Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially met expectations for alignment to the CCSS. The instructional materials partially meet the expectations for Gateway 1 as they feature engaging texts, tasks and questions grounded in evidence, and opportunities for rich reading and literacy growth but inconsistently support speaking and listening. Writing support meets the requirements of the standards, although grammar and conventions lessons and practice are not always connected to the materials at hand in multiple contexts, and culminating tasks are of value but sometimes disconnected to the rich questions and reading that precede them. The instructional materials partially meet the expectations of Gateway 2 as they feature engaging and relevant texts and text sets organized around topics or themes to support students’ growing knowledge deeply but partially support students’ academic vocabulary development and growing integrated skills in literacy. Students are inconsistently asked to integrate their literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) into full culminating tasks, and support for students to learn and practice vocabulary to build knowledge as they read texts is minimal. The overall year-long plans and structures for writing and for research instruction are partially present, with inconsistent supports, and there is no year-long plan for independent reading.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
30
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
16
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

|

Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
0
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Partially Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The Grade 6 materials partially meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards. The texts used over the course of the year are engaging, rigorous, and organized to supports students' growing literacy skills. Tasks and questions in writing are grounded in evidence, and instructional materials provide many opportunities for rich reading and literacy growth. The materials inconsistently support speaking and listening opporutnities with limited implementation support and accountability, and students do not have consistent opportunities to model the use of academic vocabulary learned in their texts. Writing support meets the requirements of the standards, although grammar and conventions lessons and practice are not always connected to the materials at hand in multiple contexts. Culminating tasks are of value but sometimes disconnected to the rich questions and reading that precede them.

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
19/20
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The texts for Grade 6 are of high quality and engaging to students. The text sets reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards, offering a range and volume of reading for students to learn from. These texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task, and the placement of texts across the school year is such that students have access to increasingly rigorous literacy experiences. Although the texts are rich, high quality, and rigorous, support for students' development in reading comprehension (oral or silent reading) is minimal. There is no consistent mechanism for teachers and/or students to monitor progress and work on reading skills to ensure comprehension of 6th grade-level materials at the end of the school year.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 fully meet the expectations of indicator 1a. The anchor texts within each collection are of high quality, engaging to students in Grade 6, and have rich language and themes. There are a total of six Collections throughout the Student Edition. Each Collection labels anchor texts, which drive each collection and provide a cornerstone for exploring the collection topic and culminating performance task. Anchor text topics are engaging to students in Grade 6 and include a variety to keep students’ interest over the course of the school year. Many anchor texts are written by award-winning authors, such as Mark Twain, P.G. Wodehouse, Maya Angelou, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Some samples of anchor texts that support the high-quality expectations of this indicator include:

Collection 1: "Facing Fear" engages students by incorporating an anchor text with the main character at the middle school age.

  • "The Ravine,” a short story by Graham Salisbury, includes rich figurative language throughout the text (e.g. pg 10, “…little rivulets of water that bled from the side of the cliff.")
  • "Fears and Phobias," is an informational article about experiencing fear at different degrees and explains how fear works.

Collection 2: Animal Intelligence include texts exploring various perspectives on the intelligence of animals.

  • "The Mixer" by P.G. Wodehouse, a an engaging story told from a dog's point of view.
  • from "How smart Are Animals" the lens of animal intelligence from a scientific point of view.

Collection 3, “Dealing with Disaster” includes texts about natural disasters. Both examples are relevant and interesting to students in Grade 6. Students will be able to relate to characters who are about the same age as them in “Facing Fear.” They are also exposed to news stories about disasters daily in both national and social media.

Collection 4, “Making Your Voice Heard,” involves anchor texts about people expressing themselves and their ideas.

  • "Wild Animals aren't Pets" and "Let People Own Wild Animals" are paired texts. Students read opinion pieces on the merits of owning exotic animals and then form their own opinion on this matter.

Collection 5, “Decisions That Matter,” has material that encourages students’ self-advocacy.

  • from "It worked for Me: in Life and Leadership" / from Colin Powell: Military Leader introduces two different genres on the same subjects reveal different aspects.
  • Paul Revere's Ride, both a written poem and an audio version; using the power of poetry to immortalize a person and an event decades after its occurrence.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards for Grade 6, and therefore fully meet the criteria of indicator 1b. The materials include a mix of informational and literary texts that are aligned to the suggested balance in the CCSS for Grade 6. The ratio of text types (literary to informational text) is roughly 50/50 throughout the student edition, both in numbers of text and in approximate instructional minutes afforded. While this does not account for the reading done outside of the English language arts block, the whole of the program does support students' access to many strong informational pieces of text.

The following are examples of literature found in two collections within the instructional materials:

Collection 3, ”Dealing with Disasters,” contains eight texts: three informational texts and three literary texts are located in the anthology; two informational and one literary are located in the Close Reader.

Informational:

  • “Mammoth Shakes and Monster Waves: Destruction in 12 Countries,” by Brena Z. Guiberson
  • From A Night to Remember, history writing by Walter Lord
  • From Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved, a documentary by James Cameron

Literary:

  • From “After the Hurricane,” a poem by Rita Williams-Garcia, paired with “Watcher, After Katrina, 2005” a poem by Natasha D. Tretheway.
  • “There Will Come Soft Rains,” a short story by Ray Bradbury

Collection 5, “Decisions that Matter,” contains ten texts: four informational texts and three literary texts located in the anthology; two informational and one literary located in the Close Reader.

Informational:

  • From It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, memoir by Colin Powell
  • From Colin Powell: Military Leader, biography by Warren Brown
  • From Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women, by Wilma Mankiller A1 paired with “Community Hero: Chief Wilma Mankiller,” Essay by Susan Abbey
  • “On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting,” News Article by Jodi Wilgoren and Edward Wong
  • “Memorial is Unveiled for Heroes of Flight 93,” TV Newscast by CBS news

Literary

  • “The First Day of School,” short story by R.V. Cassill
  • “The Road Not Taken,” poem by Robert Frost
  • “Paul Revere’s Ride,” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • “The Light - Ah! The Light!,” poem by Joyce Sidman

For Grade 6, the Close Reader contains an additional twelve texts. Eight of the twelve are literary. The Close Reader includes more literary texts, but in delivering the materials, the balance of text types remains close to that called for in the CCSS. Literary texts in the student edition and the Close Reader include short stories, poems, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, dramas, myths, and folktales. Some examples include:

  • “Fine?,” Short Story by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • “Animal Wisdom,” Poem by Nancy Wood
  • From It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, memoir by Colin Powell
  • From Colin Powell: Military Leader, biography by Warren Brown
  • From The Prince and the Pauper, drama by Mark Twain A2
  • From Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of THE ILLIAD, Greek Myth by Rosemary Sutcliffe
  • “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China,” Chinese Folk Tale by Ai-Ling Louie

Informational texts in the student edition and Close Reader include articles, videos, speeches, documentaries, commentaries, editorials, and newscasts. Some examples include:

  • “Fears and Phobias,” online article by kidshealth.org
  • “Wired for Fear,” online science exhibit with video by the California Science Center
  • “Tribute to the Dog,” speech by George Graham Vest
  • From Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved, Documentary by James Cameron
  • “Let People Own Exotic Animals,” commentary by Zuzana Kukol
  • “Wild Animals Aren’t Pets,” editorial by USA TODAY
  • “Memorial is Unveiled for Heroes of Flight 93,” TV newscast by CBS News

Indicator 1c

Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 fully meets the expectations of indicator 1c. Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. The range of texts from a quantitative standpoint are appropriate for the grade band, offering students opportunities to grow and stretch with varying degrees of difficulty. Included in the materials are texts which cannot be measured appropriately with quantitative metrics, such as poetry and shorter pieces.

  • Collection 1 has texts that range from a Lexile measure of 680 up to 1420
  • Collection 2 texts range from a Lexile measure of 660 to 1170
  • Collection 3 texts range from a Lexile measure of 820 and 1340
  • Collection 4 texts range from a Lexile measure of 610 to 1450
  • Collection 5 texts range from a Lexile measure of 430 to 1340
  • Collection 6 texts range from a Lexile measure of 920 to 1120

From a qualitative standpoint, the texts meet the appropriate levels of rigor and complexity throughout the materials. Some specific examples that demonstrate this include the following:

"My Wonder Horse” from Collection 2 begins with complex figurative language:

  • “He was white. White as memories lost. He was free. Free as happiness is. He was fantasy, liberty, and excitement.” The language and vocabulary is much richer: “vision evoked," “paraded his harem," “lordly rejoicing”…all appear on the first page of the story.
  • The verb tense shifts from present to past throughout the story: “He allowed himself to be admired,” followed by, “A sudden, violent scream breaks the silence." The story is slightly more complex in construction. The principal character struggles with manhood, as represented by the horse. This symbolism engages students in a rigorous critical analysis when they read.
Another example comes from Collection 6, a set of traditional stories and the value of culture: Greek mythology, poetry, an excerpt from the Iliad. High qualitative rigor in this collection can be determined from its story structures to archaic language.
  • "Black Ships Before Troy, the Story of the Iliad” from Collection 6 contains three stories. These are myths with characters and settings from long ago, adding a layer of complexity absent in the two selections above. Students won’t immediately relate to either and will do so only after a close reading of the text.
  • Many principal characters interact with one another, creating multiple parallel episodes.
  • The language contains ancient names, such as Thetis, Priam, Queen Hecuba, Chryseis, and Achilles.
  • The selection includes rigorous vocabulary, such as allied, skirmish, befitted, heralds and pestilence.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 1d. Instructional materials meet the expectation of supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. Each collection builds in rigor over the course of the school year, providing students opportunities to learn and demonstrate literacy skills at grade level by the end of the school year. Series of texts have a variety of complexity levels and are accompanied by tasks that provide opportunity to practice increasingly rigorous skills. Although there are a few times the quantitative measure extends into the 2-3 grade band, and expands into the 9-10 grade band, the qualitative features keep the texts appropriate for students in Grade 6. "Using the Collection Your Way" found on the first page of the “Plan” section in each collection, encourages teachers to structure each collection in various ways.

The knowledge, structure, and language use within the texts expand through the collections. Some examples of this expanding rigor are found in the following examples:

  • Collection 1: “The Ravine” depicts one principal character battling his fear and the peer pressure that surrounds him. There are no parallel episodes nor significant shifts in time or setting. The vocabulary is mostly simple and conversational, although sometimes venturing into figurative language. The text is at an appropriate level for a student at the beginning of the Grade 6 year.
  • Collection 4: "My Wonder Horse”, a short story by Sabine R. Ulibarri, begins with complex figurative language. For example the text states, “He was white. White as memories lost. He was free. Free as happiness is. He was fantasy, liberty, and excitement.” The language and vocabulary are much richer than the texts within Collection 1 (for example in "My Wonder Horse,: “vision evoked," “paraded his harem," “lordly rejoicing” all appear on the first page of the story). Also, the verb tense shifts from present to past throughout the story such as,“He allowed himself to be admired.” This is followed by, “A sudden, violent scream breaks the silence." The story is more complex in construction since the main character is represented by a horse. This symbolism helps to build a more complex text.
  • Collection 6 includes Greek mythology, poetry, and an excerpt from the Iliad. These texts are rigorous in that they include unfamiliar story structures and often use of archaic language. The selection "Black Ships Before Troy, the Story of the Iliad” contains three stories. These are myths with characters and settings from long ago, adding a layer of complexity absent in the year's previous collections. Students won’t immediately relate to either and will do so only after a close reading of the text. Many principal characters interact with one another, creating multiple parallel episodes. The language contains ancient names, such as Thetis, Priam, Queen Hecuba, Chryseis, and Achilles. The selection includes rigorous vocabulary, such as allied, skirmish, befitted, heralds and pestilence.

Overall:

  • The complexity of anchor texts students read provides an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, and encompasses an entire year’s worth of growth.
  • The complexity of anchor texts support students’ proficiency in reading independently at grade level at the end of the school year.
  • Series of texts include a variety of complexity levels.

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 meet the criteria for Indicator 1e, providing information to the teacher about the text complexity and features of the anchor texts.Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis. A rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level is included.

Each text is accompanied by a text complexity rubric, found within the Teacher Edition, with quantitative, qualitative and reader/task considerations. There is a rationale for each selection presented under the title and author's name, along with a key learning objective. The information provided includes the following:

  • A “Common Core State Standards Connection” lists which common core standards are met within the piece.
  • A text complexity rubric, which rates the material on a sliding scale for qualitative measures and states the Lexile for quantitative.
  • A rationale for placement, which is the “Why This Text?” section that states in a few sentences why the text is applicable to the student.
    • For example, “Students regularly encounter complex works of fiction that present a variety of challenges. This lesson explores the themes and conflicts in a coming-of-age story in which a boy struggles to come to terms with life and its challenges” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 4, 211A).

Indicator 1f

Anchor text(s), including support materials, provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for indicator 1f. Students are exposed to, and read, a range and volume of texts like long literary essays, brief excerpts, short informational biographies to longer documentaries, drama and poetry, in anchor readings as well as supportive readings. The materials provide text of varying lengths to support students' practicing building stamina with texts over the course of the school year. The Grade 6 materials provide some opportunities to capture fluency practice with oral or silent opportunities within the text in the first part of the year. However, practice and support for students to read silently or orally are minimal and inconsistent in the second half of the year's worth of materials. Materials do not include a mechanism for teachers and/or students to monitor progress toward comprehension of grade level texts by the end of the school year, and as such students may not be supported to be able to comprehend grade level texts at the end of 6th grade.

There are few, general opportunities for students to engage in silent reading but it is not explicitly stated in the instructional materials. In the Student Edition, students are directed to reread lines from the text, supporting silent reading. Before each piece, the teacher is instructed to “Have the students read the background information.”

When looking at the Close Reader, the teacher could choose to have students read the pieces independently, but there is little explicit guidance for encouraging students do so. There are directions before each piece that might be interpreted as suggesting the pieces could be read independently: “Students should read this argument carefully all the way through” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 3, 196c). However, there are discussion questions throughout the Teacher Edition for these texts, which makes the reading appear to be led by the teacher and not independent.

There are limited and inconsistent opportunities for oral reading in the materials. Some examples of oral reading opportunities include:

  • Collection 1: After “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me Yet,” by Maya Angelou, the students are asked to complete the Performance Task: “Different people can read the same poem aloud in very different ways. Prepare an oral reading of all or a part of ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me Yet.’” This is an example of oral practice with the text. Students are directed to practice independently speaking in front of a mirror or recording and listening to it.
  • Collection 2: In the Extend and Reteach section of the Teacher Edition, one task students can practice and apply with either the text “Animal Wisdom” or “The Last Wolf” asks students to read the poem aloud a few times, taking turns reading each stanza. It directs teachers to guide students to express the meaning of the poem, using the line breaks and other elements of form to guide them.
  • Collection 5: “The First Day of School,” on page 271 in the Teacher Edition has directions under “Scaffolding for ELL Students: Fluent Reading, “ that include, "Listening to fluently read text and being able to read text fluently themselves will help all students comprehend and enjoy the text. Use one of the following approaches to developing fluency that is compatible with your classroom and your students’ needs and abilities.”

Additional oral reading statements are limited to just a few occurrences throughout the Teacher Edition for multiple texts. These include:

  • Pair proficient and less proficient readers for paired oral reading.
  • Choral read with small groups of students.
  • Meet with individual students to echo read part of the text, sentence by sentence.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
11/16
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 include consistent connections between texts and tasks. Most written questions, tasks, and assignments are text-specific and require students to engage with the text directly and to draw on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the texts. This includes writing instruction, which engages students in writing multiple genres and modes over the course of the school year. Process writing practice and opportunities are embedded in each part of the school year. Although the tasks and questions connect to the texts, the larger culminating tasks inconsistently connect to the preceding question sequences and the texts being studied. On-demand writing opportunities are inconsistently supported over the course of the whole school year. Speaking and listening activities, while mostly evidence-focused, do not offer comprehensive support for accountability and using academic vocabulary in context. Language instruction for grammar and conventions is present and organized, but infrequently embedded in the contexts of the texts or writing being produced.

Indicator 1g

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for indicator 1g. Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-specific and require students to engage with the text directly and to draw on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the texts. Questions draw the reader back into the text and support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year. The vast majority of tasks focus on central ideas and key details of the text, rather than superficial or peripheral aspects. Reading and writing (and speaking and listening) are done in a cohesive learning environment. Students read and reread to write and discuss. Students refer to how the textbooks' authors write as they write. The materials provide opportunities for evidence-based discussions and writing.

In the main anthology, each set of 6-7 questions include the global statement, italicized and highlighted: "Support your responses with evidence from the text." In addition, most questions draw the reader back to the text with references to lines from the text. "In lines 126-136...," "Reread lines 295-337," "Review lines 333-357," "Name a detail from the story that...," etc. This is consistent throughout the anthology.

  • The directions at the top of the set of questions say, “Cite Text evidence,” which is italicized and highlighted. This is a global emphasis/reminder.
  • Some questions have specific lines referenced such as, “Review lines 38-65.”
  • Students are not asked to think about their feelings or opinions.
  • In the Close Reader supplemental book, phrases such as "cite text evidence" or "continue to cite text evidence" "support your answer with explicit textual evidence" directions to "circle" and "underline" information in the text are often used.

Below are examples of text-dependent and specific questions and discussions included at the end of selections:

Collection 1:

  • “Review lines 1-9 and lines 37-40. What conclusions can you draw about the speaker’s age and personality?” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 1, 40).
  • “Reread lines 34-47. Explain why the experiment the author proposes is valuable to the reader” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 1, 56).
  • “Collaborative Discussion: With a partner, discuss the facts and ideas that explain glossophobia and why it is a fear that people must work at overcoming” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 1, 54).

Collection 2:

  • “Reread lines 72-86. Describe the dog’s character. How is his personality the same as or different from any other dog’s personality?’” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 2, 90).
  • “Collaborative Discussion: Can we know for certain whether an animal is showing intelligence, or whether it is simply highly trainable? What are some challenges scientists face in trying to determine animal intelligence? Discuss these questions with a small group. Be sure to cite evidence from the text (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 2, 112).

Collection 4:

  • “Reread lines 62-78. What is the internal conflict? How has this conflict developed and intensified?” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 4, 220).
  • “Reread lines 10-15. According to the writer, where are most exotic animals kept and what is the benefit of breeding them?” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 4, 229).
  • “With a partner, discuss how the story events and other characters affect the narrator’s feelings. Cite specific passages to support your ideas” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 4, 236).

Collection 5:

  • “Review lines 1-15 in It Worked for Me and lines 148-158 in Colin Powell: Military Leader. How does the portrayal of Powell’s after-school job differ in each text? Explain why each author treated this event differently” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 5, 268).
  • “Reread lines 114-121. Why does John envy the chicken?” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 5, 278).
  • “Collaborative Discussion: With a small group, discuss how John, Audrey, and their parents react to and feel about the first day of school, citing text evidence to support your ideas” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 5, 276).

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials partially meets the expectations of indicator 1h for 6th Grade. The culminating tasks are always performance tasks which incorporate reading, writing and speaking. Students draw on their reading and analysis of the collection's selections as well as additional research and the close reading skills gathered while working through each collection. They also direct students back to elements of the read texts and expand upon it. In each collection, the introduction page tells students what their end performance task(s) will be. The disconnect is in the amount of these culminating task where students are using the writing process to complete the task. To complete a performance task, students draw on their reading and analysis of the collection's selections as well as additional research. However, the skills identified in the "analyzing the text" section after each piece support students in close reading skills, but do not fully support students performance on the culminating performance task which is most often a writing project.

Throughout Grade 6, the students will complete the following performance tasks:

  • Write a short story
  • Write two expository essays
  • Write two literary analysis essays
  • Create a multimedia presentation
  • Write a narrative nonfiction
  • Write and present an argument in a speech
  • Write a personal narrative
  • Write an opinion essay
  • Write a play

The following are examples of how the performance tasks partially meet the expectations of this indicator:

Collection 1

  • The first performance task is to write a short story “. . . in which the main character experiences a personal fear” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 1, 63). The elements discussed during and after each fictional selection are character, setting, plot, suspense, and central idea. These support the first performance task as they are elements of a short story.
  • The second performance task is to “choose a fear and write an expository essay about it, using the texts [students] have read in this collection and adding [their] own research.” The elements discussed during the reading of the informational pieces are citing evidence, text features (heading, subheadings, sidebars), central idea, supporting details (fact vs. opinion), and purpose. These support the second performance task as they are elements of expository writing.

Collection 2

  • The first performance task is a literary analysis essay that analyzes “. . . the dog as the main character and narrator in ‘The Mixer’” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 2, 129). The literary elements studied in this collection are characters’ responses, point of view, figurative language, and poetry structure. The elements discussed during the study of “The Mixer,” in particular, coincide with the first performance task.
  • The second performance task is an expository essay “. . . on how animals exhibit intelligence” (HMH 6th Grade, Collection 2, page 133). The elements studied during the reading of the informational pieces in this collection are the following: trace and evaluate an argument, persuasive techniques, summarize text, author’s purpose, anecdotes, and integrate information. Some of these elements support the performance task, but not all.

Collection 3

  • Performance Task A is to “Create a Multimedia Presentation.” The students are instructed to “Do Further Research – Gain a better understanding of how to prepare for a tsunami or other natural disaster. Review at least two additional print and digital sources to find out what you can do.” No supplementary materials are provided for the teacher to help students in researching.

Collection 5

  • The first performance task is to write a personal narrative “about a decision [students] made or will make that will have an impact on [their] immediate future.” The directions ask the students to think about the Colin Powell piece and reflect on how that decision affected his life. In the teacher edition sidebars, teachers are told to explain that memoirs use first-person point of view, may choose to tell about people or events that had a strong impact, share personal thoughts and feelings, and reflect on his/her life. The three questions after the Powell piece in the unit focus on summarizing, interpreting, and evaluating which person or event was most influential to his life. The task relates to the elements of the memoir that were discussed during the reading of the piece.

Collection 6

  • In Collection 6, The second performance task is to “adapt another selection (or part of a selection) in this collection as a play. Then [the student] will perform the play for the audience.” This task requires students to pick a selection and deeply understand the plot and setting. The student determines the characters and what kind of dialogue to include, as well as stage directions. They will model this after The Prince and the Pauper. The questions after the play in the book do not discuss the structure of the drama; however, there is a page after the play that goes into detail describing drama.

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the requirements of indicator i. The materials provide some opportunities for evidence-based discussions and some use of modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax, although implementation in the classroom is not explicitly supported with guidance for misunderstandings nor with accountability.

The materials partially support the use and practice with academic vocabulary, providing frequent and repeated exposure to a list of Grade 6-appropriate words (five words per collection); there is encouraged use of these words in each of the collaborative discussions and performance tasks (a sidebar next to the “Plan” section) throughout each collection. The teacher is prompted to pronounce each word aloud so students can hear the correct pronunciation. However, protocols to engage students in developing their speaking and listening are minimally provided to support this work. There is minimal support for students who misunderstand the use of vocabulary and syntax.

Following are some examples that represent how the program partially meets the expectation of this indicator over the year's worth of materials:

Collection 1
  • Students are asked to discuss story elements with a partner. No protocols for speaking and listening are provided
  • "With a partner, students explain glossophobia using evidence from the text." No protocols for speaking and listening are provided, nor are there supports around understanding the importance of this particular word in or out of context of the text itself.

Collection 4: Academic Vocabulary include: appropriate, authority, consequence, justify, and legal.
Teacher notes: "as you discuss Wild Animals Aren't Pets, students are applying authority and legalize" in their conversation. No guidance for teachers to support this is included.

Collection 5: on page 282 - Students discuss the title of the poem and are instructed to consider why the author chose that title, using evidence from the text. No protocols for speaking and listening are provided.

Collection 6

  • Academic Vocabulary include: emphasize, occur, period, relevant, tradition are listed as key words to engage with in the collection.
  • “As you discuss Black Ships Before Troy, apply occur, occurred and period in your discussion.” No further support nor explanation is present for teacher or student.

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for indicator 1j. Speaking and listening work that is assigned requires students to collect evidence from multiple texts and sources, but there are few directions and minimal support for implementation in the classroom. Few speaking opportunities are included in small group and class projects; most speaking is somewhat incidental or noted as something students will do (rather than a supported protocol or organized structured lesson). The sections and lessons supporting speaking and language standards are present, but lacking direction and support for implementation in the classroom. For example, teacher notes will indicate students are to have a debate, but there is no protocol nor instructional support for the debate that incorporates specific, useful evidence from the texts themselves.

Some speaking and listening components within assignments provided in the student and teacher edition include the following representative examples. In some cases, instruction on classroom implementation is minimal or absent, and in others, there is minimal connection to the texts being studied.

Collection 1

  • On page 62, after “Wired for Fear,” students create an audio recording for a podcast with a partner or individually. They present these to a small group first for critique and then the entire class. Students are given a short, bullet list for directions.
  • On page 69, part of Performance Task B; write an expository essay, students can choose to present their finished copy through a speech or recording the essay as a news report and sharing it, but lacks direction for how to do these. There is minimal direction regarding how to incorporate specific evidence from the text.

Collection 3

  • On page 170, after “Watcher,” students are asked to create a poem for a performance task. In the teacher edition, it says students can share their poems with the class, but not specific direction for verbally sharing their poem nor for identifying how evidence should be incorporated into the poem creation.
  • On page 182, after “The Banana Tree,” students are asked to write a description for the performance task. In the teacher edition, it says “Students can present descriptions to the class and discuss each storm.” It includes not direction for how to present the materials, nor are there suggestions about the levels or types of evidence that should be incorporated in the descriptions.
  • On page 200, after “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved,” the performance task to create a multimedia presentation or poster that describes how the excerpt from A Night to Remember and the film clip from Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved work together to give students a clearer understanding of what happened the night Titanic sank. Students then present their work to the class, but only a few bullets for how to prepare the work in content and in process. There is minimal direction for delivering the presentation.

Collection 4

  • On page 238, after “Eleven,” students hold a small group discussion on the role of Mrs. Price as a minor character. Then they share the group’s ideas with the rest of the class using examples from th text, but there is minimal direction for what "sharing" will look like.
  • On page 234, the performance task is an argumentative speech. The textbook includes 1-1/2 pages of instruction on how to plan it (choose your position, gather information, do further research, organize your ideas, and consider your purpose and audience). The producing of the speech is less than 1-1/2 pages long (draft your speech, prepare visuals, practice your speech, evaluate your speech, and deliver your speech). Focus on eliciting strong evidence from the texts used is minimal.

Collection 6

  • On page 334, after “The Apple of Discord I,” students give a speech that presents their opinion on whether they agree with Eris, the Goddess of Discord. A short, bullet list for speech practice is provided. There is minimal support around how to incorporate evidence from the reading.
  • On page 363, after The Prince and the Pauper, students complete a dramatic reading of a portion of the play in a small group with no protocol for how to speak the parts.

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations for indicator 1k. Materials include a mix of both on-demand and process writing; however, there are minimal supports to ensure the students and teachers can account for progress, dive deeper into writing practice when it is needed, and attend to misunderstandings. The on-demand writing is only found in the Performance Assessment booklet. Although the longer writing pieces contain the instruction to have students revise and/or edit, the shorter writing pieces do not. The longer writing pieces contain rubrics, but the shorter pieces do not.

On-Demand

Productive writing is found in the “Performance Assessment” booklet, which is consumable. The tasks in this book are step by step culminating projects where students read multiple sources on the same topics, review models and respond by writing one of each over the span of the year: argumentative, informative or literary analysis essay.

The on-demand portion of the book is found in Unit 4: Mixed Practice. These are research simulations. Students write an argumentative, informative and literary analysis essay in a timed situation. The directions before each say, “There are two parts to most formal writing tests. Both parts of the tests are timed, so it’s important to use your limited time wisely”

Process Writing

Process writing occurs in both the textbook and the Performance Assessment booklet. The shorter writing pieces are found after each text in the main textbook in the “Performance Task” box. The longer writing pieces are found at the end of each collection in the textbook and in the Performance Assessment booklet.

The shorter writing pieces have very little direction for the students and/or teacher. There are few rubrics, graphic organizers or other supplemental material to help the teacher guide the student through the multiple processes of writing.

Below is an example of directions for a short writing activity that encourages students to practice the writing process. There is no rubric nor teacher support to help students who may need help:

  • Write a one-page essay to explain the author’s purpose in writing How Smart Are Animals?
  1. Review the selection. Note clues that help you determine author’s purpose in writing it.
  2. Summarize the important ideas from the text.
  3. Cite relevant textual evidence to support your analysis such as facts, definitions, details and examples that help show the author’s purpose.

Extended writing pieces occur at the end of the collection and provide about four pages of directions for the student, one of which is the rubric. The directions for writing are broken down into four steps: plan, produce, revise, and present. Each step takes up approximately half of a page of the student edition; the plan step is the exception as those directions usually cover an entire page. The teacher edition has a small paragraph for each step that has the teacher remind or explain something to the student about that step in the process. Below is an example from Collection 2, page 129-131:

Assignment - Write a literary analysis essay in which you write an analysis of the dog as the main character and narrator in “The Mixer.”

  • Plan:
    • Gather Information - Jot down information about the dog’s personality and character traits and how these influence how he narrates the story.
    • Organize Your Ideas - Think about how you will organize your ideas. A three-column chart can help you present your ideas effectively. [Underneath this in the book is an example of a chart.]
    • Consider Your Purpose and Audience - Think about who will read or listen to your analysis and what you want them to understand. Keep this in mind as you prepare to write.
  • Produce:
    • Write Your Analysis - Review your notes and the information in your chart as you begin your draft. [There are four bullets beneath this give students further instruction on what to include in the draft.]
  • Revise:
    • Review Your Draft - Use the chart on the following page [rubric] to evaluate your draft. Work with a partner to determine if you have explained your ideas clearly. [There are four bullets below this for things to consider as students are editing.]
  • Present:
    • Create a Finished Copy - Finalize your analysis and choose a way to share it with your audience. [There are three bullets under this for students to consider.]

Extended process writing is also found in the Performance Assessment booklet in Units 1, 2, and 3. Directions for the writing in this booklet walks the students through a close reading of two texts. After reading, Step 1 has the students answer multiple choice questions that will help them in writing the essay. In Step 2, students answer “Prose Constructed-Response” questions to get them thinking about the topic. Step 3 includes a graphic organizer to help the students finalize their plan for their essay. Step 4 is a bulleted list for students to think about while they draft their essay. Step 5 is a revision checklist so students can self-evaluate their writing. Step 6 is a revision checklist for a peer to edit their paper. The last step is for students to turn in the final draft of their essay.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 fully meet the criteria for indicator 1l. Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

Students are writing literary and expository essays, poems, analysis, a play, an argumentative speech argumentative, and narrative and informative pieces. Students are also required to do short research projects and gather evidence from multiple sources. The instructional materials include opportunities for students to write in all modes required by the CCSS for Grade 6: argumentative, narrative, and informative/expository.

Where appropriate, writing opportunities are connected to texts and/or text sets (either as prompts, models, anchors, or supports). The Performance Assessment consumable booklets provide anchors and models prior to students writing on their own. The mini and culminating performance tasks are all modeled through the texts they read.

Examples of different writing opportunities in the materials include:

  • Shorter Process Writing:
    • Collection 1 - essay, narrative, summary, and letter. The directions for this writing are brief and usually given in three to four bullets.
    • Collection 2 - three essays and a slideshow presentation.
    • Collection 3 - poem, description, research, and a computer presentation.
    • Collection 4 - two essays and a poem.
    • Collection 5 - speech, essay, analysis and a commentary.
    • Collection 6 - analysis, speech, and a narrative.
  • Extended Process Writing
    • Collection 1 - short story and expository essay.
    • Collection 2 - literary analysis essay and expository essay.
    • Collection 3 - multimedia presentation and narrative nonfiction
    • Collection 4 - argument in a speech.
    • Collection 5 - personal narrative and opinion essay.
    • Collection 6 - literary analysis essay and a play.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 fully meet the expectations of indicator 1m. Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Writing opportunities are focused around student analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with source. Materials provide opportunities that build students’ writing skills over the course of the school year.

Students are consistently prompted back to models and texts for evidence when writing. Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information. Students are frequently asked to prove their claims with evidence from the text, from "Analyzing the Text" questions to Performance Tasks.

Some examples of evidence-based writing include:

  • Collection 1: Students “choose a fear and write an expository essay about it, using the texts [students] have read in this collection and adding [their] own research.”
  • Collection 2: Students write a literary analysis of The Mixer.
  • Collection 4: Students write an argument speech and use two texts from the collection, “Wild Animals Aren’t Pets” and “Let People Own Exotic Animals” to help form and support their stance.

Overall:

  • Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence.
  • Writing opportunities are focused around student analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources
  • Materials provide opportunities that build students’ writing skills over the course of the school year.

Indicator 1n

Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 1n. Materials include some explicit instruction of grammar and convention standards, but grammar and convention instruction is not provided in a sequence of increasingly sophisticated contexts over the course of the year. There are opportunities for students to demonstrate some application of skills in context, but they are infrequent. While there are pages dedicated to the grammar standards for this grade level, and definitions/examples are provided along with practice sentences, the student edition does not provide explicit instruction on how to execute the skill. After each piece in the Collection, there is a “Critical Vocabulary, Vocabulary Strategy, and Language Conventions” section. The skills practiced go along with the piece that students just read. While these sections use sentences from the selection as examples, this language practice is still done out of context.

The textbook does contain instruction for the language skills identified in the CCSS-ELA Grade 6; however, the guidance for instruction is minimal. There are times when the grammar is taught in context, but the connection is insufficient. Skills taught out of context do not provide sufficient practice to allow for mastery of the standards. In order to teach the language skills adequately, teachers will have to supplement with curriculum of their own making, or by purchasing supplementary materials.

The following are the list of language and style skills covered in all of the collections:

  • Collection 1 - Recognize Variations from Standard English; Commas and Dashes; Subjective and Objective Pronouns; Possessive Pronouns.
  • Collection 2: Intensive Pronouns; Relative Pronouns (who and whom); Pronoun Number; Capitalization.
  • Collection 3: Shifts in Pronoun Person; Capitalization; Consistency in Style and Tone.
  • Collection 4: Improving Expression; Spell Words Correctly; Punctuating Dialogue.
  • Collection 5: Analogies; Using a Thesaurus.
  • Collection 6: Spell Words Correctly; Parenthesis.

Here is a representative example of how the materials partially meet the expectation of indicator 1n:

In Collection 2, “Language Conventions: Intensive Pronouns” is paired with “The Mixer.”“Language Conventions: Intensive Pronouns” is paired with “The Mixer.”

  • A definition of what students are working on is included: “Intensive pronouns are formed by adding -self or - selves to certain personal pronouns and are used to intensify, or emphasize, the nouns or pronouns to which they refer.”
  • One example sentence from the selection is provided: “‘Here is an example of an intensive pronoun from ‘The Mixer.’ ‘Then somebody struck a light, and it was the man himself.” After that example, four more general examples are provided. “Here are some more examples:”
  • After one sentence of further explanation, five practice sentences in the practice and apply section are included. These sentences are not from the story - “Complete each sentence with the correct intensive pronoun.”
    • The students ____________ made all the refreshments.
    • I _____________ had the best audition.
    • Judith _____________ is to blame.
    • You ____________ have to take responsibility for this.
    • Rico will finish the diorama _________________.


Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of Gateway 2: Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks. Texts and text sets are organized around topics or themes to support students’ growing knowledge deeply. Topics and themes are relevant and engaging to students, and writing and speaking tasks are connected to the themes shared. The materials partially support students’ academic vocabulary development and growing integrated skills in literacy. There are some questions and tasks that grow students’ knowledge of some literary terms, but the practice in this area focuses mostly on surface elements of the text and text features, rather than diving deeply into the text. Students may miss opoportunities to develop and extend their knowledge of the topics or themes without more guidance and support from the teacher. Students have some opportunities to think critically and analyze concepts across multiple texts, but these opportunities are inconsistent and not explicitly engaged over the whole school year. Additionally, students are inconsistently asked to integrate their literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) into full culminating tasks. Frequently, culminating tasks focus on only one skill or do not require students to incorporate the text itself to complete the task. Other tasks have connections that are weak and/or missing instructional supports for the teacher to attend to misunderstandings. Academic vocabulary structures are in place, but support for students to learn and practice this vocabulary to build knowledge as they read texts is minimal. Much academic vocabulary practice is disconnected from the texts and text sets, although in some instances there are opportunities for students to focus in on author’s choices of words and structures. The overall year-long plans and structures for writing and for research instruction are partially present, with inconsistent supports. The writing instruction, while it does have key components, does not support students’ increasing skills over the year. Research skills are not taught in a progression of focused projects over the course of the school year. Overall, the materials partially build knowledge through integration of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language activities as they learn about topics and themes. To wholly ensure students’ growing literacy skills, the teacher will need to provide supplementary support and more focused attention on building strong academic vocabulary. There is no year-long independent reading plan.

Criterion 2a - 2h

16/32

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for texts being organized around a topic/topics or themes to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. Texts included in Collections are sometimes organized around topics, but more commonly organized around themes, which is appropriate for grades 6-8. The series of texts in each collection are cohesive and are related to the anchor texts.

Collection 1: The collection is organized under the theme: “Facing Fear” and the topic of phobias. There are five informational pieces in this collection which cover what a fear/phobia is, how it would affect a person, how to get over it, the science behind the fear of public speaking, and a video that shows how the brain deals with fear. There are four literary pieces that also deal with fear. Samples from the text selections include:

  • “Fears and Phobias” is an article describing the nature of fear and how it can affect daily life.
  • “Face Your Fears: Choking Under Pressure is Every Athlete’s Worst Nightmare” is an article about struggling and failing during athletic events
  • “In the Spotlight” is an article that discusses the fear of public speaking and specifically addresses students.
  • “Face your Fears and Scare the Phobias Out of Your Brain” is an article that examines a new form of therapy that has people face their phobias.
  • “Wired for Fear” is an online exhibit that shows how fear affects the brain.

Collection 2: This collection is organized under the topic of “Animal Intelligence.” The first texts are literary texts and a persuasive speech, the poetry is about wild animals, followed by four informational pieces combining both domestic and wild animal intelligence. Samples from the text selections include:

  • The Mixer by P.G. Wodehouse is a literary story about how a dog’s actions affect his master’s plan.
  • “Tribute to the Dog,” by George Graham West is a persuasive speech about the dog’s value to people, and how dogs are more faithful than people.
  • Animal Wisdom” by Nancy Wood and “The Last Wolf” by Mary TallMountain form a poem pair that create certain impressions and insights and understanding of wild animals, their intelligence, and their environment.
  • How Smart are Animals? by Dorothy Hinshaw is an informational about distinct traits.

Collection 3: This collection is organized under the theme “Dealing with Disaster.” The topic that comes through these pieces is disasters. The informational texts in this collection deal with tsunamis and the sinking of the Titanic. There are three literary texts that deal with hurricanes. Samples from the text selections include:

  • "Mammoth Shakes and Monster Waves, Destruction in 12 Countries” describes the 2004 Tsunami and the cause and effect of the tsunami. It uses scientific descriptions as well as personal stories.
  • The second text is a book review about a cargo ship dumping bath toys in the ocean.
  • Other short pieces include, “After the Hurricane," “Watcher, After Katrina, 2005," and “There Will come Soft Rains"

Collection 4: This collection is organized under the theme “Making Your Voice Heard.” The topic in this unit is self-expression. Students encounter a variety of text including; short story, editorial/commentary, informational text, then short stories and poems. Samples from the text selections include:

  • “My Wonder Horse” is a short story by Sabine R. UliBarri (realistic fiction) a coming of age story that teaches the theme of internal vs. external conflict.
  • “Wild Animals Aren’t Pets” is an editorial published in USA Today.
  • “Eleven” is a short story by Sandra Cisneros about the only female in a family with seven children and an experience she has in her classroom.
  • “What Do Fish Have to Do with Anything? is a short story by Avi on a student's struggle.
  • “A Voice,” by Pat Mora and“Words Like Freedom,”by Langston Hughes form a poem pair on themes of immigration and freedom.

Collection 5: This collection is organized under the theme “(Making) Decisions That Matter.” Students read about different decisions that had substantial consequences in history, and read fictional pieces that explore the theme. Samples from the text selections include:

  • It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, and Colin Powell: Military Leader, which are selections from Colin Powell’s memoir and a biography of Powell.
  • Every Day is a New Day and “Community Hero: Chief Wilma Mankiller," Wilma Mankiller’s autobiography and an essay about her.
  • “The First Day of School is a short story (realistic fiction) on desegregation.
  • “Paul Revere's Ride”a Longfellow poem.
  • The Light - Ah! The Light” is a poem about Marie Curie discovering radioactivity principles.
  • On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting,” and “Memorial Is Unveiled for Heroes of Flight 93,” which are respectively a news article and TV newscast.

Collection 6: The theme for Collection 6 is "What Tales Tell," and digs into topics by including stories that reveal the values of cultures. Samples from the text selections include:

  • The Iliad (The Classics), by Rosemary Sutcliffe tell classic adventures of well-known heroes.
  • Medusa's Head” retold by Olivia Coolidge, and “Medusa,” by Agha Shahid Ali are a retelling of the myth and a poem.
  • The Apple of Discord,” by Kate Hovey is a poem on the viewpoint of humans and gods.
  • Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China – a Chinese folktale to compare stories across time and place.
  • The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain reveals ideas of the rich and poor in society.
  • A dramatic version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper by Joellen Bland, and Marvel Comics’ graphic novel.

Indicator 2b

Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.
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Indicator Rating Details

Materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for indicator 2b. Materials contain sets of questions and tasks, but they inconsistently require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in a coherent sequence related to the standards. Over the course of the year, instructional materials and identified elements stay consistent and do not grow in rigor from early in the year (considering smaller components) to being more embedded in student work at the end of the year. There are limited rubrics and scoring guides for students to work with the specifics of text components as they grow their understanding of topic and theme.

At the beginning of each text, there is a “Why this Text?” box which includes a lesson focus for that text. Underneath this box, is the “Key Learning Objective.” Each text has guided discussions in the margins of the teacher edition. These discussions focus around two or three key skills. Each text also has a set of analysis questions at the end where students typically answer five to eight questions, each with a specific target. Each set of analysis questions that accompany individual texts start with the global phrase "Cite Text Evidence – Support your responses with evidence from the text."

There is an outline provided that indicates at what point students will practice analyzing different components of the texts. For example, according to these overviews, the following skills will be covered (examples include some but not all indicated components of study):

Collection 1: The student will be able to:

  • Describe characters and setting and make inferences in the context of a short story.
  • Describe plot elements and analyze point of view in a short story.
  • Describe the structure of a lyric poem and identify repetition and rhyme scheme.
  • Cite textual evidence to analyze text features and structure.
  • Determine central ideas and supporting details in informational text.

Collection 2: The student will be able to:

  • Describe how characters respond and change and analyze point of view in a short story.
  • Understand how personification and imagery emphasize themes and ideas in poetry and learn how to paraphrase these ideas.
  • Summarize central ideas and important details and determine author’s purpose
  • Analyze how anecdotes and text features contribute to the structure of a text.

Collection 3: The student will be able to:

  • Identify and analyze cause-and-effect organization and determine meanings of technical language in an informational text.
  • Analyze and compare poetic form and learn how poets use form, alliteration, and tone to express feelings and ideas.
  • Identify and analyze how dialect and imagery, including figurative language, bring a story to life.
  • Analyze elements of narrative nonfiction, including how authors establish style and tone in their writing.
  • Understand the features and analyze the purpose of a documentary, as well as integrate its information with other sources.

Collection 6: The student will be able to:

  • Describe literary elements and determine themes in a Greek myth.
  • Understand and identify the elements of a parody and learn to compare and contrast texts in different genres.
  • Analyze structure and cite textual evidence.

There are questions and tasks that support students’ understanding of these components, but they are infrequently employed over the course of the school year. Guidance for teachers to support students who exhibit misunderstandings or struggle are minimal. The following examples are representative of questions and tasks that do support students’ development in this area, but are missing instructional supports to assure learning:

  • From Collection 2: “Examine lines 12-17 of ‘Animal Wisdom.’ Find two examples of imagery and describe the image that each suggests” (page 104).
  • From Collection 3: “Review lines 129-142. Then reread the footnote for aboriginal. What does the footnote explain that helps you understand the people’s response to the tsunami?” (page 154). Also: “Review lines 101-121 and examine how the poet arranges the words and lines. Describe the variations in line lengths. What circumstances is the poet trying to explain, and how does the form support those ideas?” (page 165).
  • From Collection 6: “Read lines 8-20. Identify the central idea in this paragraph. What details support the central idea?” (page 370).

Below is specific evidence from an anchor text in Collection 1 that is representative of how the materials partially meet the expectations of this indicator:

Analysis of Materials for “The Ravine”

The key learning objective of this story is that the student will be able to describe characters and setting and make inferences in the context of a short story. The textbook gives the teacher the following to facilitate the learning and assess if the objective is understood by the students:

  • Discussion questions during the reading – ten focused on character, two focused on setting, five on inferences.
  • Description of how to extend and reteach conflict and character development.
  • Five questions that focus on characterization and plot and one that focuses on setting.
  • A three-paragraph essay that compares and contrasts character traits.

Although all of the discussion and short answer questions focus on the key learning objective, they are not equally distributed and there is minimal opportunity for teachers to evaluate the level of understanding from each student. Much of the directions in the teacher edition are intended for whole class discussions. The short answer questions mainly assess the students’ understanding of characterization and plot; study of setting is only covered in one question. The longer performance task will also assess characters as it asks students to compare and contrast character traits. This assessment pieces in this story will really only give teachers insight into how each student understands the characters, but will not provide a deeper look into students’ understanding of key details, vocabulary, and overall craft of the piece.

Indicator 2c

Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
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Indicator Rating Details

Materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 2c. The materials do contain some sets of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts, but instructional direction for teachers to support students' engaging in this work is not consistent nor clear. The majority of analysis questions and tasks apply to single texts, although there are occasional cross-text tasks and questions. Students may not be prepared to demonstrate mastery of integrating knowledge and ideas as an embedded part of their regular work by the end of the year, and in this case the teacher will need to create or identify resources outside the materials to support their building knowledge and demonstrating skill in this area.

Within each collection, text-specific questions appear in “Analyzing the Text” section. There are typically a range of 5-8 questions following each selection. Some questions and tasks do meet these expectations. For example, on page 126 of the Student Edition, question 5 says, "A rattlesnake and a special whale find their prey in different ways." Students are asked to to "prove" this statement by reviewing and using information from a particular part of the text.

Other questions lead the student to write more commentary and don’t specifically ask for evidence other than the general line at the top of each question section. For example, “What opinion does the author of Tall Mountain have of the wolf and of people and their effect on the environment?” Teacher directions are not included with questions like this to attend to misunderstandings about the text or its content.

In Collection 6, What Tales Tell, has students comparing versions of "The Prince and the Pauper," including a drama by Joellen Bland and a graphic story by Marvel Comics. After the third version of the story, in the Close Reader (page 128), students are asked to "Analyze the way you learn about Tom and the prince's similarities in the three versions of the story. Which version was most effective? Review your reading notes and cite text evidence in your response." This sample of work supports students' working with knowledge across texts, but this is one of the few examples across the program's year's worth of materials.

Indicator 2d

The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 2d. Students are sometimes offered the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through culminating tasks that integrate skills. Each Collection typically provides two performance tasks as culminating projects. These are often full writing projects requiring some components of research and the writing process; there are also are speaking and listening and multimedia expectations in many. To complete the performance tasks, students draw on their reading and analysis of the collection's selections as well as additional research.

However, the skills studied in the "analyzing the text" section after each piece do not necessarily lead to the culminating performance task of a writing project. The reading standards that are the focus of each analyzing the text section prepare students to be close readers, but teachers will need to rely on the Performance Assessment booklet to guide students in the writing process to support written culminating tasks. There is minimal support for the teacher to identify how and when this Performance Assessment work is used in conjunction with the main student edition.

The skills studied in the "Analyzing the Text" section after each piece sometimes lead students to completing the culminating writing performance tasks. Teachers will need to rely on the Performance Assessment booklet to guide students in the writing process in order to support written culminating tasks, as there is less guidance to support students in this area in the main student edition.

For some culminating tasks, the questions and tasks preceding do align and support students' understandings and abilities to complete the assignments. In others, the teacher will need to create or obtain other supports to ensure students have the knowledge and tools to complete the tasks.

Examples representative of the program supporting students in demonstrating knowledge through an integrated culminating task include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Collection 4 has one performance task – "present an argument in a speech." This performance task asks students to gather evidence for their arguments about whether people should own exotic animals, based on texts in the collection. There is no outside research, so students gather all evidence they need from the pieces in the textbook. This collection also has questions following the argument pieces in it that ask students whether the argument is convincing; this is preparation for the performance task.

Students will need exposure to additional language arts skills independently to prepare for the end of unit performance task. Examples representative of the need for more support in this area include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • In Collection 1, the second performance task is to write an expository essay about fear. Content understanding is definitely supported with the theme of all of the pieces; however, skills support leading up to this big task is not explicit. The assignment is to “choose a fear and write an expository essay about it, using the texts [students] have read in this collection and adding [their] own research.” There are informational pieces in the collection that will help the students complete this essay, and some of the questions they have answered after each selection can be used as evidence in the essay. However, this is not explicitly stated in the textbook; rather, the teacher will have to make those connections and illustrate them to the students.

For example, after the piece, "Fear and Phobias," there is the following question: "What causes phobias? Cite evidence from the text that explains where phobias come from" (page 48). The answer to this question can help the students with evidence for the culminating project; however, nowhere in the teacher's or student's edition does it connect this. In the directions for the Performance Task B, under "Plan," the instructions include: "Look for information about the type of fear you are investigating. Jot down important facts, examples and definitions . . . ." (page 67). The teacher will need to fill in instructional supports for students to complete the essay.

  • In Collection 5, the first performance task is to write a personal narrative “about a decision [students] made or will make that will have an impact on [their] immediate future.” The directions ask the students to think about the Colin Powell piece and reflect on how that decision affected his life. However, the questions after the Colin Powell piece in the unit do not focus on analyzing his decisions. Teachers will need to support students' understanding of the connections between the task and the text to ensure students are able to complete the culminating task.

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 2e. There are academic vocabulary assignments and lessons present, but the materials do not include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. Each collection has a box for “Academic Vocabulary” at the beginning stating, “Study the words and their definitions in the chart below. You will use these words as you discuss and write about the texts in this collection.” There are generally five words in this box. As a blanket statement, students are encouraged to practice using these vocabulary words in the following areas within the collection: "Collaborative Discussion" at the end of each selection, "Analyzing the Text" questions for each selection, brief performance tasks, and the End-of-Collection Performance Tasks. Once into those sections, there is no explicit instructions for teacher guidance to support students' vocabulary development. The teacher and students must remember to include the use of the words in these areas. There is little evidence of an actual scope and sequence of skills or a "year-long plan" beyond these labeled components. There is little explicit vertical articulation of vocabulary skills or use of academic vocabulary across collections within a grade level throughout the year.

Examples of resources for vocabulary include multiple pages, although they are disconnected from the contexts of the texts:

  • Students' texts include several reference pages on vocabulary and spelling (pages R52-R59), as well as a glossary of academic vocabulary (page R76) and a glossary of critical vocabulary (pages R77-R79).
  • The strategy of "Using Context Clues" on page 15 is not connected to other texts or vocabulary practice pages.

For each text from the teacher edition anthology, the teacher is directed to discuss the academic vocabulary with the students from the “Applying Academic Vocabulary” section. General instructions are given before each discussion point. At the end of each text, students encounter a critical vocabulary section which encourage use of all of the critical vocabulary words with practice outside of the text content. Students are invited to discuss vocabulary as it relates to the text and/or topic and theme being studied. Support for these conversations and tasks is minimal:

  • In each Collection there are directions to the teacher to share with the students this type of prompt: "As you discuss (title), incorporate the following Collection 1 academic vocabulary words: evident, factor, indicate, similar, and specific." Further instruction and modeling on how to incorporate these words is minimal.
  • Performance Task A for Collection 2 has a sidebar in the plan section stating “As you plan, write, and review your draft, be sure to use the academic vocabulary words.” It repeats this for Performance Task B.

Indicator 2f

Materials support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students' writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 2f. Materials include writing instruction aligned to the standards for the grade level, and writing instruction spans the whole year. However, materials do not support students' increasing skills over the course of the school year. Materials within the anthology include prompts but do not include a full year-long plans, models nor protocols to support students' writing. The addition of the Performance Assessment booklet will be needed to support modeling, process, and practice of writing. The Performance Assessment booklet contains three individual units and one comprehensive unit. Since each of the six collections throughout the year contain multiple types of writing experiences, in order to receive the full instruction on the writing process for each mode of writing, the entire Performance Assessment booklet would need to be taught prior to end-of-collection performance tasks found within the anthology.

The materials includes opportunities for students to write in all modes required by the CCSS-ELA writing standards for Grade 6 (argumentative, narrative, and informative). It also has students do short research projects and gather evidence from multiple sources. Although it does all of these things, it does not do them in a complete manner. Teachers will sometimes need to add supplementary materials for certain tasks such as rubrics, graphic organizers, etc. to support students' learning. The anthology provides a simple outline to provide support for the specific performance task topic, but no support for the full writing process.

Performance Assessment booklet: The Performance Assessment booklet has the most complete instruction for students and teachers, however is a stand-alone piece that does not necessarily connect to the texts in the anthology. Within the Performance Assessment booklet, HMH walks students through the three types of writing; argumentative, informative, and a literary analysis essay. Students are provided sources and the ability to write in the booklet and take notes. There are close reading questions after each source that assists students in the writing task. However, for Unit 1, this sequence builds students toward writing an argumentative essay, a text type they have not even read within the anthology selections.

Within each collection in the anthology, most culminating tasks are written performance tasks. The performance tasks are engaging and meaningful activities on their own, but there is no writing support within the collection itself. Students’ reading provides models of the type of writing they will be asked to do. While students encounter multiple opportunities to build their close reading skills throughout the collection, they do not directly prepare students for the culminating performance task using the full writing process.

Collection 1 has two tasks:

  • Performance Task A - Write a short story. While students closely read and analyze short stories throughout Collection 1, there is no direct instruction as to how they should brainstorm, plan, organize, draft, revise, and publish written work. This is also the first time they've even been exposed to the rubric.
  • Performance Task B - Write your own Expository Essay. Even though they have written explanatory answers to text-dependent questions, students have not had exposure to crafting their own expository essay within the collection.

Examples of performance tasks across the collections during the school year that involve writing include expository essay, short story, nonfiction narrative, personal narrative, multimedia presentation and opinion essay. The teacher will have to supplement instruction for these pieces over the year. Each section has a Plan, Produce, Revise and Edit and Present section. The Plan section is usually the most in depth and supports students in the topic they will be writing about. The Revise and Edit section contains very general instructions such as, “Use the chart on the next page to evaluate the content and style of your draft.” Then there are four to five bullets with more detail. The book relies on the rubric included for students to edit.

Shorter Writing Opportunities:

After each text within a collection, there is a shorter performance task. The instructions for this performance task are usually brief and contain general instructions. In the teacher edition, there are ideas for how to implement this task. There is no rubric for this task given with the materials. Teachers would have to decide how many points to assign this and on what skills they will focus for the rubric. These shorter performance tasks include styles of writing like: essay, narrative, summary, letter, poem, description, research and analysis.

As an example, here is an excerpt from Collection 5, page 292:

“Write an essay that analyzes how the individual stanzas fit into the poem’s overall structure. Choose three or four stanzas. Decide how each stanza helps develop the plot. Note the ideas you want to include. Take notes about details and information you will include to support your ideas. Plan and organize your essay. Draft three ideas you will discuss and details to support them. Use a formal writing style. Include linking and transition words to show how your ideas are related. Use clear, precise language. Be sure your introduction and conclusion help readers understand your topic.

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations of indicator 2g. While students consistently confront and analyze different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials, the materials do not include a progression of focused research projects providing students robust instruction, practice, and application of research skills as they employ grade-level reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills. Research skill practice and learning do not follow a clear progression; there is not an overview of research skill progressions.

When looking at the Student Resources Index of Skills for Grade 6, page R84, there are two different categories listed under research: “research, conducting, 67-68, 133-134, R8-R9” and “research questions, 186, 191.” The standards ask sixth graders to “Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.” In order to accomplish that with this project, teachers will have to add a lot of extra instruction and materials.

Conducting Research

The first instruction in research skills is found in Collection 1, pages 67-68. This is the Performance Task B – write an expository essay. There are two pages of instruction for how to do the research. These are very general. For example, “Gather Information: Look for information about the type of fear you are investigating. Jot down important facts, examples, and definitions, including: what causes this type of fear; what happens to our bodies and emotions in response to this fear; what methods can be sued to overcome this fear” (Collection 1, page 67). The only instruction for finding credible sources is the following: “Make sure facts are credible. If possible, back up facts with research or endorsements from experts” (Collection 1, page 67).

The second instruction in research skills is found in Performance Task B – write an expository essay in Collection 2, pages 133-134. There are two pages of instruction for how to complete the research. The instructions are almost identical to the research project in Collection 1.

Below are the instructions for “Do Research” from the task in Collection 1 and 2 for comparison:

Collection 1, pages 67-68:

Do Research - Use print and digital sources to find additional definitions, information, and quotations from experts.

  • Search for unique or little-known facts. Make sure facts are credible. If possible, back up facts with research or endorsements from experts.
  • Cite real-life examples of people living with this fear and explain how they overcame it.
  • Explore and provide links to websites that can be used as resources for understanding this fear.
  • Identify any visuals, such as pictures or graphs that illustrate your ideas.

Collection 2, pages 133-134:

Do Research – Use print and digital sources to gain a better understanding of how animals show intelligence.

  • Search for facts that support your ideas. If possible, back up facts with research or endorsements from experts.
  • Use relevant sources. Find sources online using appropriate keywords. Also use your school library to research books and magazines.
  • Cite real-life examples of animal intelligence from credible sources.
  • Check that the information you find is supported by the information you read in the collection.

As seen in the examples, the instruction and support for the teacher to implement is inconsistently comprehensive.

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials for Grade 6 do not meet the expectations of indicator 2h.

There is no evidence of independent reading in this curriculum. There is no explicit instruction for this. Materials do not provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. Independent reading is not a part of this curriculum.

The "Close Reader" book is closest to having students read on their own; however, there is not explicit instruction on that. There is language stating students should be reading this on their own is the following: "Students should read this short story carefully all the way through." (HMH Collections 7th Grade Teacher's Edition 18c).

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

Criterion 3a - 3e

null
0/8

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
0/2

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
0/2

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
0/2

Indicator 3d

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
0/2

Indicator 3e

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
0/0

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.
0/8

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
0/2

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
0/2

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
0/2

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
0/2

Indicator 3j

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
0/0

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
0/8

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
0/2

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
0/0

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
0/2

Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
0/2

Indicator 3m

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
0/2

Indicator 3n

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
0/0

Criterion 3o - 3v

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.
0/10

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
0/2

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
0/4

Indicator 3q

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
0/2

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
0/2

Indicator 3s

0/

Indicator 3s3v

0/

Indicator 3t

0/

Indicator 3u

0/

Indicator 3u.i

0/

Indicator 3u.ii

0/

Indicator 3v

0/

Criterion 3s - 3v

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms.
0/0

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
0/0

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.
0/0

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
0/0

Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
0/0

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
0/0

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
0/0

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: Thu Aug 04 00:00:00 UTC 2016

Report Edition: 2015

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
978-0-544-04666-5 0
978-0-544-08702-6 0
978-0-544-08760-6 0
978-0-544-14765-5 0
978-0-544-14786-7 0

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ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Text Quality and Complexity, and Alignment to Standards with Tasks Grounded in Evidence

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

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