Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 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
31
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
18
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

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 instructional materials for Grade 8 include texts that 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 from which students can learn. These texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. The materials include guidance about the inclusion of and rationale for texts and their placement. Although most texts fall within the appropriate range for text complexity for Grade 8, the range of complexity is inconsistent considering the work over a whole school year's worth of instruction. There are limited and inconsistent supports to ensure all students will be able to comprehend the materials at grade level.

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 reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of careful reading. The collections include well-known, published, and diverse authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Elie Wiesel, Ray Bradbury, Stephen Crane, Louisa May Alcott, Gary Soto, Sherman Alexie, and Anne Frank. Included non-fiction texts are also from well-known sources such as the New York Times.

The anchor texts and supplementary texts consider a range of topics that would be relevant and of interest to Grade 8 students. Text collections in this program explore the immigrant experiences of young adults from the Middle East and Haiti, as well as the experiences of Hmong immigrants. Another collection explores the “thrill of horror” and asks students to compare a classic horror short story to a film version; they also read an adaptation of Frankenstein in the form of a poem. The topic of adulthood is examined through a collection of texts directly connected to this age group: the driving age, appropriate use of cell phones and their influence on teen driving, and the influence of media. All of these topics would be of interest to Grade 8 students. Anchor texts at this grade level are well-crafted, content-rich, and engaging.

The collections include many writing types including the following: short stories, poems, myths, graphic stories, speeches, informational texts, memoirs, media such as newscasts, and online sources. Anchor texts are included for each collection, and close reading pieces are identified.

Some representative examples of texts that demonstrate high quality include:

  • Collection 1: “Culture and Belonging”
    • Short Story: “My Favorite Chaperone,” by Jean Davies Okimoto
    • Memoir: “from The Latehomecomer,” by Kao Kalia Yang – from Minnesota Public Radio website – “In 2009 The Latehomecomer won two Minnesota Book Awards—for memoir/creative nonfiction, and the Reader's Choice Award. It was the first book to ever win two awards.
  • Collection 2: “The Thrill of Horror”
    • Edgar Allan Poe's short story: "The Tell-Tale Heart"
    • Informational text: "What Is the Horror Genre?" - a literary criticism that helps students move beyond simply liking or disliking a story. This text guides students to analyze elements of a text that are often evident in quality literature.
  • Collection 3: “The Move Toward Freedom”
    • Autobiography: “from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass – a well known historical piece studied in many schools across the country.
    • Historical Fiction: “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” by Ray Bradbury, whose work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections.
  • Collection 4: “Approaching Adulthood”
    • The short story, "Marigolds," by Eugenia Collier
    • "When Do Kids Become Adults?" provides background knowledge that gets students to think deeply and to form or solidify their beliefs about their lives, both currently and in their not-too-distant future.
  • Collection 5: “Anne Frank’s Legacy”
    • Drama: The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (Pulitzer Prize-winning play)
  • Collection 6: “The Value of Work”
    • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain offers an ironic and humorous adolescent perspective on the topic of work.
    • “One Last Time,” a memoir by well-known author Gary Soto, explores the value and hardship Soto experienced while becoming a published writer.
    • Students also read two argumentative articles about teen employment in “Teens Need Jobs, Not Just Cash” and “Teens at Work.”

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 reviewed meet the criteria for reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards for Grade 8. The materials include an appropriate distribution of literary and informational texts that are aligned to the suggested balance in the CCSS for Grade 8. There are 29 literary and 25 informational texts distributed throughout the six collections. The whole of the program does support students' access to many strong informational pieces of text including media text such as a public service announcement, an advertisement, and a film.

The following are examples of the variety of texts found in three collections within these instructional materials:

Collection 2, “The Thrill of Horror,” contains eight texts: two literary texts, three informational texts in the Collections Student Edition; one informational and two literary texts are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Texts:
    • "The Tell-Tale Heart," short story by Edgar Allan Poe
    • “Outsiders,” short story by H.P. Lovecraft
    • “The Monkey’s Paw,” short story by W.W. Jacobs
    • “Frankenstein,” a poem by Edward Field
  • Informational Texts:
    • “Scary Tales,” essay by Jackie Torrence
    • “The Monkey’s Paw,” film by Ricky Lewis Jr.
    • "What Is the Horror Genre?" literary criticism informational text by Sharon A. Russell
    • “Man-made Monsters,” essay by Daniel Cohen

Collection 3, “The Move Toward Freedom,” contains eight texts: three informational texts and two literary texts are located in The Collections Student Edition; two informational texts and one literary text are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Texts:
    • “My Friend Douglass,” historical writing by Russell Freedman
    • “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” historical fiction by Ray Bradbury
    • “A Mystery of Heroism,” short story by Stephen Crane
    • O Captain! My Captain!” poem by Walt Whitman
  • Informational Texts:
    • “Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis,” history writing by James L. Swanson
    • “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” an autobiography by Frederick Douglass
    • “Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad,” biography by Ann Petry
    • “Civil War Journal,” journal entries by Louisa May Alcott

Collection 4, “Approaching Adulthood,” contains twelve texts: five informational texts and three literary texts are located in The Collections Student Edition; one informational text and three literary texts are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Text:
    • "Marigolds," short story by Eugenia Collie
    • “The Whistle," short story by Anne Estevis
    • “Hanging Fire,” poem by Audre Lorde
    • “Teenagers,” poem by Pat Mora
    • “Identity,” poem by Julio Noboa Polanco
    • “Hard on the Gas,” poem by Janet S. Wong
  • Informational Text:
    • "When Do Kids Become Adults?" informational text from the New York Times
    • "Much Too Young to Work So Hard," historical informational text by Naoki Tanaka
    • "Is 16 Too Young to Drive a Car?” article by Naoki Tanaka
    • “Fatal Car Crash Drop for 16 year-olds, Rise in Older Teens,” article by Allison Aubrey
    • “Your Phone Can Wait,” public service announcement
    • “Driving Distracted,” poster

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 8 meet the expectations of texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. The collections at the beginning of the year contain more texts below the indicated quantitative band, but by the middle of the year, there are less texts below the band and more in the specified range. While there are some texts that are unquantifiable or fall outside of the grade band, often they are balanced by more rigorous tasks or sophisticated focuses.

The materials for Grade 8 include texts that have quantitative ranges from the 700's and span through the school year to the 900’s-1000's to texts with a high quantitative measure in the 1200’s-1400's. The texts have appropriately rigorous qualitative features throughout the materials. The information below shows the quantitative measure for different collections.

  • Collection 1: 700 - 1220
  • Collection 2: 730 - 1030
  • Collection 3: 980 - 1010
  • Collection 4: 1070 - 1440
  • Collection 5: 1020 - 1410
  • Collection 6: 1040 - 1310

Some examples of the texts in the program that represent how the materials meet the expectations of this indicator include the following:

  • “My Favorite Chaperone” is below the quantitative level of the span at 790L; the task, write a summary, is fairly simple, but this seems acceptable due to it being the first text and task for the new school year. Two of the three close reading selections in this collection are in the band at 1010L.
  • The “Tell-Tale Heart” in Collection 2 is placed at a Lexile of 850 which is outside of band; however, this text’s qualitative analysis ranks Knowledge Demands as the highest in text complexity due to a “distinctively unfamiliar experience.” Language Conventionality and Structure also rank at second highest in complexity. These complex qualitative features would make it reasonable to find it in this collection. The second anchor text, a literary criticism, is within the grade span at 1030. Both of the close reader texts in this collection are at difficult Lexile levels outside the band in the 1200’s.
  • “Civil War Journal" in Collection 3 is above the grade span. The qualitative analysis indicates complexity in both language and knowledge demands. This could be challenging for 8th grade readers; however, it is placed toward the end of the collection. Students have been reading seven other texts, within the grade band, on the topic of the Civil War, so they should have quite a bit of background knowledge that will support them during their reading of this text.

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 Grade 8 instructional materials fully meet the expectations for materials supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. As the year progresses, students are exposed to texts of more challenging readability levels. Consistent supports such as text-dependent questions and emphases on vocabulary development are continued to support students' ability to access the increasing complexity of the texts. Series of texts, including anchor texts within the collections, include a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.

The following anchor texts represent the quantitative complexity of the collections:

Collection 1: 700 - 1220

  • Anchor Text Short Story, “My Favorite Chaperone” Lexile: 790
  • Anchor Text Memoir, “The Latehomecomer” Lexile: 940

Collection 2: 730- 1270

  • Anchor Text Short Story, "The Tell-Tale Heart" Lexile: 850
  • Anchor Text Literary Criticism, “What is the Horror Genre?” Lexile: 1030

Collection 3: 990 - 1480

  • Anchor Text Autobiography, “From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” Lexile: 970
  • Anchor Text Historical fiction, "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” Lexile: 990

Collection 4: 800- 1440

  • Anchor Text Short Story, "Marigolds" Lexile: 1140 high end
  • Anchor Text Informational text, "When Do Kids Become Adults?" Lexile: 1440

Collection 5: 1020- 1410

  • Anchor Text Play, "The Diary of Anne Frank" (no Lexile level as this is a dramatization)

Collection 6: 790 - 1310

  • Anchor Text Novel excerpt, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” Lexile: 1040
  • Anchor Text Poems, “Chicago,” “Find Work,” “My Mother Enters the Work Force”

Collections 1 and 2 show one anchor text in each collection below the quantitative levels for the grade span; yet, the qualitative analysis and the required tasks shows that complexity of these lower level texts is still rigorous. “The Latecomer,” which has a readability level at the beginning of the grade span, requires students to write a research report about the Hmong people after reading the narrative. This task is connected to the topic of the text and requires some complex skills. This would make a slightly less complex text appropriate. In Collection 2, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is also below the quantitative measure, but the performance tasks asks students to write a narrative about the psychiatric state of this narrator. Students analyze the unreliable narrator from this story and complete a relatively challenging task. Another text in this collection, “What is the Horror Genre?” is at the appropriate quantitative complexity and is a literary criticism. This genre of writing may be unfamiliar to students and will add to the complexity. This text shows growing complexity.

Collection 3 shows the rise from the prior two collections in quantitative complexity with five of the seven texts at the required level of quantitative complexity. No texts are below the grade level and two texts are above. The anchor text is an autobiography of Frederick Douglass’s life, and students analyze the author’s craft in this text. Included in this collection are two biographies focusing on the lives of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Students analyze the author’s craft and structure in these texts. These three texts demonstrate growing complexity.

Collection 4 includes four texts at the high end of the grade span quantitative complexity which would be appropriate for placement in a collection for this grade level. In addition, tasks in this collection have students reading arguments, debating topics in these arguments, and writing an argument. Complexity in both texts and tasks is evident.

Collections 5 and 6 contain anchor texts with an unquantifiable Lexile level or a Lexile level on the low end of the grade band. The Diary of Anne Frank ranks as more complex in both knowledge demands and levels of meaning/purpose adding to its complexity. Paired with this text is a literary criticism of Frank’s diary which is above the quantitative level. After reading The Diary of Anne Frank, the students will be better prepared to read a more difficult text. Tom Sawyer is also on the low end of the grade span, but it is paired with argument readings above the grade span on the topic of work.

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 8 meet the criterion for anchor texts and texts connected to them being accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level. The beginning of each text selection in the Teacher’s manual includes the following features:

  • Why This Text?
  • Text Complexity Rubric

The Why This Text? feature includes a brief rationale for the placement of the piece as well as a Key Learning Objective. For example, in Collection 2, “What is the Horror Genre?” explains that this text provides a model of a literary criticism that analyzes literature and includes a breakdown of the analysis. The criticism also encourages students to think beyond whether or not they liked the text.

The Text Complexity Rubric is a graphic that provides an analysis of the qualitative, quantitative, and reader/task considerations for the complexity of each text. The quantitative provides the Lexile level of each selection while the qualitative analysis identifies all four elements that contribute to qualitative complexity: Levels of Meaning/Purpose, Structure, Language Conventionality and Clarity, and Knowledge Demands. The scale moves across the four points from an element of less complexity to an area of more complexity. Reader/Task Considerations indicate that these are teacher-determined and vary by student and text. It also indicates that the user look at the Text X-Ray feature for suggested reader and task considerations. To the left of the Text Complexity Rubric is a list of the core standards covered including, reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language.

The Text X-Ray feature referenced in the Reader/Task Considerations follows the text analysis. This provides additional support for all texts except texts identified as close readers. The Text X-Ray suggests possible supports a teacher could provide within the four areas of qualitative text complexity as well as Reader/Task considerations. For example, in Collection 1, “My Favorite Chaperone” identifies the Level of Meaning being fairly complex with a score of three out of four on the scale. The Text X-Ray suggests that teachers help students understand who characters in a story might be and explain that analyzing these characters can help a reader identify the theme of the short story. Teachers are instructed to tell the students that Maya is the character in this story. After reading the story, students use provided sentence frames to discuss the story. Examples of these sentence frames are included here:

  • Maya changes during the story by _______.
  • By the end of the story, Maya learns _______.
  • From Maya’s experiences, the author wants me to learn ________.

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 materials for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for anchor text(s), including support materials, and provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading. Over the year, students are provided with a wide variety of texts. The Instructional Overview found at the beginning of each collection clearly identifies the diversity of texts students will be reading within each collection. Below is an example showing the range and volume that can be found from three different collections at this grade level:

  • Collection 1: short stories, poems, essay, research writing, and memoir
  • Collection 3: autobiography, biography, historical fiction, historical writing, poetry, short story, and journal entries
  • Collection 6: novel excerpt, memoir, arguments, poetry, biography, short story, and graphic story

While students read a variety of texts, it is unclear how students are supported towards independence. Instructions within the Teacher’s Edition do not explain how the entirety of a text is to be read: silently, by the teacher, or aloud as a whole class. Therefore, this decision is left up to the teacher with little guidance from the program. Students may never read the texts within the collections independently.

Each collection contains a feature titled Independent Reading that precedes the Performance Tasks at the end of each collection. This feature suggests digital resources students can use to find out more about the theme or topic of the collection. However, little support is provided, and not all suggested tasks may support independence. The following is an example of this:

  • Collection 1 suggests student read “The Law of Life,” by Jack London, then asks the teacher to read the story aloud to students and question the students about the reading.

This page also includes a Creating an Independent Reading Program. This feature suggests ways for teachers to help students increase independent reading, but no system is provided for monitoring students' use of the techniques suggested here. Additionally, a teacher may choose to skip this activity.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
12/16
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 include some connections between texts and tasks. Some 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 across 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 some 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 school year. Speaking and listening activities, while mostly evidence-focused, do not offer comprehensive support for accountability and using academic vocabulary in context. Implementation support for speaking and listening is minimal. Language instruction for grammar and conventions is present and organized, but infrequently embedded in context 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 8 fully meet the criterion for most questions, tasks, and assignments being text-dependent/specific, requiring 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 text. The Teacher’s Edition includes text-dependent questions in the margin for the teacher to use with the students. Literature selections ask students text-dependent questions about story elements: plot, character, setting, and conflict motivations. In addition, questions require students to make inferences, analyze language, and determine the theme of the selection. Informational texts include text-dependent questions regarding text structure, text features, and support for authors’ claims. Students are also asked to determine facts and opinions, author’s purpose, and author’s tone.

Examples representing the use of text-dependent questions and activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • In Collection 5, The Diary of Anne Frank: Reread lines 1863-1872. How does the setting of Scene 5 complete the structure of the play? (page 351)
  • In Collection 5, After Auschwitz: Ask students to reread lines 4-6 to identify the repetition. What is the impact of this repetition? (page 380)
  • The Performance Task following the reading of "When Do Kids Become Adults?" from Collection 4 asks students to hold a debate regarding the issues presented in the text. They are to take a stance, make a claim, include evidence from the text and their own research, create visuals, and conduct the debate. Finally, students evaluate the evidence and reasoning presented by each side.
  • The Performance Task following the reading of the drama "The Diary of Anne Frank" from Collection 5 asks students to analyze three characters from the play using references from the text to think deeply about their comparison of characters. (page 354)

The Close Reader offers multiple text-focused tasks. The Reader asks students to write after the reading selection and then engage in a feature called “Dig Deeper," which supports students in revisiting texts.

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).
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria of providing sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks which build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination). Each collection concludes with culminating tasks called performance tasks. These tasks require students to incorporate reading, writing, and speaking skills to complete the assignment and provide a diverse means of delivery. Each performance task is centered on the topic that students have been reading about in the collection and requires students to use knowledge or information they gained through interacting with those texts.

Throughout Grade 8, the students will complete the following performance tasks:

  • Write informative essays
  • Write narratives
  • Write arguments
  • Create a multimedia campaign
  • Participate in a collaborative discussion

Below are examples of how questions and tasks prior to the culminating activity are coherent and help prepare the student to complete these tasks:

Collection 1

  • Performance Task A asks students to write an informative essay about immigration. The text-dependent questions that accompany the short story “My Favorite Chaperone” contribute to students’ understanding of the immigrant experience. The following questions help students consider how language and cultural differences impact the immigrant experience:
    • Read to identify the difference in customs between Kazakhstan and America that causes a problem. How do you know that Maya and Nurzhan understand this difference better than their mother? (page 14)
    • Have students reread lines 195-210. What conclusions can be drawn from this evidence about immigrants’ attitudes toward language? (page 48)
  • Tasks within this collection also support the culminating activity. Within this collection, students research to discover from where recent immigrants have come, write a short research report about the Hmong people, and work in small groups to create a video of personal stories.

Collection 3

  • Performance Task A asks students to participate in a collaborative discussion to engage in dialogue regarding the ways people responded to the Civil War or the struggle for freedom. Students read a variety of texts about different people’s reactions during this time. These texts include responses by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Walt Whitman. Activities following these selections ask students to consider reactions. After reading "Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad," students create a speech that introduces Harriet Tubman into a Hall of Fame. They examine her motivations and personality and consider what characteristics or actions make Tubman a hero. How did she impact the freedom movement? After reading "Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis," students compare Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. They use a Venn Diagram to analyze each individual and write a character sketch of each.

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 8 partially meet the criterion that materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. The materials provide opportunities for evidence-based discussions with partners and small groups. After each reading within the collection, the student version and Teacher’s Edition include two collaborative discussion prompts. Both require textual evidence to support an opinion; however, minimal teacher support is provided for instruction. Teachers are not provided guidance regarding how to strategically group students nor how to identify struggling students. Each collaborative discussion opportunity concludes by having the teacher ask students to share their conversation with the whole class. No answer key or preferred responses are included. The Close Reader and Analyzing the Text questions include frequent opportunities for evidence-based discussion through the use of text-dependent questions. While possible student responses are provided with these prompts, there are no supports regarding how teachers use these questions to facilitate student discussions. Therefore, teachers might not utilize these as conversation prompts. They may have students respond individually or within writing. Additionally, there are no teacher guidelines on how to monitor these questions to ensure students’ understanding.

The question below is an example of an “Analyzing the Text” question:

  • Reread lines 7-12. Does the speaker share the villagers view that the monster is evil and dangerous? Support your answer with explicit textual evidence.

Discussion opportunities are also structured around academic vocabulary. Academic vocabulary is identified at the beginning of each collection in the “Plan” section. The “Plan” feature identifies opportunities for students to use the targeted vocabulary in Collaborative Discussion activities following each reading selection and Analyzing the Text Questions within the selections. The Think-Pair-Share strategy is regularly involved in the Analyzing the Text Questions. While these provide opportunities to practice the language, implementation of the strategy is not explicitly supported with guidance for misunderstandings nor with accountability. Below are two examples of this activity:

  • Think-Pair-Share - Have students turn to a partner to discuss the following questions. Guide students to include the academic vocabulary words access and demonstrate. Ask volunteers to share their response with the class.
    • Think about the changes that Douglass describes in his mistress. Which of her actions demonstrate how slavery affected her?
    • Discuss the process of Douglass’s self-education. How did having access to certain types of reading materials affect Douglass’s ideas and his development? (page 145)
  • Think-Pair-Share - Have students turn to a partner to discuss the following questions. Guide students to include the academic vocabulary words communicate and liberation in their responses. Ask volunteers to share their response with the class.
    • How do the residents of the Annex feel about their liberation each evening after the workers in the rooms below go home?
    • How does the arrival of evening change the way the “family” members are able to communicate with each other? (page 292)

While the Grade 8 materials provide opportunities for evidence-based discussions and use of academic vocabulary, the materials lack instructional support for implementation protocols, assessment protocols, and ways to identify students struggling with speaking and listening skills.

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 8 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports. The instructional materials provide opportunities for students in this grade to practice speaking and listening relating to the topics and texts they are reading and researching within the collections. However, there is a lack of teacher guidance to effectively support the implementation of these skills into the assignments.

Within the collections are repeated opportunities for “Collaborative Discussion.” The general instructions for this activity ask teachers to remind students that in order to discuss topics effectively and make group decisions the following should happen:

  • Students need to be prepared by reading or taking notes.
  • Students should state and support their own opinions and listen and respect others’ claims.
  • Students should ask questions to help connect ideas and answer questions with relevant observations and ideas.
  • Acknowledge and incorporate new ideas and information into the discussion.

While these are good guidelines, there are no models, examples or language frames that might support students' application of these techniques. (page 150a)

Some speaking and listening components within assignments provided in the student and teacher edition include representative examples. In some cases, instruction on classroom implementation is either minimal or absent, and in others, there is a minimal connection to the texts being studied. The following examples are representative of speaking and listening assignments that demonstrate minimal or no instructional supports:

  • The text-based performance task following “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” asks students to give an informative report after they research the Battle of Shiloh. The task asks students to discover how many people died as well as the significance of the battle today. Then students should discuss how their research impacts their reaction to specific portions of the text. The teacher’s guide suggests working in pairs or small groups, organizing ideas to show connections between the identified parts of the story and the students’ research, and to use eye contact and clear pronunciation. This is minimal guidance for the presentation of research.
  • In Collection 3, Performance Task A requires students to participate in a collaborative panel discussion to discuss ways people responded to the Civil War or the struggle for freedom. Participants are expected to present their own view with support, respond politely to other panel members, evaluate other panel members’ contributions, and offer a summary of the discussion by synthesizing ideas. Many of these skills, such as a synthesis summary, are not explicitly taught within this assignment or collection. Students are not instructed how to evaluate other members’ responses or respectfully provide a differing viewpoint. If students struggle, teachers are asked to give students an opportunity to view a video of a panel discussion. However, no model is provided.
  • Performance Task B requires that students write a literary analysis of “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” Students may choose to provide an oral presentation of this analysis as an oral report, but no guidelines or support is provided.

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.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. The Teacher and Student editions include process writing tasks. Only one on-demand writing task is found in the Performance Assessment booklet. Extended writings, found at the end of each collection, ask students to revise and/or edit and provide rubrics and student checklists. The shorter writing opportunities which occur after the readings do not require students to revise and edit and do not provide rubrics or checklists.

In the Performance Assessment booklet students encounter the following writing tasks:

  • Unit 1 Argumentative Essay
  • Unit 2 Informative Essay
  • Unit 3 Literary Analysis
  • Unit 4 Mixed practice with on-demand writing

On-demand writing is found mostly in the Performance Assessment consumable. However, the teacher’s edition of the textbook does not identify how to incorporate the Performance Assessment with the textbook, and the readings do not align with the topics of the collections.

Extended writing opportunities are found at the end of each collection. The following are the types of writing tasks included at this grade level: write an informative essay, write a personal narrative, write an argument, write three literary analyses, and research and write an informative essay. Students write in an organizational structure of Plan, Write, Revise, and Present. Within these Performance Tasks, there are opportunities for students to revise. Below is an example of an opportunity to Revise:

  • In Collection 3, students write a Literary Analysis. They “revise” this by reviewing a chart with a partner or a group of peers and using the chart to review their draft. The chart guides students to check for the following:
    • Clarity of the thesis statement
    • The use of background information
    • Analysis supporting the details
    • Clear organization of ideas
    • A conclusion that summarizes main points and provides insights

Students revise, but there are no opportunities for editing. According to the CCSS, editing for conventions should demonstrate a command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 8. Nowhere in any of the Collections are students asked to edit their writing for conventions.

Smaller writing tasks within the collections range from notes to one to four paragraphs and a couple of pages. Writings include a summary, narratives, explanation, reports, literary analyses, informative report, argument, analyses, and a compare and contrast essay. Minimal support is provided in these activities for both teacher and student. No rubrics or checklists are provided. No model writing is provided. In addition, some of the writings are too unsupported to fully meet the standards. Below are examples that represent this:

  • In Collection 2, after “Tell-Tale Heart,” students write a narrative about the evaluation of the narrator by a mental health expert using details from the text. The teacher’s edition indicates that this meets W.8.9.a. “Analyze character types from myths, traditional stories or religious works … describing how the material is rendered new.” However, the connection here is weak.
  • Collection 3 involves students writing an informative essay and creating a poster that compares and contrasts Lincoln and Davis. Students create a Venn diagram to identify traits and then write a brief character sketch of each man under the identified circle. Standard 8.2 is identified but this activity is too brief and unstructured to be considered an informative essay.

Digital resources are limited within these tasks. The writing activity that follows “The Monkey’s Paw” from Collection 2 is identified as a media activity. Students work with a partner to create a storyboard for a film to retell the story. Although it is identified as a media activity, it does not include any digital resources to complete this task.

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 8 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to write in different genres that reflect the distribution required by the standards. The students write arguments, informative texts, and narratives. Writing opportunities occur within collections in which students write shorter process pieces following texts within the collection and in many of the Performance Tasks at the end of each collection. Most of the writing tasks are connected to texts and text sets.

Examples of different writing opportunities in the materials include:

Shorter Process Writing found at the end of texts within Collections:

  • Summaries
  • Narratives
  • Explanations
  • Reports
  • Literary analyses
  • Informative reports
  • Arguments

Despite a wide range of writing tasks, only two narrative writing opportunities are offered.

Extended writing projects in performance tasks at the end of the Collections include:

  • Informative essays
  • Personal narrative
  • Arguments
  • Literary analyses
  • Research

The extended writings of the collections’ performance tasks are weighted more heavily towards argument with only one narrative included.

While the program does provide opportunities for the students to write to the requirements of the standards, there is little support for teachers or students to monitor their progress. Within the shorter writing tasks, neither teachers nor students are provided with rubrics, checklists, exemplars, or model texts. Culminating Performance Tasks offer a little more support by adding a brief excerpt of a mentor text from the collection, a student checklist, and a rubric. However, teachers would need to implement their own system to help students monitor their growth throughout all writing tasks.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 meet the criterion that materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information. Materials provide students with sufficient opportunities to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Students are asked to analyze texts, create claims, and include clear information about their writing topics. Materials provide opportunities to build and reinforce students’ writing abilities over the course of the school year.

Directions included with writing tasks require students to use evidence from texts read within the collection as well as texts researched outside of the collections. Application of these skills are required and evident within shorter writing assignments included in the collections as well as in the Performance Tasks at the end of each collection.

Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • Collection 2: Students write a literary analysis essay about one of the fictional horror stories in the collection and must use the criteria for horror explained in the collection's “What is the Horror Genre,” by Sharon A. Russell.
  • Collection 3: Students write a literary analysis essay that discusses the symbolism in “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” from the collection.
  • Collection 4: Students write an argument using evidence from two arguments they read regarding teen driving, “Is 16 Too Young to Drive a Car?” and “Fatal Car Crashes Drop for 16-Year-Olds, Rise for Older Teens."
  • Collection 5: After reading “Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife," students write an analysis where they decide if Prose has made a convincing argument or not. Students must analyze the argument, document Prose’s claims and supporting evidence, determine if the evidence is relevant and sufficient, and write their analysis by stating their view and supporting it with evidence derived from that text.

Overall:

  • Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence.
  • Writing opportunities are focused on 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 8 partially meet the criterion that 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. Materials include some explicit directions targeted at the instruction of grammar and convention standards; however, instruction around these topics is brief. There is an uneven increase in sophisticated contexts building in the first few collections and then declining in the ending collections.

Conventions and grammar are taught after the readings in a feature called Language Conventions. The text is referenced, and samples from it are included. Language conventions are not addressed during the reading and at the point of contact. No text-dependent questions appear to help students recognize grammatical structures within the context. Within this feature, there are brief opportunities for students to learn and practice grammatical and spelling conventions. Due to the short, random appearance of these activities, it may be unlikely that students will retain any information after the completion of four or five practice sentences.

Below are examples of targeted grammar and conventions from each collection:

  • Collection 1: imperative mood, participles, active and passive voice
  • Collection 2: using dashes, subject-verb agreement, subjunctive mood, and commas
  • Collection 3: conditional mood, indicative mood, and gerunds
  • Collection 4: infinitives, words ending in -ly, shifts in mood and voice, and fragments
  • Collection 5: use of ellipses
  • Collection 6: interrogative mood, semicolons, and run-ons

While Collections 1-3 appears to be building, Collection 4 includes sentence fragments, which should probably appear earlier in the year to support students as they are writing. Collection 5 only includes ellipses, and Collection 6 addresses semicolons and run-on sentences.

Minimal instruction is provided for all of the language conventions above. There is some application during the instruction, but the convention is not mentioned in the numerous writing tasks throughout the collection.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 partially meet the expectations of Gateway 2: Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks. Students have many potential opportunities to engage with texts and text sets that are organized around themes and topics to build knowledge. Students are consistently working in and across text to analyze components. Academic vocabulary and close reading practice are not fully supported or implemented without the addition of supplemental materials. Students are asked inconsistently 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. A great deal of the academic vocabulary practice is disconnected from the texts and text sets, although in some instances there are opportunities for students to focus in on an author’s choices of words and structures. The overall year-long plans and structures for writing and research instruction are partially present, with inconsistent supports for implementation and accountability. While the writing instruction does have key components, it 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 students 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

18/32

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 meet the criterion that 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. Anchor texts are organized around appropriate topic(s) and/or themes to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently at grade level.

Collection 1: Culture and Belonging

  • The readings in this collection all contain texts that support students’ understanding the immigrant experience, culture, and the idea of belonging. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • “My Favorite Chaperone” - anchor text
    • “Golden Glass”
    • “Bonne Annee”
    • “A Place to Call Home”
    • “What to Bring”
    • “The Latehomecomer”- anchor text
    • “Museum Indians”
    • “Powwow at the End of the World”

Collection 2: The Thrill of Horror

  • The readings in this collection start with a reading of classic horror stories. Students compare a text of a horror story with a film version. Students then experience a more complex text of a literary criticism, which requires students to consider an analysis of this genre. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • "The Tell-Tale Heart" - anchor text
    • Outsiders
    • “Scary Tales”
    • “The Monkey’s Paw”
    • Frankenstein
    • "What Is the Horror Genre?"
    • “Man-made Monsters” - anchor text

Collection 3: The Move Towards Freedom

  • The readings in this collection examine the Civil War era and the African American Experience. Selections include classic readings from this era along with contemporary writers on this time period. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • “From Narrative of t... Douglass” - anchor text
    • “My Friend Douglass”
    • Harriet Tubman: ...Underground Railroad
    • “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” - anchor text
    • “A Mystery of Heroism”
    • Bloody Times...Jefferson Davis
    • “Civil War Journal”

Collection 4: Approaching Adulthood

  • The texts in this collection address coming of age stories as well as an exploration of the idea of when kids are ready to grow up. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • "Marigolds" - anchor text
    • “The Whistle"
    • "When Do Kids Become Adults?" - anchor text
    • "Much Too Young to Work So Hard"
    • "Is 16 Too Young to Drive a Car?”
    • “Fatal Car Crash..., Rise in Older Teens”

Collection 5: Anne Frank’s Legacy

  • Readings in this collection examine the events from World War II through the experience of Anne Frank, texts about Holocaust survivors, and other texts that explore the events from this time period. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • "The Diary of Anne Frank" - anchor text
    • The Diary of a Young Girl
    • "Anne Frank: The Book... The Afterlife"
    • "After Auschwitz"
    • "There But for the Grace"

Collection: 6: The Value of Work

  • Selections from this collection examine young people and work and what may come from work. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - anchor text
    • “The Flying Machine”
    • “One Last Time”
    • “The Real McCoy”
    • “Teens Need Jobs, Not Just Cash”
    • “Teens at Work”
    • “Chicago” - anchor text
    • “Find Work”
    • “My Mother Enters the Workforce”
    • “To Be of Use”
    • “A Story of How a Wall Stands”

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 8 partially meet the expectations that materials contain sets of questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in a coherent sequence related to the standards. However, over the course of the year, instructional materials and identified elements stay consistent and do not grow in rigor from early in the year 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. Focus on academic vocabulary is inconsistent, with more attention and time placed on literary terms and the functions of those words rather than building students' knowledge. The following are examples of questions and tasks that help students analyze key ideas and details:

  • Close Reader: Students examine whether slavery was the “cause of the war” and what were the effects of slavery through providing evidence (page 44). Students are asked to underline what the narrator learns and what she could have done to prevent what happened to her grandmother (page 74). Students are asked to explain what Anne’s actions identified in stage directions reveal about her character (page 102).
  • Collection 3: Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad: Ask students to reread lines 33-46 to summarize Tubman’s actions in “running off the slaves.” Have students tell what those actions show about her character.
  • Collection 4: “Is 16 Too Young to Drive a Car?” and “Fatal Car Crashes Drop for 16-Year-Olds, Rise for Older Teens:” Ask students to reread lines 39-49 to find details that support the author’s statement that states have begun to restrict 16-year-old drivers.
  • Collection 5: The Diary of Anne Frank: Have students reread lines 2040-2066 to contrast the ways Mr. Dussel and Mrs. Frank communicate with Anne.

The following are examples of questions and tasks that help students analyze craft and structure of the texts they are reading:

  • Close Reader: Students are asked to examine how the structure of the drama changes in a specific passage. They are also asked to analyze the effect of this change in structure on the play (page 95).
  • Collection 1: “Bonne Annee” Asks students to find and consider the meaning of a repeated phrase.
  • Collection 2: “The Tell-Tale Heart” Reread lines 80-93 to identify four places where Poe repeats a word or phrase. What idea does the repetition of “to feel” emphasize? What impact does the repetition of the word “stealthily” have?
  • Collection 3: Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad: Students are asked to consider an author’s use of fragments for effect. Students are asked to consider repeated grammatical constructions to create parallelism. Students evaluate the use of this within the text.
  • Collection 5: The Diary of Anne Frank: How does the setting of Scene 5 complete the structure of the play (p. 351)?

Below are examples of questions and tasks that help students analyze language within the texts they are reading:

  • Close Reader: Students are asked to identify phrases describing Frankenstein’s monster in the book and film. Then, they are asked to find one similarity in these descriptions (page 38). Students are asked to examine the denotation and connotation of the words “motherly” and “watchful and protective” (page 66).

The feature “Critical Vocabulary,” found in the Teacher Edition margins, asks students to consider the usage of certain words used within the text. The following is an example of this feature:

  • Collection 2, page 90: “Vex” Ask students to tell what it was that vexed the narrator. Why wasn’t the narrator able to kill the old man as he had planned to do?

Further opportunities for students to use questions that build understanding occur after each text selection in the feature called “Analyzing the Text.” Questions here are identified by the addressed skill or focus. Below are the types of questions that follow the reading of The Diary of Anne Frank from Collection 5:

  • Interpret
  • Compare
  • Cause/Effect
  • Infer
  • Analyze
  • Evaluate

Smaller performance tasks following each reading within collections also provide opportunities to integrate knowledge and ideas from the texts they are reading. The following tasks are examples from Grade 6, Collection 5:

  • Speaking Activity: Response to Literature
  • Speaking Activity: Narrative
  • Writing: Literary Analysis
  • Speaking Activity: Discussion
  • Writing: Analysis

Throughout the collection, there are ample opportunities for students to engage in questions and activities at different levels to support their knowledge and ideas about the topics and themes presented in these collections.

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 8 meet the expectations that 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. The materials include sets of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. However, most sets of text-dependent questions - both within the reading and the “Analyzing the Text” section at the end of each reading - are text-specific. Typically, the end of collection Performance Tasks is stronger with regards to requiring students to integrate knowledge and ideas acquired by the texts they have read.

Opportunities for students to practice building integration of knowledge and ideas appear in Performance Tasks following each reading. Some of these work to support students making sense of the information they have been reading about. The following are representative examples that represent building integration of knowledge and ideas:

  • Collection 4, Performance Task B asks students to produce a multimedia campaign to respond to the question, “When do kids become adults?” Students review readings from this collection and collect at least two pieces of evidence from the collection, as well as conducting and using evidence from their research.
  • After reading the poem, “There But for the Grace” from Collection 5, students are asked to work with a partner to discuss the poem's theme and relate how it connects to the themes present in other selections within the collection.

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).
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 partially meet the expectations that 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). Materials contain some questions and tasks that support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, and listening). Culminating tasks include a range of reading, writing, speaking, and listening opportunities. Students complete two Performance Tasks at the end of each collection. The Performance Tasks require students to further analyze the selections that have been read in the collection and to synthesize ideas. Students then present their findings in a variety of products, most often as a written piece. However, there is minimal or no support within the student or teacher materials for students to successfully complete the Performance Task. There is limited support for teachers to discern if students are prepared to address these tasks. The writing process is not modeled or directly taught in relationship to the performance tasks, and direct connections from the text-dependent questions to the culminating tasks are not always clear.

An example, representative of the program supporting students in demonstrating knowledge through an integrated culminating task, includes the following:

In Collection 2, Performance Task A requires students to determine if Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a text within this collection, is appropriate reading for students at this grade level. Students also read “Scary Tales,” an essay that supports the reading of horror stories by adolescents, as well as "What Is the Horror Genre?," a literary criticism that offers reasons to explain why scary tales are acceptable texts for younger readers. Included with “The Tell-Tale Heart,” are text-dependent questions that students use to analyze suspense and the narrator’s point of view. The performance task instructions ask students to think about the impression the story made on themselves and the questions and tasks they experienced would support the students being able complete this performance task.

An example, representative of the need for more support in this area, includes but is not limited to the following:

In Collection 3, Performance Task A provides an opportunity for students to participate in a collaborative discussion. This task requires students to make a generalization about the ways people responded to the Civil War, gather evidence for this generalization, and write an outline. After this, students orally practice presenting this information and evaluate themselves using the provided rubric. Speaking tasks within this collection ask students to prepare a speech as to why Harriet Tubman should be considered a hero and to perform a dramatic choral reading of a Whitman poem. Tasks do not require students to consider how the people they read about within these texts might have felt about or responded to the war. Additionally, the task of making a generalization has not appeared until this performance task. Students may lack understanding of this skill, and therefore, may make a random generalization. The task is labeled as a collaborative discussion; however, students are asked to determine a speaking schedule to present their findings for a certain amount of time, leaving time for questions. This is considered more of a panel discussion as students are not working collaboratively within this task to create greater meaning of these texts. Additionally, supports for this are significantly lacking.

Teacher supports for tracking student progress are not provided in the Teacher’s Edition. Teachers would need to develop a system of data collection to effectively and authentically track student performance and understanding to support students’ progress.

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 8 partially meet the criterion that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. 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 introduces five “Academic Vocabulary” terms at the beginning of the collection. Instructions ask the students to “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.”

While each collection targets academic vocabulary, the plan for building students’ use of academic terms is general, and specific words for each collection appear to lack intentionality. The program provides general reminders to “do” activities with the five identified words or “use” these terms during the pre-prepared sections such as Applying Academic Vocabulary and end of collection Performance Tasks.

An example of the generality and lack of intentionality is provided as follows:

  • In Collection 6, the targeted terms are “commentary," “minors," “occupation," “option," and “style”. Performance Task B requires students to write an argument that justifies views about teenagers gaining work experience during their school years. In the margin of the assignment is a reminder for students to be sure to use these words as they plan and write their argument. However, there is no specificity about the way students should use these words, nor is there any way to ensure that students are applying these words. The “Review Your Draft” feature that asks students to review drafts does not ask students to check for use of academic vocabulary. The Performance Task Rubric does not evaluate for the use of these academic vocabulary terms (pages 441-444).

In addition to each collection’s five targeted words, the series highlight five “Critical Vocabulary” for each text selection. In the student edition, critical vocabulary words are “glossed” (an explanation is provided), and a longer definition and prompt for discussion is provided in the teacher’s edition. Below is a sample of the glossed definition, the extended definition and prompt for the text, “Marigolds” from Collection 4 targeting the critical vocabulary word, “ostensible”:

  • Glossed: “If something is ostensible, it is apparent or supposed.”
  • Teacher Definition and Prompt: “The narrator is explaining why the group stops when they are close to Miss Lottie’s house. Ask students why the children need an ostensible reason to stop before continuing to Miss Lottie’s house.” (page 216)

Critical Vocabulary is reviewed at the end of each text in a featured section by the same name. Students are directed to use their understanding of the vocabulary words to answer each question. Students demonstrate their understanding of “ostensible” in the following example:

  • What might be the ostensible reason for telling about degradation?

This is an ambitious request as students have had only one exposure and opportunity to consider the meaning of ostensible. Also included are the following words: “poignant," “perverse," “degradation," “bravado," “squalor," “retribution," “impotent," “stoicism," and “exuberance”.

The aforementioned words are difficult and would need to be repeated within more contexts to ensure that students could acquire these words. One exposure with one opportunity to apply meaning is a cursory treatment of challenging academic vocabulary.

Close readings include critical vocabulary and include a place for students to write the meaning; however, it is nebulous how they are to determine the meaning. An example from the short story, “The Whistle” from Collection 4 is included as follows:

  • The teacher notes ask the students to explain the meaning of paternal as Estevis uses it here: My paternal grandmother Carmen was a tiny woman, not even five feet tall.

It is unclear how students will explain the meaning if they don’t know the word “paternal.” The context is minimal and students may think “paternal” is connected to the physical size of the grandmother.

While the materials ask teachers to encourage students to practice vocabulary, support that allows a teacher to evaluate and monitor students’ acquisition of the words is missing. Therefore, the program does not clearly demonstrate students’ growth.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials for Grade 8 partially meet the expectations that 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. Materials do include writing instruction aligned to the grade-level standards, and sufficient writing assignments span the whole year. However, materials do not provide a strategic plan to support the development of students’ skills over the entire year. Teacher materials do not provide protocols, implementation plans, student mastery tracking to support instruction, differentiation, and student self-monitoring.

The Grade 8 Performance Assessment booklet does provide a break down using the writing process for three writing tasks: Argumentative Essay, Informative Essay, and Literary Analysis. It also provides a full unit of instruction including support for close reading, extraction of information, and the full experience of the writing process for each mode of writing. However, no guidance is given on how to utilize this resource, nor is it clear that this booklet comes with the textbook. Assurance that this would be provided and be available for teachers year after year would need to be confirmed.

The materials for Grade 8 do include opportunities for students to write in all modes required by the CCSS writing standards for the grade (argumentative, narrative, and informative). Below are examples of performance task writing assignments included at Grade 8:

  • Collection 1: Informative essay/personal narrative
  • Collection 2: Literary analysis
  • Collection 3: Literary Analysis
  • Collection 4: Literary Analysis
  • Collection 5: Research and Write an Informative Essay
  • Collection 6: Write an Argument

The materials require that students complete shorter writing tasks using evidence from multiple sources within the collection as well as research students gather from outside sources. These shorter writing tasks have minimal support. Models, graphic organizers, and rubrics are not included. Teachers would need to create their own system for including these elements. Below is an example of a writing task that demonstrates the insufficiency of support:

  • The Performance Task after the reading of the “Tell-Tale Heart” in Collection 2 requires the students to write a narrative. Instructions ask the teacher to briefly describe the point of view and to have the students use the guiding questions in their edition to write their narrative. The narrative should provide an introduction that gives general information with additional paragraphs building on that. There is no instructional support for implementation, differentiation, assessing, re-teaching or remediation. Furthermore, there is no rubric, outline procedure, or graphic organizer to facilitate planning, reflecting, revising, or reviewing for either the teacher or the student.

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 8 partially meet the criterion that 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. While students are asked consistently to analyze and respond to different texts and topics using multiple texts and research materials, the materials do not include a progression of focused research projects. Research skills are inconsistently assigned through the various Performance Tasks and shorter writings that occur after individual texts within the collections. The following is an example of inconsistent skills within research activities:

  • Performance Task A in Collection 2 asks students to present an argument. Within this task, students must do more research on their topic and use additional print and digital sources to find solid, credible evidence for their argument. Students must also search for facts, quotations, and statistics about the horror genre to support their claim. Finally, students must anticipate arguments against their claim and develop counterclaims to refute them. While the task requires students to apply research skills, instruction to help them do this effectively is missing. No support is provided to help students learn how to evaluate the strength or credibility of information found through their research efforts. Additionally, no support is provided regarding how students should integrate their research findings into their argumentative presentation. No guidance is offered relating to citing sources of information or with regards to the appropriate academic language that would be used to identify sources.

The research skills required of Grade 8 students based on the standards are as follows: gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, use search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. The following is an example of a research task that would not provide the teacher or student enough information to assess, remediate, differentiate, nor re-teach these standards.

  • Collection 1, page 70a: Students begin learning about credible sources. In the “Teach” section there are four bullet points describing how to identify credible sources. In the “Practice and Apply” section students are directed to develop a short checklist to use in order to evaluate sources. There is no criteria, rubric, or platform for the development of this list. There is an icon indicating an “Interactive Lesson”; however, teachers may not have access to these online resources. This is the extent of the instruction for this activity for both teacher and student.

The materials found in Collections Grade 8 edition are not complete enough to teach students all of these skills. Teachers will have to add many support materials, graphic organizers, and additional instruction regarding how to research for required standards. The following are examples of research tasks demonstrating the limitations of support:

  • Performance Task A from Collection 1 requires students to write an informative essay. This task asks students to research and write an informative essay on the best ways for people from other countries to adjust to living in the United States. Students are asked to determine their topic and formulate questions to guide their research. They are asked to use print and digital research to find additional definitions, information and quotations from experts using search engines, government immigration websites, and real life examples, then copy information about the sources used so that they may be given credit in the essay. However, students have not received instruction within this collection to support their ability to meet these requirements. Only one section within the “Extend and Reteach” feature on page 70a addresses credible sources. Since this is not an integral piece taught within other assignments, but rather an extension or reteaching, the “Extend and Reteach” can be regarded as optional or overlooked by the teacher. Additionally, this feature provides no real examples of credible sources. Notably, no instruction has been included for using “keywords” to research, and no “works cited” instruction has been provided. Performance Task A from Collection 1 is a rigorous assignment with minimal support to help students complete it successfully.
  • The Performance Task from Collection 5 asks students to research and write an informative essay. Within this task, students research and write a piece comparing Anne Frank’s experience to others during the Holocaust. Students are asked to formulate questions about Anne Frank’s experience which will guide their research about other people who were in a similar situation. In the research, they are required to locate facts, quotes, or examples which support or contradict what they learned in the reading. Students are directed to use library books and search engines within their research. There is minimal scaffolding to teach students the skills necessary to meet the requirements. No instruction relating to citations or works from cited pages is provided. There is no length requirement for this assignment. The Performance Task from Collection 5 is a complex research and writing task without evidence of the necessary skills taught prior to assigning the Performance Task. Students were expected to research and write an informative essay in a prior collection, but there was no skill building or scaffolding present to validate the expectations put forth in the assignment.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 8 do not meet the expectations that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. There is no evidence of independent reading or explicit instruction of independent reading in this curriculum. Materials do not provide a structured way regarding how students will be involved in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. There are sections titled "independent reading," but these are specific to lessons and not to a broader, integrated plan.

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: Wed Feb 22 00:00:00 UTC 2017

Report Edition: 2017

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Collections Close Reader Teacher's Guide 978-0-5440-8779-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Close Reader Student Edition 978-0-5440-8906-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Performance Assessment Student Edition 978-0-5441-4758-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Performance Assessment Teacher's Guide 978-0-5441-4768-3 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
HMH Collections Student Edition 978-0-5445-6951-5 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017
HMH Collections Teacher's Edition 978-0-5445-6958-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017

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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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