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Learning and Technology Resource Center

CST Elementary Education

CST - Elementary Education

Teachers of the common branch subjects in pre kindergarten through grade six are required to achieve a passing score on the Elementary Education Content Specialty Test (CST) in order to receive a permanent certificate in New York State. The purpose of the Elementary Education CST is to assess knowledge and skills in the following five subareas:
  1. English Language Arts
  2. Mathematics
  3. Science and Technology
  4. Social Studies
  5. The Fine Arts, Health, and Fitness
  6. Family and Consumer Science and Career Development
  7. Foundations of Reading: Constructed-Response Assignment

This section also presents some sample test questions for you to review as part of your preparation for the test. To demonstrate how each objective may be assessed, each sample question is accompanied by the objective that it measures. The correct answer and an explanation of the correct answer follow each item.


Test Objective 0001

Understand the foundations of reading development.

For example:

  • demonstrating knowledge of the developmental progression from prereading to conventional literacy, with individual variations, and analyzing how literacy develops in multiple contexts through reading, writing, and oral language experiences
  • defining phonological awareness and phonemic awareness, and analyzing their role in reading developemnt
  • demonstrating knowledge of concepts about print (e.g., book-handling skills, awareness that print carries meaning, recognition of directionality, ability to track print, ability to recognize and name letters)
  • demonstrating knowledge of the alphabetic principle and analyzing how emergent readers use this principle to master letter sound correspondence and to decode simple words
  • demonstrating knowledge of a variety of word identification strategies, including use of phonics, use of semantic and syntactic cues, context clues, syllabication, analysis of word structure (e.g., roots, prefixes, suffixes) and sight-word recognition
  • analyzing factors that affect a reader's ability to construct meaning from texts (e.g., word recognition, reading fluency, vocabulary development, context clues, visual cues, prior knowledge and experience)

Test Objective 0002

Understand skills and strategies involved in reading comprehension.

For example:

  • demonstrating knowledge of literal comprehension skills (e.g., the ability to identify the sequence of events in a text, the ability to identify explicitly stated main ideas, details, and cause-and-effect patterns in a text)
  • demonstrating knowledge of inferential comprehension skills (e.g., the ability to draw conclusions or generalizations from a text, the ability to infer ideas, details, and cause-and-effect relationships that are not explicitly stated in a text)
  • demonstrating knowledge of evaluative comprehension skills (e.g., the ability to distinguish between facts and opinions in a text, the ability to detect faulty reasoning in a text, the ability to detect bias and propaganda in a text)
  • applying knowledge of strategies to use before, during, and after reading to enhance comprehension (e.g.,developing and activating prior knowledge, connecting texts to personal experience, previewing a text, making predictions about a text, using K-W-L charts and other graphic organizers, taking notes on a text, discussuing a text)
  • demonstrating knowledge of methods for helping readers monitor their own comprehension as they read (e.g., think-alouds, self-questioning strategies)
  • demonstrating knowledge of various methods for assessing comprehension of a text (e.g., questioning the reader, having the reader give an oral or writtin retelling, asking the reader to identify the theme(s) or to paraphrase or summarize the main idea)

Test Objective 0003

Understand and apply reading skills and strategies for various purposes (including information and understanding, critical analysis and evaluation, literary response and social interaction).

For example:

  • recognizing how to vary reading strategies for different texts and purposes (e.g., skimming, scanning, in-depth reading, rereading) and for different types and genres of written communication (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, poetry)
  • applying knowledge of techniques for gathering, interpreting, and synthesizing information when reading a variety of printed texts and electronic sources
  • recognizing how to analyze and assess a writer's credibility or objectivity when reading printed and electronic texts
  • analyzing and interpreting information from texts containing tables, charts, graphs, maps, and other illustrations
  • demonstrating knowledge of strategies to promote literary response skills (eg., connecting the text to persona! experience and prior knowledge, citing evidence from a text to support an interpretation, using reading logs or guided reading techniques)
  • identifying effective ways of modeling independent reading for enjoyment and encouraging participation in a community of readers (e.g., book clubs, literature circles)

Test Objective 0002

Apply vocabulary skills (including structural analysis and contextual analysis) to determine the denotative and connotative meaning or meanings of words in given contexts.

For example:

  • Using word stricture or context to determine the meaning or meanings of an unfamiliar word.
  • Using context clues to determine the intended meaning or meanings of a word with multiple meanings.
  • Interpreting the idea or impression conveyed by figurative language in a passage (e.g., metaphor. hyperbole).
Test Objective 0003 Understand and apply study/research skills and strategies.

For example:

  • Drawing conclusions or making generalizations from information presented in one or more graphic representations (e.g.. diagrams, graphs. time lines).
  • Applying note-taking or outlining skills to organize given information.
  • Evaluating reference sources in terms of their appropriateness for meeting given needs (e.g., periodical indexes, card catalog, atlas. Thesaurus, dictionary, computer databases).

Test Objective 0004

Understand literature from around the world (including the United States), including diverse literary works, authors, and movements, and characteristic features of various genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

For example:

  • Recognizing characteristic features of the works of well-known authors or works associated with a given place and time.
  • Understanding differences among genres of literature.
  • Analyzing the social, historical, and cultural features of a given text.

Test Objective 0005

Understand children’s literature, including varied works and authors, equity issues, and major types of children’s literature and their characteristic features.

For example:

  • Evaluating works of children’s literature of different genres in terms of various criteria (e.g., accuracy, authenticity, and appeal of narrative style for evaluating biographies).
  • Understanding characteristic features associated with various authors and types of children’s literature.
  • Analyzing the use of children’s literature for promoting cultural self-esteem and respect for and appreciation of diversity.
  • Analyzing excerpts to determine stylistic or thematic features

Test Objective 0006

Understand skills and strategies involved in writing for various purposes (including information and understanding, literary response and expression, critical analysis and evaluation, and social interaction).

For example:

  • Analyzing factors a writer should consider when writing for a variety of audiences and purposes (e.g., expressive, informative, persuasive), including factors related to selection of topic and mode of written expression.
  • Understanding steps and procedures associated with given components of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, gathering and synthesizing.Information, writing a first draft, revising, proofreading).
  • Understanding developmental stages of a writer, including the use of pictures and developmental spelling.
  • Comparing characteristic features and requirements associated with written materials in various formats (e.g., letter, essay) and modes (e.g., narrative, descriptive, evaluative.

Test Objective 0007

Analyze written work in relation to its stated purpose; evaluate areas in need of improvement; and revise written texts for style, clarity, and organization.

For example:

  • Evaluating revision strategies for improving the effectiveness of written material in relation to a given purpose (e.g.. expressive, informative, persuasive).
  • Analyzing given texts in terms of unity and organization and making appropriate revisions (e.g., adding topic sentences, reordering sentences or paragraphs, using transitional words and phrases, deleting distracting details).
  • Improving the clarity, precision, and effectiveness of given texts through changes in word choice.

Test Objective 0008

Apply knowledge of English grammar and mechanics in revising texts.

For example:

  • Evaluating given texts in terms of sentence construction and making appropriate revisions (e.g., revising run-on sentences, misplaced or dangling modifiers, lack of parallel structure).
  • Revising texts for subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement.
  • Using standard verb forms, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, and plural and possessive forms of nouns in context.
  • Making appropriate revisions involving punctuation and capitalization in a given text

Test Objective 0009

Understand skills and strategies involved in listening for various purposes (including information and understanding, literary response and expression, critical analysis and evaluation, and social interaction).

For example:

  • Comparing listening strategies in terms of their appropriateness for given contexts and purposes (e.g.. acquiring information, appreciating literature read aloud, interpreting and evaluating information).
  • Analyzing barriers to effective listening and strategies for active listening.
  • Analyzing factors affecting the ability to listen effectively and construct meaning from oral messages in various listening situations (e.g., ability to recognize nonverbal cues, to use prior knowledge. to distinguish fact from opinion, to recognize transitions, to identify faulty reasoning).

Test Objective 0010

Understand skills and strategies involved in speaking for various purposes (including information and understanding, literary response and expression, critical analysis and evaluation, and social interaction).

For example:

  • Analyzing ways in which features of oral language (e.g., choice of language, rate, pitch, tone, volume) and nonverbal cues (e.g., body language, visual aids) affect communication in given situations.
  • Evaluating various methods of organizing and presenting thoughts. feelings, ideas, and information for different audiences and purposes (e.g., giving instructions, participating in group discussions, persuading an audience, entertaining).
  • Recognizing the different uses of oral communication and the use of nonverbal cues in different situations by people from different backgrounds.
  • Applying knowledge of language conventions appropriate to a variety of social situations (e.g., informal conversations, job interviews)

Test Objective 0011

Understand formal and informal reasoning processes, including logic and simple proofs, and apply problem-solving techniques and strategies in a variety of contexts.

For example:

  • Judging the validity or logic of mathematical arguments.
  • Evaluating the sufficiency of information provided to solve a problem.
  • Drawing a valid conclusion based on stated conditions.
  • Applying inductive reasoning to make mathematical conjectures.

Test Objective 0012

Use a variety of approaches (e.g., estimation, mental math, modeling, pattern recognition) to explore mathematical ideas and solve problems.

For example:

  • Evaluating the appropriateness of using estimation to solve a given problem.
  • Using an appropriate model to illustrate a given mathematical, scientific, or technological idea or problem.
  • Analyzing the usefulness of a specific model or mental math procedure for exploring a given mathematical idea or problem.
  • Simplifying a problem to facilitate a solution

Test Objective 0013

Use mathematical terminology and symbols to interpret and communicate mathematical ideas and information.

For example:

• Using mathematical notation to represent a given relationship

• Using appropriate models, diagrams, and symbols to represent mathematical concepts

• Using appropriate vocabulary to express given mathematical ideas and relationships

• Relating everyday language to mathematical language and symbols

Test Objective 0014

Understand skills and concepts related to number and numeration, and apply these concepts to real-world situations.

For example:

  • Using ratios, proportions and percents to model and solve problems.
  • Comparing and ordering fractions, decimals, and percents.
  • Solving problems using equivalent forms of numbers (e.g., integer, fraction, decimal, percent, exponential and scientific notation).
  • Analyzing the number properties used in operational algorithms (e.g., multiplication, long division)

Test Objective 0015

Understand and apply the principles and properties of linear algebraic relations and functions.

For example:

  • Analyzing mathematical relationships and patterns using tables, verbal rules, equations, and graphs.
  • Deriving an algebraic expression to represent a real-world relationship or pattern and recognizing a real-world relationship that is represented by an algebraic expression.
  • Using algebraic functions to describe given graphs, to plot points, and to determine slopes.
  • Performing algebraic operations to solve equations and inequalities

Test Objective 0016

Understand the principles and properties of geometry and trigonometry, and apply them to model and solve problems.

For example:

  • Applying the concepts of similarity and congruence to model and solve real-world problems.
  • Applying knowledge of basic geometric figures to solve real-world problems involving more complex patterns.
  • Applying inductive and deductive reasoning to solve real-world problems in geometry.
  • Recognizing the definitions of trigonometric functions involving right triangles and the relationships among trigonometric functions

Test Objective 0017

Understand concepts, principles, skills, and procedures related to measurement, statistics, and probability; and demonstrate an ability to use this understanding to describe and compare phenomena, to evaluate and interpret data, and to apply mathematical expectations to real-world phenomena.

For example:

  • Estimating and converting measurements using standard and nonstandard units.
  • Solving measurement problems involving volume, time, or speed.
  • Interpreting graphic and nongraphic representations of frequency distributions, percentiles, and measures of central tendency.
  • Determining probabilities and making predictions based on probabilities.

Test Objective 0018

Understand the interrelationships between the physical setting and the living environment and the common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology.

For example:

  • Applying principles of mathematics, science, and technology to model a given situation (e.g., the movement of energy and nutrients between a food chain and the physical environment).
  • Analyzing the effects of changes in environmental conditions (e.g., tem­perature, availability of water and sunlight) on plant and animal health, growth, and development.
  • Analyzing the effects of human activities (e.g.. burning fossil fuels, clear-cutting forests) on the environment and the benefits and limitations of science and technology.
  • Evaluating the use of science and technology in solving problems related to the effects of human activities on the environment (e.g., recycling, energy conservation).

Test Objective 0019

Understand the principles of life science (including human biology and ecology); and use this understanding to interpret, analyze, and explain phenomena.

For example:

  • Inferring the life science principle (e.g., adaptation, homeostasis) illustrated in a given situation.
  • Analyzing the relationships between plants and animals within a community.
  • Analyzing the factors that contribute to change in organisms and species over time.
  • Analyzing processes that contribute to the continuity of life (e.g., life cycles~ the role of growth, repair, and maintenance)

Test Objective 0020

Understand the principles of physical science (including earth science, chemistry, and physics); and use this understanding to interpret, analyze, and explain phenomena.

For example:

  • Analyzing celestial and atmospheric phenomena in terms of interactions among the earth, the moon, and the sun (e.g., seasonal changes, the phases of the moon).
  • Analyzing the forces that shape the earth’s surface in terms of interactions among components of air, water, and land (e.g., volcanism, erosion).
  • Distinguishing between physical and chemical properties of matter and between physical and chemical changes in matter.
  • Inferring the physical science principle (e.g., effects of common forces, conservation of energy) illustrated in a given situation.

Test Objective 0021

Apply inquiry skills and processes to develop explanations of natural phenomena.

For example:

  • Drawing conclusions and making generalizations based on examination of given experimental results.
  • Classifying information (e.g., sorting, grouping, labeling, sequencing) in terms of similarities and differences.
  • Interpreting data presented in one or more graphs, charts, or tables to determine patterns or relationships.
  • Applying mathematical rules or formulas (including basic statistics) to analyze given experimental or observational data.

Test Objective 0022

Understand principles and procedures related to the design and implementation of observational and experimental scientific investigations.

For example:

  • Distinguishing among the features of a given experimental design (e.g., dependent and independent variables, control and experimental groups).
  • Formulating hypotheses based on reasoning and preliminary results or information.
  • Evaluating the validity of a scientific conclusion in a given situation.
  • Applying procedures for the care and humane treatment of animals and the safe and appropriate use of equipment in the laboratory

Test Objective 0023

Understand major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of New York State, the United States, and the world; and analyze their significance from multiple perspectives.

For example:

  • Analyzing the societal effects of major developments in human history (e.g., the agricultural revolution, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the information revolution).
  • Understanding the principal political, social, economic, and geographic characteristics of ancient civilizations and the connections and interactions among these civilizations.
  • Analyzing the effects of European settlement on indigenous cultures of New York State and the Northeast.
  • Analyzing the roles and contributions of individuals and groups to U.S. social, political, economic, cultural, and religious life, including historically underrepresented groups.

Test Objective 0024

Understand geographic concepts and phenomena; and analyze the interrelationships of geography, society, and culture in the development of New York State, the United States, and the world.

For example:

  • Demonstrating an understanding of how the five themes of geography— location, place, relationships within places, movement, and regions—can be used to analyze geographic phenomena and human cultures.
  • Recognizing the physical characteristics of the earth’s surface and the continual reshaping of the surface by physical processes (e.g., how weather, climate, and the water cycle influence different regions).
  • Analyzing the development and interaction of social, political, cultural, and religious systems in different regions of New York State, the United States, and the world.
  • Analyzing the impact of human activity on the physical environment (e.g., industrial development, population growth, deforestation).

Test Objective 0025

Understand concepts and phenomena related to human development and interactions (including anthropological, psychological, and sociological concepts).

For example:

  • Evaluating factors that contribute to the development of personal identity (e.g., family, group affiliations, socialization processes).
  • Analyzing the roles and functions of social groups and institutions in the United States (e.g., ethnic groups, schools. religions) and their influence on individual and group interactions.
  • Analyzing why individuals and groups hold different or competing points of view on issues, events, or historical developments.
  • Understanding the processes of social and cultural change.

Test Objective 0026

Understand economic and political principles, concepts, and systems, and relate this knowledge to historical and contemporary developments in New York State, the United States, and the world.

For example:

  • Analyzing the basic structure, fundamental ideas, accomplishments, and problems of the U.S. economic system.
  • Analyzing values, principles, concepts, and key features of American constitutional democracy (e.g.. individual freedom, separation of powers, due process).
  • Comparing different perspectives regarding economic and political issues and policies in New York State and the United States (e.g., in relation to taxing and spending decisions).
  • Analyzing ways in which the United States has influenced other nations (e.g.. in the development of democratic principles and human rights) and how other nations have influenced U.S. politics and culture.

Test Objective 0027

Understand the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States and the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for successful participation in civic life.

For example:

  • Analyzing the personal and political rights guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution. the Constitution of the State of New York, and major civil rights legislation.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the U.S. election process and the roles of political parties, pressure groups. and special interests in the U.S. political system.
  • Analyzing the ways in which citizens participate in and influence the political process in the United States (e.g.. the role of public opinion and citizen action in shaping public policy).
  • Analyzing the factors that have expanded or limited the role of the individual in U.S. political life during the twentieth century (e.g., female suffrage, Jim Crow laws, the growth of presidential primaries, the role of the media in political elections).

Test Objective 0028

Understand and apply skills related to social studies, including gathering, organizing, mapping, evaluating, interpreting, and displaying information.

For example:

  • Evaluating the appropriateness of various resources for meeting specified information needs (e.g., atlas, database, surveys, polls, the Internet).
  • Demonstrating an understanding of concepts, tools, and technologies for mapping information about the spatial distribution of people, places, and environments (e.g., mapping grids, the advantages and limitations of different types of maps and map projections).
  • Interpreting information presented in one or more graphic representations (e.g., graph, table, map) and translating written or graphic information from one form to the other.
  • Summarizing the purpose or point of view of a historical narrative.

The Fine Arts

Test Objective 0029

Understand the concepts, techniques, and materials of the ‘visual arts; analyze works of visual art; and understand the cultural dimensions and contributions of the visual arts.

For example:

  • Analyzing how the illusion of space is created in a given two-dimensional work of art (e.g., linear perspective, overlapping elements).
  • Analyzing a given two-dimensional or three-dimensional work of art in terms of its unifying elements.
  • Applying knowledge of basic tools, techniques, and technologies (e.g., computers) for working with given materials (e.g., clay, textiles, wood).
  • Analyzing how given works of art reflect the cultures that produced them (e.g., sculptural materials or techniques used, subject matter or style of a painting).

Test Objective 0030

Understand concepts, techniques, and materials for producing, listening to, and responding to music; analyze works of music; and understand the cultural dimensions and contributions of music.

For example:

  • Comparing various types of instruments (e.g., percussion, woodwind, computerized) in terms of the sounds they produce.
  • Applying common musical terms (e.g., pitch, tempo).
  • Relating characteristics of music (e.g.. rhythm. beat) to musical effects produced.
  • Analyzing how different cultures have created music reflective of their own histories and societies (e.g., call-and-response songs, ballads, work songs).

Test Objective 0031

Understand concepts, techniques, and materials related to theater and dance; analyze works of drama and dance; and understand the cultural dimensions and contributions of drama and dance.

For example:

  • Comparing dramatic and theatrical forms and their characteristics (e.g., pantomime, improvisation).
  • Analyzing how technical aspects of drama (e.g., the use of masks, costumes, props) affect the message or overall impression created by a dramatic performance.
  • Relating types of dance (e.g.. ballet, folk dance) to their characteristic forms of movement, expressive qualities, and cultural roles.
  • Analyzing ways in which different cultures have used drama and dance (e.g., to teach moral lessons, to preserve cultural traditions, to affirm the sense of community, to entertain).

Health and Fitness

Test Objective 0032

Understand basic principles and practices of personal, interpersonal, and community health and safety; and apply related knowledge and skills (e.g., decision making, problem solving) to promote personal well-being.

For example:

  • Applying decision-making and problem-solving skills and procedures in individual and group situations (including situations related to personal well-being, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships).
  • Analyzing contemporary health-related problems (e.g.. HJV, teenage pregnancy, suicide, substance abuse) in terms of their causes, their effects, or their significance for individuals, families, and society and evaluating strategies for their prevention.
  • Analyzing the effects of specific practices related to nutrition, exercise, etc., on lifelong personal health.
  • Analyzing relationships between environmental conditions and personal and community health and safety.

Test Objective 0033

Understand physical education concepts and practices related to the development of personal living skills.

For example:

  • Comparing activities that promote the development of motor skills (e.g., locomotor, manipulative, body mechanics), perceptual awareness skills (e.g., body awareness, spatial and directional awareness), and fitness (e.g.. endurance, hand-eye coordination, flexibility).
  • Applying safety concepts and practices associated with physical activities (e.g., doing warm-up exercises, wearing protective equipment).
  • Understanding skills necessary for successful participation in given sports and activities (e.g., dodging, spatial orientation, eye-body coordination, dancing).
  • Analyzing ways in which participation in individual or group sports or physical activities can promote personal living skills (e.g., self-discipline, respect for self and others, resource management) and interpersonal skills (e.g., cooperation. leadership, communication)