Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the expectations of alignment. The materials include high-quality texts but the texts are not always appropriate in complexity. Students read the suggested texts independently. Oral and written questions and tasks rarely connect to what students are reading and tasks do not integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language skills.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
N/A
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Does Not Meet Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the standards. There are missed opportunities for the use of full texts and a range of genres. Anchor texts, listed as supplemental reading texts within the materials, are not included in the last two units of the materials. At times, texts are not appropriate for use in the grade-level according to text complexity measures. All reading is assigned as independent work and there are no mechanisms for teachers or students to monitor reading progress. Questions and tasks focus on skills, are not text-specific or text-dependent, and do not build to a culminating task. Tasks do not integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language nor do they connect to the texts students read. Students rarely have opportunities to engage in evidence-based discussions about what they are reading and there are few prompts and protocols for teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Speaking and listening opportunities are limited and do not consistently occur over the course of a school year. Although students have opportunities to engage in on-demand and process writing, process writing does not occur during the second semester of coursework. As students analyze and develop claims about the texts and sources they read, writing tasks rarely require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. There are some missed opportunities for grammar and convention instruction, practice, and application.

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
8/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for text quality and text complexity. Although the majority of the supplemental reading texts are of high quality, there are a number of units that use excerpts of longer pieces and/or include a limited range of genres. While some of the texts meet text complexity requirements, texts that are below the quantitative grade band often do not have associated tasks that are complex enough to warrant the use of the text. Texts do not increase in complexity to support growth of literacy skills. Opportunities and supports for students to engage in a range and volume of reading are not clearly identified nor is there a wide range of genres or complexity in the texts recommended within the materials.

Indicator 1a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

The majority of the texts are high quality, authentic texts written by award winning authors. The materials include a good mix of fiction and nonfiction; most of the nonfiction texts are history related. The texts are well-crafted, content-rich, and appropriate for students in Grade 8. 

Examples of publishable texts that may interest students include:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, students read Night by Elie Wiesel. The memoir has strong content and is worthy of reading due to historical context. The author is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Students will find it powerfully thought-provoking.
  • In Semester A, Unit 2, students read Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. This book is engaging for students and is worthy of reading for the themes of human nature and the historical context of America in the 1960s.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, students read Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit. This true story of Emma Edmonds, a Civil War spy, will engage students. It is an age-appropriate account of themes related to war based on historical documents and her own memoir.
  • In Semester A, Unit 5, students read excerpts from “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine. This historical document is worthy of student analysis. Students can access this document due to plain language and the intention of Paine to speak to the common people of America.
  • In Semester B, Unit 1, students read Coraline by Nail Gaiman, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novella in 2003. This dark fantasy novel has themes of courage, home, and appreciating what you have that are appropriate for middle school students. The text is engaging and high-interest for students.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, students read "The Faerie Queene". This poem is qualitatively challenging for students due to archaic language and poetic structure. It would take scaffolding to be accessible for students in Grade 8.
  • In Semester B, Unit 3, students read "Beowulf". This epic poem is qualitatively challenging for students. While it is commonly studied at a higher grade level, it is a quality text. Ancient vocabulary and poetic structure and conventions would require support for students to be able to fully grasp the themes.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Over the course of the school year, six of the twelve units have novels associated with them. During two of the remaining units, students read two epic poems. In two other units, students read historical documents. Genres represented at Grade 8 are limited. Students read two fiction novels, two biographies, a travelogue, and two history/social studies texts. Students read drama, biography, historical fiction, horror, history/social studies texts, persuasive essay, poetry, and speeches. Students do not read letters, journal articles, fables, myths, science fiction, or opinion articles.

Examples of literary texts include:

  • Semester A, Unit 1: Night by Elie Weisel (literary non-fiction)
  • Semester B, Unit 1: Coraline by Neil Gaiman (fiction novel)
  • Semester B, Unit 2: My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier (historical fiction)
  • Semester B, Unit 3: "Beowulf" (epic poem)
  • Semester B, Unit 4: "The Faerie Queene" by Edmund Spenser (epic poem)

Examples of information texts include:

  • Semester A, Unit 2: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (autobiography)
  • Semester A, Unit 3: An American Plague by Jim Murphy (nonfiction)
  • Semester A, Unit 4: Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds by Seymour Reit (nonfiction)
  • Semester A, Unit 5: “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (historical text)
  • Semester A, Unit 6: “Thanksgiving Proclamation” by George Washington (historical text)

Indicator 1c

Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

Some of the supplemental texts fall into the 6-8 grade level band (955L-1155L) in terms of quantitative measures and are within the appropriate rigor range in terms of qualitative measures; however, most of the texts are either above or below the Grade 8 suggested range. Students read two epic poems traditionally studied in high school and are very complex. While the structure of the novels is straightforward and in chronological order, the qualitative features of many texts include references to historical people, places, and events which might cause students some difficulty. Often the associated tasks are not complex enough to warrant the use of texts significantly below the recommended text complexity measure.

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:  

  • Semester A, Unit 1, Night 
    • Quantitative Measure: 570L
    • Qualitative Measures: The content and subject matter of the Holocaust makes this text high complexity. Most of the text can be read literally; however, there is symbolism and deeper meaning the students may interpret as they read. The structure of the text is an easily readable first-person memoir told in a straightforward way. Language demands are low; there is significant dialogue in which characters speak in conversational diction. Knowledge demands are high because of references to outside materials, Jewish allusions, and Holocaust history. Students would need to have extensive background knowledge of World War II.
    • Reader and Task: Students read the text at the beginning of the year; the unit overview states, “Students will begin with a detailed study of language and the role that words play when it comes to understanding a text.” Throughout the unit, students read the book independently, and excerpts and examples are used in the lesson materials; however, students do not complete any complex tasks associated with the novel. In Lesson 6, DOK Level 1 activity, examples from the text are used to show how context clues can help students understand the meaning of haste and conflagration. Then in the activity, they drag-and-drop words into a paragraph in a cloze activity to explain how to use context clues. The task is not associated with the text.
  • Semester A, Unit 4, Behind Rebel Lines 
    • Quantitative Measure: 830L
    • Qualitative Measures: The text has moderate levels of meaning as the story is a profile of one woman’s deception and bravery during the Civil War with relatable themes. The structure is low complexity with the chapters dated chronologically. Language demands are moderate with historical and military references and colloquial expressions. Knowledge demands are low, as students will understand the narrative of a woman disguising herself as a man to serve as a spy.
    • Reader and Task: Tasks associated with this novel are not complex enough to warrant the use of the text in Grade 8. In Lesson 2, Summary, students independently read the text and “pay attention to how the information is organized and presented.” In Lesson 6, DOK Level 2 activity, students view hooks and thesis statements about the Civil War which is the time period of the text; however, there are no requirements to have read the text in order to complete the associated drop-down menu task. In Lesson 13, students finish reading of the novel and no further tasks are given following the reading. The three DOK activities are not related to the reading.
  • Semester B Unit 1, Coraline 
    • Quantitative Measure: 740L 
    • Qualitative Measure: This text has a moderate complexity for meaning. Literary devices used include: foreshadowing, allusion, and simile. The structure is moderate in sentence structure, with low complexity in conventionality and organization making this text useful for teaching an introduction to basic literary elements. Language demands are low complexity. Knowledge demands are low complexity as students can relate to the character feeling bored or misunderstood and grasp the theme of courage. 
    • Reader and Task: Excerpts from the text are used in lessons throughout the unit; however, no complex tasks are associated with the novel. In Lesson 6, DOK Level 1 activity, students highlight examples of sensory details from Chapter 8 of the novel. The excerpt is provided, so students do not need to analyze the text to find examples. The associated task is not complex enough to warrant using the text in Grade 8.
  • Semester B, Unit 3, Beowulf
    • Quantitative Measure: no Lexile 
    • Qualitative Measures: The text is high complexity in language, structure, meaning, and knowledge demands. Without sufficient scaffolding, this text is too complex for Grade 8.
    • Reader and Task: Excerpts and examples from the text are sometimes provided in lesson, but often there are few or no questions and tasks associated with the text, so students could complete the lessons without independently reading the text. For example, DOK Level 2 activity, students learn about using explicit textual evidence to support ideas with an excerpt from Beowulf. In the task, students drag and drop provided statements that illustrate finding and using explicit evidence. In Lesson 6, the three DOK activities use a passage from Snow White, where students highlight sentences that contain a simile, categorize sentences as either containing a simile or metaphor, and explain metaphors in popular songs. In the Daily Assignment, one of the five questions includes an excerpt from Beowulf where students must choose the meaning of a simile presented.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria that materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

The materials do not provide variety in text complexity to support growth of literacy skills. Students read one text in each of the six units in Semester A and read four texts in the first four units of Semester B. Students do not read any texts in the last two units of the school year. In the units with supplemental independent reading texts, the quantitative and qualitative rigor does not increase over the year. All of the supplemental reading texts fall below the quantitative range for Grade 8. Students are rarely asked to analyze texts, but rather read excerpts that are attached to technology-enhanced questions. 

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • At the beginning of the year, in Semester A, Unit 1, students read the personal narrative, Night by Elie Wiesel with a 570L. The focus of this unit is reading and analysis. The Lexile measure falls within the middle of the range for the Grade 2-3 reading level; however, the qualitative measure suggested by the lesson activities indicate students must have background knowledge of the Holocaust, which keeps this book for being used at lower grade levels. It is appropriate to begin the course with this personal memoir, as it relates to the focus for Semester A, Unit 1, “Analyzing Author’s Purpose and Word Choice”. Throughout the unit, students independently practice reading skills such as determining author’s point of view, making inferences, and character development. The Lesson 3 objective states, “Students will be able to analyze how people, events, and ideas are developed within a text.” Students complete tasks, such as matching a description with a character from the text, sorting statements that do and do not show Father as a protector, and matching actions with reasons that prompted the action from the text. While these activities are related to the text, students do not write their own analysis of the text.
  • In Semester A, Unit 3, the students read the nonfiction history text, An American Plague by Jim Murphy with a 1130L, which falls within the middle of the range for the Grade 9-10 reading level. The focus of this unit is reading and analysis, and throughout the unit, students independently practice literacy skills with lessons on topics, such as identifying the central idea, determining the author’s point of view and purpose, making inferences and generalizations, synthesizing media and information, and understanding synonyms, antonyms, and context clues. In the lesson on identifying the central idea using topic sentences, the objective states, “Students will be able to determine the central idea of a text.” However, students do not determine a central idea on their own. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, the students read the nonfiction historical text, Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy by Seymour Reit with a 830L, which falls within the middle of the range for the Grade 4-5 reading level. Students use the text as a model as they write a 4-7 page factual report comparing and contrasting this text with An American Plague. The focus of this unit is writing, but students are assigned to read the text, and excerpts are sometimes used in the lessons. For example, in Lesson 4, “Synthesizing and Citing Sources,” students see excerpts from the text as examples of how to use in-text citations and what to do with common knowledge. Students do very little analysis of the text.
  • In the middle of the year, in Semester B, Unit 1, students read a fiction novel, Coraline by Neil Gaiman with a 740L, which falls at the low range for the Grade 4-5 reading level. The focus of this unit is reading and analysis, and throughout the unit, students independently practice literacy skills with lessons on topics, such as defining an unknown word, identifying the central idea, drawing conclusions, using plot diagrams, and analyzing character change and development. In the lesson on analyzing character change and development, the objective states, “Students will describe how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.” However, students do not describe character change nor support analysis with text evidence. Instead, students complete multiple choice questions based on the text. Most of these could be completed based on clues in the questions and answer choices without reading the text. 
  • By the end of the year, in Semester B, Unit 2, students read the fiction novel, My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier with a 770L, which falls within the middle of the range for the Grade 4-5 reading level. Throughout the unit, students independently practice literacy skills with lessons focused on writing such as, the writing process, sensory and descriptive language, using dialogue and pacing, and using transitional words and phrases. In the lesson on using dialogue and pacing, one objective states, “Students will use pacing to develop their writing.” None of the DOK leveled activities include excerpts from the text. Students are instructed to read the text in the Summary of each lesson, but are not asked to do any analysis.

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
0/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level. 

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

Indicator 1f

Anchor text(s), including support materials, provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading.
0/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

The materials do not clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of texts to become independent grade-level readers. The materials do not offer a wide range of genres in the texts, nor do they vary much in complexity. In the six units with texts, there is a range of the Lexile band but many are below the Grade 8 stretch band. Six of the twelve units have trade books serving as anchor texts, referred to as supplemental independent reading texts by the publisher. Students are required to purchase text bundles from an online seller. No provisions are discussed addressing what would happen if students did not purchase or could not afford to purchase texts.

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

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

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

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

  • Lesson 1: “Defining an Unknown Word”. Students move through DOK leveled activities: Word Study Strategies, Context Clues, and Cause and Effect. Some examples are presented from the text, but students are not assigned to read the text until the Summary where they are assigned to read Chapters 1-4, “Be sure to try some of the strategies you learned today when you come across an unknown word. As you read, see whether you can identify the central idea or theme that the story revolves around.” No instructions are provided if students write their ideas or where they would write.
  • Lesson 2: “Identifying the Central Idea and Drawing Conclusions”. Examples and excerpts are used in the DOK leveled activities on drawing and supporting conclusions, but students are not assigned to do any reading until the Summary, “...be sure to read Chapter 5 and reflect about how the story is unfolding thus far.”
  • Lesson 3: “Plot Diagram”. In the DOK Level 3 activity, students view an excerpt from Coraline as an example of how a plot unfolds. In the Summary, student instructions state, “As you read Chapters 6 and 7 to prepare for the next lesson, try to think about how the characters are evolving as the story continues.”
  • Lesson 4: “Analyzing Character Change and Development”. Again, examples and excerpts from Coraline are used in the DOK leveled lessons. Student reading assignments are stated in the Summary, “You are ready to recognize changes in characters as you continue to read Coraline. This concept will be revisited later in the unit. For now, read Chapter 8 and pay close attention to the scenes the author creates.”
  • Lesson 5: This lesson includes a Time to Review activity prior to the Unit Exam which is a word-search where students are supposed to find words related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. It is not clear how finding words will help students understand the concepts. There is a Practice Activity where students complete 12 multiple choice or drag-and-drop constructed response items related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. Some of the questions use examples from the text. Finally, the Weekly Quiz includes 27 multiple choice or drag and drop constructed response items related to the skills learned in the previous lessons. There is no reading assigned in Lesson 5.

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The majority of the questions and tasks focus on the skill addressed in the lesson and are not grounded in textual evidence. Questions are stand-alone and skill-based in nature and do not build to a culminating task. Tasks are not culminating, as there is no integration of skills nor do the tasks connect to the texts students read. There are missed opportunities for evidence-based discussions on what students are reading and few prompts or protocols for discussions encouraging teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Speaking and listening opportunities within lessons are limited and do not consistently occur over the course of the school year. While the materials include on-demand and process writing opportunities, students do not complete process writing during the second semester of the school year and writing opportunities do not accurately reflect the distribution required by the standards. Although there are some opportunities for students to analyze and develop claims during close reading and work with sources, writing tasks rarely require students to use textual evidence to support their claims. There are some missed opportunities for grammar and convention instruction, practice, and application.

Indicator 1g

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text). 

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

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

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 4, Lesson 7: “Supporting Claims with Clear Reasoning”, students are reading Behind Rebel Lines by Tracy Barnett. The DOK Level 1 activity is not text-dependent; students match definitions with examples of purpose for writing (e.g., entertaining, informing). In the DOK Level 2 activity, students sort quotes from the text into two categories: clear or vague. This activity could be done without reading the text. In the DOK Level 3 activity, students identify and move sentences into order: thesis statement, supporting arguments, and closing paragraph. This can be done without reading the text. The Post-Test asks three questions related to the skill but are not text-dependent. One of these questions asks students to “complete each thought by dragging endings to the following stems: Clear arguments are… Balanced claims are… Perspective is… Informing the reader can… and Entertaining the reader will…”. In another question, students read a paragraph about the Civil War and highlight “the statements that do not relate to the thesis or require clarification or further support.” The Daily Assignment includes six questions related to the skill of supporting claims with reasoning; none of the questions are text-dependent.
  • In Semester B, Unit 3: “Analyzing and Responding to an Epic Poem”, Lesson 15, the Unit Exam, students answer skill-based questions that often do not refer to a text. Examples of questions include:
    • Question 1: (Highlight) “Identify and highlight the hyperbole in the following excerpt from Richard Connell's ‘The Most Dangerous Game.’” Students highlight the sentence that includes hyperbole from the following excerpt, “No animal had a chance with me anymore. That is no boast; it is a mathematical certainty. The animal had nothing but his legs and his instinct.” Students do not locate and provide their own example of hyperbole.
    • Question 16: (Multiple Choice) “Which of the following is an example of a metaphor?” (A:  He was as hungry as a horse., B: He is a bad student who is often disrespectful to his teachers., C: He is a rock, steady and sure even in the face of panic., D: He lounged in the pool like an old battleship.) 
    • Question 31: (Multiple Choice) “Categorize the following text according to author's purpose: An article that urges people not to use products that are tested on animals, because the author believes that it is both cruel and unnecessary. (A. Entertain, B. Inform, C. Persuade, D. None of the above.)”

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 3, Lesson 3: “Identifying the Central Idea Using Topic Sentences,” Daily Assignment, students answer six questions; three questions are text-related. Examples of the types of questions and teacher guidance include: 
    • Question 1 (Drop-Down Menu): “A topic sentence is often the _______ (Choices: first or middle) and most _________(Choices: general or detailed) sentence in the paragraph.”  
    • Question 2 (Multiple Choice): “Complete the statement with the best choice. The central idea of the paragraph is________ ” (Choices: the author’s point of view or what the author wants the reader to understand).” 
    • Question 4 is the one of three questions referring to the supplemental text for this unit. Students highlight a supporting sentence in a paragraph from Chapter 3 of An American Plague. The teacher may view student answers in the Teacher Portal, but there is no instruction to the teacher for how to intervene if the student has not mastered the skill other than to allow them to retake the assignment.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Writing History”, Lesson 1: “Prewriting Strategies”, Summary, students write a 4-7 page factual report comparing and contrasting the texts in previous units, “Topics to consider may be: ideas, themes, or concepts; structure, organization, style, and point of view; the effectiveness of the authors’ use of various literary devices.” However, reviewers did not find any further instructions for students, nor any instructional guidance for teachers to implement the task. No rubrics or model papers are provided for a teacher to support students as they write drafts or for teachers to grade and provide feedback.

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

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

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, the Quarter 1 overview states, “Students will continue to develop their grasp of active reading and authentic writing using focused literary analysis and creation of nonfiction texts. Students will read a historical memoir to comprehend and deconstruct elements such as point of view, central ideas, textual evidence, and author’s purpose. They will use the five-step writing process to create their own personal memoirs for an intended audience. The quarter concludes with a concentrated reading of historical nonfiction to identify explicit and implicit textual evidence, evaluate claims, and infer and generalize based on text.” While students read a historical memoir then write a personal memoir, there is no requirement for the reading to be done in order to accomplish the writing task. The concentrated reading happens after writing the memoir, thus not connecting the genre to their work.  
  • In Semester A, Unit 2, the culminating task is a 4-6 page first-person memoir about “a memorable, important moment in your life. Your memoir should be a memorable experience, should include dialogue and other types of descriptive text, and should explain what you learned from this experience or how it changed you.” Students learn about the writing process while reading Night. Excerpts and examples from the text are used in the lessons on these writing topics, students could complete the writing assignment without reading or understanding the text. There are very few text-dependent questions where students construct their own responses. Questions are related to skills of lessons using technology-enhanced activities. Lessons focus on writing strategies such as:
    • Lesson 4: Using Prewriting Strategies
    • Lesson 6: Sequencing Events and Using Active Voice
    • Lesson 7: Using Descriptive Details and Sensory Language
    • Lesson 8: Using Dialogue and Pacing
    • Lesson 11: Maintaining Consistent Style and Tone
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, the culminating task is a 4-7 page factual report comparing and contrasting An American Plague (supplemental independent reading text from Unit 3) and Behind Enemy Lines (supplemental independent reading text from Unit 4): “Topics to consider may be: ideas, themes, or concepts; structure, organization, style, and point of view; the effectiveness of the authors' use of various literary devices.“ Additional student instructions state: “Back up your information with a minimum of 3 credible sources and/or textual evidence, and be sure to give credit to those sources within the report (in-text citations) as well as on a Works Cited or Bibliography page.” This is the first culminating task where students read and analyze the texts. Lessons throughout the unit use examples and excerpts from the text; however, there are few text-dependent questions where students write their own response. Questions are related to skills of lessons using technology-enhanced activities. This unit includes lessons on creating a presentation, but it is not clear if or when this will be completed in class. Lessons that focus on the writing skills related to the task include:
    • Lesson 1: Prewriting Strategies
    • Lesson 2: OrganizingYour Writing
    • Lesson 3: Evaluating Sources
    • Lesson 4: Synthesizing and Citing Sources
    • Lesson 7: Supporting Claims with Clear Reasoning
    • Lesson 8: Using Quotations in Informational Texts
    • Lesson 14: Creating Notes and Presenting
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, the culminating task is to write “persuasive articles”, but the assignment is unclear; there is no writing prompt. In the Lesson 3 Summary, student instructions state, “To prepare for the next lesson, create your own webs to organize the evidence for each claim you are considering for your persuasive articles. Each persuasive article will require 3−4 arguments, and each argument must be supported by a web of evidence.” In the Lesson 4 Summary, student instructions state, “Choosing and carefully writing your claim is the starting point for your article. Once you know your purpose, you can look at the groups of evidence you created to write a brief statement that connects each piece in a logical way.” Students read an opinion article, ”George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation,” and learn the skills to write persuasive articles. Examples and excerpts are used in the skill-based lessons, however, no text-dependent questions are posed for students to answer. Questions are related to skills from the lessons using technology-enhanced activities. Students could complete the culminating task without reading the associated supplemental text. Lessons that build skills related to the task include:
    • Lesson 1: Introducing Claims 
    • Lesson 2: Evaluating Sources
    • Lesson 3: Using Credible Sources and Evidence
    • Lesson 4: Writing Argumentative Claims
    • Lesson 6: Analyzing Evidence
    • Lesson 11: Using Precise Language and Domain-Specific Vocabulary
  • In Semester B, there are no culminating tasks. Although units have the titles The Art of Writing: Structure Pacing and Details (Unit 2), Creating Arguments and Responses to Poetry (Unit 4), Developing Clear Effective Writing (Unit 5), and Presenting Ideas and Engaging an Audience (Unit 6), none of these units has an assigned culminating tasks; students learn the skills in isolation.

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

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

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, “Analyzing Author's Purpose and Word Choice for Meaning: Night”, Lesson 11: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions”, students learn about discussion techniques in the three skills-based DOK activities:
    • In DOK Level 1: “Answering Questions,” students read a hypothetical discussion students might have about the text, Night. The example shows students using text evidence to support their claims about the text.  In the practice activity, students drag and drop definitions or examples of discussion techniques, such as “Example of an initial response.” No discussion takes place.
    • In DOK Level 2: “Building on Peers’ Ideas”, students read a hypothetical discussion on the text, “Each response restates the question. The second answer builds off the first answer by giving more textual evidence to support the belief of which central idea is most important. Finally, the third student respectfully disagrees with the other's responses and supports her interpretation with textual evidence. Collaborative discussions do not have to be agreements; they are opportunities to learn from others.” In the practice activity, students read a discussion and drag-and-drop appropriate evidence to each statement, “Complete the following collaborative discussion with the appropriate words, phrases, and quotes. The discussion these students are having is based on the following question: Is Night too intense for some audiences?” Students do not practice this technique in an authentic discussion of the text.
    • In DOK Level 3: “Asking Clarifying Questions”, students read a hypothetical discussion where students ask clarifying questions, "In great collaborative discussions, participants not only build off of one another's responses, but they also ask one another clarifying questions to be sure they understand one another's thinking.” The practice activity instructions state, “Read this sample discussion between students where they discuss examples of a central idea in Night. Highlight four (4) examples of the students building off of each other's responses and using textual examples to support their understandings.” Students do not participate in a collaborative discussion.

In the unit, it is not clear when students will be collaborating with peers, nor do they engage with the text during the lessons, outside of viewing excerpts in the lesson. There is no guidance for teachers to support students who may struggle with this skill.

  • In Semester A, Unit 5, “Reading Opinion Texts: Common Sense”, Lesson 13: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions: Building on Others’ Ideas", students learn about discussion techniques in the three skills-based DOK level activities:
    • In DOK Level 1: “Discussion Guidelines”, the lesson describes protocols during a discussion, including listen attentively, to not interrupt, challenge one another respectfully, and build on one another’s comments. In the practice activity, students complete a cloze activity where they drag-and-drop words to complete these protocols. For example, “Listen attentively and do not (interrupt).”
    • In DOK Level 2: “Sentence Starters”, students read sentence stems that can help students express whether they agree or want to build on a peer’s statements or if they want to disagree. The practice activity instructions state, “Determine the best sentence starters to make the discussion between Burke and Paine more respectful." Students select between two sentence starters to make the statements more respectful. Students do not engage in a discussion.
    • In DOK Level 3: “Building on Others’ Ideas”, students learn how to organize a discussion so ideas build on one another. In the practice activity, students drag-and-drop statements from a hypothetical discussion about the text into order so they build upon one another. 

The Summary states, “Great work! Discussions are a valuable way to deepen our understanding of a topic. Having a productive discussion means following guidelines and using appropriate sentence starters to ensure the discussion is respectful.” Students are not assigned to have a collaborative discussion where they apply these skills. There is no guidance for teachers to support students who may struggle with this skill.

  • In Semester B, Unit 2, “Creating a Memoir”, Lesson 8: “Engaging in Collaborative Discussions: Peer Revision,” students learn about discussion techniques around peer revision in the three skills-based DOK level activities. The first two activities instruct about author’s purpose and peer revision. In the Level 3 activity, students learn how to accept feedback or constructive criticism. They are taught to reflect on the comment and see it as judgement. They should ask for clarification if they need it. In the practice activity, students complete a multiple choice quiz about the purpose of feedback and how it should be received. There is no assignment or guidance in this lesson for the students to actually engage in a real discussion. There is no guidance for teachers to support students who may struggle with this skill.

Indicator 1j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria for materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports. 

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

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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Writing History”, students write a compare and contrast essay on two texts, An American Plague and Behind Enemy Lines. In Lesson 14: “Creating Notes and Presenting”, students complete three skills-based DOK lessons and activities called: Creating Note Cards, Using Stories, and Presenting. At the end of the lesson, student instructions state, “When it's time to change your written words into a speech, planning and practice will help you prepare a speech that is engaging as well as informative. Remember, you want to provide information to your audience without confusing them! In order to do this, be sure to keep your audience in mind when you begin thinking about your speech, and then prepare well with these notes and tips. Don't stress. You'll do great!” While these lessons teach the skills of speaking and listening, it is not clear if and when students would make presentations. No further instruction is provided. No instructions for the teacher are provided for evaluating, giving feedback, and no grading rubrics are provided. Presentations seem to be optional and left to the teacher's discretion.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, “Creating Arguments and Responses to Poetry”, students review formal and informal language in Lesson 13, “When to Use Formal and Informal Language” in three skills-based DOK lessons and activities.  
    • In DOK Activity 1: “Standard American English”, students review definitions and examples of dialects, slang, and colloquialisms. Then students complete a match drag-and-drop activity with the definitions of each term.
    • In DOK Activity 2, “Informal and Formal Language”, students see examples of the difference between when formal or informal language is used in writing particular tasks. Then they complete a sorting drag-and-drop activity with sentences using either formal or informal language.
    • In DOK Activity 3: “Purpose”, students learn three different author’s purposes when writing: to persuade, inform, and entertain. In the practice activity, students evaluate the purpose of their supplemental reading text, Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queen”, in four multiple choice questions.
  • In Semester B, Unit 6, “Presenting Ideas and Engaging an Audience”, several lessons teach presentation skills, such as Engaging in Collaborative Discussions: Planning for Conversation, Formal vs Informal Language, Presentation Techniques, and Engaging Your Audience. Students learn about and practice skills in each lesson. A speaking or presentation task is not present in the unit. 

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. 

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

Examples of process writing tasks include:

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, “Creating a Memoir”, students write a memoir: “Your memoir should be a memorable experience, should include dialogue and other types of descriptive text, and should explain what you learned from this experience or how it changed you. It must be written in first-person point of view and should be 4-6 pages in length.” This is a process writing piece with drafts and revisions turned in.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Writing History”, students write a factual report comparing and contrasting An American Plague and Behind Enemy Lines. Topics to consider may be: ideas, themes, or concepts; structure, organization, style, and point of view; the effectiveness of the authors' use of various literary devices. “Remember to use proper essay (multiple paragraph) formatting. You must have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Back up your information with a minimum of three credible sources and/or textual evidence, and be sure to give credit to those sources within the report (in-text citations) as well as on a Works Cited or Bibliography page.”
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, “Writing Persuasive Articles”, students use process writing to write a persuasive article. This is a process writing piece with drafts and revisions turned in.

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 5, “Reading Opinion Texts: Common Sense”, students complete an on-demand writing task: “..think about and make a list of three inferences you can draw from Thomas Paine's Common Sense and include a piece of textual evidence for each. Write this information in your digital notebook.”
  • In Semester B, Unit 5, “Developing Clear Effective Writing”, Lesson 2: “Introducing and Developing Characters”, students complete on-demand tasks in their digital notebooks: “To further explore how an author uses these three literary skills (introduce, illustrate, and elaborate), we're going to focus on characters. Think of yourself as the main character of a story. Open your digital notebook and jot down how you'd make an entrance. How would you paint a picture of yourself for the reader? What events would you include to shape your character? What details would you share?”

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. 

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

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, “Creating a Memoir”, students use process writing to write a memoir. In the Summary activity, students use the unit novel, Travels with Charley, as a model for their writing. Students are instructed to write a memoir in first person point of view. Students produce multiple drafts and revisions are turned in; however, no grading rubric for students to receive feedback on their writing or to help teachers grade the report were provided. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Writing History”, students write a “factual report” comparing and contrasting An American Plague and Behind Enemy Lines. The publishers classify this task as a report, but students are required to compare, contrast, and discuss the authors’ use of literary devices, both of which are literary analysis skills. No grading rubric for students to receive feedback on their writing or to help teachers grade the report were provided. 
  • In Semester A, Unit 6, “Writing Persuasive Articles”, students use process writing to write a persuasive article. They study the model of George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation”. In Lesson 1: “Introducing Claims,” Objective and Introduction, the directions state, “Let's take a closer look at claims in this unit and explore their importance on writing persuasive articles…In your digital notebook, make a list of three learning skills you think you will need to complete this lesson.” In Lesson 1, Summary, which is where writing assignments are found, it is not clear what topic the student should write about. There is no prompt for the student to follow, nor are there directions for the teacher to help the students choose a topic: “You are ready to state and introduce your claim to your intended audience!” In Lesson 11, a rubric is provided for students to use to determine if their persuasive article is ready for finalization. It consists of three categories: Ready for Finalization, Some Revision is Needed, and Needs Work. This rubric mostly focuses on clarity of language and use of domain specific vocabulary rather than on evaluative measures used to monitor student progress. No grading rubric to help teachers grade the report is provided. 
  • In Semester B, Unit 2, “The Art of Writing: Structure, Pacing, and Details”, Lesson 1: “The Writing Process”, the Summary activity does not require a writing project. Students are directed to read Chapter 1 in the unit supplemental novel, My Brother Sam is Dead

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

The materials provide some opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Writing opportunities are rarely focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources. Reading and writing are not integrated well in the curriculum; students only develop claims for writing units concerning arguments and those argument tasks do not always require students to make evidence-based claims. Writing is also not performed on a consistent basis and is often not connected to the texts students are reading. There are some opportunities for students to analyze the structure or examples from the unit texts; however, opportunities to draw from the text when writing are few. Few opportunities are provided to build skills over the year as the units are specific to a type of writing and that type of writing is not introduced again within the year. In Semester A, Units 1, 3, and 4 are connected to novels. In Semester B, only Units 1-2 are connected to novels. Since Units 4-6 in Semester B are not connected to a supplemental independent reading text, it is difficult for the students to demonstrate continued improvement on evidence-based writing throughout the course.

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 1, students read the supplemental text, Night. In Lesson 12: “Making and Supporting Claims Using Textual Evidence”, the objectives state that students will be able to “state an opinion about a text” and “develop an analysis using relevant evidence from the text to support claims, opinions, ideas, and inferences.” Directions for students state, “Great readers are continually developing opinions about texts that they read. You have probably developed many opinions about Night. Perhaps one opinion is that it was the best book you ever read or perhaps your opinion is that it is the worst book you have ever read because it is just too sad. Whatever your opinion, good readers are able to back their opinions and claims with evidence from the text. Today, you will develop a claim of your own and be able to cite evidence from the text to back your claim.” In the DOK Level 1 activity, students match claims to appropriate evidence. The claims are statements unrelated to Night. For example, “Smoking is bad for you” or “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. In the DOK Level 2 activity, students view the claim, “Ice Cream is the best food to eat”, then sort statements into “Supports my claim” or “Does not support my claim.” In the DOK Level 3 Activity, the instruction gives an example of an opinion about Night, and then student directions state, “To properly support your claim, you need to repeat this explanation for each of your pieces of textual evidence. A good way to do this is to think of five scenes from the book that support your claim. Then, write to explain why those scenes support your claim and pull a specific quote from each scene to show how you understand the text.” Then students complete the task to sort statements into the categories of “Claim about Night” or “Not a Claim about Night.” Students do not write a claim and support it with evidence from the text.
  • In Semester A, Unit 4, “Writing History”, students write a “factual report” comparing and contrasting two books, An American Plague and Behind Enemy Lines. They are to support their information with a minimum of three credible sources and/or textual evidence and give credit through in-text citations and a Works Cited page.
  • In Semester B, Unit 3, “Analyzing and Responding to an Epic Poem”, Lesson 2: “Using Textual Evidence to Support Analysis”, students complete the DOK Level 2 activity, “Using Textual Evidence”. Three important things for students to remember when using explicit textual evidence to support ideas are provided, “State your idea. Cite evidence from the text that gives you the idea. Explain the evidence.” Students arrange four options in the order that “illustrates the process for finding and using explicit textual evidence: This demonstrates that Beowulf is a great warrior because he has battled several enemies and won.; Beowulf is a great warrior.; Also, according to the text, Beowulf “battled and bound five beasts,/ raided a troll nest and in the night-sea/ slaughtered sea-brutes”(420-422); He plans to fight the demon Grendel.”

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, “Creating a Memoir”, students read the supplemental text, Travels with Charley. In Lesson 1: “Exploring the Writing Process”, Summary, student instructions for the culminating task are given. They will write a memoir in the first-person point of view, explain a true experience, and include dialogue and description. The supplemental text is used as a model, but students do not answer evidence-based questions about the novel.
  • In Semester B, Unit 3, Lesson 2, “Using Textual Evidence to Support Analysis”, Summary, students cite textual evidence in the activity, “As you read, practice using explicit textual evidence: Record your thoughts about Beowulf (Why is he considered the ideal hero?) and cite page numbers or line numbers that provide evidence to support your ideas.” 
  • In Semester B, Unit 6, Lesson 3, “Presenting and Supporting Claims,” DOK Level 2, students learn about logos, pathos, and egos as methods of persuasion and the structure of an argumentative paragraph. Then they complete one task, “Arrange the following parts of an essay in the most appropriate order. You should have one thesis statement followed by a topic sentence, support, and interpretation.” Students do not practice citing evidence in their own claims.
  • In Semester B, Unit 2, “The Art of Writing: Structure, Pacing, and Details”, students learn about elements of narrative writing. This is the last unit that is connected to a novel, but students do not complete evidence-based writing activities. Instead, Lesson 1: “Writing Process”, DOK Level 1, students review and identify the parts of a narrative. The technology-enhanced item requires students to drag-and-drop six terms (Rising Action, Falling Action, Climax, Resolution, Exposition, Narrative) next to the correct definition (The action that leads to the climax, The peak of excitement, When something significant changes, When life returns to normal, The first thing on the story arc, A story that lets you experience any fantasy or failure). 

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context. 

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

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

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

  • In Semester B, Unit 2, Lesson 3: “Adjectives, Adverbs, and Phrases”, DOK Level 3 activity, students learn the definition of a participial phrase and are shown that they can add variety to writing. In the task, students “Revise the following sentences so the participial phrase modifies the correct noun or pronoun.” However, students do not revise, they choose from two optional corrections, or select “correct as is”.

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

  • In Semester B, Unit 2, Lesson 11: “Pacing and Organization”, DOK Level 3 activity: “Passive v. Active Voice”, the lesson provides direct instruction of the skill. In the task, students “Rewrite the following sentences so they are written in active rather than passive voice.” However, students do not revise, they select from two optional corrections, or select “correct as is”.

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 4, Lesson 12: “Using Sentence Variety and Voice”,  DOK Level 1 activity, students are reminded to “watch for abrupt verb shifts in your paper, instances where you begin in one tense and finish in another.” One example is provided, in the task, students highlight five of the seven sentences that require further editing in terms of spelling, word choice, or punctuation. No practice items use verb shifts.

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

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Common Writing Mistakes”, DOK Level 3 activity, students learn how a dash can “momentarily stop the forward movement of a clause.” In the task, students drag sentences to sort them into three categories: parenthetical elements, punctuation to separate items, or incorrect usage. One of the sentences uses a dash: “Trudy- who had a long bus ride to school today- was anxious to complete her art assignment.”

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

  • No evidence found.

Students have opportunities to spell correctly. 

  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 14: “Proofreading for Common Writing Mistakes”, DOK Level 1 activity, students review commonly confused words: affect/effect, to/too/two, there/their/they’re, lose/loose, its/it’s. In the task, students practice with five sentences that either have the correct or incorrect form of the word and click a button for correct or incorrect use. Similar tasks are completed in Grades 6 and 7.
  • In Semester A, Unit 2, Lesson 13: “Proofreading and Common Mistakes", students view four spelling rules: i before e except after c, dropping the final e, and dropping the final y. In the task, students read five sentences with a bolded word and indicate whether the bolded word is spelled correctly or not by checking a box. In the DOK Level 2 activity, students view homophones and commonly confused words: affect/effect, to/too/two, and  there/their/they’re. In the task, students complete a cloze activity where they select the correct spelling of the word. Similar tasks are completed in Grades 6 and 7.
  • In Semester B, Unit 4, Lesson 8: “Proofreading for Common Writing Mistakes”, DOK Level 2 activity, students view three spelling rules: the letter x is never followed by the letter s, any word that begins with the letter q is always followed by the letter u making the kw sound, and often, the letters i, s, f are doubled when they follow a single vowel at the end of a single syllable word. In the task, students drag-and-drop sentences sorting them into the categories of “spelled correctly” or “spelled incorrectly”. This activity, coming toward the end of Grade 8, does not meet the expectation of increasing complexity or sophistication, as required by the language standard. 

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Not Rated

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

Criterion 2a - 2h

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
N/A

Indicator 2b

Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.
N/A

Indicator 2c

Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
N/A

Indicator 2d

The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
N/A

Indicator 2e

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

Indicator 2f

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students' writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
N/A

Indicator 2g

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

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
N/A

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3e

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
N/A

Indicator 3d

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

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
N/A

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
N/A

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

Indicator 3k

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

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

Indicator 3l.ii

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
N/A

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

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

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 06/18/2020

Report Edition: 2019

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

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

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Text Quality and Complexity, and Alignment to Standards with Tasks Grounded in Evidence

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

X