Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the expectations of alignment. The materials include high-quality texts but the texts are not always appropriate in complexity. Students read the suggested texts independently. Oral and written questions and tasks rarely connect to what students are reading and tasks do not integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language skills.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
13
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
N/A
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

Does Not Meet Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the standards. There are missed opportunities for the use of full texts and a range of genres. Anchor texts, listed as supplemental reading texts within the materials, are not included in the last two units of the materials. At times, texts are not appropriate for use in the grade-level according to text complexity measures. All reading is assigned as independent work and there are no mechanisms for teachers or students to monitor reading progress. Questions and tasks focus on skills, are not text-specific or text-dependent, and do not build to a culminating task. Tasks do not integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language nor do they connect to the texts students read. Students rarely have opportunities to engage in evidence-based discussions about what they are reading and there are few prompts and protocols for teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Speaking and listening opportunities are limited and do not consistently occur over the course of a school year. Although students have opportunities to engage in on-demand and process writing, process writing does not occur during the second semester of coursework. As students analyze and develop claims about the texts and sources they read, writing tasks rarely require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. There are some missed opportunities for grammar and convention instruction, practice, and application.

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.
8/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for text quality and text complexity. Although the majority of the supplemental reading texts are of high quality, there are a number of units that use excerpts of longer pieces and/or include a limited range of genres. While some of the texts meet text complexity requirements, texts that are below the quantitative grade band often do not have associated tasks that are complex enough to warrant the use of the text. Texts do not increase in complexity to support growth of literacy skills. Opportunities and supports for students to engage in a range and volume of reading are not clearly identified nor is there a wide range of genres or complexity in the texts recommended within the materials.

Indicator 1a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

The majority of the texts are high quality, authentic texts written by award winning authors. The materials include a good mix of fiction and nonfiction, and most of the nonfiction texts are history related. The texts are well-crafted, content-rich, and appropriate for students in Grade 6. 

Examples of publishable texts that may interest students include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, students read Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang. The memoir has a 12-year-old main character with whom students may be able to identify. The content is engaging and thought-provoking.
  • In Semester A, Unit 3, students read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dustbowl by Timothy Egan, a National Book Award winner. The historical account follows several families and their communities. The text exposes students to one of the greatest natural disasters that impacted people on the American continent and how humans impact the natural world. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, students read Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman, winner of the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award and the Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award. The text engages students with rich, eye-witness accounts of the struggles African-Americans faced during the Civil Rights Movement. The thought-provoking accounts and iconic photographs are worthy of close reading. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, students read an excerpt from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is an accessible text for students because many have been exposed to the efforts Dr. King made to secure freedom and equal rights for people across the United States. Often read in high school, this text is high-quality and depicts King’s persuasion techniques.
  • In Semester B, Unit 1, students read The Giver by Lois Lowry, a Newbery Medal winner. This fiction, dystopian novel features a 12-year-old main character with whom students can identify, even though the society is unlike U.S. culture. Students will be challenged by the thought-provoking concepts while engaging with ideas of isolation, loss, and suffering.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Over the course of the school year, six of the twelve units have novels or literary nonfiction texts associated with them. During two of the remaining units, students read poetry. The remaining four units do not include full-length texts, but instead include brief excerpts from longer works. Genres represented at Grade 6 are limited. The materials include two fiction novels, two personal narratives, and two literary nonfiction books (both related to history). Students read a persuasive essay, poems, letters, and history/social studies texts. Students do not read dramas, journal articles, fables, myths, science fiction, or opinion articles.

Examples of literary texts include: 

  • Semester A, Unit 1, The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson (personal narrative)
  • Semester A, Unit 2, Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang (personal narrative)
  • Semester B, Unit 1, The Giver by Lois Lowry (novel)
  • Semester B, Unit 2, The Wolves in the Wall by Neil Gaiman (novel)
  • Semester B, Unit 3, “Caged Bird” and “Women’s Work” by Maya Angelou (poetry)
  • Semester B, Unit 4, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (poetry)

Examples of informational texts include:

  • Semester A, Unit 3, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan (literary non-fiction)
  • Semester A, Unit 4, Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman (literary non-fiction)
  • Semester A, Unit 5, “Albert Einstein’s Letter” by Albert Einstein (letter)
  • Semester A, Unit 6, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (letter)

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

Some of the supplemental reading texts fall into the 6-8 grade level band (955L-1155L) in terms of quantitative measures and are within the appropriate rigor range in terms of qualitative measures. Some of the below grade-level texts located in the first part of Semester A are appropriate to use in Grade 6. While the structure of the novels is straightforward and in chronological order, the qualitative features of many texts include references to historical people, places, and events which might cause students some difficulty. Often the associated tasks are not complex enough to warrant the use of texts significantly below the recommended text complexity measure.

Some texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. Some anchor texts are not placed at the appropriate grade level.

Examples include, but are not limited to:  

  • Semester A, Unit 2, Red Scarf Girl 
    • Quantitative Measure: 780L 
    • Qualitative Measures: The memoir is moderately complex in meaning, as it deals with themes such as identity, loyalty, conflicting forces of  authority, conformity, and obedience. While students may be familiar with these types of dilemmas, they will need to read through the historical context lens. The text includes scaffolding to help students understand the significance of the Cultural Revolution in Communist China. The structure is mid-high complexity with narrative shifts between the points of view of several characters in different situations. Students need to follow the different points of view to understand the multiple-levels of emotion one might experience living in a communist country. Language complexity is assisted with a pronunciation guide to the Chinese language and a glossary to help students familiarize themselves with the content. The knowledge demands are mid to high in complexity. While students may be familiar with the main character’s schooling situation since they are about the same age (12), they may not understand Chinese governmental affairs at the time. 
    • Reader and Task: Students complete lessons on topics such as using prewriting strategies, creating outlines, and using varying sentence structure. Before turning in the final narrative, students review various grammar lessons about adding transitions, comma-splices, and varying sentence structure when they review their work; however, the lessons do not ask students to reflect on the text, so there is not a connection between the reader and the final task.
  • Semester A, Unit 4, Freedom Walkers 
    • Quantitative Measure: 1110L
    • Qualitative Measure: This text has a single-level layer of complex meaning. The purpose of this text is for students to understand the Montgomery Bus Boycotts while using primary sources. The structure is low-middle complexity since the narrative has occasional shifts in point of view and order of events. The author uses simple, compound, and complex sentences. Language demands are moderate with a wide range of content-related vocabulary and concepts such as racial segregation, discriminate, boycott, and passive resistance. Knowledge demands require students to understand emotional and physical struggles associated with the Civil Rights Movement.
    • Reader and Task: The assignments while reading the text start in Lesson 1. The first instruction for reading the text is to pay attention to “how the information is organized and presented.” This task could have been assigned with any text, so the relevance of the text is not clear; however, in Lesson 2, all three DOK lessons incorporate information from the text directly, although students do not need to have read the text to accomplish the tasks as excerpts are provided.  
  • Semester B, Unit 1, The Giver 
    • Quantitative Measures: 760L
    • Qualitative Measures: The comprehension demands of this dystopian novel require students to analyze multiple conflicts. The structure is moderately complex since it is chronologically sequenced but includes some time shifts. Language demands are low complexity; however, the author introduces some new vocabulary terms, specifically proper nouns, to describe some aspects of the society. Knowledge demands are moderate with complex themes relating to society and human nature.
    • Reader and Task: Students complete lessons on topics such as analyzing plot development, character development, and author’s purpose. In Lesson 14, students learn about audience, opinion, and making decisions. In the final task, students “Reflect back on The Giver and in your digital notebook write down two opinions you have about the story. Provide at least three pieces of evidence to support your opinion. Does the evidence really support your opinion?”
  • Semester B, Unit 2, The Wolves in the Walls 
    • Quantitative Measure: 500L
    • Qualitative Measures: The Wolves in the Walls is a picture book dealing with philosophical concepts such as knowledge, metaphysics, and ethics. The content, structure, language, and knowledge demands of the text do not warrant three weeks of analysis.
    • Reader and Task: A complex activity is not associated with this text. In this unit, the focus is language and how it is used to convey the writer’s intent. The unit overview states: “The novel, The Wolves in the Walls is a novel that was inspired by a nightmare – there are wolves living in the wall, and if they come out ‘it’s all over’. The idea of wolves living in the walls provides students with the opportunity to study and practice writing using sensory and precise language. Students will also explore the role of dialogue and various literary devices that can be used to advance the plot.” In Lesson 3, students view an excerpt from the text in the DOK Level 3 activity. Of the six questions in the Daily Assignment, only one is connected to the text.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
0/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria that materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

The materials do not provide variety in text complexity to support growth of literacy skills. Students read one text in each of the six units in Semester A and read four texts in the first four units of Semester B. Students do not read any texts in the last two units of the school year. In the units with supplemental independent reading texts, the quantitative rigor decreases over the course of the year, which are below grade-level. The other texts fall within a small range of the Lexile stretch band for Grade 6. Students are rarely asked to analyze texts, but rather read excerpts attached to technology-enhanced questions. 

Texts do not increase in complexity across a school year and a variety of complexity across texts in the school year is not evident.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • At the beginning of the year, the students read The Boy in the Wooden Box with a 1000L. Instructions in the Summary of each lesson for most reading assignments state similar instructions throughout: “You will want to read Chapter 8 of The Boy on the Wooden Box in preparation for the next lesson. Continue to make it a point to pay attention to the words used and the tone that they create.” The only variance in Summary instruction states students should “pay attention to the words used and the tone they create.”   
  • In Semester A, Unit 3, students read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those That Survived the Great American Dust Bowl with an 850L. Instructions in the Summary state similar instructions throughout: “As you read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, pay attention to the fact that although the author is writing a story, it is a true story, which makes it non-fiction writing. Pay attention to the descriptive words used to describe the journey that the characters experience. As you read, take notes on the key points.” No further instructions are provided for context, nor steps to accomplish the objective. 
  • In the middle of the year in Semester A, Unit 5, students read a letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt multiple times. Instructions in the Summary include reading the letter and writing a summary (Lesson 2), identifying the author’s purpose (Lesson 4), and making a claim about the letter (Lesson 6). These skills increase in complexity of student skill development, but are not necessarily reflective of text complexity.  
  • In Semester B, Unit 3, students read and analyze various poems; however, the expectations of complexity of reading are not reflected. CCSS standards are addressed, but the level of independent reading is not affected by the standards presented. Unit 3 is the last reading unit of the year. In Lesson 12: “Why is Personification Used in Poetry,” Summary, student instructions state: “For your assignment, read ‘Woman's Work’ by Maya Angelou again. Look for any examples of personification and write them down.” Students do not analyze personification, point of view, find evidence to support their own claim, and/or make comparisons to other works.

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.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria that 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. 

The publisher did not include a text complexity analysis for the texts used in the materials. No rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level provided is evident.

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.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

The materials do not clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of texts to become independent grade-level readers. The materials do not offer a wide range of genres in the texts, nor do they vary much in complexity. In the six units with texts, a range of the Lexile band is evident but many are below the Grade 6 stretch band. Six of the twelve units have trade books serving as anchor texts, they are referred to as supplemental independent reading texts by the publisher. Students are required to purchase text bundles from an online seller. No provisions are discussed addressing what would happen if students did not purchase or could not afford to purchase texts. 

In the six reading units, the trade books are the only texts students read. All reading is assigned as independent work at the end of each lesson in the Summary. There is no evidence of guided reading, no instruction for close reading, and rarely are students asked to respond to open-ended comprehension questions and support their analysis with text evidence. No mechanisms for teachers and students to monitor progress toward grade level standards or to keep track of reading is evident, though occasionally students are asked to make notes in their digital notebooks. It is noted in the last two units of Semester B, there are no anchor texts, so students are reading less at the end of the year than at the beginning.  

Reading comprehension skills do not build on one another, as they are presented independently of each other and the DOK levels do not always build on the same skill, even within the same lesson. All texts are read as part of the daily curriculum; however, it is not specified whether the students are to read the texts during school or as homework. In addition, no additional self-selected independent reading texts are specified. All students read the same texts throughout the year, which does not provide for individual student text complexity needs.

Instructional materials do not clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of texts to become independent readers at the grade level. The materials also do not clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in a volume of reading as they grow toward reading independence at the grade level.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

In a typical week, students complete five lessons in one unit. In Semester B, Unit 1, students are reading The Giver. Lessons for the first week include: 

  • Lesson 1: “Determining Word Meaning”. Students move through DOK leveled activities: Context Clues, Multiple Meaning Words, and Affixes. Some examples are presented from the text, but students are not assigned to read the text until the Summary where they are assigned to read Chapters 1-4: “As you read the next two chapters, pay close attention to unfamiliar words and use the strategies learned here to help understand them.” No instructions are provided if students annotate or make notes about unfamiliar words they encounter.
  • Lesson 2: “Identifying the Central Idea in Fiction”. Examples and excerpts are used in the DOK leveled activities on the central idea, evidence, and drawing conclusions, but students are not assigned to do any reading until the Summary where they are instructed to read Chapters 5 and 6: “As you continue to read The Giver, make sure to stop from time to time, think about what you know and what you are reading. In your digital notebook, take notes on each chapter, the central ideas, the evidence and conclusions you are able to draw.” In this case, students are asked to make specific notes about the text.
  • Lesson 3: “Describing the Plot”. In the DOK Level 3 activity, “The Most Exciting Part!”, students view important events from The Giver that lead to the climax. In the Summary, student instructions state: “As you read, write down notes in your digital notebook on what events are occurring that create the plot. Label each page by the chapter and list the detailed events.” It is not clear what they will do with these notes as they finish reading Chapters 7 and 8.
  • Lesson 4: “Analyzing Character Change and Development”. Again, examples and excerpts from The Giver are used in the DOK leveled lessons. Student assignments are stated in the Summary: “As you continue to read, write down the different conflicts that Jonas has in each chapter and make a prediction on how he will deal with these conflicts. Reflect back when you are done reading to see if your predictions were correct.”
  • Lesson 5: This lesson includes a Time to Review activity prior to the Unit Exam, which is a cloze activity where students choose words from a word bank to fill in sentences related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. There is a Practice Activity where students complete 12 multiple choice or drag and drop constructed response items related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. Some of the questions use examples from the text. Finally, the Weekly Quiz includes 27 multiple choice or drag and drop constructed response items related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. Reading is not assigned in Lesson 5.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
5/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The majority of the questions and tasks focus on the skill addressed in the lesson and are not grounded in textual evidence. Questions are stand-alone and skill-based in nature and do not build to a culminating task. Tasks are not culminating, as there is no integration of skills nor do the tasks connect to the texts students read. There are missed opportunities for evidence-based discussions on what students are reading and few prompts or protocols for discussions encouraging teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Speaking and listening opportunities within lessons are limited and do not consistently occur over the course of the school year. While the materials include on-demand and process writing opportunities, students do not complete process writing during the second semester of the school year and writing opportunities do not accurately reflect the distribution required by the standards. Although there are some opportunities for students to analyze and develop claims during close reading and work with sources, writing tasks rarely require students to use textual evidence to support their claims. There are some missed opportunities for grammar and convention instruction, practice, and application.

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).
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria 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). 

While there are supplemental independent reading texts associated with each unit or lesson, the core questions and tasks are mostly focused on the skill for the activity rather than questions about the text. Some of the materials provide opportunities for evidence-based reading and writing to build literacy skills, but the majority of questions and tasks in the materials are not text-dependent. Some questions and tasks associated with the supplemental text in the three DOK activities and the Daily Assignment are evident, but these usually include a drag-and-drop or matching activity. Students are not required to create and provide their own answers, nor do they choose evidence from the text to support their answers. Sentences and examples used for independent practice are disconnected from the supplemental text and do not build over the course of the year. Instead, students continue to respond with prepared drop-down or drag-and-drop answers to questions and do not form their own responses.

While the Teacher Portal includes students’ scores on activities, no suggested interventions for struggling students are provided or if students do not answer the questions correctly. For instance, the materials are lacking instruction to assist students in using details from the text in their answer, selecting significant evidence, appropriately paraphrasing, quoting, transitioning between paragraphs, citing sources, or further explaining when providing text-dependent written or spoken answers. No guidance is provided to support teacher planning nor assistance with implementation of text-dependent writing, speaking, or completing any activities. The OER/Teacher Resources link takes students to outside sources related to the skill being taught, and are also not text-dependent.

A minority of questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, Lesson 2: “Determining Author’s Point of View and Purpose,” students are reading The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. In the Pre- and Post-Tests, students match definitions of tone, connotation and denotation, point of view, and author’s purpose. Next, they highlight five sentences in an excerpt from the novel that create a serious tone. Finally, they match provided author’s purpose options with excerpts from the novel. There are no text-dependent questions in the lesson video that teaches the skill of determining author’s point of view. In the DOK Level 1 activity, students categorize words or statements with positive or negative connotations (drag and drop). In DOK Level 2, students read an excerpt from the novel and highlight five sentences that create a pleasant tone. In DOK Level 3, they read a different passage from the text and sort excerpts by those that support the author’s nostalgic point of view from those that do not support. In these activities, students are shown the correct answers after they submit, and can choose to redo the same questions over until they are successful. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 1, Lesson 2: “Determining Author’s Point of View and Purpose,” Daily Assignment, students answer six questions; one question is text-dependent.
    • The one question related to the text is: “Complete the sentence with the correct response: The author’s purpose is to (inform the reader of the situation, persuade the reader that nothing is wrong, or entertain the reader).” Students answer using the following excerpt from The Boy on the Wooden Box: “In front of me, my parents still downplayed the seriousness of events. ‘We’ve had pogroms before in the east,’ my father said with seeming nonchalance. ‘Now there’s trouble in the west. But things will settle down. You’ll see.’ I don’t know if that was what he really thought or if he was trying to convince himself and my mother as much as me. After all, where could we go? What could we do?” 
    • An example of one of the six skill-related questions that are not related to the supplemental text is: “Look at the sentence below, then decide if the italicized words have a negative, positive, or neutral connotation: Her stellar reputation remains untarnished. This is a (positive, negative, neutral) connotation.” 
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, Lesson 6: “Engaging the Reader,” students are reading Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman. This lesson focuses on the types of hooks authors use and point of view. Throughout all parts of this lesson, there is one activity in the DOK Level 2 activity that is directly connected to the text. Students are provided quotations from the text and they drag and drop the type of hook the author was using to match the quotations. None of the other activities are text-dependent questions.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, Lesson 7: “Forming Opinions About Poetry,” Pre-Test, students answer three questions, one of which is text-dependent. The same questions are located in the Post-Test. In Question 1, students read statements and label them as fact or opinion. In Question 2, students drag hypothetical statements about a poem into the categories of “appropriate response” and “not an appropriate response”. In Question 3, students read a short poem and answer four questions with drop-down answer selections about figurative language, the author’s message, the mood created, and the most logical opinion about the poem. All the DOK activities are related to opinion: Level 1: recognizing fact and opinion, Level 2: forming an opinion, and Level 3: writing an opinion. However, none of the questions or tasks in Level 1 or Level 2 are text-dependent. In Level 3, students read the poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and answer four questions. Rather than students writing their own opinion and supporting it with evidence from the poem, they select answers from provided drop-down menus. For example, “Which of the following is the message the author is attempting to get across in the poem? (Sometimes responsibilities have to come before wishes and desires, It is extremely dangerous to be alone in the woods at night, or The speaker got lost in the woods because he didn’t keep track of the directions)."  None of the six questions in the Daily Assignment are text-dependent.

No teacher guidance is provided for implementation of text-dependent questions and tasks, and intervention after checking student answers.

Examples include, but are not limited to: 

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 1: “Exploring the Writing Process,” Daily Assignment, students answer six questions. Examples of the types of questions and teacher guidance include: 
    • Question 1 (Multiple Choice): “The first step of the writing process is: Revision, Prewriting, Drafting, or Editing.” 
    • Question 2 (Multiple Choice): “Sometimes the writing process might feel like it includes an extra step, but that step always brings you one step closer to a successful writing piece. By _________, you’ll get all of your ideas down on paper.”  (Choices: Prewriting, Publishing, Editing, Revising). As the teacher views student answers, if a student got the answer wrong, the message to the teacher is: “There might be a better choice here.” It is unclear if the teacher is to say this directly to students. Also, if a student got the answer wrong, the platform tells the teacher the right answer, but does not provide the student’s answer. Therefore, the teacher cannot provide feedback on the student’s work.
    • Question 5 (Multiple Choice): “Responding begins the _____________, in which a teacher or peer will look over your work and make suggestions (review process, editing process, prewriting process, publishing process).” If the student chooses the wrong answer, an auto-generated response is provided on the Teacher Portal that states, “There could be a better choice. Look again.” It is unclear if this is what teachers are directed to say to students. This response is not provided on the student view. In the Teacher Portal, the student’s answer choice is not provided to the teacher, just that the student got it wrong.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, Lesson 1, Summary, students write a two to four page factual report on one of two historical figures. Students must include in-text citations and use a minimum of three credible sources listed on a Works Cited or Bibliography page; however, no rubrics or model papers are provided for a teacher to support students as they write drafts or for teachers to grade and provide feedback.

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).
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

The materials do not include sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions that build to a culminating task. Culminating tasks also do not integrate skills, and the culminating tasks do not connect to student read texts. The questions students answer during each unit are stand-alone, skill-based questions. There is no evidence of sequencing building to the culminating task, though students write the culminating task throughout the unit with little support. The curriculum does not provide tasks of quality that are evident across a year’s worth of material. While all of the units end with a unit exam which covers the skills that were presented in the lessons, these are not culminating tasks that integrate skills. Three of the twelve units include a writing assignment that could be considered a culminating writing task, though they do not include speaking and listening elements. All three units occur in Semester A. The first semester includes culminating projects that highlight integrated writing skills; however, writing is not text-dependent, does not require students to read any specific text, and is not based on any time frame of reading or text-dependent work. Each of the writing tasks can be completed without reading the supplemental independent reading text for the unit. Skills-based lessons include excerpts and examples from the text, but the writing tasks do not ask students to draw from the text. The final unit of the year teaches skills in speaking and participating in a digital presentation, but there are no requirements the students actually produce any work for these skills, and they are not tied to any text.

Culminating tasks are not related to coherent sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks; they may be completed without understanding of the text.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, the culminating task is a two-four page first-person narrative on a day where nothing went right. They are to explain what they learned from the experience and how it changed them. Students learn about the writing process throughout the unit while reading the text, Red Scarf Girl. While excerpts and examples from the text are used in the lessons on these writing topics, students could complete the writing assignment without understanding or reading the text. There are very few text-dependent questions where students construct their own responses or where students could use to build to the culminating task. Questions are related to skills of lessons using technology-enhanced activities. Lessons focusing on writing strategies related to the task include:
    • Lesson 4: Using Prewriting Strategies
    • Lesson 6: Creating an Outline
    • Lesson 7: Using Descriptive Details
    • Lesson 8: Using Dialogue and Pacing
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, the culminating task is a two-four page factual report on one of two early civil rights activists. In this unit, students read Freedom Walkers, a text about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Lessons throughout the unit use examples and excerpts from this text, but students could complete the culminating task without understanding or reading the text. There are very few text-dependent questions where students construct their own responses or where students could use to build to the culminating task. Questions are related to skills of lessons using technology-enhanced activities. This unit includes lessons on creating a presentation, but it is not clear if or when this will be completed in class. Lessons focusing on the writing skills related to the task include:
    • Lesson 1: Identifying the Audience and Brainstorming Ideas
    • Lesson 2: Organizing Claims and Ideas
    • Lesson 3: Gathering Relevant, Credible Sources
    • Lesson 4: Identifying and Citing Credible Sources
    • Lesson 7: Supporting Claims with Clear Reasoning
    • Lesson 8: Using Quotations Effectively
    • Lesson 14: Creating Multimedia Presentations
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, the culminating task is a 2-4 page persuasive letter on a topic of student choice. Students read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as they learn the skills needed to write a persuasive letter. Examples and excerpts are used in the skill-based lessons; however, no text-dependent questions are posed for students to answer. Questions are related to skills of lessons using technology-enhanced activities. Students could complete the culminating task without reading the associated supplemental text. Lessons that build skills related to the task include:
    • Lesson 1: Introducing Claims for a Specific Audience
    • Lesson 2: Identifying Credible Sources
    • Lesson 3: Finding and Quoting Sources
    • Lesson 4: Writing an Introduction and Thesis
    • Lesson 6: Developing Arguments
    • Lesson 11: Using Clear and Effective Language
  • In Semester B, there are no culminating tasks. Although units have the titles Writing Fiction (Unit 2), Writing Poetry (Unit 4), Writing an Academic Essay (Unit 5), and Creating Digital Presentations (Unit 6), none of these units have an assigned culminating task; students learn the skills in isolation.

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.)
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

The materials provide few opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions and are not robust across the full school year. Four lessons are provided related to speaking and listening in discussion. Each lesson, titled “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions,” introduces students to the theory and practice of having discussions; however, students do not have evidence-based discussions around the text they are reading. The lessons teach protocols and strategies for how to interact with each other when reviewing work related to writing assignments and presentations, but the skills are isolated to these particular lessons. The materials are not clear for when students are to have discussions during class time during the instructional day. While there is not an established plan for using vocabulary in context, the lessons introduce students to content-specific vocabulary related to collaborative discussions. Teacher implementation guidance is not provided to support students struggling with these skills; teacher materials are the same materials the students see. 

Materials provide few or no questions or supports for evidence-based discussions and few or no prompts or protocols for discussions encouraging modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Materials do not provide a year’s worth of instructional opportunities.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, “Understanding Texts and Forming Opinions: The Boy on the Wooden Box”, Lesson 11: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions,” students learn about discussion techniques in three skills-based DOK activities:
    • In DOK Level 1: “Communication”, students are instructed to make sure their communication is “clear” and “complete.” They view examples of one sentence that is unclear and one that is clear. In the practice activity, students view sentences and sort them into “clear” and “unclear” categories.  
    • In DOK Level 2: “Listening”, students learn about active listening, including the steps of focusing, paraphrasing, and providing feedback. In the practice activity, students complete a cloze activity where they fill in the blanks in a paragraph about modeling the steps of active listening.
    • In DOK Level 3: “Building on Ideas”, students learn about asking questions, providing information, building on others’ ideas and being courteous. In the practice activity, students view sentences that describe behaviors and then sort them into “recommended behavior” or “discouraged behavior.”

The Summary states, “In this lesson we started to look at the skills that will help you when you begin to work collaboratively with your peers. Being part of a group means that we need to remember to listen actively, to be clear and complete in our communication, and to be courteous. By using these skills, you will find it easier to collaborate with others.” It is not clear when they will be collaborating with peers, nor do they engage with the text during these lessons.

  • In Semester A, Unit 5, “Collecting and Comprehending Sources,” Lesson 13: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions,” students learn about discussion techniques in the three skills-based DOK level activities:
    • In DOK Level 1: “Collaboration,” students view brief descriptions of fishbowl discussion, word webbing, literature circles, and think-pair-share. In the practice activity, students view sentences describing an activity and sort them into “Good method” and “Not good method” for collaboration categories.  
    • In DOK Level 2: “Collaboration Brainstorming,” students are taught the process of brainstorming in a group. The steps include identifying the objective, set criteria or goals, discuss the assignment, reach a decision, and implement the decision. In the practice activity, students are presented with sentences describing a group’s brainstorming steps and they must drag them in order.
    • In DOK Level 3: “Supporting Evidence,” students learn to support their opinion with evidence: “One way to ensure you're working together as a group is to make sure you have supporting evidence for your idea.” This lesson does use examples from the text students are reading in the instruction. In the practice activity, students view opinions from the text and select supporting evidence from a drop-down menu. While this task is associated with the text, students are not assigned to have a collaborative discussion where they apply these skills.

The Summary states, “For your next lesson, you will work together with a partner to examine ‘The Einstein Letter.’ Reread the letter and collaborate on how to make the letter better in regard to persuasion and clarity. Look for logical and emotional reasoning, errors, or logical fallacies. Take notes about what new knowledge you might add to the letter to make the argument stronger.” There is no guidance for teachers to support students who may struggle with this skill.

  • In Semester B, Unit 2, “Writing Fiction,” Lesson 8: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions: Conferencing with Peers or an Adult,” students learn about discussion techniques in the three skills-based DOK activities:
    • In DOK Level 1: “Conference Behavior”, students view a chart with proper conference behaviors, including active listening, asking questions and active participation. In the practice activity, students view sentences describing a behavior and sort them into “Demonstrates Proper Discussion/Conference Behavior” and “Does not Demonstrate Proper Discussion/Conference Behavior”.  
    • In DOK Level 2: “Preparing for your Conference”, students are taught strategies to prepare for a conference and to use during a conference. They view examples of how to prepare for the conference by making a list of questions to address and to understand that their work will be critiqued. During the conference, they should listen to feedback, write down suggestions, and answer politely if they disagree. In the practice activity, student instructions state: “Try the next activity to see how well you can apply these strategies for receiving feedback at a writing conference.” They are presented with sentences describing actions related to conferencing and they must drag them to sort into before conferencing and during conferencing categories. 
    • In DOK Level 3: “Providing Feedback”, students learn how to provide helpful feedback or constructive criticism. They are presented the following guidelines: be positive, be specific, be prepared to explain, and be specific and honest, but polite. In the practice activity, students match specific feedback statements with descriptions of the feedback. For example, “The feedback is not specific enough” or “The comment is negative and not helpful.”

The Summary states, “Be a good group member by following the guidelines for behavior and by helping others improve their work as well." It is not clear when and if students are expected to have a conference on their writing in this unit. There is no guidance for teachers to support students who may struggle with this skill.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports. 

The materials address skills to make students successful when giving speeches, but the curriculum does not provide students multiple opportunities to practice. Speaking and listening instruction is found in some lessons throughout the materials. There are some questions that follow up on the skills of giving presentations or deciphering between formal and informal language; however, it is not applied frequently over the course of the school year. Speaking and listening instruction takes place in discrete lessons that are rarely connected to the texts students are reading. Students learn strategies for speaking collaboratively or presenting arguments and complete activities reinforcing definitions related to speaking and listening skills. No assignments where students take part in a collaborative discussion or present information to their peers is evident; it is not clear if and when students discuss or present. Speaking and listening activities rarely require students to gather evidence from texts and sources. Additionally, no teacher guidance is provided to support students who may struggle, nor does the curriculum provide facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. 

Speaking and listening activities are few and do not span the course of a school year. Materials supporting speaking and listening are repetitive or optional, rather than assured in the instructional materials. Speaking and listening activities are rarely connected to texts students are reading or researching.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Creating and Presenting Arguments,” students write a factual report on an important civil rights activist. In Lesson 14, “Creating Multimedia Presentations,” students complete three skills-based DOK lessons and activities: Index Cards and Outlines, Visual Presentation, and Body Language. At the end of each lesson, student instructions state, “In order to help you stay focused, calm, and well-prepared, be sure to use the skills you learned today to make great notecards and visual aids to use during your speech.” While these lessons teach the skills of speaking and listening, it is not clear if and when students would make presentations. No further instruction is provided. No instructions for the teacher are provided for evaluating, giving feedback, and no grading rubrics are provided. Presentations seem to be optional and left to the teacher's discretion.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, “Writing Poetry,” Lesson 13: “When to Use Formal and Informal Language,” students analyze the work of others to determine which language is used. They do not use the supplemental text or their own research to practice the skills. Some of the examples require students to read other texts within the lesson.
    • In DOK Activity 1: “Formal and Informal Language,” students learn when it is appropriate to use formal versus informal language while speaking or writing. The assessment is a drag-and-drop activity in which students identify the difference between statements using informal language (“Do u wanna hang out, Stay outta my room”) and formal language (“Sir, do you support an increase in funding?”). 
    • In DOK Activity 2: “When to Use Formal and Informal Language,” students review an informational text about a sea otter and compare it to a poem about a sea otter. From these examples the students learn two different ways to use formal and informal language.  
    • In DOK Activity 3: “Analyzing Language in Poetry,” students read two poems, one uses complex vocabulary and another one uses informal, silly language.  The first poem, “There is No Frigate Like a Book” by Emily Dickinson, uses fairly complex diction like frigate, coursers, prancing, traverse, and oppress. The second poem, “Dry the Dishes” by Shel Silverstein, uses simple words and phrases like awful, boring, and ‘stead. Students complete an assessment where they read another poem, “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein. They analyze the poem for language and style and answer questions using drop down menus, such as, “Which of the following is a use of slang? (outside, dark and shuttered, lookin’)”.  
  • In Semester B, Unit 6, “Creating Digital Presentations,” several lessons teach the skills to participate in collaborative discussions and effectively present their points of view. Lesson titles include "Presenting Clearly and Appropriately", "Incorporating Media into Presentations", "Using Appropriate Volume and Clarity When Presenting", "Organizing Your Notes and Presenting", and "Actively Listening". While these lessons teach the skills of speaking and listening, it is not clear if and when students would make presentations. No instructions are provided for the teacher to use for evaluation, providing feedback, and no grading rubrics are provided. Presentations seem to be optional and left to the teacher's discretion.

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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. 

The materials include both long and short writing tasks across the school year. The writing tasks are varied and include opportunities to revise and edit. Half of the units are dedicated to process writing. The majority of on-demand writing tasks are presented in the Summary in each lesson in the students’ Digital Notebooks. Some units require a culminating writing assignment focusing on the steps of the writing process. Students have opportunities to use digital resources in the OER/Teacher Resources tab of each lesson including several links to online resources about writing  developed by Spider Learning, Inc. 

Examples of process writing tasks include:

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, “Planning a Writing Project”, students write a personal narrative about a very bad day. In Lesson 4: “Using Prewriting Strategies,” OER/Teacher Resources, students may use the provided links to several online resources about writing, such as Resource 1: Railroad Quick Writes, a Prezi for viewing how another writer uses the quick write strategy to think about railroads, and Resource 4: A Prewriting Video, for viewing prewriting techniques.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Creating and Presenting Arguments”, students write a factual report on one of two civil rights activists, either Richard Allen or Absalom Jones.
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, "Establishing and Writing Clear Arguments”, students write a persuasive letter using several drafts.

Examples of on-demand writing tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 5, “Collecting and Comprehending Sources”, Lesson 2: ”Identifying the Central Idea in Persuasive Texts: Implied vs. Direct Ideas”, Summary, students read “Albert Einstein’s Letter” and complete an on-demand task to write a one-paragraph summary in their digital notebooks. 
  • In Semester B, Unit 1, “Reading and Analyzing Literature”, Lesson 9: ”Analyzing Plot Development”, Summary, students write a summary of what happened “in the beginning of The Giver, the events that happened up to this point, and the most exciting events to you.” Students write the summary in their digital notebooks.

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.  

The materials provide some opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply different modes and genres of writing aligned with the Common Core State Standards. In the first semester, students write a narrative, an informational report, and a persuasive letter. The report and letter are classified as argumentative writing and students learn about making claims in the lessons, but the final written products fail to use those skills practiced in the lessons. Therefore, the program does not meet the CCSS expectation that students engage in argumentative writing since the standards call for a transition from opinion and persuasive writing in Grades K-5 to argumentative writing in Grades 6-12. Opportunities are evident for students to practice process writing skills as half of the units are writing-based; however, students do not complete any process writing in semester two of the school year. The units often include a model text; however, in all of the units and lessons reviewed, there is little or no teacher direction as to monitoring progress of student writing. No rubrics have been found in any of the documents for teachers to grade writing or for students to use as guidance.

Examples of different modes of writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, Lesson 13: ”Using Evidence to Support an Opinion”, students learn about identifying audience, prewriting planning, and support analysis. Students answer multiple choice questions about this skill, but do practice the skills in their own writing. In Lesson 14: “Structuring an Argument,” students learn about a three-point thesis, courteous communication, and making inferences, but the materials do not require students to actually write. The instruction before the Daily Assignment states, “When you write, you have guidelines that are designed not only to provide you with a framework with which to work but also to help your reader understand your message. While these guidelines may not always seem that exciting, they are excellent when it comes to helping you convey your message clearly, completely, and courteously. If you are ready for the lesson assignment, you may click on the Assignment button. If you feel you need to review the material, click on the Reteach icon. Good luck!” The students practice these skills in technology-enhanced questions, but do not produce a piece of writing.
  • In Semester A, Unit 2, “Planning a Writing Project”, students write a personal narrative. In Lesson 1, directions state, “Begin thinking about your own personal narrative that you will write for this unit. Leon and Ji-Li each suffered through and wrote about many difficult experiences in their narratives. Think about a day in your life when it seemed that nothing went right. It could have been anywhere, maybe at home or at school. You will write a 2-4 page storytelling about this very bad day. Your narrative will include dialogue and other types of descriptive text. You should explain what you learned from this experience or how it changed you, and it must be written in first-person point of view.” The lessons in this unit are centered around the writing process, with topics such as “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions”, “Using Pre-Writing Strategies”, “Creating an Outline”, “Using Dialogue”, “Writing the Conclusion”, etc. The lessons are focused on specific skills, and the student tasks involve answering technology-enhanced questions about the skill being taught. In the Summary activity of each lesson, students are instructed to add to their drafts. In Lesson 7, Summary, the directions state, “You will turn in your revised draft in Lesson 9.” In Lesson 9, there is no mention of turning in the revised draft. No grading rubric for students to receive feedback on their writing or to help teachers grade the report were provided. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Creating and Presenting Arguments”, students “write a 2-4 page factual report on either Richard Allen, or Absalom Jones, both civil rights activists.” Lessons are about skills needed for writing, such as, “Identifying and Citing Credible Sources”, “Supporting Claims with Clear Reasoning”, “Adding Descriptive Details”, and “Wrapping up Ideas”. Though the title of the unit refers to writing arguments and students practice skills of argumentative writing, the task is not argumentative. Instead, students write a factual report which is informative writing. In the DOK Level 1 activity, students learn how to state their thesis, or claim. Students should “remember to use proper essay formatting” and “back up information with a minimum of 3 credible sources, and be sure to give credit to those sources with in text citations as well as on a Works Cited page.” Instructions tell students when to turn in their draft, revisions, and final draft. No grading rubric for students to receive feedback on their writing or to help teachers grade the report were provided. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, “Establishing and Writing Clear Arguments”, students write a persuasive letter and have four choices for the topic of the letter. One choice states, “The principal wants to invite a special speaker to your school. Think about the person you would choose to come to your school and write a letter to persuade your principal to invite this person. (Do not use Stephen Hawking or Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead think of another person who will not be discussed in this unit.)” The letter writing follows process writing steps, “Throughout the unit, you will turn in 3 drafts of your letter: your rough draft will be due at the end of Lesson 4; your revised draft will be due at the end of Lesson 9; and your final draft will be due at the end of Lesson 14.” Lessons throughout this unit are focused on skills needed to draft the letter, including, “Finding and Quoting Sources”, “Writing an Introduction and Thesis”, “Using Transitional Phrases”, and “Using Clear and Effective Language”. Although the title of the unit is about writing arguments, the task is a persuasive letter that does not make a claim, which is not argumentative writing, therefore addresses the lower grade-level writing expectation in the standards. No grading rubric for students to receive feedback on their writing or to help teachers grade the report were provided.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

The materials provide some opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Writing opportunities are rarely focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources. Reading and writing are not integrated well in the curriculum; students largely develop claims for writing units concerning arguments and those argument tasks do not always require students to make evidence-based claims. Writing is also not performed on a consistent basis and is often not connected to the texts students are reading. Some opportunities for students to analyze the structure or examples from the unit texts are provided; however, opportunities to draw from the text when writing are few. Few opportunities are provided to build skills over the year as the units are specific to a type of writing and that type of writing is not introduced again within the year. In Semester A, Units 1-4 are connected to novels. In Semester B, Units 1-2 are connected to novels. Since in Semester B, Units 4-6 are not connected to a supplemental independent reading text, it is difficult for the students to demonstrate continued improvement on evidence-based writing throughout the course. 

Materials provide some opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, Lesson 12: “Stating and Supporting an Opinion,” Objective and Introduction, the directions state, “Students will be able to state an opinion about a text. Students will be able to develop an analysis using relevant evidence from text(s) to support claims, opinions, ideas, and inferences.” However, it is not clear when they will write. They are to write their opinion about the text they are reading: “When it comes to stating your opinion about a text, regardless of what that opinion is, you need to be able to support that opinion using evidence from the text itself.” Lessons throughout the unit are designed to support this skill, but evidence-based writing tasks are unclear or are not present.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, students read the supplemental text, Freedom Walkers about early civil rights activists. In Lesson 1, Summary, students learn about the culminating writing task for the unit, a factual report on one of two gentlemen (Richard Allen or Absalom Jones) mentioned in the introduction of the supplemental text, “Why They Walked.” Students must cite three credible sources, but the instructions do not state that the information must come from the text the students are reading.
  • In Semester B, Unit 1, Lesson 4, students read the supplemental text, The Giver. The Summary directions state, “As you continue to read, write down the different conflicts that Jonas has in each chapter and make a prediction on how he will deal with these conflicts. Reflect back when you are done reading to see if your predictions were correct.” Students are not instructed to use evidence from the text to support their predictions. In Lesson 7, the Summary directions state, “Think about the different types of text you have read. Make a list and identify the author's purpose for writing them.” Students are not required to provide evidence from the text to support their answers.

Writing opportunities are rarely focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 3, Lesson 7: “Using Textual Evidence to Make Inferences and Generalizations,” DOK Level 3: “Citing and Explaining Evidence,” students are presented the lesson for how to cite and explain evidence, before completing one question, “Giving explicit textual evidence about your answers to questions about the text can be done in specific steps, similar to the example in the lesson. Put the correct statement in the correct column. This activity is referring to Section 1, Chapter 3, "Creating Dalhart," in your text The Worst Hard Time.” Students drag and drop sentences into four categories, “Ask the Question”, “State Idea”, “Cite”, and “Explain”. Students do not find or explain their own evidence from the text. This type of activity is repeated in all lessons of each unit throughout the year.
  • In Semester B, Unit 6, Lesson 3: “Presenting Your Claims,” DOK Level 1: “Presenting Claims and Findings,” students are given examples of what claims and findings would look like with examples about pandas. Then they complete one question, “Sort the claims and decide if they are supported by findings or NOT supported by findings. The topic is why we should try our best to prevent ocean pollution.” Students drag and drop sentences into two categories, “Supported by Findings” and “NOT Supported by Findings”. Later in the Summary activity, students are instructed to “Make sure you use key points to back up your claims.” 
  • In Semester B, Unit 6, “Creating Digital Presentations,” students “continue their study of the writing process.” Due to this unit not being connected to a novel, the students are not required to analyze a text and cite evidence to answer questions or to create their presentations.

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for materials including 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. 

While the materials provide opportunities to practice some grammar and convention standards, others are omitted. Multiple lessons directly teach spelling instruction or directly impact spelling, such as homophones and commonly confused words. All assignments connected to explicit instruction are in short practice activities, always in the context in which they are demonstrated. An exception to this is with the instruction and practice of the spelling standard L.6.2b. Additionally, the instruction is not increasingly sophisticated or complex to build knowledge over the course of the year. Rather, most of the grammar standards are presented and practiced one time in technology-enhanced activities with drop-down menus or multiple-choice selections. The practice of the standard is provided in most of the writing units as a proofreading activity. Some of the standards-based grammar skills serve as a model for student writing, but are not embedded in writing instruction. The materials include a scope and sequence document but some language standards that are introduced and practiced in lesson activities are mislabelled and/or misaligned. 

Examples of explicit instruction of grammar and conventions standards include, but are not limited to:

Students have opportunities to ensure pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive). 

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Using Commonly Confused Words”, DOK Level 2 activity, students view a lesson on subjective, objective, and possessive pronouns. In the task, students complete a cloze activity, dragging and dropping the correct pronoun into a paragraph.

Students do not have opportunities to use intensive pronouns. 

  • The publisher lists practice for intensive pronouns on the scope and sequence for Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14, but the activity was not found in the review.

Students have opportunities to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person. 

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Using Commonly Confused Words”, DOK Level 3 activity, students view a lesson on pronoun antecedents. In the task, students “replace the second mention of the subject with the appropriate pronoun using the drop down selections.” One sample activity states, “Katie and her mother went to the movies, but (Katie and her mother, they, their) couldn’t decide on which film to see.”
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Common Writing Errors”, DOK Level 3 activity, the lesson reviews subject-verb agreement and pronoun antecedent agreement. In the activity, students complete a cloze activity where they select the correct verb tense for the sentence. None of the sentences have students choose the appropriate pronoun.

Students have opportunities to recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents). 

  • In Semester B, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Mistakes”, DOK Level 1 activity, the lesson reviews expectation for subject-verb agreement, verb tense, and use of pronouns. Student instructions state, “Make sure that it is clear to what or whom a pronoun refers. If in doubt, use the name of the person or item, especially in dialogue.” In the activity, students sort rule statements into categories of “subject-verb agreement,” “verb tense,” and “use of pronouns”. For example, students drag-and-drop the statement, “Number described by pronouns must be consistent with the number of people or items to which it refers,” into the category of “Use of Pronouns”.

Students have limited opportunities to recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking, and to identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 13: “Correcting Common Sentence Errors”, students learn about fragments, fused sentences, and sentence fragments; however, students do not practice the skills in their own writing, nor are there tools such as a rubric or checklist for students to use to check their own writing. Instead, the Summary directions state, “You should always reread your work during the response and editing portions of your writing process to make sure you aren't over looking any of these errors. Once you've figured out how to mend those sentences and make them perfect, you'll have a narrative that anyone would be interested in reading. Use these new skills to catch any errors in your personal narrative.” 
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Common Writing Errors”, students learn about commonly misspelled words, sentence structures, and subject verb agreement. The Summary activity directions state, “Editing is an important last step in the writing process. Knowing what to look out for will help you make your writing the best it can be. Spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and subject-verb agreement will make your writing sound professional and intelligent. Take some time to review your letter and complete a final edit.” Neither a checklist or rubric is provided, nor do students review their peers’ work throughout the curriculum.

Students have limited opportunities to use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive/parenthetical elements. 

  • In Semester A, Unit 4, Lesson 12: “Using Clear and Appropriate Standard English”, DOK Level 2 activity, students view “some basic rules to refresh your memory” about commas: directly addressing someone, including parenthetical details/clause, and writing a list. No examples for using parentheses are included. In the task, students highlight which of seven sentences are punctuated correctly. 

Students have opportunities to spell correctly.  

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Using Commonly Confused Words”, DOK Level 1 activity, students learn the homophones their/there/they’re, your/you’re, and to/two/too. Students select the correct version of the commonly confused word from a drop-down menu to fill in the blank in a sentence.
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Common Writing Errors”, DOK Level 1 activity, students view a list of commonly misspelled words. Students are presented with eight sentences and highlight the ones that have spelling mistakes needing to be corrected. They do not fix the mistakes, just identify.
  • In Semester B, Unit 2, Lesson 13: “Identifying Common Writing Mistakes”, the three DOK Level activities focus on spelling: Suffixes, Homophones, and Common Spelling Errors. The Homophones lesson revisits the same words from Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14, and adds its/it’s and we’re/where/were. Similar cloze activities are completed like in previous lessons.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, Lesson 8: “Commonly Confused and Misspelled Words”, the DOK Level activities are “Spelling Rules, Homophones, and What if You’re Stuck?” In DOK Level 1, student instructions state, “There are many rules that can help with confusing words. Every rule has exceptions, but generally, following these basic rules can help you improve your spelling.” Students view rules such as “Double the final consonant, Drop the final e, i before e except after c.” In DOK Level 2, students learn about through/threw, revisit to/too/two, and their/there/they’re. Students practice with a matching, drag-and-drop activity. 

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Not Rated

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Gateway Two Details
Materials were not reviewed for Gateway Two because materials did not meet or partially meet expectations for Gateway One

Criterion 2a - 2h

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

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).
N/A

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
N/A

Indicator 2f

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to 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.
N/A

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3e

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
N/A

Indicator 3b

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

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.).
N/A

Indicator 3d

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

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

Indicator 3i

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

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.
N/A

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
N/A

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
N/A

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
N/A

Indicator 3l.ii

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

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.
N/A

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
N/A

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
N/A

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.).
N/A
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 06/18/2020

Report Edition: 2019

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.

Please note: Beginning in spring 2020, reports developed by EdReports.org will be using an updated version of our review tools. View draft versions of our revised review criteria here.

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.

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

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.

The EdReports rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of alignment to college and career ready standards and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum, such as usability and design, as recommended by educators.

Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators (gateway 1) to move to the other gateways. 

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?

Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. 

In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Alignment and usability ratings are assigned based on how materials score on a series of criteria and indicators with reviewers providing supporting evidence to determine and substantiate each point awarded.

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For all content areas, usability ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for effective practices (as outlined in the evaluation tool) for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, differentiated instruction, and effective technology use.

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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