Alignment: Overall Summary

Mirrors & Windows Grade 8 materials partially meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include some instruction, practice, and authentic application of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language work that is engaging and at an appropriate level of rigor for the grade.

Alignment

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Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality and Complexity

0
18
32
36
24
32-36
Meets Expectations
19-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-18
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
15
23
25
N/A
23-25
Meets Expectations
16-22
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality and Complexity and Alignment to the Standards with Tasks and Questions Grounded in Evidence

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the standards. The Mirrors & Windows program includes a literature anthology of full texts and supporting excerpts that appropriately balance the exploration of literary and informational texts, as required by the standards. Some texts are appropriately complex for the grade level. Although the program utilizes a gradual release of responsibility reading model, students often do not receive support as texts become more complex. The progression of complexity does not increase across the year. Students read a variety of text types and have choice in their independent reading selections. Oral and written text-specific and text-dependent questions support students in making meaning of the core understandings of the texts being studied. Materials support teachers with planning and implementing text-based questions. Materials provide frequent speaking and listening opportunities for students, with some opportunities for teacher modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax; however, materials lack evidence of speaking and listening protocols. Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers; however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and supports. While materials provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they are reading through various speaking opportunities, including opportunities that require students to utilize, apply, and incorporate evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these tasks are optional. Although materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing, writing opportunities in each mode are unevenly distributed. While process writing includes opportunities for students to revise their work, Writing Workshops rarely include explicit instruction. While students have opportunities to write about what they are reading, including opportunities to support their analyses and claims using evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these opportunities are optional. Explicit evidence-based writing instruction is largely absent. Materials include limited explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage. Materials miss opportunities to address standards or address standards that are included in a subsequent grade level. Opportunities for authentic application in context are limited. Although materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts, materials do not outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development.

Criterion 1a - 1e

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.

14/18
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations for text quality and complexity. Materials include high-quality texts and appropriately balance informational and literary texts as required by the standards; however, some texts are not appropriately complex and the progression of text complexity does not increase across the year.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of high quality, worthy of careful reading, and consider a range of student interests.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for Indicator 1a. 

Anchor texts are rich in language, engaging, and relevant. Texts encompass universal and multicultural themes expanding horizons and recalling heroes. These selections are a mix of not only popular texts typically seen in classrooms, but also lesser-known excerpts from personal writings that bring a different perspective into the classroom. Texts further build upon themes and skills explored in the preceding grade. Texts provide multiple reading levels to help students broaden their knowledge base and personal perspectives at various levels of depth and meaning. Many of these texts included in the materials are written by award-winning authors such as Ray Bradbury and Carl Sandburg. The readings span a wide range of interests, from lyric poems that encourage students to dream to selections that engage students in discussing historical events.

Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” a short story written by Pulitzer Prize winning author,  Ray Bradbury. Students read this text to explore the theme of courage. 

  • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read the essay, “The Story of Iqbal Masih,” by David L. Parker.  Parker’s essay chronicles the hardships of child laborers in Pakistan. 

  • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read a biography written by Theodora Kroeber, titled Ishi in Two Worlds. This biography serves as a guided reading, which students then use to consider the theme of compassion. 

  • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the science article, “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow. The informational text integrates research across scientific disciplines to explain the extinction of dinosaurs. Students have the opportunity to engage with challenging vocabulary by using context clues to find the meanings of new words.  

  • In Unit 5, Living With Words, students read “The New Colossus,” a lyric poem written by Emma Lazurus. This poem is an anchor text for the unit and introduces the ideas of “adjustment” and  “acceptance” as students consider citizens’ attitudes toward immigrants. This poem is inscribed on a bronze plaque, installed in 1903, on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. 

  • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read the narrative poem,“Paul Revere’s Ride,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem exposes students to historical events and characters that helped shape the United States. The narrative format affords students the opportunity to evaluate story elements, while the poet’s use of rhythm and meter allows students to analyze its effect on the poem’s meaning. 

  • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read The Diary of Anne Frank, Act 1, an original play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. This play is an anchor text for the unit and challenges students to explore the historical connections across various types of texts. 

  • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read the tall tale, “Paul Bunyan of the North Woods,” by Pulitzer prize winning author Carl Sandburg. The tall tale uses hyperbole to establish the characters as legends and heroes. Students have the opportunity to integrate scientific research into the study of this tall tale.

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 8 meet the criteria for Indicator 1b. 

Materials contain a variety of text types and reflect an appropriate balance of informational and literary texts. Each unit has a genre focus, with texts from other genres dispersed throughout the unit. Some text types included are: scientific charts, biographies, how-to articles, tall tales, graphic novels, and multiple forms of poetry. Each unit includes suggested independent reading books that correspond with the unit’s genre focus. Materials also provide a vast collection of e-books for additional independent reading. Grade 8 contains two nonfiction units. Of the 107 core and supporting texts students read during the year, 33 of the selections are informational, resulting in a 31/69 balance of informational and literary texts.

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the grade level standards. Materials reflect a 55/45 balance of informational and literary texts. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read the short story, “Charles” by Shirley Jackson, and the article, “Echoes of Shiloh” by Shelby Foote. Students read a total of 11 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 9/91 balance of informational and literary texts.  

  • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read a primary source journal entry titled “Working on the Moon” by Edwin Aldrin, Jr. and an essay, "The Story of Iqbal Masih" by David L. Parker. Students read a total of 13 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of two Informational Text Connection selections, resulting in a 15/85 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read the autobiography, “Mrs. Flowers” by Maya Angelou, and the argumentative essay, “Proclamation of the Indians of Alcatraz” by Jay David. Students read a total of 15 core and supporting texts, all of which are informational selections with the exception of two Literary Connection selections, resulting in an 87/13 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “Scale of Geologic Time,” a scientific chart, and an informational text, "Indian Cattle" by Eugene Rachlis. Students read a total of 13 core and supporting texts, all of which are informational selections with the exception of one literary core text, resulting in a 92/8 balance of informational and literary texts.  

  • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read an excerpt from the historical nonfiction text, Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman, and the humorous poem, “The Naming of Cats” by T.S. Eliot. Students read a total of 15 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 7/93 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read a humorous poem titled “The Choice” by Dorothy Parker, and a lyric poem, "Grandma Ling," by Amy Ling. Students read a total of 16 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 6/94 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read the drama, The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, and the diary entry from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Students read a total of five core and supporting texts, including two Informational Text Connection selections, resulting in a 40/60 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  •  In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read a Zuni myth, "Coyote Steals the Sun and Moon" by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, and an excerpt from a graphic novel titled Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood written by Tony Lee, Sam Hart, and Artur Fujita. Students read a total of 19 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 5/95 balance of informational and literary texts. 

Indicator 1c

Core/Anchor texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to documented quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Documentation should also include rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.

2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1c. 

Grade 8  texts quantitatively range between 600L–1370L for the year. Most texts that fall outside of the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band have qualitative measures that make them appropriately complex for the grade. The relationship of the quantitative and qualitative analyses to the associated reader task is not appropriately complex. Students often make graphic organizers to track the reading skill of focus, and their post-reading use of these charts varies. While some Extend Understanding tasks serve as associated reader tasks, these tasks are optional and may not occur during core instruction. Extend Understanding task options often do not connect to the graphic organizer students create at the start of their reading. Although materials include text complexity information for quantitative and qualitative measures, the documentation does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. 

Core/Anchor texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to documented quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Documentation does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anchor/Core 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.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students focus on nonfiction. Of the fifteen selections read in this unit, six are above the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band, four fall within, and three fall below the stretch band. The other two remaining texts do not have a Lexile level. The biography, Ishi in Two Worlds  by Theodora Kroeber (1230L), serves as the anchor text for the unit and is paired with an Informational Text Connection piece, “Yana People to Receive Ishi’s Brain,” a newspaper article by Robert Fri (1330L). Both selections fall above the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for Ishi in Two Worlds is listed as Challenging with vocabulary identified as a Difficulty Consideration and intriguing plot identified as an Ease Factor. The Reading Level for Fri’s work is listed as Moderate; materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. After reading, students “create a timeline that reflects the order in which the events occurred” to “organize the sequence of events and clarify the impact of one event on another.” During the Creative Writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students “[w]rite a list of biographical information about a friend or family member. Include important dates, personal events, people, and places in that person’s life. If outside events had an important impact on the person's life, include the events and a brief note explaining their effect.” It is unclear how this associated task aligns to Reading: Informational Text or Writing grade-level standards.    

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students focus on poetry. Of the sixteen selections read in this unit, fifteen do not have a Lexile level. The other remaining text, an Informational Text Connection selection, falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. Students read a narrative poem, "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (NP) as the anchor text for this unit. This Directed Reading text is paired with an Informational Text Connection piece, an excerpt from the biography, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, by Esther Forbes (1080L). The excerpt falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for “Paul Revere’s Ride” is listed as Moderate with sentence length and archaic language identified as Difficulty Considerations and rhyme and rhythm identified as Ease Factors. The Reading Level for the biographical excerpt is listed as Easy; materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. Students use a timeline to keep track of the sequence of events to help them “understand when and why things happen.” Students do not use their timeline after reading, nor do any of the Extend Understanding options address sequence of events. It is also unclear how this associated task aligns to its correlated grade-level standard: “Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.”   

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students focus on folk literature. Of the nineteen selections read in this unit, eight fall within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band, four fall above, and three fall below the stretch band. The remaining four texts do not have a Lexile level. Students read a tall tale, "Paul Bunyan of the North Woods" by Carl Sandburg (1210L), as the anchor text for this unit. This Directed Reading text falls slightly above the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band and has a Reading Level of Moderate. Vocabulary is listed as a Difficulty Consideration and familiar story is listed as an Ease Factor. This text is paired with an Informational Text Connection piece, “The Ole Feller Recollects How Joe Fournier Became Paul Bunyan,” an essay by D. Laurence Rogers (1110L). This selection falls on the higher end of the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band and has a Reading Level of Moderate; materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. Students “use a chart to keep track of details related to the author’s purpose.” The model chart includes Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading section headers and guidance for each section: “Before Reading: Identify the author’s purpose, the type of writing he or she uses, and the ideas he or she wants to communicate. During Reading: Gather ideas that the author communicates to readers. After Reading: Summarize the ideas the author communicates. Explain how these ideas help fulfill the author’s purpose.” 

  • Anchor/Core texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by an accurate text complexity analysis; however, the text complexity analysis does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.

    • The text overview page for each selection includes the following text complexity information: the gradual release of responsibility stage (i.e., Guided Reading: Close Reading Model, Directed Reading, Independent Reading), Reading Level and Lexile level, Difficulty Considerations, and Ease Factors. Materials do not explain the educational purpose of the text and the reason for its placement in the grade level.

Indicator 1d

Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band to support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1d.

While series of texts are largely at a variety of complexity levels, the complexity of anchor texts and supporting texts students read does not provide an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to grow across the year. Text overviews often include Use Reading Skills and Analyze Literature tasks that outline an area of focus and task students with creating a chart to analyze or evaluate the area of focus; however, students rarely use the chart they make to complete an associated reader task after reading the text. Extend Understanding tasks, while optional, often do not provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of the focus area. When provided, associated reader tasks do not increase in complexity over the course of the year. While the program’s gradual release of responsibility reading model “emphasizes scaffolded instruction,” students often do not receive support as texts become more complex. Because the Lexile levels of text selections increase within most units, students receive the most support during Guided Reading at the beginning of the unit, when Lexile levels typically fall below the Lexile Stretch Band, and the least support during Independent Reading at the end of the unit, when Lexile levels are typically at the high end or above the Lexile Stretch Band.

Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band to support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The complexity of anchor texts students read does not provide an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, encompassing an entire year’s worth of growth.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, texts range from 550L–1170L. During the Guided Reading: Close Reading Model section of the unit, students read “Born Worker” (740L) by Gary Soto and analyze its theme. The quantitative measure for this text places it well below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for this text is listed as Moderate, with theme identified as a Difficulty Consideration and vocabulary identified as an Ease Factor. While reading, students respond to questions about the theme, such as “What does this suggest about a possible theme for the story?”; “What theme can they infer from the statement?”; and “What does this convey about the theme of the story?” After reading, students respond to an Analyze Literature prompt, during which they “[u]se a theme map to gather the details that support a central theme in the story. Write a possible theme in the center circle, and provide supporting details in the smaller circles.” The associated reader task does not meet the requirements of its correlated standard: “Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.”

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, texts have a quantitative measure of NP because this unit focuses on drama. The one exception is an Informational Text Connection article with a Lexile level of 990. During the Directed Reading section of the unit, students read a paired selection containing lyric poems by Emily Dickinson, “If I can stop one Heart from breaking” (NP) and “He ate and drank the precious words” (NP). The Reading Level for both poems is listed as Moderate, with vocabulary listed as a Difficulty Consideration and length listed as an Ease Factor. Students “[u]se a main idea map to find the theme.” Students do not use their main idea map during any of the four Extend Understanding options. During the Collaborative Learning Extend Understanding option, students work in small groups to discuss the elements of the poems, “including themes, structures, and tones.” While in their small groups, students “create a Venn diagram to show how such elements in the poems are similar and different.” The associated reader task does not meet the requirements of its correlated standard: “Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.”

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, texts range from 450L–1330L. During the Directed Reading section of the unit, students read “Barbara Frietchie'' (NP) by John Greenleaf Whittier. The Reading Level for this text is listed as Easy, with subject matter identified as a Difficulty Consideration and rhyme scheme identified as an Ease Factor. Guidance in the Use Reading Skills box directs students to “gather important ideas into a main idea map and analyze what main idea or theme they suggest.” To complete the main idea map, students ``[s]ummarize the content of key groups of couplets in the details section. Then look at all the details and write the main idea in the center.” Students do not utilize their main idea map during  the four Extend Understanding task options, nor do the Extend Understanding tasks address the main idea or theme.

  • As texts become more complex, some scaffolds and/or materials are provided in Teacher Edition (i.e., spending more time on texts, more questions, repeated readings).

    • The front matter of the Teacher Edition explains the program’s gradual release of responsibility reading model: “Guided Reading at the beginning of the unit (Grades 6–10) provides the framework for the teacher to guide students through the reading process. Close Reading Models walk students through the selections and demonstrate how to analyze literature and apply reading skills and strategies to each genre.” Next, the gradual release reading model transitions students to Directed Reading. During this stage, “the teacher begins to transfer responsibility to the students. Students are directed through explicit pre- and post-reading instruction, but during-reading support is reduced to encourage students to practice reading skills and monitor comprehension on their own.” The reading model concludes with Independent Reading. This stage “advances the total release of responsibility from the teacher to the students, who can now apply the skills and knowledge required to read increasingly more difficult selections on their own.”

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read the anchor text, “Men on the Moon” by Simon Ortiz (550L), paired with the Primary Source Connection selection, “Working on the Moon,” by Edwin Aldrin, Jr. (1170L). “Men on the Moon” falls significantly below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band, while “Working on the Moon” falls on the higher end of the stretch band. Both texts have a Reading Level of Moderate. Difficulty Considerations for Ortiz’s text include unconventional style with no Ease Factors identified. Materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors for “Working on the Moon.” Before reading these Directed Reading selections, students create a note-taking chart to monitor their comprehension. Guidance suggests to students that  “If you come across information or ideas that don’t make sense to you, read on further to see if they become clearer.... As you read, write down your reactions to the text and summarize the main ideas.” During reading, students do not respond to Analyze Literature questions addressing style and it is unclear how the note-taking chart supports students with accessing this Difficulty Consideration.  

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read the anchor text, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” (NP) along with an Informational Text Connection selection, an excerpt from the biography, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In” by Esther Forbes (1080L). The biographical excerpt falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. Materials identify the Reading Level of the poem as Moderate with sentence length and archaic language listed as Difficulty Considerations and rhyme and rhythm listed as Ease Factors. The Reading Level for the Informational Text Connection piece is listed as Easy. Materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. Prior to reading this Directed Reading paired selection, the Use Reading Skills inset directs students to create a timeline to “note the sequence of events.” The text overview page includes a list of Preview Vocabulary terms and their definitions. These terms are also defined in the footnotes of the text. While students respond to two Analyze Literature prompts addressing the identified Ease Factors, materials do not include supports addressing the identified Difficulty Considerations.

Indicator 1e

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year, including accountability structures for independent reading.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for Indicator 1e. 

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a wide range of reading that follows a gradual release, close reading model. Materials include suggested pacing for text selections. The daily and weekly volume of reading in which students engage is contingent upon the type of schedule—regular or block—that they follow. At the start of each unit, students read Guided Reading selections that “[model] the close read process.” Students transition to Directed Reading selections that include supports for before- and after-reading activities. The unit ends with Independent Reading eSelections that “provide students with the opportunity to practice skills on their own.” Materials also include a For Your Reading List page at the end of each unit. This page includes independent reading suggestions that “[e]xtend the unit theme with relevant, diverse titles” and “[e]ncourage application of close reading strategies and skills.” Although materials include a reading log, materials do not include guidance on its use. Materials include a significant online eLibrary with eSelections that include activities that allow students to independently check their understanding. 

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year, including accountability structures for independent reading. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of text types and genres.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read multiple texts such as: “Ishi in Two Worlds,” a biography written by Theodora Kroeber, “Epiphany: The Third Gift,” a memoir written by Lucha Corpi, and an excerpt from “Our Struggle Is Against All Forms of Racism,” a speech by Nelson Mandela. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.”

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read multiple texts such as: “Southbound on the Freeway,” a lyric poem by May Swenson, “Casey at the Bat,” a narrative poem written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, and an excerpt from Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, a biography written by Esther Forbes. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.”

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read multiple texts such as: “The Dying Detective,” a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dramatized by Michael and Mollie Hardwick, an excerpt of a diary entry from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, and an excerpt from Gerda Weissmann Klein’s autobiography, All But My Life. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.”

  • Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in a volume of reading.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read three texts during Guided Reading; six texts, including three eSelections, during Directed Reading; and two eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend three to four regular schedule days or one and one-half to two block schedule days on a text during Guided Reading, two to four regular schedule days or one to two block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading, and one to two regular schedule days or one-half  to one block S

    • schedule day on a text during Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or from novels or short story collections [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text or collection independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.”

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read five texts during Guided Reading; eight texts, including four eSelections, during Directed Reading; and two eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend one to two regular schedule days or one-half to one block schedule day on a text during Guided Reading, one to three regular schedule days or one-half to one and one-half block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading, and one regular schedule day or one-half block schedule day on a text during Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options, but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or poems and poetry collections [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text or collection independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.”

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read two texts during Guided Reading; twelve texts, including eight eSelections, during Directed Reading; and five eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend two to three regular schedule days, or one to one and one-half block schedule days on a text during Guided Reading, one to three regular schedule days or one-half to one and one-half block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading, and one to two regular schedule days or one-half to one block schedule day on a text during Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or from folk literature collections [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text or collection independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.”

  • There is sufficient teacher guidance to foster independence for all readers (e.g., independent reading procedures, proposed schedule, tracking system for independent reading).

    • Each independent reading eSelection includes suggested pacing. Teacher guidance for some eSelections includes specific independent reading suggestions for students who enjoyed the topic covered. Materials include a For Your Reading List page that includes a list of six independent reading selections with a short synopsis of each of the text options. Students choose one of the texts and create a schedule for their independent reading. The Teacher Wrap also includes guidance for an Independent Reading Activity option. The Program Guide contains a reading log; however, materials do not include guidance on how to utilize the reading log during independent reading.

    • Materials include an extensive online eLibrary that “contains over 300 literary and informational texts that students may read independently,” as well as selection tests which students can use to check their progress and monitor their comprehension.

Criterion 1f - 1m

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.

10/18
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the expectations for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. Materials include oral and written questions and tasks grounded in the text, requiring students to use information from the text to support their answers and demonstrate comprehension of what they are reading. Materials do not include speaking and listening protocols. Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers; however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and supports. Although materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing, writing opportunities in each mode are unevenly distributed. Writing Workshops include revision and editing opportunities; however, materials rarely include explicit writing instruction. Although students have opportunities to write about what they are reading, including opportunities to support their analyses and claims using evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these opportunities are optional. Materials lack explicit evidence-based writing instruction. Materials miss opportunities for explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage standards. Opportunities for authentic application in context are limited. Although materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts, materials do not outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development.

Indicator 1f

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-specific and/or 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).

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for Indicator 1f. 

Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments, which support students in making meaning of the texts read and require students to engage with the text directly. The Teacher Wrap in the margins of the Teacher Edition includes guidance that supports teachers with implementing text-based tasks and questions. Most questions refer students back to the text or require students to use examples, details, or evidence from the text. The Teacher Wrap also includes possible student responses to support teachers with planning and implementing text-based questions and tasks.

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-specific and/or 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). Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks support students in making meaning of the core understandings of the texts being studied.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read “Moon” by Chaim Potok. After reading this short story, students respond to Make Judgments questions, such as “5. (a) What emotions and character traits does Moon reveal at the end of the story? (b) How are they different from his emotions and character traits at the beginning of the story? How do they influence the resolution of the story?” After reading the Informational Text Connection essay, “The Story of Iqbal Masih” by David L. Parker, students respond to the following Text to Text Connection prompt: “Compare and contrast what each writer presents about the child and his circumstances. What information is the same? What is different? How does each writer use concrete, vivid images to create a strong picture in the readers’ minds?”

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “How to Use a Compass'' by Kjetil Kjernsmo. After reading this how-to article, students respond to Find Meaning questions, such as “1. What is the first step in using a compass?; 2. (a) What is the moving arrow called? (b) What is the fixed arrow called?” Students then read the Informational Text Connection article, “Orienteering: The Thinking Sport'' by David LaRochelle. After reading both selections, students ``[p]araphrase each text, stating the main ideas and evidence supporting them. How does each article help you understand the other?”

    • In Unit 5, Living the Words, students read “I Ask My Mother to Sing,” a poem by Li-Young Lee. Following reading the text, students respond to the following questions: “What does the first stanza  reveal about the speaker’s family situation? How does the speaker’s family seem to feel about music?”; “How is the image of a ‘boat’ used in the poem? How does this use connect to possible feelings the speaker has about his father?”; and “Where has the speaker never been?”

  • Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-based questions and tasks.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “A Mother in Mannville,” a story by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. During the Close Read, students examine a specific section of the text, determine whether the piece represents direct or indirect characterization, and explain why. Teacher guidance includes “point out that the narrator is revealing certain aspects of herself through her description…” Materials include the following model response: “The narrator’s description of her thoughts reveals that, at this point, she doesn’t expect much from people.”

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students explore the use of conflict while reading “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl,” a personal essay by Elizabeth Wong. Materials define the terms conflict, external conflict, and internal conflict in the Analyze Literature section of the Preview the Selection page. During the Close Read, students give examples of internal and external conflict present in the text. The Teacher Wrap includes a model the teacher may use as an example: “Model a response by suggesting that Wong’s attitude toward anything connected with Chinatown and her Chinese heritage is an example of internal conflict and that arguments between Wong and her mother are examples of external conflict.” 

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students focus on staging as they read The Diary of Anne Frank, Act 1  by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The teacher asks students how the stage directions of a particular passage in the play “help them envision the action and what they reveal about the characters.” The Teacher Wrap includes the following example: “Model a response by suggesting that the stage directions tell readers that Anne and her father bow extravagantly to each other after their dance. This reveals that they still have a sense of humor and a sense of fun, despite the difficult situation in which they are caught.” 

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read a paired selection containing the African American folk tale, “The People Could Fly” by Virginia Hamilton, and the African American spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” After reading both selections, students use a chart to analyze the effect of dialect on the mood of ‘The People Could Fly.’” The Teacher Wrap includes possible student responses: “Examples of dialect will vary. Most examples create a mood of mystery and wonder. Others like, hard lump of clay and slice-open cut of pain, create a mood of suffering and despair. Still others, such as wheelin above the head of Overseer and Hee, hee, create a mood of defiance and independence.”

Indicator 1g

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions.

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1g. 

Materials provide frequent speaking and listening opportunities for students, with some opportunities for teacher modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax; however, materials lack evidence of speaking and listening protocols. The activities engage students in the entire year’s scope of instructional materials such as Speaking and Listening within the extended learning activities of Collaborative Learning, Critical Literacy, Lifelong Learning and Media Literacy. Throughout the year, students engage in a wide variety of speaking and listening tasks, such as Critical Thinking Discussions during reading and Extend Understanding options after reading. Extend Understanding tasks are optional and include Collaborative Learning, Critical Literacy, Lifelong Learning, and Media Literacy opportunities in which students may engage in small group discussions, paired discussions, and debates that are assessed using provided rubrics. At the end of each unit, students may participate in a Speaking and Listening Workshop. Although these workshops include directions for each step of the speaking and listening task, as well as a rubric to assess Content, Delivery and Presentation, and listening skills, the workshops do not include protocols to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

Materials provide frequent opportunities for speaking and listening; however, speaking and listening opportunities do not include protocols. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials do not provide varied protocols to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students give and actively listen to informative presentations during the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop. The Workshop includes directions to guide students through each step of the project: Planning a Narrative, Evaluating a Narrative Presentation, and Delivering a Narrative Presentation. Although materials include directions for students to complete this Workshop, there is no evidence of protocols for students to conduct the speaking and listening task and develop their speaking and listening skills.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read a paired selection comprised of “How to Use a Compass,” a how-to article by Kjetil Kjernsmo, and an Informational Text Connection piece, “Orienteering: The Thinking Sport,” an article by David LaRochelle. During the Collaborative Learning option in the Extend Understanding section, students work in small groups in order to learn about “orienteering meets near you.” First, students brainstorm a list of questions to ask, and then work together to find an orienteering expert to interview. Finally, students use their questions to interview an expert and share their findings with the class. There is no evidence of a specific protocol used to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Lonfellow, paired with the Informational Text Connection piece, an excerpt from the biography, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, by Esther Forbes. During the Critical Literacy Extend Understanding option, students present a dramatic reading to the class. Students work with a partner to practice reading the poem out loud. Then, students give each other feedback regarding “delivery, pacing, and inflection.” Finally, students present their dramatic reading to the class. There is no evidence of a specific protocol used to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

  • Teacher guidance includes modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax during speaking and listening opportunities.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read “Sweet Potato Pie” by Eugenia Collier. While reading, the teacher reminds students that “setting can also be revealed by how characters talk and behave. Ask them how the author uses cultural details to develop the setting.” Teachers then model a response by “indicating some cultural details such as the contrast in the way Charley and Buddy speak and the traditional Southern dinner that Bea serves.”

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read the lyric poem, “Legacies” by Nikki Giovanni. During reading, the teacher points out “the direct quotations by both the grandmother and the girl,” illustrating how the “girl’s words yes and ma’am create a tone of friendly respect, and that the grandmother speaks her words ‘proudly.’”  The teacher then models syntax for students: “Model aloud how she might have spoken, pointing out how the diction (‘chu’) creates an informal tone.  Repeat with the girl’s ‘i don’t want…’ line, including her gesture (‘with her lips poked out’), and the grandmother’s final line.” Afterwards, the teacher facilitates a discussion on “how word choice and gestures help to create tone and develop meaning.” 

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read The Dying Detective, a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dramatized by Michael and Mollie Hardwick. While reading, the teacher notes that the “stage directions describe the actions of each character,” pointing out “that each time a character is mentioned, his or her name is printed in capital letters.” The teacher asks students “why it is important that Watson come to the audience’s side of the bed, and models a possible response: “This way, the audience can see him better. If he sat on the other side of the bed, most of his body would be concealed from the audience.”

Indicator 1h

Materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1h. 

Speaking and listening opportunities include teacher guidance for facilitating activities; however, materials do not include teacher guidance for monitoring student discussions. Occasionally, speaking and listening guidance includes possible questions the teacher may model for students; however, materials do not include instructional support, such as prompts or sentence starters, to serve as entry points for students who may have difficulty starting or engaging in conversations.

Materials include ample speaking and listening opportunities. Teaching Notes often require students to generate questions to ask the author. Students also engage in discussions as they perform close reads of texts and respond to Analyze Literature prompts. Where appropriate, texts also include Speaking & Listening Skills activities for students to complete during close reads; however, the Close Read section may not occur during core instruction, as it is listed as one of many options from which the teacher may choose to enact. At the launch of each lesson, materials frame the Mirrors & Windows question that students will discuss at the end of each text. Each text also includes opportunities for students to make text-to-self connections as they reflect on and discuss Make Connections questions. Paired selections include a Text to Text Connection prompt for students to discuss. At times, the Extend Understanding section includes speaking and listening task options; however, because implementing these activities is left to teacher choice, these activities may not occur during core instruction. While materials also include a Speaking & Listening Workshop at the end of each unit, these workshops are not part of core instruction.

Materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities); however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and support. Because there is no core instructional path, students may not have access to all of the opportunities provided in the materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional support for teachers.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, during a reading of “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, students participate in a Speaking & Listening Skills activity focused on interpersonal communication.  

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read the short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. During an Extend Understanding activity, students work collaboratively to hold a mock trial for the narrator. Students choose peers to take on various court roles and to present evidence for and against the narrator. Assigned jury members “vote at the end of the trial to find the narrator innocent or guilty.” Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations. Additionally, the Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options from which the teacher selects; as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.  

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read “Pretty Words,” a lyric poem by Elinor Wylie. In the Speaking and Listening Skills section, students work on recitation skills, as the teacher instructs students on what type of skills are used when presenting a poem. The teacher then models reading poems while encouraging students to use effective listening skills such as, “The speaker should read slowly and clearly, using appropriate tones of voice to express not only the words but the underlying tone and mode.” Then, teachers call on volunteers to read other poems or song lyrics aloud. Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations. Additionally, this Speaking & Listening Skills activity may not occur during core instruction, as it is a supplemental activity embedded within the Close Read portion of the materials.

  • Students have multiple opportunities over the school year to demonstrate what they are reading through varied speaking and listening opportunities.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read a biography, Ishi in Two Worlds, written by Theodora Kroeber. Students complete the following Speaking & LIstening Skills activity: In groups of four or five, students prepare for a panel discussion, considering if “a person like Ishi should be protected and studied like he was at the museum or encouraged to live his life freely, no matter the cost.” Groups take turns sharing out in their respective speaking and listening roles while using correct grammar and sentence structures to portray their views. This Speaking & Listening Skills activity may not occur during core instruction, as it is a supplemental activity embedded within the Close Read portion of the materials.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the article, “On the Relativity of Time,” by Wolfgang F. Pauli. During an Extend Understanding activity, students work collaboratively to plan and prepare a dramatic reading of the informational article. Students should use “nonverbal cues, synonyms, and circumlocution to convey ideas when they do not know the exact words to use.”  Students also provide feedback on each performance. The Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options from which the teacher selects; as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read “Bats,” a narrative poem by Randall Jarrell and “The Bat,” a lyric poem by Theodore Roethke. Students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two poems during the Text to Text Connection. Students “explain how the two speakers’ attitudes toward bats differ” and discuss which attitude is more like their own.   

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read “Blackbeard's Last Fight,” a legend written by Richard Walser. In the Launch the Lesson section, guidance instructs the teacher to write the word CRIMINAL on the board. Students “discuss what they think a criminal is and if pirates fall in this category.”

  • Speaking and listening work requires students to utilize, apply, and incorporate evidence from texts and/or sources.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students “deliver an oral summary of a short story” during the Speaking & Listening Workshop at the end of the unit. Students select a story they feel strongly about and use the story along with note cards to outline the main ideas of the text. Students then determine their audience and use that determination to decide whether they need to include background information in their oral summary. Speaking & Listening Workshops do not appear to be a part of core instruction but may be used to extend students’ speaking and listening skills.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo,” a memoir by Chief Plenty-Coups. In the Critical Literacy activity of the Extend Understanding section, students hold a panel discussion about the relationships between Plains Indians and the buffalo. Students discuss the following question: “What were the most important elements of this relationship?” The teacher reminds students, “As you state your opinions, support your claims with evidence from the selection.” The Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options from which the teacher selects; as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read a paired selection containing the lyric poems, “Dreams” and “A Dream Deferred,” both by Langston Hughes. During the Text to Text Connection, students examine the similarities and differences they notice when comparing the two texts, using evidence from both poems to support their answers.

Indicator 1i

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 materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1i.

Materials include on-demand writing tasks during differentiated reading lessons, extension lessons, and writing skills. On-demand writing opportunities also occur in the Extend Understanding section at the end of each text or paired selection. The Extend Understanding section includes two writing options: a creative option and/or an informative, descriptive, or argumentative option. Although the Program Planning Guide includes lesson plans for each text, materials state that the teacher must “[identify] the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The Lesson Plan directs teachers to “[c]hoose from the following materials” or “[c]hoose from the following resources.” As a result, there is no explicit core instructional path. Materials embed additional writing practice in the margins of the Teach the Model section of texts within each unit and there is also a wealth of ancillary materials, such as Writing and Grammar and Language Arts Handbook  to support core writing instruction. Materials utilize digital resources, such as an eBook and eReaders, where appropriate. 

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction; however, since there is no explicit core path, students may not have access to every opportunity provided in the materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Materials include on-demand writing opportunities that cover a year’s worth of instruction.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read “The Story of Iqbal Masih” by David L. Parker. During a Writing Skills activity, students focus on persuasive appeals. Students compose a petition based on a chosen issue or topic that can be argued or debated then exchange their petitions with a peer to check for clarity. This Writing Skills task occurs during the Close Read portion of the lesson plan and may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read “Night Clouds” by Amy Lowell, and write a journal entry in response to the following Mirrors & Windows prompt: “When have you compared two completely different things? What can such comparisons add to a person’s experience?” 

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, after reading “Legend of the Feathered Serpent,” an Aztec legend by Antonio Hernández Madrigal, students may write a lyric poem to honor the god, Xochipilli. This writing opportunity is one of two writing options in the Extend Understanding section and may not occur during core instruction.     

  • Materials include process writing opportunities that cover a year’s worth of instruction. Opportunities for students to revise and edit are provided.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students complete a Writing Workshop during which they respond to a short story. Students move through each of the five steps of the writing process, with steps three and four being Revise and Edit. Materials include individual directions for revising as well as a peer editing checklist for revising. The Teacher’s Edition also directs teachers to a Proofreader’s Symbols guide in the Language Arts Handbook. 

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students “examine a cause-and-effect relationship in one of the selections from the unit” during the Writing Workshop at the end of the unit. Students choose their topic, gather details, distinguish between simple and complex cause and effects, and create their thesis statement during the Prewrite stage of the writing process. During the Draft stage, students select an organizational pattern for their essay, create an outline for each section of their essay, and use specific details to elaborate on and explain the cause and effects they are trying to prove. Students use a Revising Checklist, as well as a peer review, to evaluate their work during the Revise step. As students edit their work, the focus on transitions and their use of commonly confused words. During proofreading, students check for quality control as they correct grammar and punctuation errors. Students then publish and present their final draft. 

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students complete an informative writing workshop to compose a research report.  Students follow the five-step writing process which includes prewriting, drafting, revising,  editing and proofreading their short stories, and publishing and presenting their work. 

  • Materials include digital resources where appropriate. 

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students have the option to use an eBook as they read through the texts. Within the eBook is an option to complete on-demand writing responses within the texts in their eWorkbooks.

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read “Gatored Community” by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson in the multiplatform Student ebook. In this eReader selection, students have the opportunity to use digital resources when accessing the Passport Tools in the audio and media libraries. Students use a digital interactive graphic organizer to analyze text organization during reading.    

Indicator 1j

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 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1j. 

Materials provide some opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply different writing modes during, on-demand, and longer process writing tasks across the school year. End-of-Unit Writing Workshops are the sole source of explicit argumentative, informative, and narrative writing instruction and process writing tasks. Materials include writing practice opportunities during the embedded Writing Skills lessons found within each unit; however, these lessons are a part of the Close Read lesson, one of the activities from which teachers may select. As a result, these lessons may not occur during core instruction. Materials include some on-demand writing opportunities during select after-reading Analyze Literature and Extend Understanding tasks; however, there are four Extend Understanding tasks from which the teacher may choose. As a result, writing tasks may not occur during core instruction. Although Test Practice Workshops also serve as on-demand writing opportunities, these Workshops are not a part of core instruction. 

Materials provide some opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:  

  • Materials provide some opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes/types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. 

    • Materials include the following Writing Workshops— four informative, one argumentative, one descriptive, two narrative—resulting in an uneven distribution of explicit instruction on the writing modes required by the standards.

      • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students learn how to respond to a short story during the end-of-unit informative Writing Workshop. The teacher guides students with narrowing their topic, gathering details, and deciding their thesis during the Prewrite stage. As students draft their stories, they select an organizational pattern and focus on their tone and audience as they work on drafting their response. As students revise their work, they use a Revising Checklist to evaluate their work, including whether the introduction captures the reader’s attention and whether the main ideas are “supported with specific details and examples.” Students focus on varying their sentences and proofreading commonly confused words before submitting a clean copy of their final draft. Materials provide three more opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply informative writing—when crafting a cause-and-effect essay during the Unit 3 Writing Workshop, when writing a compare-and-contrast essay during the Unit 5 Writing Workshop, and when writing a research report during the Unit 8 Writing Workshop. 

      • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students learn how to write a short story during the End-of-Unit Narrative Writing Workshop. Explicit instruction supports students with ensuring their work contains “complex and believable characters, a detailed setting, a logically organized plot that includes a conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution, a consistent point of view and writing style, [and] colorful language and precise word choice.” Materials provide one more opportunity for students to learn, practice, and apply narrative writing—when composing a narrative essay during the Unit 6 Writing Workshop. 

      • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students learn how to write an argumentative essay during the End-of-Unit Argumentative Writing Workshop. During the Prewrite stage, students choose their topic, identify their position in their thesis statement, and learn about the two kinds of evidence, logical appeals and emotional appeals, used in argumentative essays. As students draft their essays, students learn about organizational patterns and addressing counterarguments. During the Revise stage, students use a Revising Checklist to evaluate their introduction, thesis, and organizational pattern. Students also ensure their points are supported with evidence. As students edit and proofread their essays, they focus on their use of rhetorical devices and conjunctions. After conducting a quality control proofread, students submit their final draft to the teacher. Although core materials do not provide further opportunities for students to learn and apply argumentative writing, students do have opportunities to practice argumentative writing during optional activities, such as on-demand Extend Understanding writing tasks and End-of-Unit Test Practice Workshops. 

  • Different genres/modes/types of writing are distributed throughout the school year; however, there is no core instructional path. Writing opportunities may not occur during core instruction. 

    • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing. 

      • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, after reading “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, materials ask students to “[w]rite a brief statement of opinion in which you agree or disagree with [the poet Walt] Whitman’s evaluation of Poe.” Students must provide support for their opinion. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “Obi-Wan Kenobi: Jedi Knight,” an entry from Star Wars Episode 1: The Visual Dictionary by Dr. David West Reynolds. Students also read a supporting informational article by Dr. Reynolds, “Industrial Light & Magic, Part 1: History.” Afterwards, students respond to the following Text to Text Connection prompt: “In the article, Dr. Reynolds says that the goal of ‘Industrial Light & Magic’ is ‘...to make the impossible, quite simply, come true.’ Given what you learned in the visual dictionary entry, would you say that goal was accomplished? How do special effects add to the moviegoer’s experience? Support your response with textual evidence.” 

      • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read an excerpt from A Woman Called Truth by Sandy Asher and write an argumentative essay during the Test Practice Workshop. The assignment directions are as follows: “Write an argumentative essay in which you state and support a thesis about whether the laws of the nation apply equally to everyone. Include persuasive techniques and rhetorical devices, as well as counterarguments.” This timed writing task is optional and may not occur during core instruction.  

    • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing. 

      • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, after reading “Last Night,” a short story by Fae Myenne Ng, students “[w]rite a newspaper article telling the story of what happened,” answering who, what, when, where, and how or why questions in the process. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read a paired selection containing an excerpt from Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad, a biography by Ann Petry, and an excerpt from “Our Struggle Is Against All Forms of Racism,” a speech by Nelson Mandela. Afterwards, students “[w]rite a brief essay in which you analyze Nelson Mandela’s choice of words, phrases, and literary devices” and “explain how these choices help him appeal to his audience,” using examples from Mandela’s speech to support their ideas. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, after reading “Indian Cattle,” an informational text by Eugene Rachlis, students use the text as well as the library as sources to “write an informative paragraph explaining the relationship between the Plains Indians and the buffalo.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

    • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing. 

      • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” a short story by Ray Bradbury. Afterwards, students write a narrative paragraph in which they “[e]xtend the events described in” the text. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 3, Looking Back, after reading an excerpt from “Epiphany: The Third Gift,” a memoir by Lucha Corpi, students use precise and vivid language to “[w]rite a brief narrative from the perspective of either Lucha’s mother or father about the doll hanging incident.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students write a narrative essay based on May Swenson’s lyric poem, “Southbound on the Freeway,” during the Test Practice Workshop. Students reflect on a time when they “felt like an alien in unfamiliar surroundings” or “misunderstood [their] surroundings or the actions of strangers” before responding to the following prompt: “Relate a story from your own life that describes what it is like to be in unfamiliar surroundings or a situation you’ve never before experienced.” This timed writing task is optional and may not occur during core instruction. 

  • Where appropriate, writing opportunities are connected to texts and/or text sets (either as prompts, models, anchors, or supports).

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read ”Ceremony ” by Leslie Mamon Silko. Students review the poem for the use of metaphor. Students review what a metaphor is and then use a chart to analyze the use of metaphor throughout the poem. 

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read “Bats” by Randall Jarrell. After reading, students write a literary response where they “analyze the tone of ‘Bats.’” Students identify the tone, support their view with details, and answer reflective questions. 

Indicator 1k

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 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1k. 

Materials provide practice and application opportunities for evidence-based writing but lack explicit evidence-based writing instruction with the exception of some Writing Workshop tasks. The Making Meaning, Analyze Literature, and After Reading sections provide students with some opportunities to carefully analyze closely read texts. Materials include End-of-Unit Writing Workshops and Test Practice pieces that sometimes require students to support their analyses and defend their claims, but these opportunities do not occur consistently. Throughout daily material, students do not engage in evidence-based writing. Students work on things such as sensory descriptions or continuity in point-of-view, but these exercises do not require students to cite evidence from texts they read nor are they required core instructional activities. Students may complete a timed writing task, during which they read a short selection and then write in response to a prompt that requires them to utilize evidence from the text. While materials provide opportunities such as timed writing tasks and Test Practice Workshops, these are not required activities within the curriculum as noted in the Program Planning Guide: “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors & Windows program offers a wealth of materials-much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The Lesson Plan directs teachers to “[c]hoose from the following materials” or “[c]hoose from the following resources.” As a result, there is no explicit core instructional path.

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information; however, since there is no core instructional path, students may not have access to all of the opportunities provided in the materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials provide limited opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students respond to a short story using paraphrased and quoted textual evidence to support their main ideas during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. During the Prewrite stage, students freewrite to gather ideas and then organize their ideas into content that can be used to build a response. During the Draft stage, students decide on an organizational pattern for their writing. Students then create an outline illustrating how they will transition their response from the introduction to the conclusion. Guidance includes the following: “In the supporting sentences of each paragraph, give evidence from the text to support your main idea. Evidence from the story should include examples, direct quotes, and paraphrased material.” While this Workshop includes practice, it does not include explicit instruction on standards-aligned, evidence-based writing.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read “Men on the Moon,” a short story by Simon Ortiz. In the Writing Skills section of the text, the teacher reviews the criteria for the upcoming Extend Understanding: Informative Writing option. Materials do not include explicit instruction on textual evidence and the lesson plan lists the Close Read portion of the lesson as a resource from which teachers may select during reading. In lieu of explicit instruction, the teacher suggests students “make a chart to keep track of information about the characters, setting, and plot” and “write down examples of each element from the story as well as the page numbers where they found the information.” After directing students to state the theme in the beginning of the first paragraph of their essay, the teacher also reminds students to “use the examples from their list as textual evidence to support the theme.” 

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students use paraphrased or quoted textual evidence as they learn how to write a cause-and-effect essay. During the Prewrite phase, students choose their topic and gather details, “identify[ing] the event or outcome [they] want to analyze and at least three causes or effects.” Students determine whether they want to focus on the reasons for or the results of the event and select one of three ways to analyze the cause-and-effect relationship. Guidance instructs students to “look for details to support their descriptions of causes and effects'' during subsequent readings. As students draft their essay, instructions on making connections include the following: “When you discuss your causes and effects, give specific details to support the relationship you are trying to prove between causes and effects. Then explain how the details support your claim about a cause-and-effect relationship.” While this Workshop includes practice, it does not include explicit instruction on standards-aligned, evidence-based writing.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “Indian Cattle'' by Eugene Rachlis. During the Informative Writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students “write an informative paragraph explaining the relationship between the Plains Indians and the buffalo.” Although students must “[i]nclude a thesis statement as well as supporting paraphrases, direct quotations, and summaries of their research, the text selection does not contain explicit instruction on writing informative paragraphs.   

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop, students learn how to write an argumentative essay to persuade the reader to agree with an idea or to take action. During the Prewrite stage, students learn about logical appeals and emotional appeals, as they gather evidence to support their position. Students collect both kinds of evidence, ensuring that their evidence is “relevant, reliable, credible, unbiased, and contains sound reasoning.” As students work on their drafts, they learn how to “[a]nticipate potential counterarguments, or opposing views, and [how to] respond to them in a way that strengthens [their] argument.” Guidance directs students to “[u]se facts and details to show why [their] position should be viewed as the correct one,” while also keeping their audience and tone in mind. Students should also “[a]ddress the counterargument in [their] topic sentence and show its weaknesses through facts, details, and examples.” While this Workshop includes practice, it does not include explicit instruction on standards-aligned, evidence-based writing.

  • Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students construct a literary response during the Test Practice Workshop. Students refer back to the short story, “Luke Baldwin’s Vow,” by Morley Callaghan, as they respond to a decision made by the uncle in the story and take a stance on whether they agree or disagree with the decision and the importance of tradition and of ritual. Students must include “evidence from the story, including direct quotations, in support of your position.”

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read the lyric poem, “Pretty Words,” by Elinor Wylie. Students write a literary analysis using examples from the poem to support their response to the following prompt: “Write an analysis of the extended metaphor in this poem.” Students continue to apply the skill of using text evidence to support writing during the Test Practice Workshop. Students write an on-demand, timed essay in which they compare and contrast the poems, “At the Library” by Nikki Grimes, and “The First Book” by Rita Dove.

Indicator 1l

Materials include explicit instruction of the grade-level grammar and usage standards, with opportunities for application in context.

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1l. 

Materials include limited explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage. Materials miss opportunities to address many standards or address standards that are included in a subsequent grade level. There are limited opportunities for students to apply grammar and usage standards in context, such as student writing. Practice opportunities are oftentimes absent in the grade under review but are sometimes provided in subsequent grades. 

Materials include limited explicit instruction of the grade-level grammar and usage standards, with opportunities for authentic application in context. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Students have opportunities to explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read the memoir, “Epiphany: The Third Gift,” by Lucha Corpi. Students receive explicit instruction on prepositional and participial phrases during the Grammar & Style lesson. Students practice the skill underlining the prepositional and participial phrases in sentences and then identifying “the function of each phrase and the word that it modifies.” Students apply this skill when composing a cause-and-effect essay during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. During the Edit and Proofread stage, students check their work for the use of transitions, which may include prepositional words and phrases, to show cause and effect relationships. Grammar & Style lessons are listed as an option from which teachers select in the Teach the Workshop(s) section of the Lesson Plan. As a result, this lesson may not occur during core instruction.   

  • Students have opportunities to form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, during the Writing Skills: Active Voice activity, students learn how to use active voice in narrative writing to create stronger, more exciting writing and clarify who is performing an action. Students then practice changing sentences from passive to active voice. Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for application of the skill in context.

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students write a compare and contrast essay during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. Students focus on passive and active voice during the Edit and Proofread step of the writing process as they “look over [their] writing and try to rewrite passive sentences so that they are in active voice.” While students have the opportunity to practice recognizing active and passive voice, no evidence of explicit instruction of active and passive voice was found. 

  • Students have opportunities to form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.

    • No evidence found 

  • Students have opportunities to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.

    • No evidence found 

  • Students have opportunities to use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, during the Grammar & Style: Comma Use lesson, students learn how to use commas in compound sentences and in a series. During the Sentence Improvement activity, students select the response that indicates the best sentence revision. Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for application of the skill in context. Grammar & Style lessons are listed as an option from which teachers select in the Teach the Workshop(s) section of the Lesson Plan. As a result, this lesson may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read a paired text selection that includes the argumentative essay, “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time,” by Paul Rogat Loeb and the lyric poem, “I Was Born at the Wrong Time,” by Angela Shelf Medearis. Students receive explicit instruction on using dashes, semicolons, and colons. Then, students practice using these forms of punctuation by rewriting sentences and correcting the punctuation where needed. Students apply these skills as they write a cause-and-effect essay during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. While proofreading, students look for and correct mistakes in punctuation, “including the use of colons, semicolons, and dashes.” 

  • Students have opportunities to use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read the drama, The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Students receive explicit instruction on using ellipses to indicate an omission or pause. Students then “find three examples in the play of the use of ellipses to indicate pauses or unfinished statements. Then have students quote a passage in the play, omitting some material and using ellipses to indicate the omission.” Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for application of the skill in context.

  • Students have opportunities to spell correctly.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students respond to a short story of their choosing during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. During the Edit and Proofread stage, guidance directs students to “set aside a last step in which you check your essay for errors in grammar, such as subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement, punctuation, and spelling.” 

  • Students have opportunities to use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action, expressing uncertainty, or describing a state contrary to fact).

    • No evidence found

Indicator 1m

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

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1m. 

Although the Teacher Edition outlines the program’s vocabulary components, neither the Teacher Edition nor the Program Guide outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development. At the start of each unit, materials include a Building Vocabulary list, which contains the following categories of vocabulary terms: Preview Vocabulary, Selection Words, Academic Vocabulary, and Key Terms. Words listed as Preview Vocabulary are taken from sentences within selections and are defined in the side margin or at the bottom of the pages where they appear. Words listed as Selection Words are additional words from the reading that may be challenging, but are not central to the selection. These are Tier One words that can easily be understood by using context clues. Words listed as Academic Vocabulary are words that are used in the directions about the lessons. These are Tier Two words that explain what students should focus on, help establish context, clarify meaning of literary terms, and define goals or instructional purpose. Words that are listed as Key Terms are domain-specific Tier Three words. The repetition of these words throughout the program helps to ensure student mastery. While vocabulary words repeat in contexts and across texts, materials miss opportunities to build students’ vocabulary development of Tier One and Tier Two words.

Materials include a cohesive year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts; however, the year-long vocabulary plan lacks cohesion.

    • The Teacher Edition outlines the Integrated Literacy and Language Resources provided: “Vocabulary & Spelling: Comprehensive developmental Vocabulary and Spelling lessons build word study skills. In-depth instruction is modeled using words from the selections in each unit.” The Teacher Edition also includes specific explanations of the Vocabulary & Spelling Workshop: “Word Knowledge: Concise vocabulary and spelling lessons are integrated with two of the literature selections in each unit. The lessons incorporate vocabulary words from the preceding selection. Each lesson contains instruction, followed by practice exercises.” While materials provide explanations of the program’s vocabulary development component, materials do not include teacher guidance for enacting students’ vocabulary development.  

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts) and across multiple texts; however, it is unclear how materials build students’ vocabulary development of Tier One and Tier Two words during core instruction.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. In the Build Background section, students encounter the Tier Two word context. Materials use the word context during two section headers in the Build Background section: Literary Context and Reader’s Context. Later in the unit’s Test Practice Workshop Reading Skills section, materials use the word context used in several of the questions students answer, including, but not limited to, “ Based on the context, which of the following is the best definition for the word strange in line 11?” Materials do not identify or define the word context in either setting. 

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read an excerpt from the autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. During the Meet the Author section, materials use the Tier Two word excerpt: “She spent much of her childhood with her grandmother in rural Stamps, Arkansas, which is the setting for the excerpt.” In Unit 5, Living with Words, the word excerpt is used to explain simile on the Understanding Imagery and Figurative Language: “For example, in the excerpt to the right, Rivera writes that the chirps ‘rise like tiny bells.’” Materials do not identify or define the word excerpt in either selection. 

  • Attention is paid to vocabulary essential to understanding the text and to high-value academic words (e.g., words that might appear in other contexts/content areas). 

    • At the start of each unit, materials contain a Building Vocabulary page: “The lists below identify the Words in use, Academic Vocabulary, and Key Terms within this unit. These words are listed at the bottom of the Teacher’s Edition pages at the beginning of each lesson. Vocabulary development activities are provided in the Unit Selection Resources unit book and in the Vocabulary & Spelling resource.” Materials do not include teacher guidance on how to use the Building Vocabulary words to build students’ vocabulary development. Words from the Building Vocabulary list are not consistently addressed in the embedded Vocabulary & Spelling Workshop.

    • The Building Vocabulary page contains the following word categories: 

      • Preview Vocabulary: “words taken from the sentences within each selection. These words are defined in the side margin or at the bottom of the pages on which they appear. The ‘Preview Vocabulary’ section introduces these words in the Before Reading page preceding each selection (Tier One Words).”

      • Selection Words: “additional words from the reading that may be challenging, but are not central to the selection and are not identified in the pre reading section. These words can easily be learned using the story context, and they provide excellent practice for using content clues to find meaning without explicit instruction (Tier One Words).” 

      • Academic Vocabulary: “words that are used in the directions about the lessons. Academic vocabulary words explain to students what to focus on within the selection, help establish the story context, clarify the meaning of literary terms, and define the goals or instructional purpose (Tier Two Words).”

      • Key Terms: “commonly referred to as domain-specific words. These terms appear in the instructional material to teach the terminology that students need to acquire to understand literature. The repetition of the terms throughout the program ensures student mastery and provides a solid foundation for the continuing study of literature and language arts (Tier Three Words).”

  • Materials provide limited support for students to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks.

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, Academic Vocabulary terms, such as memorable, interacting, facial, and courteous, occur throughout the end-of-unit Speaking & Listening Workshop. These words, amongst other vocabulary terms, are peppered throughout the directions and reminders for students, woven in to allow students practice with utilizing the words as part of their normal vocabulary.

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read the screenplay, “Sorry, Right Number” by Stephen King. The text overview page for the selection previews Tier I vocabulary; however, materials do not define the terms. Materials utilize Tier III words, such as foreshadow, plot, and thesis statement, as students write a short essay to “analyze how the character’s interactions foreshadow events in the plot.”

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. Although texts are organized by genre and theme, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme. While students closely read and analyze literary and informational texts, lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task. The majority of tasks are optional. Culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard, and these tasks often do not integrate literacy skills. Materials include limited writing instruction that aligns to the standards for the grade level. While instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports. While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. Some questions and tasks align to grade-level standards while others do not align or do not meet the full intent of the standards. It is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. There is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards. Although the Visual Planning Guide for each unit includes suggested pacing for each text, there is no suggested timeline for the pacing of units nor for the curriculum as a whole over the course of the year. The amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. Due to limited teacher guidance on selecting activities, the volume of optional tasks distracts from core learning. Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

Criterion 2a - 2f

Materials build knowledge through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.

12/24
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for building knowledge. Texts are organized by genre, theme, and an essential question; however, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme and answer the essential question, as these items are not revisited during the unit. Close reading lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task, and the majority of tasks are optional. Culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard and often do not integrate literacy skills. While instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports. While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards.

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a cohesive topic(s)/theme(s) to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2a. 

Materials include texts that are organized by a genre and a theme. Although texts are organized by genre and theme, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme. Each unit begins with a unit opener that “introduces the genre and connects students to the literature,” includes a “thought-provoking quote [that] gives insight into literature,” features “fine art and photographs [that] connect with the unit theme,” and introduces “essential questions related to the unit theme [that] generate interest and set the stage for learning.” The opening pages of each unit provide an introduction to the unit’s genre of focus. Most text selections also include a Mirrors & Windows theme. Students make text-to-self connections to this sub-theme when responding to Mirrors & Windows questions at the start and conclusion of texts read. It is unclear how the Mirrors & Windows theme connects to the unit theme and builds students’ knowledge.  

Texts are not organized around a cohesive topic/theme to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Texts are connected by a grade-appropriate cohesive topic/theme/line of inquiry. Texts miss opportunities to build knowledge, vocabulary, and the ability to read and comprehend complex texts across a school year.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students continue their exploration of the fiction genre from the previous unit. While exploring the theme, “Differing Perspectives,” students investigate this essential question: “How do our dreams and ambitions help shape self-discovery?” As students read the unit text selections, they “think of how [their] own perspective is shaped by [their] experiences.” The short story, “Men on the Moon” by Simon Ortiz, serves as the anchor text for this unit. Students also explore other fiction selections such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Sweet Potato Pie” by Eugenia Collier, “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry, “The Medicine Bag” by Virginia Driving and Hawk Sneve, and “Lose Now, Pay Later” by Carol Farley. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students delve into the nonfiction genre as they explore the theme, “Looking Back” and attempt to answer the essential question, ”What influences our perspective more: upbringing or experience?” As students read the various autobiographies and essays throughout the unit, they “relate the insights [the texts] offer to [their] own recollections.” Theodora Kroeber’s biography, Ishi in Two Worlds serves as the anchor text for this unit. Students also read nonfiction selections such as “Mrs. Flowers” from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time” by Paul Rogat Loeb, “Proclamation of the Indians of Alcatraz” (author not cited), an excerpt from “Our Struggle is Against All Forms of Racism” by Nelson Mandela, and an excerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students begin their exploration of poetry and the theme, “Living with Words” as they contemplate the essential question, “What do words mean to you?” Framing for the unit directs students to “enjoy the texture of the language as well as the poem’s meaning,” as they read the poetry selections throughout the unit. The lyric poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, serves as the anchor text for this unit. Students also read poems such as “Dreams” by Langston Hughes, “The Naming of Cats” by T. S. Eliot, “If I can stop one Heart from breaking” by Emily Dickinson, “I Ask My Mother to Sing” by Li-Young Lee, and “your little voice Over the wires came leaping” by E. E. Cummings. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students explore the folk literature genre, while pondering the theme, “Recalling Heroes” and answering the essential question, “Who are your heroes?” Guidance directs students to “note what each tale reveals about the culture that created it,” as they read the unit text selections. The anchor text for this unit is the tall tale, “Paul Bunyan of the North Woods” by Carl Sandburg. Students also read other folk literature selections such as “Legend of the Feathered Serpent” by Antonio Hernández Madrigal, “Coyote Steals the Sun and Moon” retold by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (author not cited), “John Henry Blues” by Anonymous, “Gatored Community” by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, and “Frog” by Vivian Vande Velde. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

Indicator 2b

Materials require students to analyze the key ideas, details, craft, and structure within individual texts as well as across multiple texts using coherently sequenced, high quality questions and tasks.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2b. 

Materials support and require students to analyze key ideas, details, craft and structure within individual texts as well as across multiple texts; however, lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task. Questions and tasks are often embedded in the following before-, during-, and after-reading sections: Setting Purpose, Reading Skills, Finding Meaning, Making Judgments, and Making Connections. Tasks often occur in the optional Extend Understanding. As a result, these tasks may not occur during core instruction and there is no guarantee all students will have an opportunity to engage with these questions. Tasks sometimes miss opportunities to meet the full requirements of their associated standard.

Materials sometimes require students to analyze the key ideas, details, craft, and structure within individual texts as well as across multiple texts using coherently sequenced, high-quality questions and tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • For most texts, students analyze key ideas and details and craft and structure (according to grade-level standards). 

    • The materials sometimes contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details. 

      • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read “Epiphany: The Third Gift” by Lucha Corpi. The teacher asks students “what they think the main theme of this selection is” and models a response. Although there are several questions that address setting, there are no additional questions that address theme. As a result, students do not analyze the theme’s development over the course of the text. 

      • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students focus on dialogue while reading The Dying Detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dramatized by Michael and Mollie Hardwick. Students respond to questions, such as “[H]ow might Home’s assessment serve to further the plot, rather than just function as an insult?”, “What information is revealed by this dialogue?”, “What questions does this dialogue raise in readers’ minds that heighten suspense?”, and “Why do you think Doyle included this dialogue in the story?” After reading, students ``[c]onsider the personalities of each character, the information contained in dialogue, and the stage directions” to determine the essential elements each character contributed to the text. 

    • The materials sometimes contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft and structure. 

      • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read a paired selection containing Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” and an excerpt from Shelby Foote’s article, “Echoes of Shiloh.” The teacher directs students to “note the difference between each author’s methods of describing the volume of men involved in the battle,” when examining a portion of Foote’s piece. Students respond to the Text to Text Connection question: “Both Ray Bradbury’s story and Shelby Foote’s article deal with the Battle of Shiloh. How does each writer use sensory details to describe the scene?” While the prompt provides students with the opportunity to analyze each author’s craft, the prompt does not provide students with the opportunity to compare and contrast the structure of the two texts and “analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.”

      • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read May Swenson’s lyric poem,“Southbound on the Freeway.” Students analyze speaker and voice, responding to questions, such as “What do you learn about the speaker’s traits and perspective, or viewpoint?” and “What do these [sensory] details help you understand about the speaker of the poem?” Both Writing Options in the Extend Understand section address these literary elements. Students may “[w]rite a short story from the perspective of the poem’s speaker during the Narrative Writing option or “[w]rite a brief literary response” to the text during the Informative Writing option. For the brief literary response, students must state their opinion of the effect of the poem and explain “what literary elements or devices contribute to the effect” using examples from the text. The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction. 

  • By the end of the year, at times, these components (language, word choice, key ideas, details, structure, craft) are embedded in students’ work rather than taught directly. 

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read “Obi-Wan Kenobi: Jedi Knight” from Star Wars Episode 1: The Visual Dictionary by Dr. David West Reynolds. In the Writing Skills section, students review a provided list of movie review features and “write a review about a Star Wars film or other science fiction movie they’ve seen.” The review includes information such as the title, director and/or stars, the reviewer’s opinion, a summary of the movie, details about the characters, setting, and plot, examples from the movie that support the reviewer’s opinion, and a conclusion that sums up the main points and provides a memorable impression of the movie. This activity does not fully align to the standard listed in the Correlations to Common Core State Standards: “Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.” Writing Skills activities are embedded within the Close Read section of the lesson plan as an option from which teachers may select. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

Indicator 2c

Materials require students to analyze the integration of knowledge within individual texts as well as across multiple texts using coherently sequenced, high quality text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2c. 

Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks that address key ideas and details, as well as craft and structure, within informational texts. While materials embed the integration of knowledge and ideas in students’ work, tasks often occur during the Extend Understanding section which contains four activity options from which the teacher may choose. As a result, there is no guarantee that all students will complete these tasks during core instruction. Materials include opportunities for students to develop ideas and analyze both within single texts and across multiple texts. Students respond to text-specific and text-dependent questions during and after reading. However, series of questions are not always coherently sequenced, leading to the culminating task, and culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard.

Materials require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts; however, there are missed opportunities for coherently sequenced, high-quality text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Most sets of questions and tasks support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas.

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time,” an argumentative essay by Paul Rogat Loeb. During a Reading Skills mini lesson, students work in pairs using the following strategies “to identify the main idea of each section in the essay:” “Note key details.” and “Determine which details are important and which are less important.” Students also have an opportunity to “summarize Loeb’s view about social activism,” when responding to a Close Read question. During the Informative Writing Extend Understanding option, students choose a section of the text, use their “summary chart to decide what the main idea of the section is,” and “create a list of all the supporting details in the section.” Students must identify which details are “the most essential and effective,” “indicate whether each detail is a fact or an opinion and explain how this impacts their effectiveness.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read a paired selection containing “Indian Cattle,” an informational text by Eugene Rachlis, and “Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo,” a memoir by Chief Plenty-Coups. Guidance on the Preview the Selection page for “Indian Cattle” directs students to “try to determine what the author’s purpose was in writing this selection;” however, materials do not include questions that address the author's purpose in either text contained in the paired selection. After reading “Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo,” students “[examine] elements such as the tone, word choice, and the main idea and supporting details” to determine the author’s purpose of “Indian Cattle” and “[u]se a web to organize the information.” Although students determine the author’s point of view, they do not “analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.”  

  • By the end of the year, integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded in students’ work (via tasks and/or culminating tasks).

    • In Unit 3, Looking Back, students read a paired selection containing the biography Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber. and the newspaper article “Yana People to Receive Ishi’s Brain” by Robert Fri. While reading Ishi in Two Worlds, students respond to Close Read questions that address setting, description, and author’s perspective. Students also respond to text-specific questions and make inferences about select passages of the text. Materials do not include any types of questions for “Yana People to Receive Ishi’s Brain.” After reading both texts, students respond to the following Text to Text Connection prompt: “Compare the attitudes revealed in the Kroeber biography with those expressed in ‘Yana People to Receive Ishi’s Brain.’ What do you think of the policy described in the article and the way the Smithsonian Institution abided by the policy?” The Media Literacy Extend Understanding option includes the following prompt: 'Compare and contrast the perspectives of the authors of Ishi in Two Worlds'' and ‘Yana People to Receive Ishi’s Brain.’ Discuss the social and political attitudes toward Native Americans in 1911 (when Ishi was discovered), in 1961 (when the biography was published), and in 1999 (when the newspaper article was published). How do you think these attitudes may have affected the perspectives of the two authors?” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.    

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read a scientific chart, “Scale of Geologic Time” (author not cited). Guidance directs students to “be aware of how [the text] uses visual elements to present information.” During reading, students respond to the following Analyze Literature question: “Why do you think the illustration below appears there?” Materials include an embedded Media Literacy Skills: Evaluate Media lesson, during which students “create a large bulletin board copy of the chart” and work in pairs “to find out more about the information appearing in each square of the chart.” Students “write their information on index cards and place them in the matching squares on the bulletin board.” Afterwards, students “compare and evaluate the pros and cons of the original versus the expanded chart.” Although students examine the pros and cons of both charts, they do not “evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.”  

  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts as well as within single texts.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read a paired selection containing “Murder and More Mushroom Mayhem,” an informational text by Elio Schaechter and “Too Soon a Woman,” a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson. The Set Purpose section of the Preview the Selections page includes the following student guidance: “Skim the informational and short story selections to identify the author’s purpose for each selection. Note how each author accomplishes his or her purpose. As you read, take notes comparing the different characteristics, structures, and features of each genre. How does the author’s approach to accomplishing his or her purpose differ between an informational text and a short story?” Students also “use a chart like the one below to record sensory details” in both texts. While reading “Murder and More Mushroom Mayhem,” students examine a portion of the text and discuss whether the description of the chicken mushroom that Schaechter provides is concrete or abstract. While reading “Too Soon a Woman,” students respond to various Analyze Literature questions addressing elements such as description, characterization, and conflict. After reading both selections, students use textual evidence to support their responses to the following Compare Literature questions: “1. What words and phrases does Schaechter use to describe his imaginary chicken mushroom? 2. What words and phrases does Johnson use to describe Mary’s mushroom? 3. Which mushroom, Schaechter’s chicken mushroom or Mary’s mushroom, would you rather try? Why do you feel this way?”

Indicator 2d

Culminating tasks require students to demonstrate their knowledge of a unit's topic(s)/theme(s) through integrated literacy skills (e.g., a combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2d. 

Materials include smaller tasks in the Extend Understanding sections at the end of each text, paired selection, and text set. Although these tasks allow students to demonstrate their understanding of texts, these tasks often do not integrate literacy skills and the enactment of these tasks is contingent upon teacher selection and may not occur during core instruction, as a result. Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks; however, these questions and tasks are not coherently sequenced, and they do not provide the teacher with usable information on whether students are on track to successfully complete the End-of-Unit Culminating Tasks.

Culminating tasks require students to demonstrate their knowledge through integrated literacy skills; however, it is unclear how tasks relate to the unit’s topic/theme. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Culminating tasks are evident and varied across the year and they are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards (reading, writing, speaking, listening) at the appropriate grade level, and comprehension and knowledge of a topic or topics through integrated skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening).

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop, students read and respond to a short story they have read. Students’ instructions state that the response must include: “an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up my thesis statement, a clear organizational pattern, textual evidence (paraphrased and quoted) that supports my main ideas, an awareness of my audience and an appropriate tone, [and] a conclusion that restates my thesis in a new way.”  This task integrates reading and writing. 

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students write a compare-and-contrast essay “in which [they] identify similarities and differences between two or more things, people, places, or ideas” during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. The essay must include an attention-grabbing introduction, “a thesis statement that expresses [the student’s] overall point; a clear, logical, and effective pattern of organization;” transition words and phrases that signal comparisons and contrasts; and “a closing that summarizes [the] main points and restates [the] thesis.” Once students decide on a topic, they must conduct research to “get accurate information and identify the best details to compare and contrast.” This task integrates reading and writing.  

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, during the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop, students deliver and actively listen to a persuasive presentation designed to convince or change people’s minds about an issue. During this culminating task, students outline their argument, using specific evidence from reliable sources to support their opinions, and conduct research to gather “statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, examples, and other supporting details.”  This task integrates reading, writing, and speaking and listening. 

  • Earlier text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks are not coherently sequenced and will not give the teacher usable information about the student's readiness (or whether they are “on track”) to complete culminating tasks.

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “The Treasure of Lemon Brown'' by Walter Dean Myers. During the Informative Writing Extend Understanding option directions state that  students write and share an essay “in which you compare and contrast the experiences and attitudes of [Lemon Brown and Greg’s father.]” After reading “Checkouts'' by Cynthia Rylant and “Oranges'' by Gary Soto, students ``[c]ompare and contrast the motivations of the speaker in ‘Oranges’ and the main character in ‘Checkouts’ in a short essay.” Students must include a thesis statement that explains their main idea and use specific examples from both texts. At the end of the unit, students read “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara. During the Informative Writing option in the Analyze and Extend section, students describe the tone of the text in a short essay using evidence and details from the text to support their claim. These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student's readiness to complete the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop, in which students write a response to a self-selected short story.

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, after reading “The Naming of Cats'' by T. S. Eliot, students compare literary forms during the Media Literacy option in the Extend Understanding section. After finding a recording of the music from CATS, students ``[l]isten to various songs, including ‘The Naming of Cats.’' Students identify their favorite songs, as well as how the songs relate to the themes in the text, before discussing the music in a small group. Students also read “The New Colossus'' by Emma Lazarus. Students ``[l]ocate another sonnet and compare and contrast the two,” during the Media Literacy Extend the Text option. At the end of the unit, students read “your little voice over the wires came leaping” by E. E. Cummings. During the Media Literacy option in the Analyze and Extend section, students find another poem by Cummings and compare it to this one. These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student's readiness to complete the end-of-unit Writing Workshop, in which students write a compare-and-contrast essay. 

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read The Dying Detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dramatized by Michael and Mollie Hardwick. During the embedded Speaking & Listening Skills: Dramatic Performance mini lesson, the teacher may select a group of students to perform the play for the class or “have three different groups perform one scene each.” After reading Act 1 of The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, work in small groups to “practice and perform a scene from [the Act].”  While reading “Sorry, Right Number” by Stephen King, students use their research on contemporary horror writers to present oral reports. These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student's readiness to complete the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop, in which students deliver and actively listen to a persuasive presentation.

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to achieve grade-level writing proficiency by the end of the school year.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2e. 

Each unit includes a Writing Workshop that focuses on a specific writing mode and includes numerous supports for both teachers and students, including, but not limited to: guidance during each step of the writing process, checklists, models, and rubrics. During the Writing Workshop, materials explain what students should do during each step of the writing process but rarely provide explicit instruction on the writing mode of focus. Writing Workshop tasks do not connect to the unit theme and are stand-alone in nature with some tasks requiring students to use evidence from sources. Students complete the same Writing Workshop tasks in Grades 6, 7, and 8. Materials include practice opportunities in the Writing Skills section embedded within the End-of-Unit Test Practice Workshop. During this Workshop, students practice timed writing responses and revision and editing skills. As with the Writing Workshops, Test Practice Workshop activities span various genres but are not connected to the unit text selections. The optional Writing and Grammar ancillary may be used to supplant writing instruction and includes lessons for every unit, including a Writing Scope and Sequence that outlines the In-Text Writing Workshops for the school year, the writing mode of focus, and the writing assignment. Materials also include a Writing Rubrics ancillary that contains rubrics for each writing mode. Materials lack teacher guidance on enacting ancillary and optional writing lessons and tasks. 

Materials include a year-long plan for students to achieve grade-level writing proficiency by the end of the school year; however, cohesion is lacking. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Materials include limited writing instruction that aligns to the standards for the grade level and sometimes supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year.

    • While there is an evident structure to the writing aspect of the program, including frequent opportunities for students to write in various modes and for various purposes, supports, and tools for monitoring student writing development, the structure lacks cohesion. Materials include the following Writing Workshops— four informative, one argumentative, one descriptive, two narrative—resulting in an uneven distribution of explicit instruction on the writing modes required by the standards. Test Practice Workshops do not include explicit instruction and their mode of focus differs from that of the Writing Workshops. It is unclear how writing instruction and tasks build upon each other to promote growth in students’ skills over the course of the unit and across the year.

    • While materials offer a number of writing opportunities, explicit writing instruction is largely absent. During the End-of-Unit Writing Workshops, students spend three regular schedule days or one and a half block schedule days transitioning through the writing process as they complete a process writing task on a specific mode of focus. Writing Workshop tasks include:

      • Unit 1—Informative Writing: Responding to a Short Story

      • Unit 2—Narrative Writing: Writing a Short Story

      • Unit 3—Informative Writing: Cause-and-Effect Essay

      • Unit 4—Descriptive Writing: Descriptive Essay

      • Unit 5—Informative Writing: Compare-and-Contrast Essay

      • Unit 6—Narrative Writing: Personal Narrative

      • Unit 7—Argumentative Writing: Argumentative Essay

      • Unit 8—Informative Writing: Research Paper

  • Instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development; however, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports.

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students write a short story that is centered around a theme during the Writing Workshop. Materials include What Great Writers Do sidebars throughout the Workshop. The Teacher Wrap in the Teacher Edition references one of these sidebars and includes the following guidance: “Point out to students that an arresting first sentence will grab a reader’s attention.” The sidebar includes a quote from “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka which teachers may use as a “famous example.” 

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students write a descriptive essay during the Writing Workshop. The Workshop includes a Writing Rubric that outlines the elements the descriptive essay should include. As students move through each step of the writing process, the Workshop includes models to support their work. The Prewrite stage has an illustration of a sample brainstorming list and an example of a cluster chart that students can use when brainstorming possible sub-ideas. The Draft stage contains a T-chart outlining chronological order and spatial order to support students with organizing their ideas. The Revise stage includes a Revising Checklist, along with an annotated draft of a descriptive essay. The Edit and Proofread stage contains samples of the focus areas, Description, and Comparatives and Superlatives. Materials also include an annotated Student Model.  

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students construct an argumentative essay in the Writing Workshop. Before the writing process begins, students examine a Writing Rubric that tells them what the criteria the essay should include, such as “an introductory paragraph that sets up my issue and states my thesis.” The Writing and Grammar ancillary includes additional in-depth writing rubrics that the teacher may have students use.

Indicator 2f

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2f. 

While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. The embedded Research Skills insets include research skills practice opportunities but rarely include explicit instruction of research skills. Some research skills repeat across grade levels and often do not align to grade-level standards. Where appropriate, research tasks include resources to develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic. Most short research projects occur during Extend Understanding tasks. These tasks are optional and may not occur during core instruction. Students have one opportunity in each grade level to conduct a long research project—during the Unit 8 Writing Workshop. During this end-of-grade level task, materials include directions to guide students through each step of the research writing process but provide limited explicit instruction of standards-aligned research skills.

Materials do not 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Research projects are not sequenced across a school year to include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. 

    • While there are frequent opportunities for students to complete informal research tasks, materials lack explicit, standards-aligned research skills instruction. While the Teacher Edition includes embedded Research Skills insets throughout each unit, explicit instruction is lacking and the progression of skills often repeats across each grade level and does not align to grade-level standards, as a result. During most Research Skills sections, students practice a research skill but do not receive explicit instruction on the research skill. The progression of research skills and activities is as follows:

      • Unit 1: evaluate Internet sources, keyword searches on the Internet

      • Unit 2: allusions, topics for research 

      • Unit 3: note card preparation

      • Unit 4: primary and secondary sources

      • Unit 5: questions and methods

      • Unit 6: no evidence found

      • Unit 7: balance, multiple sources, graphic organizers 

      • Unit 8: library research, create the front page of a Native American newspaper, scientific research, research report (Writing Workshop) 

    • During the one in-depth research project per grade level, students complete research tasks as outlined in the standards but receive limited explicit instruction when doing so. While the research-focused Writing Workshop provides detailed process steps to complete the task, the Workshop rarely includes explicit instruction or scaffolding during each step of the research writing process.

  • Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic via provided resources. 

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the essay, “Chac” by Alan Rabinowitz.  Students may complete a Media Literacy task in which they research ancient and present-day Mayan culture. Materials provide questions to guide students’ research. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result,may not occur during core instruction.  

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read the humorous poem, “The Choice” by Dorothy Parker. Students research the life of Dorothy Parker and write a paragraph explaining how an aspect of her life influenced the poem. The Program Resource section prompts the teacher to use the Extension Activities  resource to support completing this project. Materials include a graphic organizer which students use to analyze the poem and questions that students respond to as they conduct research using reference books. This Lifelong Learning task is one of four Extend Understanding options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

  • Materials provide many opportunities for students to synthesize and analyze content tied to the texts under study as a part of the research process. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, along with “Echoes of Shiloh” by Shelby Foote. After reading, students use search engines to perform electronic searches “to locate further information about the Battle of Shiloh” and evaluate the sources they find. Students “create a list of the most reliable and the least reliable” and then give a description of their evaluation process. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction. 

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read the short story, “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry. As part of a Research Skills task, students use print references or the Internet to research the allusions to famous people and events found in the story and present their findings to the class. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher can choose, and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the short story, “Too Soon a Woman” by Dorothy M. Johnson. During a Research Skills task, the teacher points out that Johnson uses both primary and secondary sources in researching her Western fiction. After the teacher explains primary and secondary sources using the text, students “identify which of the following materials related to the Oregon Trail would be primary sources and which would be secondary sources.”

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read the lyric poem “Ode to My Socks” by Pablo Neruda. During the Media Literacy Extend Understanding task, students use library or Internet sources to find another Pablo Neruda poem and compare and contrast it to “Ode to My Socks.” This task is one of four post-reading options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read the Zuni myth, “Coyote Steals the Sun and Moon” by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz. Students conduct research to learn more about the Zuni. Students must “[i]nclude information from multiple sources, such as the Internet, library texts, or encyclopedias.” Then students ``create a brief oral or visual presentation to share your findings. Include images or other graphics if possible.” This Lifelong Learning Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.. 

  • Students are provided with opportunities for both “short” and “long” projects across the course of a year and grade bands. 

    • In Unit 2, Differing Perspectives, students read the short story “Moon” by Chaim Potok paired with the informational text “The Story of Iqbal Masih” by David L. Parker. During a Research Skills activity, students work in groups to brainstorm questions about events they can research that occurred in the late 1990s when the story was written. It is unclear when students conduct research using the questions they brainstormed. 

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the informational text “Indian Cattle” by Eugene Rachis.  It is paired with the memoir “Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo.” Students complete a lifelong learning task in which they use internet and library resources to “research the decline of the American buffalo.”  Students create note cards, gather visual aids, and present their findings to the class. 

    • In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read the narrative poem, “Birdfoot’s Grampa” by Joseph Bruchac, paired with the lyric poem, “The Time We Climbed Snake Mountain” by Leslie Marmon Silko. After reading both selections, students research information about current environmental practices to support a debate on the topic. This Critical Literacy Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher can choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction. 

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop, students write a research report that supports “a thesis or answers a question.”  Guidance directs students to take notes using note cards as they research their topics and “organize them in a way that clearly supports my thesis.” The research report must include “information gathered from multiple sources as well as [students’] ideas and explanation, and sources must be accurately documented.

Criterion 2g - 2h

Materials promote mastery of grade-level standards by the end of the year.

4/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for coherence. Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. Questions and tasks do not consistently align to grade-level standards or meet the full intent of the standards. It is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. There is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards. The amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. The volume of optional tasks distracts from core learning. Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

Indicator 2g

Materials spend the majority of instructional time on content that falls within grade-level aligned instruction, practice, and assessments.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2g. 

Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. As a result, there is no true core instructional path. The Lesson Plan for each text includes the following sections: Before Reading, During Reading, After Reading. Within each section, teachers select or choose activities from a list of core and ancillary resources. Most ancillary resources, such as Unit & Selection Resources, do not provide explicit instruction nor do they identify correlated standards for the provided content. Some questions and tasks align to grade-level standards while others do not align or do not meet the full intent of the standards. Because assessments do not identify the standards addressed, it is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. Although the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists page numbers covering the standards in each strand, without a true core instructional path and because the majority of questions and tasks do not align to grade-level standards, there is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards.

Materials do not spend the majority of instructional time on content that falls within grade-level aligned instruction, practice, and assessments. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Over the course of each unit, some instruction is aligned to grade-level standards.

    • In the Digital Teacher Edition, the Grade 8 Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists page numbers for each standard in Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational Text, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language; however, the page numbers listed do not always contain opportunities for explicit instruction or address the correlated standard. 

      • For example, the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document states in the EMC Pages That Cover the Standards column for RI.9 Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation. This page contains the following Text to Text Connection question: “Both ‘Indian Cattle’ and ‘Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo’ give information about the Plains Indians’ buffalo-hunting rituals and rules. However, unlike ‘Indian Cattle,’ ‘Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo’ is written from the first-person point of view. What do you learn from the first-hand perspective that you did not learn in ‘Indian Cattle’?” Students do not receive explicit instruction on the correlated standard and the question to which students respond does not address the full intent of the standard.       

  • Over the course of each unit, some questions and tasks are aligned to grade-level standards. 

    • Questions often focus on comprehension strategies, such as Make Connections, Ask Questions, Draw Conclusions, and Visualize. These comprehension strategies do not align to grade-level standards. Some Extend Understanding tasks align to grade-level standards, while others either do not align or do not meet the full requirements of the standards. Because post-reading questions and tasks do not have correlated standards identified, it is not always clear which question or task addresses the standard listed on the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document.

      • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read “A Mother in Mannville,” a short story by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. After reading, students use a cluster chart to track the sensory details “the narrator use[s] to help readers ‘see,’ ‘hear,’ and ‘feel’ elements in the setting.” Students then use their cluster chart to respond to complete the Informative Writing task in the Extend Understanding section: “Using your cluster chart, write a brief essay in which you explain how the setting influenced the story’s plot and resolution. Deliver your essay to an audience of classmates. State your main idea in your thesis, and support your thesis with details and examples from the story.” While this task combines writing with a speaking and listening opportunity, it does not address the full intent of the standard: “Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.” 

  • Over the course of each unit, it is unclear whether the majority of assessment questions are aligned to grade-level standards. 

    • Materials do not identify assessed standards on Selection Quizzes, Lesson Tests, Unit Exams, or Formative Surveys. As a result, it is unclear whether the majority of assessment questions are aligned to grade-level standards. 

  • By the end of the academic year, standards are not repeatedly addressed within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standard.

    • Because the page numbers listed on the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document for each standard in Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational Text, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language are not always the standard addressed and because the majority of questions and tasks do not align to grade-level standards, materials do not consistently provide students with multiple opportunities to address standards within and across units to ensure mastery. It is also unclear which items address the correlated standard, because standards are not identified at the question or task level.  

      • The Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists pages  for RL.7:Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors. On page 311, students read an Internet article by Dr. David West Reynolds, “Industrial Light & Magic, Part 1: History,” and respond to an Analyze Literature: Author’s Purpose prompt in which they “compare and contrast the purposes” of the article and an entry from a visual dictionary also authored by Dr. David West Reynolds. Students also discuss “how the organization of the article on Industrial Light & Magic supports the purpose of the article.” On page 313, students respond to the following Text to Text Connection question: “In the article, Dr. Reynolds says that the goal of Industrial Light & Magic is ‘...to make the impossible, quite simply, come true.’ Given what you learned in the visual dictionary entry, would you say that goal was accomplished? How do special effects add to the moviegoer’s experience? Support your response with textual evidence.”  On page 322, students “select visuals to enhance a presentation and critically evaluate the effectiveness of your speech,” during the end-of-unit Speaking & Listening Workshop. These questions and tasks do not address the correlated standard.

Indicator 2h

Materials regularly and systematically balance time and resources required for following the suggested implementation, as well as information for alternative implementations that maintain alignment and intent of the standards.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2h. 

The Visual Planning Guide for each unit includes suggested pacing for each text, but there is no suggested timeline for the pacing of units nor for the curriculum as a whole over the course of the year. The suggested pacing for texts does not take into account the extension opportunities or end-of-unit Speaking & Listening, Writing, or Test Practice Workshops. While materials provide a large variety of optional tasks, the amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. Similarly, as teachers use the editable lesson plan templates in the Program Planning Guide Editable Lesson Plans resource, materials do not provide direction as to what the suggested optional tasks are, which should be used in conjunction with one another, or the pacing for the tasks. Although these resources are provided, the curriculum lacks clear directives to explain how to incorporate core instruction, found in the Teacher’s Edition, and ancillary resources. Furthermore, the curriculum fails to provide teacher guidance on when and how to incorporate reteaching and remediation within the provided pacing suggestions. The Program Planning Guide includes the Mirrors & Windows College & Career Readiness Curriculum Guide Level III (Grade 8), an alternative implementation schedule that focuses on selections and workshops necessary for students to “master critical skills that appear on state and national assessments.”

Materials do not regularly and systematically balance time and resources required for following the suggested implementation, as well as information for alternative implementations that maintain alignment and intent of the standards. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Suggested implementation schedules and alternative implementation schedules do not consistently align to core learning and objectives. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, students read the short story, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. The text is an independent reading selection that does not include the scaffolds present in Guided Reading and Directed Reading selections; however, materials include teacher guidance for whole class instruction of this text. The Scope and Sequence Guide outlines the lesson components, including the Reading Skill: make predictions, the Literary Element: character, and the Mirrors & Windows theme: intelligence. Objectives include “read with developing fluency” and “read silently with comprehension for a sustained period of time.” Standards addressed during this lesson include RL.1, RL.3, RL.10, and SL.1. During reading, students largely respond to Analyze Literature questions addressing character, and a host of Use Reading Skills questions addressing strategies, such as ask questions, clarify, make predictions, make inferences, summarize, After reading, students respond to the Mirrors & Windows prompt addressing intelligence and three Text-Dependent Questions. Students may also complete two post-reading tasks: a Creative Writing option and a Critical Literacy option. Both options align to the standards addressed in this text.

    • In Unit 4, Expanding Horizons, students read the anchor text, “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow. The Scope and Sequence Guide outlines the lesson components, including the Reading Skill: analyze main idea and supporting details, the Literary Element: informational text, and the Mirrors & Windows theme: science and beliefs. The text overview page sets a purpose for reading that focuses on using strategies such as context clues, vocabulary definitions, and footnotes to define unfamiliar terms and “make predictions regarding what ‘tale’ the two rocks suggested to the scientists; defines the term informational text, and provides a sample main idea map to gather details from the story. Objectives include, but are not limited to, “use reading skills such as analyzing the main idea and supporting details” and “describe the literary accomplishments of Valerie Jablow and explain why an author might choose a specific literary form.” The lesson plan is separated into Before Reading (Preview and Motivate), During Reading (Teach the Selection and Differentiate Instruction), and After Reading (Review, Teach the Workshops, and Extend and Assess) sections. Before reading, students read through the Text Overview page and respond to a Mirrors & Windows discussion prompt. During reading, students respond to four Use Reading Skills questions on analyzing main idea and supporting details and one Analyze Literature question on informational text. After reading, students respond to six Text-Dependent Questions and an Analyze Literature: Informational Text prompt in which they create a K-W-L chart “to analyze the information in ‘A Tale of Two Rocks’ and “write a brief analysis of the article.” While most of the four Extend Understanding task options connect to the text, the task options do not address the core learning objectives. 

  • Suggested implementation schedules cannot be reasonably completed in the time allotted.

    • The Program Planning Guide notes the overabundance of material: “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors & Windows program offers a wealth of material—much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” 

    • As an alternative to the Scope and Sequence Guide provided in each unit, materials include the Mirrors & Windows College & Career Readiness Curriculum Guide Level III (Grade 8): “The selections and workshops listed here represent the core course of study students need to master critical skills that appear on state and national assessments. To ensure standards coverage, students who are having difficulty may concentrate on only these selections and workshops. Students on and above grade level may read more selections.” When utilizing this abridged course of study, the teacher must still select which instructional activities to enact during each Program Planning Guide lesson plan.

    • The Program Planning Guide contains lesson plans for each text selection and the three End-of-Unit Workshops. Text selection lesson plans include the following sections: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading. In the Before Reading: Preview and Motivate section, teachers “[c]hoose from the following materials to preview the selection and motivate your students.” The During Reading section contains two sub-sections, Teach the Selection(s) and Differentiate Instruction. Teachers choose from a list of resources to teach the selection and consider “alternative teaching options to differentiate instruction.” The After Reading section contains two to three subsections: Review and Extend, Teach the Workshop(s), and Assess. Teachers select activities from a list of options and resources to extend learning and teach the Workshop included, where applicable. Teachers do not select from a list of options during the Assess subsection. The lesson plan does not provide guidance on how many minutes each option should take or how long the lesson should last. Pacing guidance is limited to the number of regular schedule or block schedule days the lesson should take. 

  • Optional tasks distract from core learning. 

    • In Unit 5, Living with Words, students read and compare the lyric poem, “Legacies” by Nikki Giovanni to the lyric poem, “I Ask My Mother to Sing” by Li-Young Lee. During the Narrative Writing option, students “[w]rite a short personal narrative about a family member who has had an impact on your life.” During the Lifelong Learning: Research option, students “[u]se an encyclopedia or the Internet to locate information on one of the places mentioned in Li-Young Lee’s poem” and “give a brief informative speech about the location.” These tasks do not align to the Compare Literature: Diction and Tone focus for this paired selection.  

    • In Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, students read “Blackbeard’s Last Fight” by Richard Walser. The lesson plan for this text includes six additional After Reading task options, ranging from Selection Quizzes to group discussion questions to vocabulary and spelling practice exercises. The optional tasks focus on a multitude of items, such as homophones and homonyms, characterization, and textual evidence. Due to the limited teacher guidance on selecting activities, the volume of optional tasks distract from core learning.

  • Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

    •  In Unit 6, Reaching Out, students read “Southbound on the Freeway” by May Swenson. After reading, optional Extend Understanding tasks include writing a short story from the same perspective as the original poem, writing a literary response on how literary elements contribute to the effect of the poem, researching stars, and holding a debate with classmates about extraterrestrials. While the Narrative Writing and Informative Writing Extend Understanding task options connect to the text and align to grade-level standards, the Lifelong Learning: Research a Star and Critical Literacy: Debate task options do not.

    • In Unit 7, Meeting Dangers, students read the drama The Diary of Anne Frank Act I by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.  Students have the option to complete two extension activities: a Collaborative Learning task in which they draw a diagram of the set or construct a diorama of how they visualize the stage, or a Critical Literacy task in which they work with a small group to perform a scene from Act I. Although these Extend Understanding task options connect to the text, they do not align to the core learning objectives, and the Collaborative Learning option does not align to grade-level standards.

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

Criterion 3a - 3h

The program includes opportunities for teachers to effectively plan and utilize materials with integrity and to further develop their own understanding of the content.

Indicator 3a

Materials provide teacher guidance with useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials, with specific attention to engaging students in order to guide their literacy development.

N/A

Indicator 3b

Materials contain adult-level explanations and examples of the more complex grade/course-level concepts and concepts beyond the current course so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject.

N/A

Indicator 3c

Materials include standards correlation information that explains the role of the standards in the context of the overall series.

N/A

Indicator 3d

Materials provide strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.

N/A

Indicator 3e

Materials provide explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.

N/A

Indicator 3f

Materials provide a comprehensive list of supplies needed to support instructional activities.

N/A

Indicator 3g

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Indicator 3h

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Criterion 3i - 3l

The program includes a system of assessments identifying how materials provide tools, guidance, and support for teachers to collect, interpret, and act on data about student progress towards the standards.

Indicator 3i

Assessment information is included in the materials to indicate which standards are assessed.

N/A

Indicator 3j

Assessment system provides multiple opportunities throughout the grade, course, and/or series to determine students' learning and sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.

N/A

Indicator 3k

Assessments include opportunities for students to demonstrate the full intent of grade-level/course-level standards and practices across the series.

N/A

Indicator 3l

Assessments offer accommodations that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills without changing the content of the assessment.

N/A

Criterion 3m - 3v

The program includes materials designed for each child’s regular and active participation in grade-level/grade-band/series content.

Indicator 3m

Materials provide strategies and supports for students in special populations to work with grade-level content and to meet or exceed grade-level standards that will support their regular and active participation in learning English language arts and literacy.

N/A

Indicator 3n

Materials regularly provide extensions to engage with literacy content and concepts at greater depth for students who read, write, speak, and/or listen above grade level.

N/A

Indicator 3o

Materials provide varied approaches to learning tasks over time and variety in how students are expected to demonstrate their learning with opportunities for for students to monitor their learning.

N/A

Indicator 3p

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

N/A

Indicator 3q

Materials provide strategies and supports for students who read, write, and/or speak in a language other than English to meet or exceed grade-level standards to regularly participate in learning English language arts and literacy.

N/A

Indicator 3r

Materials provide a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.

N/A

Indicator 3s

Materials provide guidance to encourage teachers to draw upon student home language to facilitate learning.

N/A

Indicator 3t

Materials provide guidance to encourage teachers to draw upon student cultural and social backgrounds to facilitate learning.

N/A

Indicator 3u

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Indicator 3v

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Criterion 3w - 3z

The program includes a visual design that is engaging and references or integrates digital technology (when applicable) with guidance for teachers.

Indicator 3w

Materials integrate technology such as interactive tools, virtual manipulatives/objects, and/or dynamic software in ways that engage students in the grade-level/series standards, when applicable.

N/A

Indicator 3x

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other, when applicable.

N/A

Indicator 3y

The visual design (whether in print or digital) supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject, and is neither distracting nor chaotic.

N/A

Indicator 3z

Materials provide teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning, when applicable.

N/A
abc123

Report Published Date: 2021/08/26

Report Edition: 2020

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Mirrors & Windows 2020 - Student Edition Grade 8 978‑1‑5338‑3665‑6 EMC School, Part of Carnegie Learning 2020

Please note: Reports published beginning in 2021 will be using version 1.5 of our review tools. Version 1 of our review tools can be found here. Learn more about this change.

ELA 3-8 Review Tool

The ELA review criteria identifies the indicators for high quality instructional materials. The review criteria supports 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 review criteria evaluates 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 review criteria 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.

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

  • Focus and Coherence - 14 possible points

    • 12-14 points: Meets Expectations

    • 8-11 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 8 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 18 possible points

    • 16-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 11-15 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 11 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 38 possible points

    • 31-38 points: Meets Expectations

    • 23-30 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 23: Does Not Meet Expectations

Math High School

  • Focus and Coherence - 18 possible points

    • 14-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 16 possible points

    • 14-16 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 36 possible points

    • 30-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 22-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 22: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA K-2

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 58 possible points

    • 52-58 points: Meets Expectations

    • 28-51 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 28 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 3-5

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 42 possible points

    • 37-42 points: Meets Expectations

    • 21-36 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 21 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 6-8

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 36 possible points

    • 32-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 18-31 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 18 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


ELA High School

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meets Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

Science Middle School

  • Designed for NGSS - 26 possible points

    • 22-26 points: Meets Expectations

    • 13-21 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 13 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Coherence and Scope - 56 possible points

    • 48-56 points: Meets Expectations

    • 30-47 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 30 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 54 possible points

    • 46-54 points: Meets Expectations

    • 29-45 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 29 points: Does Not Meet Expectations