Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
26
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

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.
15/20
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 7, 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 7 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 Pablo Neruda, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Virginia Hamilton, Mary Oliver, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Included non-fiction texts are from well-known sources such as a TV interview with CBS News and a speech by John F. Kennedy.

The anchor texts and supplementary texts include rich language, topics, and stories that are both engaging and of interest to Grade 7 students. Collection One includes the theme of overcoming obstacles regardless of personal fears or limitations. The anchor text from this collection, “Rogue Wave,” weaves informational text throughout the narrative, thereby increasing the complexity and rigor by contrasting complex points of view. Other themes from the collections explore the themes of perceptions and reality, an exploration of nature at work, an examination of the risks and rewards of exploration, a look at life in the 21st Century, and texts that explore the efforts of those who have been guided by a cause.

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

Some representative examples of texts that demonstrate high quality include the following:

  • Collection 1:
    • Short Story, “Rogue Wave,” by Theodore Taylor - Theodore Taylor is the award-winning author of The Cay, which is studied in many schools across the United States.
    • Greek Myth, “The Flight of Icarus,” retold by Sally Benson - This is the retelling of a famous Greek myth.
  • Collection 2:
    • Folk Tale, “The People Could Fly,” retold by Virginia Hamilton - This story is taken from Virginia Hamilton’s award-winning book, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales.
    • Drama, Sorry, Wrong Number, by Lucille Fletcher - This drama is found in the Common Core State Standards for ELA Appendix B: Text Exemplars under 6-8 Text Exemplars.
  • Collection 3:
    • Memoir, “from Mississippi Solo,” by Eddy Harris - This is from the book Mississippi Solo, which chronicles the author’s canoe trip down the length of the Mississippi River. Harris received the Missouri Governor’s Humanities Award for this book in 2004, and it was chosen as the 2003-2004 selection of Missouri ReadMOre, which is the statewide book-reading program.
    • Poems, “Ode to enchanted light,” by Pablo Neruda and “Sleeping in the Forest,” by Mary Oliver: Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, and his name is listed in the Common Core State Standards for ELA Appendix B; Mary Oliver won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.
  • Collection 4:
    • Speech, “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center,” by John F. Kennedy - Kennedy is well-known for his persuasive speeches, and students study the different aspects of an argument while reading this speech.
  • Collection 5:
    • Informational Text, “from Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” by Jeanne E. Arnold - This book, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” was published in 2012, and was written by Jeanne E. Arnold who has a Ph. D. in Anthropology. It is a current text about the effect of television.
  • Collection 6:
    • History Writing, “from Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy,” by Albert Marrin and “from The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire,” by Zachary Kent - Albert Marrin is an award-winning author of juvenile non-fiction. Zachary Kent has written over fifty books for young adults. These pieces discuss a deadly disaster that occurred in New York City in 1911.

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 7. The materials include appropriate distribution of literary and informational texts that are aligned to the suggested balance in the CCSS for Grade 7. There are 31 literary and 29 informational texts distributed throughout the six collections. The wide variety of texts in these collections include folktales, myths, drama, poetry, graphic stories, short stories, and excerpts from novels. Non-fiction is especially diverse and includes news articles, editorials, commentaries, essays, informational texts, media, film, audio clips, speeches and magazine articles.

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

Collection 3, “Nature at Work,” contains nine texts: one informational text and five literary texts are located in The Collections Student Edition; one informational text and two literary texts are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Text:
    • Excerpt from Mississippi Solo, a memoir by Eddy Harris
    • Excerpt from Polar Dream a memoir by Helen Thayer
    • The Tempest soliloquy by William Shakespeare
    • “Allied with Green” a short story by Naomi Shihab Nye
    • “Ode to enchanted light” a poem by Pablo Neruda
    • “Sleeping in the Forest” a poem by Mary Oliver
    • Poetry from Poems About Nature by Leslie Marmon Silko, Victor Hernandez Cruz and Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Informational Text:
    • “Big Rocks’ Balancing Act” expository essay by Douglas Fox
    • The Hidden Southwest: The Arch Hunters” informational text by James Vlahos

Collection 4, “Risk and Exploration,” contains six texts: three informational texts and one literary texts are located in The Collections Student Edition; two informational texts are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Texts:
    • “Your World” a poem by Douglas Johnson
  • Informational Texts:
    • “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” a speech by John F. Kennedy
    • “Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?” an online essay by Joan Vernikos
    • “Why Exploring the Ocean is Mankind’s Next Giant Leap” a commentary by Phillippe Cousteau
    • “Living in the Dark,” a science article by Cheryl Bardoe
    • “Stinging Tentacles Offer Hint of Oceans’ Decline” a science article by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Collection 6, “Guided by a Cause,” contains eleven texts: four informational texts and three literary texts are located in The Collections Student Edition; three informational texts and one literary text are located in the Close Reader.

  • Literary Texts:
    • Excerpt from Uprising a historical novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix
    • “Doris is Coming” a short story by ZZ Packer
    • “A Poem for my Librarian, Mrs. Long” a poem by Nikki Giovanni
    • “Train Time” a short story by D’Arcy McNickle
  • Informational Texts:
    • Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy a history writing by Albert Marrin
    • “The Story of the Triangle Fire,” a history writing by Zachary Kent
    • “The Most Daring of our Leaders” a history writing by Lynne Olsen
    • “Speech from the Democratic National Convention” a speech by John Lewis
    • “Craig Kielburger Reflects on Working Toward Peace” a personal essay by Craig Kielburger
    • “Difference Maker: John Bergmann and Popcorn Park” an online article by David Karas
    • “It Takes a Child” a documentary directed by Judy Jackson

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.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

This instructional materials for Grade 7 partially 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 majority of texts are at a high level according to quantitative measures, but qualitatively the texts fall into different areas.

Many of the literature texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade. Of the thirteen texts that have a quantitative analysis, nine are outside the quantitative span for this grade level. Two of the texts are above the grade span and seven are below. Only four falls within the appropriate level.

Many of the informational texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade. Of the twenty-four texts, 14 are outside: eleven of the texts are above the grade span and three are below. Only ten falls within the grade span.

Some examples representative of the program include the following:

  • “The People Could Fly” from Collection 2 is rated as a 430 Lexile and is far below the readability for this grade level. The qualitative analysis evaluates the text as moderately high only in language conventionality and clarity due to the use of fragments in dialogue. The structure is indicated as the lowest in complexity with Levels of Meaning and Knowledge Demands as rated at two of the four point scale. The task requires students to explain how one of the identified elements of a folktale is shown in this piece through paragraph writing, a completion of a graphic organizer to summarize the story and a performance task in which students dramatically read in a small group. These tasks do not require a high level of thought for a text of low readability and complexity.
  • “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” an informational anchor text from Collection 5 has a 1640 Lexile. Graphics in this text are complex, sophisticated, and may be unhelpful for the students. The qualitative analysis of this text indicates it to be of the highest complexity in structure and knowledge demands. The task for this text requires students to research a topic related to consumerism and write an informative essay. This text, topic, and task are inappropriate for students at Grade 7 due to the level of complexity.
  • “Train Time” a short story in Collection 6 is also below the quantitative grade band at 670. Its qualitative analysis rank Structure scoring at three out of four points due to flashbacks and flash forwards. The other three elements, Levels of Meaning, Language and Knowledge Demands ranked two out of four. The performance task for this reading is to write two to three paragraphs describing the character in the story. Included late in the collection, the text and task lack rigor for the end of the year expectations.



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.)
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations for indicator 1d. The materials partially support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. This collection lacks clarity regarding the progression of rigor in Grade 7 instructional materials. Generally, texts are scaffolded by pairing difficult texts with similar themes, or a higher text with a lower text that share topics or a theme. However, several times during this grade level, lower texts are partnered with lower texts or more difficult texts are paired with complicated performance tasks which could leave the students frustrated and may render the texts inaccessible for struggling students. Below are the quantitative measures for texts within this collection:

Collection 1: 900 - 1250

  • Anchor Text, “Rogue Wave” Lexile: 980
  • Anchor Text, “The Flight of Icarus” Lexile: 1110

Collection 2: 430 - 1340

  • Anchor Text, “The People Could Fly” Lexile: 430
  • Anchor Text, Sorry Wrong Number, Drama

Collection 3: 830 - 1070

  • Anchor Text, Mississippi Solo Lexile: 830
  • Anchor Text, “Ode to Enchanted Light” and “Sleeping in the Forest,” poetry

Collection 4: 1130 - 1380

  • Anchor Text, “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” Lexile: 1380

Collection 5: 860 - 1640

  • Anchor Text, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century Lexile: 1640

Collection 6: 670 - 1190

  • Anchor Text, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy Lexile: 900 and The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire Lexile: 1110
  • Anchor Text, “Craig Kielburger Reflects on Working Toward Peace” Lexile: 1080

The quantitative measures in the aforementioned examples indicate random spikes in complexity in Collections 2, 4, and 5, and then a decline in Collection 6.

Collection 1 begins with the anchor text “Rogue Wave,” a short story with a Lexile level of 980 which would be appropriate for the beginning of the year. The second anchor, a Greek myth “The Flight of Icarus” jumps to a Lexile level of 1140 which would place it at the high end of the grade span.

Collection 2 contains the lowest quantitative analyzed text, “The People Could Fly,” a folktale with a Lexile level of 430. After reading this text, students perform a dramatic reading in a small group. The task and text seem inappropriate for this grade level or would have been better placed as the first collection of the year.

Collection 3 contains the memoir Mississippi Solo that has a quantitative level of 830. That places this below the grade span. Additionally, the qualitative analysis provided in the teacher’s edition only ranks it as a two out of four in “Language and Structure.” Both levels of meaning/purpose and knowledge demands are given the lowest score for qualitative complexity. The task requires the students to write a two to four paragraph essay listing examples of how the author uses similes and personification. The text and task seem inappropriate for a collection placed at the middle of the year.

Collection 5 consists of an informational anchor text, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” two informational essays, an additional informational text, two short stories, and two poems. The first text, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” jumps in Lexile level to a ranking of 1640 well above the grade span level. Usually, graphics have a scaffolding effect, but the graphics in this text are complex and sophisticated.

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 7 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. The rationale does not explain the placement in the grade level or within the collection, but it does provide some explanation for the text’s inclusion. For example, in Collection 3, “Allied With Green” explains how the short story exposes students to a story mainly driven by language and imagery rather than plot.

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 5, “The Triangle Factory Fire” Text X-Ray provides some suggestions for Reader/Task Consideration. This feature asks the instructor to consider if students would struggle with the graphic descriptions of this reading and if they could tolerate the gruesome ending of this book. If a teacher were concerned, the instructions offer an alternative way to deal with this concern.

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 7 partially meet the criteria for anchor text(s), including support materials, 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, poetry, news articles, editorials, essay, myths, informational text
  • Collection 3 - memoir, soliloquy, expository essay, informational texts, short stories, poetry
  • Collection 6 - history writing, excerpt from historical novel, personal essay, documentary, poetry, short stories, speech, online article.

While this grade level does offer a diversity of texts, no full length works are included. For example, Mississippi Solo and Polar Dream in Collection 3 are both excerpts from full memoirs, and the historical writings found in Collection 6 are both excerpts from full-piece texts.

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.

Over the span of a year for 7th grade, the student has only three explicitly stated opportunities for oral reading, and explicit instruction for silent/independent reading is minimal. Rather, there are general opportunities for silent reading that the teacher and student may infer. Following are some examples of the oral reading opportunities:

  • Collection 1: After reading “Icarus’s Flight,” the “When Students Struggle” section of the Teacher’s Edition states: “Explain to students that reading a poem aloud often helps reveal the rhythm. Have students work in small groups to take turns reading the poem aloud to each other” (HMH 7th Grade, Collection 1, 40).
  • Collection 2: After reading “The People Could Fly,” there is a dramatic reading performance task: “With a small group, do a dramatic reading of ‘The People Could Fly,’ using the text of the folktale as a script” (HMH 7th Grade, Collection 2, 69).
  • Collection 3: After reading “from The Tempest,” there is a dramatic reading performance task: “Divide the lines of this soliloquy among the members of a small group so that each participant has several lines that express one idea or related ideas. Then, as a group deliver your version of the soliloquy to the class” (HMH 7th Grade, Collection 3, 148). No additional instruction is provided.
  • Collections 4, 5, and 6: provide no instructed opportunities for students to practice reading aloud.

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 student choice is very limited. Following are some examples of suggestions from this feature:

  • Collection 1 suggests students read “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” or “Icarus and Daedalus.” The program prompts the teacher to ask the students about the respective themes of these two readings and look for similarities and differences of the development of theme. No guidance or monitoring support is offered and students do not independently choose their own reason for reading these selections.
  • The feature Novelwise suggests that students can use this source to read longer pieces of work and provides tips on finding a book, ideas for before reading, while reading, and after reading. No system for monitoring students’ progress is provided.

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 7 include many 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 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 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. Implementation support for speaking and listening is minimal. 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 7 meet the expectations for indicator 1g that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, 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). The Teacher’s Edition includes text-dependent questions in the margin for the teacher to use with the students. Literature selections ask student text-dependent questions about story elements: plot, character, setting, and conflict motivations. In addition, questions ask 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. Texts within the Close Reader include text-dependent questions in the student version and conclude with a short response writing activity that asks students to write a short response in reaction to the reading using textual evidence. Examples representing the use of text dependent questions and activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • In Collection 1, Rogue Wave:
    • Reread lines 63-67 and use textual evidence to support an inference about Sully’s abilities as a sailor. p. 5
  • In Collection 4, Is Space Worth the Cost?:
    • Ask students to cite text evidence that shows how Vernikos appeals to the reader’s patriotism.

A feature called “Make Inferences” at the end of the reading asks students to practice the skill of inference using textual evidence. Below are some examples of the types of questions that appear in this feature:

  • Collection 1, Rogue Wave asks students to practice making inferences from using textual evidence to support their inference.
  • Collection 1, Was Abby too Young to Sail? Asks students to analyze the media they watched using evidence from the film clip to support the overall impression of the Sunderland family during the interview.

While the series does include text-specific questions, tasks, and assignments, the teacher materials provide minimal support for planning and implementation of students’ interaction with these activities. For example, text-dependent questions embedded in the Teacher’s Edition margins offer little support for how to have students respond to questions. The prompt is generally the same: Have students reread specific lines and answer the text-dependent question. Little instruction is provided regarding how students should interact with each other and no protocols for partner talk or small group discussion are offered. Therefore, these prompts might not stimulate any discussion between students. Teachers may ask the question and call upon students to reply. At the end of each reading, two Collaborative Discussion prompts are included in the student version and Teacher’s Edition. The prompts require textual evidence to support an opinion; however, no support is provided regarding how to implement and monitor students’ use of evidence during this discussion.

The Close Reader asks students to write after the reading selection and then engage in a feature called “Dig Deeper.” Students return to one of the previous questions and discuss. Based on this discussion, they can return and revise short response answer. The structure of this feature appears as an add-on, so the teacher may choose not to do this activity and support for teacher monitoring is minimal.

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 reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria of providing 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). 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 diverse means of delivery. These performance tasks are centered on the topic that students have been reading about in each collection and require students to use knowledge or information they gained through interacting with these texts. 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 do not necessarily lead to the culminating performance task of a writing project.

Throughout Grade 7, the students will complete the following performance tasks:

  • Write a fictional narrative
  • Write and present arguments
  • Present a summary
  • Write a personal narrative
  • Write a poetry analysis
  • Create a multimedia presentation
  • Write an informative essay
  • Participate in a panel 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 a fictional narrative in which characters take bold action in challenging circumstances. Text-dependent questions in this unit contribute to the students’ ability to write a narrative; they read narratives and were guided by questions to consider story elements. Students also examined stories in which characters took risks with different results. Below is an example of a supporting question:
    • Rogue Wave: Have students reread lines 200-211 and identify details that create obstacles for Scoot (p. 9).

Collection 3

  • Performance Task A asks students to write a personal narrative about their own interactions with nature. Text-dependent questions that accompany the memoir Mississippi Solo ask students questions to assist in identifying particular episodes as memorable to the author. Additional questions analyze the tone, style, and word choices utilized in the text. The task at the end of the reading asks students to write an analysis that evaluates how the author’s use of figurative language contributes to his feelings about his interaction with nature. “Polar Dream,” the close reading selection from this collection is a memoir. The “Why this Text” feature explains the techniques used to help the reader understand the emotions of the writer.

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 7 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 guided regarding how to strategically group students nor how to identify struggling students. Each collaborative discussion opportunity concludes with students sharing 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 as to 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 teachers guidelines on how to monitor these questions to ensure students’ understanding.

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.

The Student Resources section at the end of each collection contains a “Participating in a Collaborative Discussion” (pp. R12-13). These two pages provide a general description of how students might participate in a collaborative conversation and an annotated script of a grade level example. The information regarding participation is the same for every grade level; however, scripts of conversations use grade-level texts citations. The outline for participating in a discussion include the following:

  • Prepare for Discussion
    • Reminds students to annotate or create notes using evidence
    • No specific guidance or support for annotations or note taking is provided
  • Set Ground Rules
    • Uses four guiding questions to help a group set ground rules; however, no teacher monitoring or support is offered
  • Move the Discussion Forward
    • Provides a script of a conversation during which this skill occurs
      • Shows how the group draws out a quiet member, relates discussion to larger areas, challenges a group member’s discussion, elaborates on ideas, paraphrases and challenges for more evidence
    • No academic language or syntax supports are provided
  • Respond to Ideas
    • Provides a script of a conversation during which this skill occurs
      • Shows how the group summarizes points of agreement, how a group member maintains his/her position, qualify views based on heard discussion, supports positions by making connections
    • No academic language or syntax supports are provided

While the Grade 7 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 7 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.

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 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 “Why Exploring the Ocean is Mankind’s Next Giant Leap,” asks students to participate in an informal debate that considers the merits of further exploration of the deep-sea region. Students are to divide their group into two teams to informally debate that issue. Directions for this activity ask students from each side to take turns presenting and supporting valid claims and addressing opposing ideas. The instructions also ask the group to decide the rules they want to follow such as having a moderator and possible time limits for speakers. Teacher instructions guide students to reliable sources about the Mariana Trench. This activity supplies no guidance for grouping students, the structure of the debate, academic language supports, or ways to determine the validity of research resources.
  • In Collection 1, Performance Task B requires students to present an argument. Students consider texts presented in this collection and take a stance about the value or risk of taking bold actions. In their presentation, the students are encouraged to state their claim, include evidence from texts, use good eye contact, volume, and pronunciation, include visuals, and restate the claim. No support is provided how to use a visual effectively. Multimedia slides are suggested, but no models are offered.
  • In Collection 2, Performance Task B asks students to give a summary presentation from Sorry, Wrong Number. This presentation requires students to interest the listener by using effective verbal and nonverbal techniques. A chart is offered on verbal and nonverbal techniques, but no instruction on where and how to use these are included. Guidance for the teacher to monitor student progress on presentation skills is absent. As a culminating task, this activity focuses on the summary of one text from the collection instead of requiring a student to synthesize learning attained throughout the collection.
  • In Collection 3, the Performance Task following “Big Rocks Balancing Act” asks students to present a summary after they research a concept or term from this reading using two sources. Students are reminded to find credible sources; however, no criteria are offered to help them discern the credibility of a source. While brief guidelines are offered for creating the summary, minimal guidance is provided in the Teacher’s Edition regarding how students are to present the summary. The instructions state, “Do not simply read the summary aloud; practice delivering your summary in a room by yourself…." No rubric is provided for the teacher to assess or students to self-assess (p. 166).

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 7 partially meet the expectations for indicator 1k. Materials do include a mix of short and longer writing tasks and projects within the Student Edition. After many of the reading selections in a collection, students are presented with writing tasks. At the end of each collection are culminating performance tasks and many of these require writing. Below are examples of the types of writings students will encounter:

After reading texts within collections the following types of writing are assigned; however, there is little guidance and no rubrics are provided:

  • Informational report
  • Narratives
  • Create a comic
  • Character analyses
  • Literary analyses
  • Arguments
  • Poems
  • Research report
  • Informational essay

Performance Tasks at the end of each Collection require the writing types below; these tasks contain two to three pages of guidance and rubrics are provided:

  • Fictional and personal narrative
  • Argument
  • Summary
  • Poetry analysis
  • Informational essay

Despite having a wide mix of short and longer writing tasks and projects, the Collections do not include any on-demand writing tasks.

Writings also have limited opportunities for multiple draft development. The performance tasks include the following routine: Plan, Produce, Revise, and Present. However, the performance task routine does not result in multiple drafts. For example, in Performance Task A of Collection 3, students write a draft of a personal narrative in the “Produce” stage. In the “Revise” stage, writers work with a partner to determine if they have described their experience clearly and have used vivid details; in the “Present” stage, students create a finished copy resulting in two writes but not multiple.

Evidence of support for digital resources is also limited. For example, the performance task at the end of Collection 4 asks students to “Select multimedia resources to create charts, graphs, or pictures that clarify and strengthen your claims.” However, no digital resources are provided.


A consumable Performance Assessment booklet breaks down the writing process for three writing tasks: Argumentative Essay, Informative Essay, and Literary Analysis. There is a full unit of instruction including support for close reading, extraction of information, pacing, and revision. Student understanding is scaffolded through the use of rubrics, graphic organizers, and speaking and listening activities during which students discuss specific components of the writing task at hand. Materials include practice and instruction for pacing and self-revision. At the end of this booklet, there is an on-demand writing assignment. However, the readings in the Performance Assessment booklet are not connected to the readings and topics of the Collections. The readings are stand alone texts and writing assignments. Teachers are not advised in the Teacher’s Edition how or when to use these readings and writing projects. In addition, it is unclear if these consumables would be provided each year; therefore, students would have no exposure to on-demand writing assignments.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the criteria for indicator 1l. 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:

  • Informational report
  • Narrative
  • Comic
  • Character analyses
  • Literary analyses
  • Arguments
  • Poetry
  • Research report
  • Informational essay
  • Narratives

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

  • Narratives
  • Argument
  • Summary
  • Poetry analysis
  • Informational essay

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. The tasks often ask students to review each other’s work, but no formal system is in place to monitor growth and progress. Culminating Performance Tasks offer 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.


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. This resource offers an opportunity to write an on-demand informational text, narrative text, and argumentative text. However, it is unclear if this consumable would be accessible to all students. Furthermore, these texts are not aligned to the Collections in the Teacher and Student textbook and instruction for the teacher on how to incorporate this resource is not mentioned in the Teacher’s Edition text.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 is required and evident within shorter writing assignments within 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 an argument debating the validity of the phrase “seeing is believing.” Students are required to draw from the text “The People Could Fly” as well as other texts in the collection. The task requires students to form a claim and gather information and evidence to support their reasons.
  • Collection 3: students write a multi-paragraph argument after reading the short story, “Allied with Green.” Students must analyze the points Lucy makes in favor of green and argue in support or opposition of her position. They must introduce their opinion and support it using reasons and examples. They must also acknowledge a counterclaim and refute it.
  • Collection 6: students write an informative essay about a topic or person related to the Triangle Factory Fire. This writing requires students to state their topic in a strong thesis statement organize ideas and concepts logically and support the ideas with evidence from credible sources.

The Performance Tasks below demonstrate building expectations for students’ writing over the course of the year:

Collection 2 asks the students to do the following when writing an argument:

  • Contains an engaging introduction that clearly states the claim, or opinion
  • Supports the opinion with logical reasoning and relevant evidence
  • Presents and refutes opposing claims or viewpoint
  • Uses language that effectively conveys ideas and adds interest
  • Concludes with a restatement of the claim

Performance Task A in Collection 6 asks the students to do the following when writing an informative essay:

  • Clearly states the topic in a strong thesis statement
  • Organizes ideas and concepts logically
  • Supports central ideas with details from credible sources
  • Uses appropriate transitions to link ideas
  • Establishes and maintains a formal style
  • Provides a conclusion that follows from and supports the information presented

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.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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. The grade level does not clearly appear to build in complexity as it progresses through the year.

Conventions and grammar are taught after the readings in a feature called Language Conventions. The text is referenced and samples from the text that was read are included. However, the opportunity for practice often times seem brief. These activities do not incorporate grammar and conventions often enough to fully meet the criteria of the indicator. Below are examples that illustrate the brevity of practice:

  • “Another Place and Time,” Collection 2, students are asked to identify and correct misspellings in 5 sentences by rewriting the sentences.
  • “Earth (A Gift Shop),” Collection 5, students are asked to correct spelling errors which occur in four sentences by rewriting them.
  • “The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire,” Collection 6, students are asked to identify when to use capital letters in five different sentences.

Grammar and 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. The grammar/spelling activities do appear in context with the literature they follow.

In addition, instruction within language conventions is also abstract. The following is part of the instruction on adverb clauses:

  • “An adverb clause is a subordinate clause that completes the same task as an adverb: it modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. It answers the question When? Where/How? Or To what extent?” No explanation or examples are provided to demonstrate how clauses modify a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. In the Practice and Apply feature, students look at four questions and identify if the clauses modify the verb, adjective, or adverb. No modeling or examples are provided to support student success with this task.

A steady progression of complexity seems unclear. Below are the targeted conventions and grammar within the collections that indicate this:

  • Collection 1: sentence structure/complete sentence, commas and coordinate adjectives, subordinating clauses
  • Collection 2: adverb clauses, spell correctly
  • Collection 3: precise language, sentence structure/compound sentence, prepositional phrases
  • Collection 4: capitalization/proper nouns, adjective clauses, verbal phrases
  • Collection 5: eliminate redundancy, noun clauses, spelling
  • Collection 6: capitalization/general rules, phrases, dangling modifiers, combining sentences with phrases, misplaced modifiers


Homophones are included in Grade 6 materials and appear again in Grade 7, Collection 5. A review of homophones would seem more logical in Collection 1 at the beginning of the year. Collection 6 also includes capitalization of geographical names such as cities, continents, regions, streets, and roads. At this point of the year, this should be a review.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 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 opportunities 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. The overall year-long plans and structures for writing and for research instruction are partially present, with inconsistent supports. The writing instruction does have key components, but 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.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meets the expectations of indicator 1a. 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. The texts within the collections are organized around an appropriate topic(s) and/or themes. Below are examples of how texts are organized around topics and themes:

Collection 1: Bold Actions

  • The texts in this connection are grouped around themes of overcoming obstacles regardless of personal fears or limitations. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • “Rogue Wave” - anchor text
    • “Big Things Come in Small Packages”
    • “Parents of Rescued Teenage Sailor Abby Sunderland Accused of Risking Her Life”
    • “Ship of Fools”
    • “Finding Your Everest
    • “The Flight of Icarus” - anchor text
    • “Arachne”
    • “Icarus’s Flight”
    • “Women in Aviation”

Collection 2: Perception and Reality

  • The texts in this collection are aligned with a focus on perceptions, points of view, and reality. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • “The People Could Fly” - anchor
    • “Heartbeat”
    • “The Song of Wandering Aengus”
    • “Sonnet 43”
    • “Magic and the Brain”
    • “Saving the Lost”
    • “Pavement Chalk Art”
    • “Another Place, Another Time”
    • Sorry, Wrong Number - anchor text
    • A Christmas Carol - excerpt
    • A Christmas Carol - drama
    • A Christmas Carol - graphic story

Collection 3: Nature at Work

  • The themes explored in this collection center around nature and how it affects and shapes our lives. This collection also offers many cultural perspectives. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • Mississippi Solo - excerpt, anchor text
    • Polar Dream - excerpt
    • Soliloquy from The Tempest
    • “Allied with Green”
    • “Big Rock’s Balancing Act”
    • “The Hidden Southwest”
    • “Ode to enchanted light” - anchor
    • “Sleeping in the Forest” - anchor
    • “Problems with Hurricanes”
    • “Prayer to the Pacific”
    • “Tornado at Talladega”

Collection 4: Risk and Exploration

  • The theme of this collection is centered around the risks and rewards of exploration. The balance of the text types leans primarily on science-oriented texts. The only literary piece in this collection is a poem. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” - anchor
    • “Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?”
    • “Why Exploring the Ocean is Mankind’s Next Giant Leap”
    • Living in the Dark - excerpt
    • “Stinging Tentacles Offer Hint of Oceans’ Decline” - anchor
    • “Your World”

Collection 5: The Stuff of Consumer Culture

  • Texts in this collection explore consumer culture and an exploration of factors that motivate us to buy things. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century - anchor, excerpt
    • “Teenagers and New Technology”
    • “Always Wanting That”
    • “Labels and Illusions”
    • “Dump”
    • “How Things Work”
    • “Earth (A Gift Shop)”
    • “He-y, Come On Ou-t!”

Collection 6: Guided by a Cause

  • The texts in this collection explore events that inspire people to take up a cause and the results of their efforts. While the texts can be quite engaging, several texts address severe circumstance and tragedy. They may be upsetting for some Grade 7 students to read. The following texts are included in this collection:
    • Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy - excerpt, anchor
    • “The Most Daring of [Our] Leaders”
    • Speech from the Democratic National Convention
    • Uprising - excerpt
    • “Doris is Coming”
    • “Craig Kielburger Reflects on Working Toward Peace” - anchor
    • “Difference Maker: John Bergmann and Popcorn Park”
    • “A Poem for my Librarian, Mrs. Long”
    • “Train Time”

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.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that 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. Materials contain sets of questions and tasks, and they 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 are inconsistent and do not grow students' skills toward independence. There are few supports for teachers to identify and account for students' abilities in analyzing these elements.

Knowledge, ideas, and skills showed a coherent sequence of building. The example below from the “Zoom In On” feature from the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures” demonstrates a noticeable increase in rigor from Collection 1 to Collection 6:

Collection 1

  • Making Inferences, page 3B (students make inferences from details)
  • Analyzing Setting and Plot, page 3B Conflict (students create a T-chart to track plot events)
  • Using Context Clues, page 3C
  • Visualizing Setting, page 3C (students describe the setting they see in their mind)
  • Supporting Comprehension, page 3C (scaffolding for unusual nautical terms in text)

Collection 6

  • Comparing Perspectives, page 264C (based on textual evidence, students determine perspectives from multiple authors on a similar theme)
  • Determining Central Idea and Details, page 264C (collaborative student activity and discussion)
  • Analyzing Language: Subjective vs. Objective viewpoint, page 265C (cite textual evidence)
  • Building Understanding of Context, page 265C (students discuss implications of specific events within the context of a theme or story)

The following are examples of questions and tasks that help students analyze key ideas and details:

  • Collection 1: “Rogue Wave” Ask students to reread lines 175-185 and identify details that support an inference about how Scoot might deal with the situation she is in (page 8).
  • Collection 4: “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” Ask students to reread lines 31-42 and cite the lines in which Kennedy states his claim. Ask students to restate that claim in their own words.

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 look at the structure of the poem and analyze how it contributes to the poem’s meaning (p. 59). Within the text “Teenagers and New Technology,” students are asked to identify similarities in the first three paragraphs of the text (p. 78). Students are also asked to explain how the cause and effect organization of the article is used to connect ideas (p. 81).
  • Collection 1: “Rogue Wave” Reread lines 339-354 to identify details that are increasing the suspense and have the students explain how these details create tension and excitement for the reader (p. 13).
  • Collection 2: “The People Could Fly” Have students find dialect in lines 64-70 and explain it’s effect.
  • Collection 2: “The Song of the Wandering Aengus” Have students reread lines 1-16 aloud. Ask students to find examples of rhyme and explain its effect on the poem.
  • Collection 4: “Allied with Green” reread lines 69-71 and identify the figurative expression. Ask what comparison it makes and how this supports the theme.

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

  • 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 4, p. 194, sustain: Ask students how the author feels about sustainable forms of energy.
  • 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 addressed skill or focus. The following are the types of questions that are posed after the reading of “Big Rocks’ Balancing Act” from Collection 3:
    • Recognize and analyze
    • Summarize
    • Cite Evidence
    • Analyze
    • Draw Conclusions
  • Smaller performance tasks following each reading within collections provide opportunities to integrate knowledge and ideas from the texts they are reading. The following is an example from Collection 5 at this grade level:
  • Informative Essay
  • Discussion
  • Literary analysis
  • Narrative

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.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially 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 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. 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. However, not all of the activities students have participated in throughout the collection may support students’ effort to apply the knowledge they may have gained through their reading. Additionally, instructional directions for teachers to support students' success is lacking. Furthermore, the materials do not supply supports for students to self-assess their own knowledge as they work through the collections.

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 is an example that reflects an integration of knowledge and ideas:

  • Collection 4 Performance Task asks students to present an argument using Kennedy’s speech from this collection and other texts to create a speech about the need for greater exploration despite the risks. Students are required to use the knowledge gained from the readings within this collection.

However, not all tasks required students to integrate such knowledge. Below is an example that students could create without using information learned by reading texts within the collection:

  • Collection 3 “Nature at work”
    • Performance Task A requires students to write a personal narrative about their own interactions with nature. This task does not require students to use any of the knowledge that they may have gained from reading the texts in this collection.
    • Performance Task B requires students to write a poetry analysis of “Ode to enchanted light” and “Sleeping in the Forest” in which they compare and contrast each poet’s style. While these poems are tied thematically to the focus of the collection, other texts that were rich in knowledge about the power, beauty, and mystery of nature were not included. This task seems limited for the development of knowledge and ideas with only the inclusion of these two brief poems.

The program lacks the consistent support that allows students to build developing knowledge. It also lacks support for students and teachers. There are no student models, rubrics, or checklists included within the smaller performance tasks after each reading. This would make it difficult for both teachers and students to recognize growth or evidence of insufficient or incorrect knowledge. In addition, some of the required tasks are quite challenging and the lack of support may make it difficult for students to successfully complete these activities. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • After reading “Big Rocks’ Balancing Act” from Collection 4, students are required to give a summary presentation. For this presentation, students choose a geologic concept from the reading, research it, and present their findings. Topics include such things as earthquake tremors, accelerator mass spectrometry, erosion, Ice Age, or geology itself. An example is given “How many ice ages have taken place on Earth?” Challenging and abstract concepts are presented, yet the materials provide little support as to how students find credible and accessible resources on this topic. The summary presentation task would require further instructional support.
  • After reading “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” from Collection 5, students are asked to research a recent or planned space mission for medical research. No resources for this research are suggested. The task also does not require evidence from any of the sources students may find. This task needs more support.
  • After reading “Why Exploring the Ocean is Mankind’s Next Giant Leap” from Collection 5, students are asked to debate the worthiness of further exploration the Mariana Trench. They are also asked to research exploration of the Mariana Trench with no suggested resources and minimal support to complete this activity.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations that 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). 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, 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 also 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.

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

In Collection 1, Performance Task A requires students to write a fictional narrative that includes elements such as characters, setting, plot, conflict, dialogue, pacing, descriptive details, transitions, and a conclusion with a clear theme or message. The Teacher Edition asks the teacher to remind students to create realistic characters that face internal and external conflicts. During the anchor text “Rogue Wave,” teachers are asked to explain external conflict and the materials include text dependent questions that ask students to identify external and internal conflicts within this story.

In Collection 4, the one culminating performance task requires students to present an argument that argues whether major exploration is worth the risk. Students create an engaging introduction with a claim, support key points with reasoning and relevant evidence from a variety of credible sources, use language that effectively conveys ideas and adds interest, and concludes by forcefully summing up the claim. Within this collection, students read a speech by John F. Kennedy and have a collaborative discussion to identify specific language and techniques that Kennedy utilizes to enhance his speech. Students also explore the use of sound reasoning when they read “Why Exploring the Ocean is Mankind’s Next Giant Leap” within this collection.

Examples representative of the need for more support in this area include (but are not limited to) the following:

In Collection 2, Performance Task A requires students to write an argument agreeing or disagreeing with the phrase “seeing is believing” using a counterargument that addresses an opposing claim. While this task asks students to use evidence from texts such as “The People Could Fly,” tasks or text dependent questions do not ask students to contemplate this phrase nor write a counterargument. Another example of a misalignment occurs after the text “Magic and the Brain” when students perform a magic trick. This task could be loosely tied to the theme but does not support the skill of writing an argument.

Teacher supports for tracking student progress are not provided in the Teacher’s Edition. While the questions are pertinent, cogent, and rigorous, the teacher would need to develop a system of data collection to effectively and authentically track student performance and understanding.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 very beginning of each 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 5, the targeted terms are “attitude,” “consume,” “goal,” “purchase,” and “technology.” The Performance Task asks students to create a multimedia presentation that requires students to research a topic related to consumerism and then present their topic. In the margin of the assignment is a reminder for students to be sure to use these words as they plan and create their multimedia presentation. 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 Performance Task Rubric does not evaluate for the use of these academic vocabulary terms (pp 259-262).

In addition to each collection’s five targeted words, the series highlights 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 are provided in the teacher’s edition. Below is a sample of the glossed definition, the extended definition and prompt for the text “Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center” from Collection 4 that targets the critical vocabulary word “metabolism”:

  • Glossed: “The metabolism of a living thing is all the processes that allow for growth and life.”
  • Teacher Definition and Prompt: “Kennedy believes that medical space research will teach us about ‘changes in metabolism’ that happen during space travel. Ask students What system of an astronaut’s metabolism does Kennedy imply might be affected by space exploration?” (p. 186)

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 the each question. An example for students to demonstrate their understanding of metabolism is provided:

  • If a person’s metabolism were not functioning properly, what symptom might be present?
    • Toned muscles
    • Labored breathing
    • Tanned skin
    • Shiny hair

This is an ambitious request as students have only had one exposure and opportunity to consider the meaning of “metabolism.” While they may select the correct response, the word “metabolism” refers to a complex system, and it is likely that students have not obtained a solid understanding of this word. Terms such as these are challenging 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 also include critical vocabulary and a place for students to write the meaning; however, it is nebulous how they are to determine the meaning. An example from a history writing, “The Most Daring of Our Leaders” from Collection 4 is included:

  • The teacher notes ask the students to suggest synonyms of the noun “milieu” as it is used here: Having been raised in a milieu that downplayed her blackness, she now found herself part of a group “suddenly proud to be called ‘black’.”

It is unclear how students will do this if they don’t know the word “milieu.” The context is minimal, and the word is abstract.

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.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials for Grade 7 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, and student mastery tracking to support instruction, differentiation, or student self-monitoring.

The Grade 7 Performance Assessment booklet does provide a breakdown of the writing process for three writing tasks: Argumentative Essay, Informative Essay, and Literary Analysis. It 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 provided regarding how to utilize this resource, nor is it clear that this booklet comes with the textbook. Assurance that this would be provided and available for teachers year after year would need to be confirmed.

The materials for Grade 7 do include opportunities for students to write in all modes required by the CCSS writing standards for the grade (argumentative, narrative, and informative). The following are examples of performance task writing assignments included at this grade level:

  • Collection 1: Fictional narrative
  • Collection 2: Write an Argument
  • Collection 3: Write a Poetry Analysis
  • Collection 6: Write an Informative Essay

The materials also require students to 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. The following is an example of a writing task that demonstrates the insufficiency of support:

  • The narrative performance task in Collection 1 requires students to use transitions to convey sequence; however, this skill is not addressed in any of the instruction within the collection.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 they utilize, 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. For example, students are asked in Collection 1, Performance Task B to “Do Research” and search for solid, credible evidence for both sides of the argument. However, no guidance for criteria that makes evidence credible is provided. In Collection 2, “Magic and the Brain” includes a half-page called “Conduct Online Research.” The teacher explains “that finding information on the Internet is easy. The hard part is weeding out the unreliable, useless, or just plain bad information from the reliable, useful, and good information.” This lesson would have been useful to Performance Task B from Collection 1.

The research skills required of Grade 7 students based on the standards are as follows: “Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using 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 standards format for citation.” The material found in Collections Grade 7 edition is not complete enough to teach students all of these skills. Teachers will need to add many support materials/graphic organizers and additional instruction to teach the students how to research for required standards. Below are examples of research tasks that show the limitations of support:

  • In Collection 4 Performance Task: Present an Argument, students are asked to choose a position on major exploration considering the risks involved. In the section titled “Do Further Research,” students are asked to do research for solid, credible evidence to support their claim. Students are directed to search for facts, quotes, and statistics. They are asked to look for sources which support the counterclaim, and then they are asked to develop a counterargument to address an opposing view. This task requires students apply complex skills; however, supports for teachers and students are minimal. The instructions do not offer support as to the types of sources students should search for, nor does it offer any suggestions to help teachers direct students to valid and accessible sources. Additionally, this task does not provide any criterion that would help students discern the strength or the credibility of the information they gather.
  • In Collection 5 Performance Task: Create a Multimedia Presentation, students are asked to independently develop a topic related to the subject of consumerism addressed in prior readings. Then, students create a question and conduct research to answer this question. The focus of research is on using credible sources print or digital, taking notes and identifying multimedia components (i.e., graphics, maps, video, and sound) to help illustrate these points. The anchor text from this collection, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, was far above the band for reading at this grade level and minimal supports exist for either the teacher or student. Teacher directions are not included as to how to support students who may have difficulty creating an effective research question. A short sample is offered, and then teachers are directed to tell the students “Make sure your question is open-ended and cannot be answered in a single-word” (p. 259). No modeling or guided practice opportunities exist. Students are provided no guidance regarding possible ways to research other than to use a search engine for Internet sources, keywords, or subjects when using library resources. Additionally, the task asks students to use graphics, maps or videos, but no guidance is available to help students understand how to include these features effectively. The reading for this performance task was exceptionally complex. Pairing it with an equally challenging task and these minimal supports will not result in the successful attainment of these skills by the students.

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 7 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 plan to determine 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 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 978-0-5440-8903-7 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Close Reader Student Edition 978-0-5440-9076-7 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Performance Assessment Student Edition 978-0-5441-4756-0 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
Collections Performance Assessment Teacher's Guide 978-0-5441-4765-2 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015
HMH Collections Student Edition 978-0-5445-6950-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017
HMH Collections Teacher's Edition 978-0-5445-6957-7 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

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.

X