7th Grade Reading - 2010 Released Test


Directions: Read the story and answer the questions 1 - 10.

Changing the Environment

1 Sara Hayden discovered her private perch on a large boulder about two weeks after her family moved to Poplar Springs. It was the first Friday in April, and Sara’s school had early dismissal. She tossed her jacket over the sofa, dumped her backpack on the floor, and put on her heavy hiking boots. She grabbed a banana and a juice box and hustled out the back door. She still had not made a single friend at her new school; arriving late in the term had been challenging. She felt isolated and alone. As Sara’s loneliness at school continued, trekking through the tract of deep woods behind her house relieved the frustration that had built up in her.

2 That day Sara chose a particularly mucky route adjacent to Willow Creek. Early spring mud squished beneath her boots like clay and splattered brown specks on her jeans. Through the woods close to Willow Creek, Sara heard the creek splashing down the falls. Pale green buds announced the late-arriving spring.

3 About half a mile from the house, Sara noticed something rather peculiar—a whittled, pencil-shaped stump where a tall poplar sapling had stood the previous week. She looked around and saw a narrow path marked by broken branches and crushed leaves. Sara carefully picked her way through the underbrush, snagging her jeans on prickly vines.

4 Sara reached Willow Creek and realized immediately what had happened to the poplar sapling. A pair of industrious beavers was actively damming Willow Creek. Sara sat on a boulder about 20 yards from the partially built lodge. As yet, the dam could not stop Willow Creek in full rush, but the beavers had major construction in mind. Sara wondered how long it would take them to finish. One beaver, hauling a heavy branch in its teeth, appeared on the creek bank. For the first time in weeks, Sara was interested in something.

5 Over the next few weeks, Sara monitored the progress of the beavers’ timber-cutting endeavor. She noticed that poplar, birch, and willow saplings had been gnawed into stumps. The newly clear-cut plots allowed sunlight to reach the forest floor, where wildflowers painted the greenery and vines shimmied up narrow tree trunks.

6 The dam increased in size and reduced Willow Creek to a mere trickle. The beavers followed a remarkable work ethic. The dam was never sufficient, never big enough, never strong enough to suit the active beavers. Sara wondered whether the husky adult beavers had newborn kits in their lodge. If so, the offspring had not yet emerged into the open. She did not expect to see any for several weeks.

7 The stone perch gave Sara a front-row seat as the ecosystem engineers converted a rushing stream into a still-pond habitat. Sara scanned the pond daily to see what had changed. It did not occur to her that what had changed the most was her own attitude. She had exchanged loneliness for curiosity, frustration for fascination.

8 As the dam changed the pond’s environment, the population changed as well. A pair of wood ducks became the first visitors to set up housekeeping. The “whoo-eek, whoo-eek” of the green-headed male echoed through the woods. The female replied with a “crreck, crreck, crreck.” Duckweed sprouted around the edges of the pond. Scrawny reeds popped
up on the banks, and frogs, salamanders, and a slender snake found their way to the pond. Dragonflies and mayflies buzzed in the warm spring air.

9 In school, Sara’s science class was studying ecosystems. “Pair up and do a report on habitats. Be prepared to give a presentation two weeks from Friday,” said Mr. Hoffinger.

10 Seated alphabetically, Sara sat directly behind Kayla Hammond. Kayla turned around in her seat and whispered, “Do you have a partner?” Sara shook her head. “Want to work together?” asked Kayla.

11 Sara smiled. “I have an inspiration. Come over to my house after school, and I’ll show you.”

12 The day of the presentation came; Sara and Kayla were ready. Kayla ran the slide show while Sara narrated. “This spring, two ecosystem engineers moved to Willow Creek. These engineers have no college degrees, yet they build elaborate habitats. They are Castor canadensis, American beavers.”

13 The slides were impressive and, along with the chart, very instructive. The other students had so many questions and comments that both Kayla and Sara talked with almost everyone in class. The beaver dam had changed both the environment of the pond and Sara herself.

Directions: Read the letter and answer the questions 11 - 21.

State History or World Gardens?

Jacob Barone, Principal
Sand Hill Middle School
Richmond, VA 23274

Dear Mr. Barone:

1 I am writing on behalf of the seventh-grade class. The traditional seventh-grade spring field trip is to the State History Museum. This year, however, the seventh grade would like to request a change. The class is interested in going to the new World Botanical Gardens located in East Johnsonville. Although this would mean a two-hour bus ride, the benefits of the new field trip would make the extra time worthwhile. The garden hours are from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. The class could leave school at 8:00 A.M. and arrive just as the gardens open. We would have time to explore the gardens, make notes about our favorite exhibits, eat lunch, and return to school by 4:00 P.M.

2 Many seventh-grade students have already visited the history museum. Since the museum is so close, students often go there with their families, with scouting troops, or with other groups. We have enjoyed the many interesting exhibits, but this year we are hoping to learn something new.

3 The purpose of the new field trip destination is to help students understand the different environments of our planet. The World Botanical Gardens contains the second-largest walk-through Amazon rainforest exhibit in the country. Some of the other popular exhibits are the Giant Flowers, the Arid Deserts, and the Palm Trees Around the World.

4 Since seventh-grade students study plants and plant energy in science class, visiting the botanical gardens would be an appropriate and educational field trip. The information we could learn there would be an excellent way to supplement our science studies. We would observe plants growing in special displays that are similar to their natural habitats. Charts located near each display provide information about the plants. This information will help when learning about topics such as how food webs work and how plants respond to light. The botanical gardens also provide educational workshops and presentations to groups.

5 In addition, the field trip supports what we are studying in our English class. We are currently reading Which Way to the Amazon? This novel, which is set in a rainforest and based on scientific facts, describes the adventures of a fictional archaeological expedition searching for a lost city. The rainforest exhibit at the World Botanical Gardens would better help us understand the novel’s setting.

6 Please consider this request for the seventh-grade field trip to World Botanical Gardens. Any increase in the traditional field trip expenses, such as the longer bus ride, could be offset by fundraisers such as bake sales and car washes. The class treasurer has suggested a “save the rainforest bake sale.” A portion of the money raised could be donated to a foundation that helps preserve the Amazon rainforest. This way the fundraiser could also be a public service event.

7 If I can provide additional information, please let me know.

8 Thank you very much.


Robert Burns
Seventh-Grade Class President
Sand Hill Middle School

Directions: Read the story and answer the questions 22 - 31.

Coin Confusion

1 Samuel looked through troubled eyes at his sister and said, “I wouldn’t have thought Everett would be a thief.”

2 His sister Emily replied, “Whoa, there—we don’t know that for sure. That’s a serious accusation to make against your best friend!”

3 Samuel’s eyes were dark as he said, “But who else could it be? He was there, he had them in his hands, and now they are missing.”

4 Samuel remembered two days ago when he had brought out his coin collection for Everett to see. He had received a new coin as an early birthday gift from his aunt, and he was very excited about it. Some time ago the United States government decided to create new designs for the quarters that represented each state. Five new designs were issued each year. He now had every state quarter that had been issued. He had silver dollars and coins from different countries too, but none meant as much as his quarter collection. Samuel loved it because he and his dad were both collecting the coins. It was like a game they played to see who could complete his collection first. Everett knew how much the collection meant to Samuel.

5 At the end of that day, Samuel’s mother had said, “Samuel, would you please take this recipe to Mr. Bates down the street? He’s trying to prepare it for dinner tonight, so would you go now?”

6 Samuel had turned to his friend and said, “Is it okay if I leave you for a few minutes?”

7 Everett had said, “Actually, I have an errand to run, but you go on ahead, and I’ll clean up here,” gesturing at the piles of coins on the floor.

8 When Samuel had returned from Mr. Bates’ house, he had done his homework, had eaten dinner, and had read for a while before bed. It never occurred to him to check his coins. It was not until two days later that he realized the quarters were gone. The foreign coins were there, but his quarter set was missing.

9 Samuel’s sister said, “Why don’t you just ask him?”

10 “Ask him what?” replied Samuel scornfully. “Hey, Best Friend, did you steal my coin collection?”

11 “Well, maybe you could just mention you can’t find your set of quarters, and ask him where he put it when he cleaned up,” replied Emily.

12 Samuel thought for a moment, deciding if that would be a good idea. The theft of his collection left him with a feeling of betrayal. How could I have misjudged my friend’s character?

13 The next day Samuel went over to Everett’s house. Everett was acting funny—sort of jittery, like he couldn’t be still. In fact, Samuel thought Everett was acting like someone with a secret. Anger blossomed as he watched Everett pretend to be kind and pretend to be his friend, when Everett had obviously stolen from him. Samuel finally could not stand it anymore and stood up.

14 Suddenly, Everett cried, “I can’t stand it anymore!”

15 Samuel was astonished at hearing his own thoughts burst forth from his friend. Only, instead of sounding guilty or anguished, Everett sounded excited. Samuel watched his friend jump up and pull something from underneath the chair.

16 “Go on—open it! I was going to wait until your birthday tomorrow, but I can’t wait!”

17 Slowly, Samuel lifted the top of the box. Silver flashed at him, and his eyes suddenly stung. Laid out in front of him in glorious splendor were all of the quarters from his coin collection. Each quarter was nestled in its own spot in a collection case. Each quarter shone like it was new.

18 Samuel felt heat rush over his neck and ears. He weakly said, “Thank you—this means . . . a great deal to me.” He was grateful that Everett had cut him off before he said something he would regret. Everett was exactly the type of person he wanted as a friend!

Directions: Read the article and answer the questions 32 - 42.

Magnificent Divers

1 If you were a fish, one of the last birds you would want to see flying overhead is a hungry osprey. These majestic birds of prey average two feet in length and may have an incredible six-foot wingspan. These enormous predators are also equipped with long, sharp talons for snagging a meal swimming in the water below.

2 Ospreys, also known as fish hawks or fishing eagles, have short, hooked beaks and wings that taper to rounded tips. Their coloring ranges from white to dark brown. The white feathers on ospreys’ heads look like little caps, and their wings include a mixture of white and dark brown feathers. Their chests, bellies, and chins are white, and their tails are marked with several white bands, or stripes. Ospreys in flight are easy to identify, thanks to their distinctive plumage, or feathers. Not surprisingly, these birds are related to eagles, hawks, and even vultures. They can live a long time; the average life span in the wild is 18 years. The oldest known osprey lived to be 25 years old.

3 Ospreys are designed to fly fast and dive at amazing speeds. Soaring one hundred feet above the water, their sharp eyes watch the surface carefully for any telltale signs of fish. Ospreys hover over the water and wait for some indication of activity. Once prey is spotted, the birds fold their wings to their sides and begin a steep dive, plunging nearly straight down at blazing speeds. Usually, ospreys hit the water feet first, plunging completely underwater to catch their food. Water sprays in all directions as the birds reach underwater to grab a fish. They have been seen diving as much as three feet underwater to capture their prey! Once a fish has been snagged in its sharp claws, an osprey soars back up into the sky, pausing in flight just long enough to shake the water from its feathers before flying away to enjoy its meal. To help ospreys hold on to their catch, each of their feet has a unique reversible front toe.

4 Since their diet is almost entirely fish, ospreys make their homes near water. They live on islands and around bays, such as the Chesapeake Bay between Virginia and Maryland. The birds spend summers in Alaska, Canada, and northwestern parts of the United States. During the colder months, they stay in warmer places like the Caribbean and Central and South America. The Chesapeake Bay is home to the largest nesting population of ospreys in the world. Observers have counted as many as 2,000 pairs. The area has even been called “the osprey garden.”

5 Like other birds, ospreys like to build their nests in high locations. In some coastal communities, they have built nests on top of electric power poles and towers. This is dangerous and can result in power failures. Some cities build nesting platforms for the big birds to use instead. In other regions, ospreys build nests high in trees or on rock cliffs. Osprey nests have even been found on channel markers and buoys on the water.

6 Ospreys use their nests repeatedly. When ospreys return to their nests, they spend time repairing them before laying their eggs. Most ospreys lay three eggs at a time. They are about the same size as chicken eggs and take approximately five weeks to hatch. If anything threatening approaches the nest, the ospreys’ usual call of cheep-cheep-cheep turns into an angry cheereek, cheereek. The call means “Get away immediately!”

7 When the eggs crack open, the chicks, which weigh only about two ounces, crawl out. In less than two months, these tiny birds will have grown enough to take their first flight. It will not be long before a new generation of ospreys is ready to imitate their parents and head out for a tasty meal.

8 With their beautiful coloring, threatening size, and natural ability to bolt out of the sky at high speeds, there is little doubt that ospreys are remarkable birds. Imagine these majestic birds soaring from the heights of the sky and plunging into the depths of the water. It is no surprise that this amazing scene draws attention from people who see it. Ospreys will continue to populate the skies for future generations.