Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Literacy By Design do not meet the expectations for alignment. The materials partially meet the expectations for providing high-quality texts that help to grow students reading skills and content knowledge. The materials do not provide consistent opportunities for building strong skills in reading, writing, and speaking through rich, evidence-based materials, discussions, and tasks. The foundational skills included in the materials only partially meet expectations.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
20
37
42
19
37-42
Meets Expectations
21-36
Partially Meets Expectations
0-20
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

|

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 4 do not meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards. The instructional materials include some texts that are worthy of students' time and attention. Questions are frequently literal or related to personal connections and do not provide opportunities for rich and rigorous, evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Speaking and listening activities may need to be supported with extensions to dive deeper into the text, specifically as it relates to evidence based discussion. Materials partially address foundational skills to build comprehension and provide questions and tasks that guide students to read with purpose and understanding, making connections between acquisition of foundational skills and making meaning during reading. Materials provide opportunities to practice oral and silent reading fluency across the grade level. Opportunities to practice and apply re-reading and self-correction are limited.

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.
10/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for including anchor texts that are of publishable quality, are worthy of especially careful reading and/or listening, and consider a range of student interests. Texts partially meet the criteria for text complexity and are not accompanied by a text complexity analysis. Materials partially meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

The read-aloud modeled reading texts are of publishable quality and worthy of careful reading; however, the other texts, including those found in shared reading and interactive reading are not all of publishable quality. Many of the well-known anchor texts are only included as modeled reading in the Teacher Edition. There is very limited representation of well-known authors or widely-accepted works of children's literature except for the modeled reading at the start of each theme. Expository texts provide interesting information or engaging illustrations around the theme, but the highest quality texts are those in the modeled readings.

Below are examples of publishable, high quality texts. These texts are worthy of students' time and attention, and worthy of multiple readings. Texts are engaging, contain strong content and academic vocabulary, and are thought-provoking. Examples include:

  • Oranges on Golden Mountain by Elizabeth Partridge
  • Firestorm by Jean Craighead George
  • Ricki & Henri by Jane Goodall
  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
  • The Mystery of the Box in the Wall by Tisha Hamilton
  • Ode to the Giant Redwood by Tisha Hamilton
  • The Hatchling by Ann Weil
  • Weird Animals by Ann Weil
  • Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller
  • Nate Murphy and the Mystery Sauropod by Julia Wolf and Nate Murphy
  • Grand Canyon by Linda Vieira

Below are examples of texts that are not considered publishable, high-quality texts. The majority of these texts are simple, with explicit language and themes, and a predictable storyline. Because of these features, the texts are not appropriate for rereading.

  • Two Homes by Alice McGinty
  • Vertebrate or Invertebrate - What’s my ID? By Ruth Silbert
  • The Black Blizzard by Jo Zarboulas
  • Morning Light a translated version of a traditional Papago chant
  • Nate Murphy and the Mystery Sauropod by Julia Wolf and Nate Murphy

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

There is a mix of literary and informational texts. The themes are evenly divided between science and social studies. There are a variety of genres represented throughout the curriculum. The core texts and the supplemental materials include a wide distribution of genres and text types as required by the standards. Genres and text types include action/adventure texts, articles, books about art, biographies, diary entries, dramas, encyclopedia entries, fairy tales, folktales, historical fiction, journal entries, lab reports, legends, memories, mysteries, persuasive essays, poetry, science texts, science fiction and books about travel.

The following are examples of literary texts throughout the materials:

  • Theme 1: The Mystery of the Box in the Wall by Tisha Hamilton
  • Theme 4: Ode to the Giant Redwood by Tisha Hamilton
  • Theme 5: Firestorm by Jean Craighead George
  • Theme 10: My Park, My City by Rachel Lee
  • Theme 11: The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
  • Theme 13: A Band of Angels by Deborah Hopkinson
  • Theme 15: The Hatchling by Ann Weil

The following are examples of informational texts throughout the materials:

  • Theme 2: Coming to America The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro
  • Theme 3: Weird Animals by Ann Weil
  • Theme 4: Waking up a Bean by Darlene Still
  • Theme 6: Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller
  • Theme 10: Jessie Oonark: Inuit Artist by Gail Riley
  • Theme 15: Nate Murphy and the Mystery Sauropod by Julia Wolf and Nate Murphy
  • Theme 16: Grand Canyon by Linda Vieira

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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.

Many of the texts are not complex enough for students to be reading independently and the majority of the reading is done by the teacher. The reader and task demands for each story are the same throughout the entire program. Students answer questions, often in small groups, or with a partner, that are not always text dependent. Many of the post-reading questions are about personal connections, the use of a reading strategy, or applying the word study or grammar skill of the day verse analysis or evidence from the text.

Students are read to from modeled readers throughout the year in Grade 4; however, many of the texts do not provide adequate complexity to support students in growing their reading skills, and the read-aloud texts fall short of the recommended complexity. For example, in Unit 3, Theme 5, Week 1, Lesson 1, the story Fire Storm by Jean Craighead George has a Lexile of 650, which is in the bottom range of the 4th grade Lexile band. In Unit 5, Theme 10, students hear the story Exploring Explorers, which is within the Lexile range for fourth grade, but due to the simple sentences and vocabulary and the ideas clearly and explicitly stated, the qualitative features are only slightly complex. Similarly, The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is the modeled read aloud in Unit 6, Theme 11, Week 1, Lesson 1, and has a Lexile of 590, which is below the Lexile Band for fourth grade. The qualitative features of this text are only slightly complex, with an exception of knowledge demands, which is moderately complex. Students hear the persuasive essay, Buy! Buy! Why?, which has a Lexile of 750, which is in the quantitative range for fourth grade, but two of the qualitative features (purpose and knowledge demands) are only slightly complex. The Mystery of the Box Inside the Wall, which is read the first week of the program has a Lexile of 550, but qualitative features in the slightly complex range.

The small group reading texts are the only texts that students read independently. According to the publishers of Literacy by Design, the leveled readers include readers that are used for intervention, on level, and enrichment. Enrichments texts are considered R - T, which is above the grade level band. For example, a Level R text is The Sun Above and the River Below (870 L), Level S text is A Night at the Beach by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright (1100 L), and a Level T text is Bugs Beware! by John Maos and Lisa Klobuchar (1120 L). There are, however, texts below the grade level band that are considered M or N texts. For example, the level M text is Semi’s Beads by Jane Langford, which is a 630 L, and the level N text is Woodland People, Desert People, by Jacqueline D. Green, which is a 640 L, which is only slightly below the grade level hand.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 do not meet the criteria for materials supporting 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.).

Materials do not fully support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. Across the program, the majority of texts are read alouds. Materials focus on comprehension strategies. There are limited opportunities for students to engage in the analysis of a text. The strategies are focused on for one to two weeks, which makes it difficult for students to become proficient over the course of the school year. Materials do not provide many opportunities for students to analyze texts with increasing complexity or rigor. According to the Program Overview booklet in the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, there are 8 key research strategies from the foundation of comprehension instruction across all grade levels.” For the first half of the year, the comprehension strategies are taught with a two-week focus on each, followed by additional instruction and practice in the second half of the year to reinforce comprehension strategies. The rigor in the questioning does not increase much from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. For example, in Unit 1, Theme 1, students learn how to make connections and three of the questions after they hear the text, The Mystery of the Box in the Wall begin with “Have you ever...” Similarly, in Unit 5, Theme 9, after hearing How the Crow Got its Color, three of five questions also begin with, “Have you ever...”

In each theme, students spend one to two days participating in a modeled reading, then have one day of shared reading, followed by eight days of interactive reading. For example, in Unit 2, Theme 4, the lessons begin with the teacher doing a modeled reading of the memoir, Century Farm: 100 Years on a Family Farm. The text is not provided to the students, and instead they look at pictures in their anthology. The purpose of this read aloud is for students to practice the comprehension skill of visualizing. During the shared reading on the third day of instruction, students and the teacher read Mrs. McCleary’s Weird Garden. Beginning on the fourth day, students participate in the interactive reading of an observation log called, “Waking up a Bean”. On the first day of interactive reading, the teacher reads the text aloud and models the visualization strategy. On the 5th day, the teacher begins by summarizing what was read on the previous day before students read the rest of the passage in pairs. Students often practice reading in pairs instead of independently after instruction. For example, in Unit 7, Theme 14, Lesson 5, students take turns with their partner reading the text The Shoemaker’s Surprise. Independent reading is suggested; however, no time is provided in the program. The curriculum suggests that at the end of small group reading (which is done in leveled texts), the class returns to discuss what happened in small group and interactive reading; however, it does not explicitly provide students time to independently read or practice independently the literacy skills. Students are rarely given opportunities to independently practice reading and applying what they learned.

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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 does not provide a rationale for the placement of the texts in Grade 4. There are no text complexity analyses proved. Quantitative and qualitative measures are not included, nor discussed, in the instructional materials. The only rationale given is that the texts are chosen for the social studies and science content. The publisher includes a general statement in the Program Overview that states, “Whole class materials for Literacy by Design feature fiction and nonfiction selections linked to science and social studies themes based on national standards for each grade level. The focus of instruction is on listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the context of content area themes.”

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.
2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

In the Grade 4 materials, students read a variety of topics, text types and disciplines. Students are exposed to a variety of genres. Some of these include action stories, articles, biographies, diary entries, drama, encyclopedia entries, fairy tales, folktales, historical fiction, horror, journal entries, lab reports, memoirs, mysteries, persuasive essays, poetry, realistic fiction, science fiction, and trilogies. Students are also shown photos during the read alouds and ask questions about the photos. During a single theme, students are exposed to a variety of genres. For example, in Unit 4, Theme 7, students engage with realistic fiction, a procedural text, an adventure story, a poem, and a persuasive essay. Students engage in a broad range of text types and disiplines, as well as a volume of reading. Throughout the week, students are given opportunities to participate in a modeled read aloud, shared reading, and interactive reading, where the teacher begins reading and the student finishes the text. Students are also given photos to analyze, articles with vocabulary words, articles about the reading strategies, and mentor texts for writing. Students spend a day or two on the modeled reading, followed by shared reading, which includes an echo reading of a poem, and some days doing an interactive reading, where the teacher reads and then the student reads with a partner. For example, in Unit 2, Theme 4, the teacher models with a memoir on Day 1 while the students look at an illustration. Students are also given a two-page instructional article about the reading strategy for the week called “Create Images”. In the Shared Reading for this theme, the teacher reads aloud the realistic fiction passage called, Mrs. McCleary’s Weird Garden and the students follow along in the Sourcebook. For the interactive reading for this theme, the teacher reads the first two pages and does a think aloud to reinforce the comprehension strategy. Then on Day 5, the students read the rest of the passage in pairs. There is also a 45 minute small group lesson each day when students read from leveled readers. No structure is provided for independent reading.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
6/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet expectations for alignment to the standards with tasks and questions grounded in evidence. Few questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, and there are no culminating activities at the end of a theme or unit. The instructional materials provide some opportunities to practice speaking and listening skills, but the skills are practiced in order to build background knowledge prior to reading a text and the materials do not support evidence based discussions with relevant follow-up questions. There are few opportunities provided for evidence-based writing. Materials partially meet the expectations for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for the grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

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).
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially 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).

In the Grade 4 materials, there are a mix of personal connection questions, metacognitive questions, and text dependent questions. Some of the personal connection questions require students to compare a personal experience to something that happened in the text; however, there are some text dependent questions which require more inferences from the text. At the end of each text selection, there is a page titled Think and Respond that has different sets of questions. In the Reflect and Write and the Critical Thinking sections, there are two to three text dependent questions at time. However, in the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, the questioning is more focused on setting the stage for reading. The questions in the margins that are titled Precise Listening directs students back to the text to use a word strategy, reading strategy to identify a text feature, or to listen for a text specific answer. For example, in Unit 1, Theme 1, Week 1, students are asked to listen for details about how Jo Lee’s mother feels when she tells Jo Lee that he must go live in California. In the Interactive Reading sections, students are often reminded about the reading strategy that they learned. In the Small Group Reading section, the questions are labeled literal and inferential, and there are additional text dependent questions. Overall, however, the majority of questions, tasks, and assignments are not text dependent. Many of the questions that do require students to look back in the text are on the application of a reading strategy or a word study technique being taught in the lesson.

While there is not a large presence of text dependent questions, there are some throughout the materials. Many questions focus on the reading strategy introduced, but some questions require students to directly apply the strategy to the text. Some examples of text dependent questions include:

  • Students are asked to use interactive questions in the margins of the story in the Sourcebook to help them infer with their partner. For example, “How do leeches help doctors”. Students need to know from the text that “Today, doctors mainly use them after some tricky operations. The leech sucks the extra blood from the wound to reduce swelling,” (Slimy, Spiny Riddles in Unit 2, Theme 3, Week 1, Lesson 4).
  • “How are the Lakota like the people in Eagle Boy’s Village?” (How the Crow Got It’s Color in Unit 5, Theme 9, Week 2, Lesson 6)
  • “What is Felicia’s opinion about her dad’s oke? How do you know it is an opinion?” (Walking on the Treetops in Unit 6, Theme 11, Week 1, Lesson 5.
  • “What do all the animals at Uncle Isaac’s laboratory have in common?” (So Many Kinds of Animals in Unit 2, Theme 3, Week 2, Lesson 6)
  • “What are some reasons the animals want the man to save the tree?” (The Great Kapok Tree in Unit 6, Theme 11 of the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide)
  • “How do you decide what categories to use to group the important ideas and information in a passage? Discuss with a partner how you could classify the information in Nate Murphy and the Mystery Sauropod” (Unit 8, Theme 15, Week 2)
  • “What is the important clue from the newspaper article?” (The Case of the Missing Capsule in Unit 8, Theme 16, Week 2, Lesson 8)
  • “How would you describe Gordon’s personality? Why do you think that?” (The Travelers and the Bear Small Group Teacher’s Guide, Level M, Lesson 2).

Specific comprehension strategies are taught using the texts, and students have to use the text; however, very little direction, instruction, or practice is given. For example, on page 72, the teacher explains what it means to infer, and then the students turn and talk to make inferences about the text Seal using questions such as “What does Stefanos know about the seals?” However, the next direction is a suggestion that students make a chart to make inferences throughout the theme. No specific instruction or practice is given, nor is performance of answering these text dependent questions monitored. Similarly, on page 164, students learn the skill of synthesizing. After the teacher explains the reading strategy, the students turn and talk to discuss questions, including “What are the important ideas in the passage?” After hearing some of Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, students are given the suggestion to make a chart to keep track of their synthesis in the theme, but are not given specific instructions.

However, there is an equal opportunity for students answer questions that are not text dependent. throughout the sourcebook, Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, and Small Group Reading. Students are often asked to turn and talk and discuss the reading strategy that they used to understand the text, verse discussing the actual text. Some examples include:

  • Students are asked to use the comprehension strategy called “Say Something Technique, which is when the students take turns reading a section of text, covering it up, and then saying something about it to your partner. The students may say any thought or idea that the text brings to their mind (Slimy, Spiny Riddles in Unit 2, Theme 3, Week 1, Lesson 4)
  • “How do you think it would feel to be deep in the cavern underground?” (Take Virtual Trip in Unit 3, Theme, 5, Week 2, Lesson 8)
  • Share with your partner something you did to monitor your understanding of this part of the story (Unit 4, Theme 7, Week 1)
  • Have you ever had to tell someone to stop doing something? What was it? (How the Crow Got its Color Unit 5, Theme 9, Week 1, Lesson 5)
  • Why is a canoe well-suited for travel on rivers or lakes? (It’s Only Natural Unit 5, Theme 9, Week 2, Lesson 8)
  • Do you use inferencing when solving riddles? Why or why not? (So Many Kinds of Animals in Unit 2, Week 3, Week 2, Lesson 6 of the Comprehensive Teacher’ Guide)

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 4 do not meet the criteria for having 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).

There are no culminating activities at the end of a theme. Enrichment Activities are available in the margin of the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide that ask the students to do some independent writing, and present their ideas and findings to the class, however, there is no teacher guidance for these activities. There are no culminating tasks or activities that provide a synthesis of texts, information, or skills taught throughout a theme, and no rubrics are included for standard alignment or mastery. The culminating tasks that are provided do not have a coherent sequence of text-dependent questions. A generic rubric for writing is provided in the Appendix, however, there is no reference to it in the materials encouraging teachers to reference it. An assessment book is provided, but the assessment tasks are a mix of multiple choice questions and extended response questions. The questions are not consistent and only a portion are text-dependent questions.

At the end of each text, there is Think and Respond page, which could be used as response questions or as a culminating task; however, there is no rubric and only a small number of questions are text-dependent. For example, in Theme 11, Week 2, Lesson 9, after reading Janelle P. Caldwell, students first discuss what they thought while reading and then write an example of information gleaned from the text. In Theme 13, Week 2, lesson 9, students engage in a turn and talk to discuss their reading strategy of making mental images. The task does not determine if students understand the text, nor does it allow the teacher to monitor the comprehension of each student.

The materials include paper and pencil assessments. Each theme includes Ongoing Test Practice, which is intended to be used as homework after Lesson 7 of each theme. The Ongoing Test Practice includes a passage to read, multiple choice questions, and an extended response question.

The materials include Theme Progress Tests that students take on the last day of the theme. The Theme Progress Tests include multiple choice questions, which are based on sentences or paragraphs that were read throughout the theme. The multiple choice questions do not require comprehension of the text and do not increase in complexity, nor are they sequential. For example, in Theme 10, the first text dependent question posed asks students to think about what information is important in figuring out out Ledoux's ship sank. However, the second question asks, "which word best replaces the word bad in the passage?" There are also mid-year and end-of-year reviews that include essay prompts. Again, the questions posed are not necessarily text-dependent, nor are they sequential.

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.)
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 do not meet the criteria for materials providing 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 Think Aloud! teacher modeling occurs in the first lesson of every theme. It includes modeling of specific listening skills such as active or precise listening and then asks students to think about the focus questions prior to reading and then they answer the focus questions, usually two evidence-based questions are provided during the turn and talk with a partner activity after reading the text. Focus questions do not provide any indication of what types of responses the teacher should expect or a guide to model responses for the students.

Throughout the curriculum, students have opportunities for turn and talks; however, these discussions are frequently not evidence-based. Students are often asked to make connections they had while reading with a partner and/or to reflect on their application of the comprehension strategy. There is no evidence of the teacher modeling these discussions or protocols. There is an explanation of the turn and talk model in the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide Professional Handbook section (p. T63), but there is no protocol or modeling of the structure for the students. The teacher is often instructed to say “Discuss with a partner...” but how to do this appropriately is not evident in the curriculum. There are no opportunities embedded in the curriculum for the teacher to model for students the use of academic vocabulary and syntax in discussions that are connected to a text. There are no protocols for evidence-based discussions. There is some modeling of speaking with correct syntax and academic vocabulary outside of these discussions, but this is not consistent throughout materials.

There are structured vocabulary discussions for each theme in the Sourcebook, but they are not evidence-based discussions. Discussions are started with a prompt from the teacher and then students are asked to share with a partner. This is no reference to using text-based evidence in the responses. There are few opportunities where the teacher encourages the use of academic vocabulary in evidence-based discussions.

Indicator 1j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

There are some opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening skills throughout the curriculum. They are asked to share their thoughts about vocabulary words, parts of the text, personal text connections, and a few times, specific details from the text. In Lessons 1 and 2 of each theme, there is a modeled reading lesson that focuses on one of the five listening skills taught in the materials. The teacher reads the text aloud and stops throughout to ask questions about the text, which are usually about connections, vocabulary words, and the reading strategy of the day. In addition, questions are asked before the text is read to build background knowledge and after the text is read. During the last lesson of each week, students participate in an interactive reading where they answer questions with a partner, however, they are not required to return to the text or support their responses and reasoning with evidence.

For example, in Theme 2, Week 1, Lesson 2, students are asked to discuss the important information in the text At Home in Little Havana with a partner. They are instructed to discuss the main idea, important information to support the main idea and important information that is not the main idea. In Theme 7, students discuss with a partner what has happened in the story Very Last First Time as well as what the passage is about and what the sounds Eva hears indicates. In Theme 11, Week 1, Lesson 2, students share a fact or opinion with a partner during the second read aloud of The Great Kapok Tree. Students are working on both their speaking and listening skills during this lesson. While hearing the story, The Shoemaker’s Surprise students discuss what the word brilliant means with a partner.

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials, including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

Each Theme includes a daily instructional routine that includes explicit instruction, modeling, and exemplar texts. Each two week theme includes a whole group project that takes place across ten lessons. Writer's craft and grammar are taught within the context of written assignments. Each theme addresses different types of writing and small group writing gives multiple supports to students. In the Writing Bridge resources, there are theme-connected prompts to offer options for small group or independent writing.

After Shared Reading and Word Study, students are often asked to write as one of the three activities. For example, in Theme 2, after reading the text Family Treasures, students respond to the prompt, “Write a journal entry about an event in your own life. Use at least three sn- or -st words. Then share your journal entry with a partner.”

After Interactive Reading, students are asked to Reflect and Write. For example, in Theme 8 students read the text, The Black Blizzard and respond to the on-demand writing prompt, “Choose two parts of the story that were hardest for you to understand. On one side of an index card, write a word, sentence, or part of the story that you had trouble understanding. On the back of the cards, write what you did to make the meaning more clear. ”

Each theme includes a different writing type. At the end of the theme, the student Sourcebook includes a Writer’s Model of the writing type. Students respond to the writing in the Respond in Writing section of the resource. For example in Theme 12 students read a Writer’s Model that is in the form of a business letter and respond to the following questions, “What is the main idea of the business letter? How does the writer support the main idea? Provide two or three examples from the letter”and “How does the writer tie the letter together at the end? Include an example from the letter.” Students are then assigned the task to write the same type of writing through each of the writing process steps, including prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

In the Grade 4 materials, students have opportunities to write narrative and informational pieces, but only one opportunity for opinion writing is found in the materials. Each Theme focuses on one genre or organizational structure, however there is little guidance given for teaching students to write opinion pieces. A few questions throughout the Sourcebook are opinion based, but they do not involve direct instruction or prompt the students to write the answers

Students learn narrative writing through writer's modeling. For example, in Theme 2, Week 1, Lesson 3, students use the writer's model Family Treasures to learn that stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end. During independent writing time on Lessons 8 and 9 students work on their stories. In Theme 10, Week 2, Lesson 8, students work on writing narratives stories that emphasis problems that a character faces. Narrative writing is taught in Themes 2, 5, and 8,

Students begin informational Writing in Theme 3, Week 1, Lesson 3. Students participate in a shared writing of a report and advanced writers begin writing their own report. In Theme 9, Week 2, Lesson 7, students learn how to write a biography. Students begin by doing research and then reading the writer's model, Sequoyah. Students then engage in a shared writing of Sacagawea in Lesson 4 and in Lesson 5, students can begin writing their own biography. Informational writing is taught in Themes, 3, 9, and 15. Students also write in response to the stories they hear. For example, in Theme 11, Week 1, Lesson 5, students write a journal entry explaining what they learned about the rainforest after reading Discovery in the Amazon.

The one opportunity students have for opinion writing is in Theme 11, Week 2, Lesson 8, students begin brainstorming topics for persuasion and then begin writing a persuasive essay. Students also have few opportunities to share their opinion of a text after reading, though this does not include teacher instruction and does not require writing. For example, in Theme 11, Week 2, Lesson 10, students answer the question, “How do you think you might meet the challenges of studying in the rain forest?”.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 do not 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.

There are few opportunities for evidence-based writing to develop or support claims. There are a few writing prompts that require evidence-based writing with claims, however, there is also no explicit instruction to support this type of writing. Students are not taught how to support answers with evidence from the text. Writing tasks can often be answered without analysis of the text because the focus of the materials is more about the traits of writing rather than building an understanding of a topic or text.

The Critical Thinking section in the Sourcebook provides evidence-based questions, but the students are expected to discuss the answers instead of write the answers. For example, in Theme 1, the first prompt is to write about the revolutionary war from the point of view of a colonist who lives in America in the 1770s. The second prompt is, “If you had lived during the time of the American revolution, would you have supported the colonists or the British?” Both prompts do not include explicit instruction. In Theme 5, the questions prompted are, “Imagine that you are a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Write about what you would add to the Constitution,” and “Select one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights and write about its importance to citizens.”

Additionally, many questions are asked in a discussion format and do not require text evidence for support or include a writing task. Guidance is not provided to the teacher on when students should be completing the tasks, and explicit instruction on how to answer the questions is not evident. In Theme 2, Week 2, Lesson 9, students are asked to discuss what questions they can make between the play they read The Fair, and what they already know. In Theme 12, Week 2, Lesson 10, students write facts on a piece of paper after reading The Forest Has Eyes, and discuss what facts they learned about trees. Similarly, in Theme 12, Week 1, Lesson 5, students answer questions such as “Where do you notice the most advertising-magazines, television, radio, internet, video games, films?," and “Do such advertising tricks work?” Many opportunities for discussing the text, themes, and topics are included in the materials, however, many of the discussions can occur without interacting with the materials or without text evidence to support their answers.

Indicator 1n

Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials should 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. The instructional materials contain instruction for language standards, but there are some language standards not addressed in the materials such as the use of relative pronouns, the use of modal auxiliaries, adjective order, producing complete sentences and correcting fragments and run-on sentences, use of commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech, choose punctuation for effect, and differentiation informal and formal language. Opportunities to practice grammar and convention standards are in-context are limited.

Examples of language standards are in the material are:

  • L.4.1a Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).
    • In Theme 12, Week 1, Lesson 1, students learn about relative adverbs by writing sentences and identifying the adverb. Students also go over examples such as quietly, and slowly.
  • L.4.1b Form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses.
    • In Theme 8, Week 1, Lesson 4, students work on past, present, and future verb tenses. Students learn about verb tenses and then check their writing for these verb tenses.
  • L.4.1e Form and use prepositional phrases.
    • In the small group reading lessons, students use the story, “The Bake Sale Battle”, in order to study prepositions. Students also study what it does in a sentence. Students then use the text to find two new prepositions. Not every student receives this small group instruction.
  • L.4.1g Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).
    • In the Writing Resource Guide, Theme 16, the teacher explains homophones as words that sound the same as each other but are spelled differently and mean different things. The teacher creates a chart with homophone pairs: by/buy, close/clothes, hour/our. Students work in groups of 4 to write three sentences containing the homophone pairs listed above.
  • L.4.2a Use correct capitalization.
    • In Theme 4, Week 1, Lesson 3, students are reminded in their writing that proper nouns should be capitalized.
  • L.4.2d Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
    • In A32, the appendix there is a spelling routine activity that helps the teachers support student learning for spelling lists.
  • L.4.3a Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.
    • In Theme 7, Week 1, Lesson 2, students analyze voice in the story, “Oceans Swim,” where students work to find phrases that convey the writer’s voice, Ian.
    • In Theme 10, Week 1, Lesson 2, students work on analyzing word choices in their writing by first analyzing the word choices in the text, “Trading Across the Ocean.”
    • In Theme 15, Week 1, Lesson 5, students use an organizer to answer sentences about when, where and why in order to enhance their writing.

Criterion 1o - 1q

Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.
3/6
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the expectation that materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression. Materials partially meet expectations that materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks. Materials partially meet expectations that instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.

Indicator 1o

Materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.

Literacy by Design materials provide explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression, but the progression begins with foundational skills from prior grade levels. Instruction in irregularly spelled words, syllabication patterns, and word recognition are limited when whole group time instruction is focused on prior standards. There is an assessment calendar that provides the teacher opportunities to assess students weekly on some skills, monthly on other skills, and twice a year for other reading assessments. Students are provided explicit instruction in strategies to use word solving approaches. Opportunities to further Grade 4 students’ word analysis are missed in the early Themes because the materials contain whole class review foundational skills. Materials contain limited opportunities for explicit instruction of word solving strategies (graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words.

Materials contain explicit instruction of irregularly spelled words, syllabication patterns, and word recognition consistently over the course of the year. Examples include:

  • The introduction to the Small Group Reading Teacher’s Guide at Grade 4 states that phonics and word study are correlated to reading levels. The levels for grade 4 are M-T. Word study including prefixes and suffixes, multiple-meaning words, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, plurals and syllabication occur in levels N-W. For example:
    • In Level M, Small Group Reading, page 11, students work on consonant patterns ink and ack. This is a foundational skill from a prior grade level.
    • In Level P, Small Group Reading, page 136, students work on reading and identifying compound words. The teacher gives some examples and then students name and define the smaller word.
  • In Theme 7, Week 2, Thinking Like a Scientist, the teacher starts by providing students with a definition of inflected endings. “Tell students that an inflected ending is a letter or group of letters that is added to a word to change its meaning. Write the root word walk on the board. Then write the words walked, walking, and walks. Ask volunteers to tell what was added to change the root word (endings -ed, -ing, and -s) and to use each new word in a sentence that shows the meaning of the word.” The class then discusses examples of when they have used inflected endings.
  • In Theme 8, Week 2, the teacher provides students with a definition of a prefix, “Explain to students that a prefix is a letter or group of letters that can be added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. The prefix un- means “not.” Provide examples, such as untie, undo, unclear, and so on.”
  • In Theme 13, Week 1, students learn about the suffixes -ful, -able and -less.
  • In Theme 13, Week 2, students learn about the suffixes -ness, -ion, -tion, and -ment.
  • In Theme 14, Week 1, students learn about the suffixes -ly and -fully.
  • In Theme 16, students learn consonant doubling. “Work with a partner to add endings to a list of words. Think of words with which you could use the double consonant rule.”

Multiple assessment opportunities are provided over the course of the year to inform instructional adjustments of phonics and word recognition to help students make progress toward mastery. Examples include:

  • The Assessment Guide for Grade 4 contains Theme Progress Tests and test practice aligned to the Comprehensive Teacher’s Guide units. Word study is included in each of the Theme Progress Tests, which are given on the last day of each theme. For example:
    • In Theme 1, includes multiple-choice questions on review of short vowels and initial consonants, “Which of these lists contains words that all begin with a consonant?) It also asks the students to select the correct word that both starts and ends with a consonant. This is assessment question is below grade level.
    • In Theme 14, the assessment includes 2 questions about suffixes. “What suffix do you add to the word silent to make it mean in a silent way?”
  • Mid-year and End-of-Year review tests are cumulative. The mid-year test contains questions about synonyms and antonyms and multiple-meaning words. “Which of these words is an antonym of started?” The end-of-year review texts antonyms and multiple meaning words.
  • Materials include Rigby READS diagnostic assessment in order to get a baseline of data for students’ reading.

Indicator 1p

Materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.

Literacy By Design materials include opportunities for students to complete tasks in order to learn word analysis skills. The skills are similar in nature each week and include brief instruction. There are opportunities for students to complete activities that are in- and out-of-context. Assessments are provided in the materials such as the Theme assessments, but reviewers were unable to evaluate all the assessments for word analysis in-context including evaluating word analysis in Rigsby Reads.

Multiple and varied opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected texts and tasks. Examples include:

  • In Theme 5, Week 1, using the context of a text from the sourcebook, students practice finding synonyms and antonyms for words such as ascend, summit, ancient and huge.
  • In Theme 5, Week 2, students complete the following activity on multiple meaning words, “Read the television show synopsis It’s Plain to See that “Plain Truth” is a Hit on page 150 aloud. Have students listen for words that have multiple meanings (place, run, plain, show, set, hit, stars, block, spring). Then have partners complete Multiple-Meaning Words in Context on page 151 of the Sourcebook.”
  • In Theme 6, Week 1, students listen for homonyms in the context of a text from the sourcebook. Homonym pairs students listen for include: mussels/muscles, to/two, assistance/assistants, pier/peer, tide/tied.
  • In Theme 7, Week 2, Thinking Like a Scientist, the teacher starts by providing students with a definition of inflected endings - “Tell students that an inflected ending is a letter or group of letters that is added to a word to change its meaning. Write the root word walk on the board. Then write the words walked, walking, and walks. Ask volunteers to tell what was added to change the root word (endings -ed, -ing, and -s) and to use each new word in a sentence that shows the meaning of the word.” The class then discusses examples of when they have used inflected endings.
  • In Theme 8, Week 2, the teacher provides students with a definition of a prefix, “Explain to students that a prefix is a letter or group of letters that can be added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. The prefix un- means “not.” Provide examples, such as untie, undo, unclear, and so on.”
  • In Theme 16, Week 1, Lesson 5, students learn the skill of consonant doubling in order to read words they are unfamiliar with. The teacher has students complete Activity 3 in their sourcebook on page 485. Students explore words with consonant doubles , then they work together in partners in order to add endings to words such as - er, -ed, -est and -ing. Then they create a list of their own words with consonant doubling and share the list with the peers in the group. They then look back at a paragraph on erosion and write their own paragraph that outlines the steps of erosion and then a partner finds all of the words they used that have consonant doubling in them.
  • Meaning (word study) including prefixes and suffixes, contractions, multiple-meaning words, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, plurals, syllabication, idioms, and abbreviations occur in levels N-W at fourth grade. All are presented in the context of the readings in that section. For example:
    • Level N, Small Group Reading, focuses on homonyms. Students review the definition and create homonym sentences from the words in the reading. They also look at multiple-meaning words by deciding which words in the story are multiple-meaning words. Level N also includes the suffixes -ly and -fully.
    • Level O, Small Group Reading, addresses compound words, within the context of the Mystery of the Missing Book. It also addresses contractions in The Story of the Hoover Dam. In My BIrd Journal, students focus on the prefix un-, which is continued in Level P.
    • Level P, Small Group Reading, addresses suffixes -ion and -tion in the context of We’ve Got Mail.
    • Level Q, Small Group Reading, addresses the prefixes re- and pre-, within the context of the Wind at Work. It also addresses suffixes -ness and -ment.
    • Level S, Small Group Reading, focuses on irregular verbs, inflected endings, prefixes non-, in-, and dis-, suffixes -ly and -fully, and compound words.

Materials include word analysis assessment to monitor student learning of word analysis skills. Examples include:

  • There is a benchmark assessment and evaluation kit. This assessment is said to give teachers ongoing progress monitoring for students in the area of word study and comprehension. Teachers individually administer this assessment several times a year and the texts are fiction and nonfiction.
  • There is another assessment called Rigby Reads that is an evaluation and diagnostic tool to help the teacher evaluate students word analysis skills. This assessment is given at the beginning and end of the year or when a new student moves into the teachers class. This provides teachers with information about a students word analysis skills in order for them to access books at their reading level. This assessment is used twice a year rather than for monitoring and adjusting instruction of word analysis skills.

Indicator 1q

Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.

Literacy By Design materials include opportunities for students to have access to small group readers where they practice a variety of fluency strategies. Students have opportunities to practice oral and silent reading. Also, included are different assessments in order to help the teacher identify how students are doing in overall fluency. Opportunities to practice and apply re-reading and self-correction are limited. Opportunities to practice and build fluency with poetry are limited.

Multiple opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate sufficient accuracy and fluency in oral and silent reading. Examples include:

  • In Theme 13, Week 1, Teach Fluency: Read in Phrases, “Discuss how good readers read the words in a phrase together without pausing to make the reading sound smooth. Use echo reading as you reread a portion of page 392. Model reading in phrases as students echo read and follow your use of phrasing.”
  • In Theme 15, Week 1, Teach Fluency: Use Read in Phrases, “Explain to students that good readers often read in phrases without pausing to make the reading sound as though they are talking. This also helps them with the text’s meaning. Use echo reading as you reread a portion of page 454, modeling reading in phrases.”
  • In Theme 16, Week 1, Teach Fluency: Use Punctuation to Inform Meaning, “Discuss how good readers use punctuation as they read aloud to help establish a serious, excited or questioning tone. Use choral reading as you reread a potion of page 484. Before reading, point out the end punctuation. Then have students practice a serious, questioning, or excited tone as you read together.”
  • The Small Group Reading Teacher’s Guide states on page T14 that fluency skills are modeled in whole class instruction, and that systematic and explicit fluency instruction exists in every small group reading lesson. There are Fluency Readers for independent reading and practice and Fluent Reader software for repeated practice and assessment. All the fluency lessons are grounded in the readings. For example:
    • In Levels M, N, and O, there are fluency lessons about changing one’s voice to reflect characters, conveying emotion and meaning, using punctuation to inform meaning, and reading in phrases. For example, the teacher models reading page 3 of the text, changing her own voice to reflect the characters. Students then take turns practicing reading the character parts.
    • In Level N, Lesson 2, students are encouraged to practice fluency through phrasing. Students read the text and the teacher listens to ensure students are reading phrases with fluency.
    • In Level P, the teacher introduces a fluency focus on stressing words with special type treatment and reading in phrases. The teacher models chunking a reading into phrases for smoother reading. Students then take turns reading the text section they have practiced. This is continued in Level T.

Materials support reading or prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary. Opportunities were missed over the course of the school year to have students pay attention to rate, accuracy and expression when reading poems. Examples include:

  • In the Sourcebook, page 278, students read the poem, “Morning Light.” Students practice symbolism while reading this poem.
  • In Theme 3, Week 2, students read the poem, “Vertebrate or Invertebrate - What’s My ID?,” students work on identifying abbreviations in the poem, but no mention is made of working on rate, expression or accuracy when reading the poem.
  • In Theme 5, Week 1, Lesson 3, students read the story, “The Superstition Mountains.” The teacher uses echo reading to show students how to read a section on page 138, to model and convey emotion and meaning through expression.
  • In Theme 14, Week 1, students read the poem “Sunday at the Farmer’s Market.” The focus of the lesson is on repetition of language and there is no mention of rereading the poem to build fluency, work on expression or accuracy.

Materials support students’ fluency development of reading skills (e.g., self-correction of word recognition and/or for understanding, focus on rereading) over the course of the year (to get to the end of the grade-level band). Opportunities are modeled by the teacher, but student practice opportunities are limited. Examples include:

  • In Theme 13, Week 1, Think Aloud, Use Fix-Up Strategies: Read On (during a teacher read aloud of the story A Band of Angels.- “The narrator of the story tells us “those nine young singers faced many hardships.” I do not know what the narrator means by “hardships,” so I read on to figure out the meaning. I learn that by “hardships” the narrator means the difficult situations that the singers had to deal with, like getting turned away from restaurants and hotels because of the color of their skin.”
  • In Theme 14, Week 2, the class revisits the strategy “Read On,” “Remind students of last theme’s strategy, Use Fix-Up Strategies: Read On.” On the following day, students should be ready to summarize their reading and discuss how they used the read on strategy to uncover meaning.”

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with information of students’ current fluency skills and provide teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery of fluency. Examples include:

  • With the Fluent Reader Software component, students choose from five text passages, three from fluency readers and two that are unseen. Students listen and read along. Then students record themselves reading, and they listen to the playback, comparing their recordings to the fluent reader.
    • The software evaluates students initial reading rates and measures their progress up against the words per minute goal. The teachers use a fluency rubric to assess where students are at in this area.
  • Teachers use the Rigby READS diagnostic test for reading level placement. This includes fluency as one of the five-pillars.
  • There are no fluency questions in any of the 16 Theme Progress Tests or in the mid-year or final year exams.
  • A benchmark assessment and evaluation kit is mentioned on page T17, which includes information about student reading accuracy.

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 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

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 12/05/2018

Report Edition: 2013

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Essential Resource Guide Grade 4 978-0-5477-2974-9 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Student Sourcebook, Volume 2 Grade 4 978-0-5477-3457-6 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Student Sourcebook, Volume 1 Grade 4 978-0-5477-3460-6 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Writing Resource Guides Grade 4 978-0-5477-3513-9 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Assessment Guide Grade 4 978-0-5477-4164-2 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Benchmark Book Evaluation Guide Grade 4 978-0-5477-4244-1 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Comprehension Organizers Grades 3-5 978-0-5477-4247-2 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Comprehension Bridges Grade 4 978-0-5477-4254-0 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Skills Master Grade 4 978-0-5477-4269-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Writing Bridge Grade 4 978-0-5477-4283-0 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Small Group Reading Teacher's Guide Complete Grade 4 978-0-5478-2400-0 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Whole Class Complete Package with Grade 4 978-0-5478-3692-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Small Group Complete Package with Grade 4 978-0-5478-3704-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Benchmark Assessment Package Grade 4 978-0-5478-4875-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Complete Comprehensive Teachers Guide Package Grade 4 978-0-5478-4997-3 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Small Group Teacher Resources Grade 4 978-0-5478-5183-9 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Comprehensive Teacher Resources Grade 4 978-0-5478-5400-7 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Common Core Correlation Booklet Grade 4 978-0-5478-6491-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level N Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2537-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level O Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2538-1 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level P Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2540-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level Q Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2542-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level R Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2543-5 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level S Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2545-9 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Leveled Reader Bundle, Level T Digital Content Grade 4 978-1-3289-2547-3 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013
Literacy by Design Teacher's Guide Small Group Reading Grade 4 978-1-4189-3304-3 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Literacy by Design Comprehensive Teacher?s Guide Grade 4 978-1-4189-3310-4 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008

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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.

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