The Open Court Grade 1 materials partially meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the expectations of the standards. Materials include high-quality texts throughout the year; however, not all texts are appropriately complex for the grade-level.
Some text-based opportunities, protocols, questions and tasks support students as both listeners and speakers; however, speaking and listening is not varied across the year and primarily takes place in whole group discussions. Process writing opportunities encompass all the genres set forth in the standards, though informative/explanatory writing has greater coverage. There are limited opportunities for students to engage in on-demand writing aligned to the text. The program includes explicit instruction in and practice of most grammar skills; however, there are limited opportunities for students to apply grade-level grammar and usage standards to their individual writing.
Materials include a research-based synthetic approach to teaching foundational skills. Explicit instruction in most phonological and phonics standards is included in the materials; however, there is a lack of encoding practice for both newly taught phonics skills and high frequency words. Materials include decodables aligned to the scope and sequence of phonics and high frequency word instruction. While materials include explicit instruction in fluency focused on accuracy, rate, and expression, there is a lack of teacher level modeling of fluent reading. Multiple assessment opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate progress toward mastery and independence of foundational skills; however, teacher guidance for instructional strategies for assessment area deficits is lacking.
Not all units in the program effectively build students’ knowledge on a topic. While text analysis is well-covered, including some analysis of knowledge and ideas within and across texts, not all questions and tasks compel students to return to the text to support their contentions and conclusions.
Students engage in frequent writing tasks across the year; however, since informational writing encompasses nearly half of writing instruction, students may not achieve the full balance of writing genres outlined in the standards.
The Inquiry projects that conclude each unit teach some research skills but due to student choice, do not provide adequate growth in those skills. These projects also fall short of demonstrating the growth of students’ knowledge, standards, and skills from the unit.
The materials provide coverage of the standards throughout all units and over the course of the year; however, the preponderance of repetitive, unaligned reading strategies throughout the program moves the focus of the instruction, questions, tasks, and assessments away from a tight focus on grade level standards alignment. The program also contains a large volume of material without a suggested daily schedule; therefore, a full and standards-aligned implementation could be challenging.