operating a llama caravan over the mountain wasn’t exciting, but there were some benefits. He ran through the list in his head: trading old toys for new ones, keeping in shape for school sports, gazing across the city every chance he had. Quinterro looked down at the binoculars in his hand.

3 “Quint!” exclaimed Ireneo. “I’ve told you a million times to pay attention!”

4 Ireneo was scrambling toward the llamas. Quinterro aimed the binoculars toward the mountain pass only to see that he was too late. Another caravan with llamas had reached the clearing, and the day’s peace was instantly disturbed. The new llamas smelled the other animals and bolted. Quinterro watched as a girl his age chased after one of the jumpy animals, and then he looked back at his brother. Ireneo had climbed partway up a steep incline to reach the nervous llamas.

5 Hurrying across the clearing to help, Quinterro shifted his binoculars so they hung down his back. He and Ireneo led the llamas back to the clearing, and Ireneo gave the strap around Quinterro’s neck a slight tug.

6 “I thought you needed these to watch for other caravans,” Ireneo shouted with irritation.

7 Quinterro did not respond to Ireneo. Instead, he glanced around until he spotted the girl he had been watching earlier. She spoke in a soft and gentle voice. She seemed to be making friends with the llamas. Quinterro headed back across the clearing.

8 “I think they’re almost calmed down,” the girl said as Quinterro approached.

9 “Ours too,” Quinterro said.

10 “My name is Marta,” the girl said.

11 Quinterro introduced himself. For a minute, there was nothing but the sound of llamas chewing grass. Then the girl spoke. “I’m curious,” she said. “Do you do this all the time?”

12 “My family does. I help out during school breaks,” Quinterro said.7

13 Marta smiled. “I live in the city, and every day I look up at these mountains and wonder where they go. This place looks so beautiful from below. When my cousin said he was joining a caravan, I begged to come along.”

14 Quinterro simply stared at her, disbelieving what he had heard, but Marta didn’t seem to notice. He was surprised that anyone would choose to leave the exciting city for the quiet mountains.

15 “The city looks so different from up here,” Marta said as she looked down.

16 A thought occurred to Quinterro, and he took the binoculars from around his neck. “Try these.”

17 He passed the binoculars to Marta and then turned to look down at the city. When not magnified, the city looked smaller and duller. He was just about to ask for his binoculars back when Marta spoke.

18 “I think they’re broken,” she said.

19 Curious, Quinterro reached for the binoculars and held them to his eyes. The bushes in front of him were huge like green mountains. He saw every leaf and every branch in vivid detail. He aimed the binoculars at the llamas, at the mountain pass, and then at his family. Everything seemed bigger, closer, and more defined.

20 Next, he aimed the binoculars at the city below. It was completely out of focus. Quinterro adjusted the lenses to focus them on the city. With a smile, he handed the binoculars back to Marta.

21 “They’re not broken,” Quinterro said. “It depends on how you look through them.”

To answer questions 11 - 21, enlarge the flier below by placing your mouse over the image or click here to open the flier in a separate window.


Refer to the following passage for questions 22-31


1 Susannah stood in the snowy field and searched the sky for Scout, her hawk. The sky was empty except for the thin spiral of smoke rising from the chimney of her family’s cabin. In the distance she could see smoke from the nearby town. Though it was not often, in good weather Susannah and her family periodically made the half-day trip into town. They would trade hand-sewn clothes and pelts for supplies they couldn’t find in the woods. Susannah’s mother was one was considered a better hunter and trapper than Susannah’s father, and he was very proud of his reputation and skills. Sometimes after the work was completed, Susannah’s family would picnic with other families in the small town square.

2 That had been before her father had fallen into a trap and injured his leg. He had been confined to the cabin as his leg healed. Susannah’s stomach tightened at the thought of her father inside their cabin day after day. He had always been such an active man, committed to providing for his family. She could see the anguish he felt as he watched Susannah and her mother do all the work. Blinking her eyes to come back to
reality, she quickly scanned the sky again. A hawk flew toward the clearing. For a moment Susannah thought it was Scout. But as the bird drew closer, Susannah could see by its color that it had all of its adult feathers.

3 Susannah smiled as she thought back to the fuzzy chick Scout had been the first time she saw him. Just days after Susannah’s father had been hurt, Susannah had gone out to check his traps. The twelve-year-old had heard an odd squeak and looked down to see Scout on the ground. The hawk’s nest, along with its keenly observant mother, was visible in a nearby tree.

4 Susannah had approached the bird cautiously. The chick didn’t move away. Instead, the baby bird had opened its mouth wide as if waiting for Susannah to feed it. Susannah took a minute to decide what to do. When she returned to the cabin with the newest member of the family, she told her parents her plans. Hawks were known for the strong grip they used to carry their prey. She wanted to raise the bird and teach it how to hunt to help provide food for the family.

5 Susannah’s mother had reacted the way the girl had expected, but Susannah assured her mother that caring for the bird wouldn’t get in the way of her other chores. What surprised Susannah was her father’s reaction. He merely stared at the fireplace and said nothing. Susannah wondered if he felt upset about his responsibilities being taken over by a bird.

6 That was months ago. Now Scout was almost fully grown and nearly trained. The trick had been to teach the bird to bring her what it had caught. Susannah spent many cold afternoons watching Scout devour lunch on a branch high over her head.

7 Now as Susannah searched the sky for Scout, she didn’t care if the hawk returned with dinner, just so long as it returned. Suddenly, she heard a noise behind her. Looking back, she saw her father moving slowly across the clearing. He was using a thick branch as a makeshift crutch. She was thrilled to see he was finally able to leave the cabin, but was worried to think of him watching her work with Scout.

8 “I thought I’d come see how that bird of yours is doing,” he said.

9 In the stillness of the clearing, Susannah was sure her father could hear her heart pounding in her chest. Then, from a short distance away, she heard a loud squawk. Looking up, she saw Scout. He was clutching something in his claws. As the bird neared, Susannah held out her arm. A few feet from Susannah’s father, Scout dropped the biggest rabbit she had ever seen and then landed gracefully on Susannah’s arm.

10 Susannah lifted her other hand and lightly stroked the bird’s head. She then looked at her father. He was holding the hawk’s catch in his hand. He looked up and nodded.

11 “That’s quite a bird you have there,” he said. He turned and slowly crossed the clearing toward the cabin.

12 Susannah smiled. Dinner would be good, and she was looking forward to sharing it with her entire family

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Refer to the following passage for questions 32-45.


1 For hundreds of years, African Americans have played a significant role in the military of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, about five thousand African Americans fought for America’s independence from Britain. More than forty of these troops were under the direct command of General George Washington. At the start of the War of 1812, African Americans were forbidden to serve in the army; however, many of these soldiers became sailors in the United States Navy toward the end of the war. More than 200,000 fought on both sides of the conflict during the Civil War. By the time of the Indian Wars from 1866 to 1891, African-American soldiers were stationed all across the American West and helped settle new territories from Texas to Montana.

2 An Act of Congress
The time was July 1866. The Civil War had been over for only sixteen months. For the first time Congress adopted an act to create six special army units. Each one would be made up only of African Americans. These units were called cavalry regiments, which meant the members of the units rode on horseback.

3 For the next twenty years these men and their horses thundered across the western frontier. These army units built forts and roads. They installed telegraph lines. They protected settlers and led wagon trains. They also battled American Indian tribes. It was from the Plains Indians that these African-American soldiers got their odd nickname.

4 The First Buffalo Soldiers
When American Indians saw the African-American soldiers, they were puzzled. These men fought very hard and were quite tough. They also had thick, curly hair and dark skin. Their hair and their strength in battle reminded some of the tribes of the mighty buffalo. In 1867 all African-American soldiers became known as Buffalo Soldiers. The men wore this new title with pride. They knew it was given with respect.

5 The Buffalo Soldiers’ regiments did not come to an end when the Indian Wars were over. They went on to fight in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Hundreds of thousands fought in both World War I and World War II. Although many African Americans fought in later wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Buffalo Soldiers’ regiments came to an end in 1944. Units based on horses had become a thing of the past.

6 A Recent Honor
In 1992 General Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an African American himself, dedicated a memorial to the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The very military that had once fought to keep African Americans out of the service now honored their memory.