ELA K-2 Summary of Alignment & Usability

The instructional materials for Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 do not meet the expectations of alignment. The texts included in the materials are not appropriately complex for the grade level and do not build in complexity over the course of the year. Materials do not include questions and tasks aligned to grade-level standards, but rather focus on strategy instruction. Additionally, materials rely on cueing, including meaning, syntax, and visual cues as a means to teach reading skills. Foundational skills instruction lacks a cohesive and intentional scope and sequence for systematic and explicit instruction in phonological awareness and phonics. The program also lacks a research-based rationale for the order of phonological awareness and phonics instruction. The reading units mainly utilize a cueing system for solving unknown words that focus on the initial sound and meaning cues rather than on decoding strategies. The components of the program are not cohesive and often contradict the skills being taught, especially pertaining to the order of foundational skills instruction.

ELA 3-8 Summary of Alignment & Usability

The Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5 Units of Study materials do not meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the expectations of the standards. While the materials include high-quality anchor texts, most are not appropriately complex for the grade level and the associated tasks and teachers supports may not adequately ensure students meet grade level expectations in reading. The volume of variance of choice in the program may not support all readers in achieving grade-level expectations and/or a full year’s growth in reading.

Materials lack a variety of regular, standards-aligned, text-based listening and speaking opportunities. While there are multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes/types of writing and process writing, the balance of writing types called for in the standards is not evenly distributed across the year and there is a lack of on-demand writing. The program lacks explicit instruction and student practice opportunities in all grammar and conventions standards, and fails to provide a cohesive plan for vocabulary development. Students rarely have opportunities to learn and study core academic vocabulary related to the text which may impede students’ core understanding of the text being studied. 

Unit materials are devoid of a consistent, systematic, and explicit plan for instruction in and practice of grade level foundational skills. While some practice of foundational skills may occur naturally in the context of the Reading Workshop format, the materials do not include explicit practice of specific skills; instead, the materials rely on small group instruction and individual conferring to address any issues that arise concerning students’ phonics, word analysis, and word recognition skills. Further, the onus of implementing these skills falls to the student as they read texts from the classroom library.