ELA Foundational Skills Summary of Alignment & Usability

The Open Court Reading Foundational Skills Kits for Kindergarten meet the expectations for alignment to standards and research-based practices for foundational skills instruction and partially meet in Grades 1 and 2. Materials for Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 partially meet the expectations for implementation, support materials, and assessment. Foundational skills instruction includes a research-based synthetic approach with systematic and explicit instruction; however, there is a lack of daily encoding instruction which may hinder orthographic mapping. Materials also include decodable texts aligned to the program’s scope and sequence for phonics and high-frequency words. Materials include explicit instructional support for general concepts of print and provide a variety of physical books for student practice. Materials include explicit instruction and student practice in phonological awareness and include multimodal and multisensory approaches for student practice. Materials include explicit instructional routines for Sound-by-Sound Blending, Word Building, Whole-Word Blending, and Blending Sentences which are used frequently throughout the unit lessons. Materials provide frequent opportunities for students to read high-frequency words in context; however, there is very limited practice, if any, for writing high-frequency words in context. Materials include explicit instruction of word analysis strategies and some opportunities for explicit instruction and practice of word solving strategies to decode unfamiliar words. Materials provide systematic and explicit instruction and practice in fluency by focusing on accuracy and automaticity in decoding of decodable books; however, fluency is modeled infrequently by the teacher. The materials contain no explicit directions for the teacher to model how to engage a text to emphasize reading for a purpose. Materials regularly and systematically provide a variety of assessment opportunities over the course of the year; however, materials do not include assessment results guidance in the following areas: determining the proficiency level of students based on stages of reading development and specific, concrete instructional suggestions on how to support students’ progress toward mastery.

The ELA foundational skills rubric contains only two gateways: Alignment to Standards and Research-Based Practices for Foundational Skills Instruction (Gateway 1) and Implementation, Support Materials & Assessment (Gateway 2). The structural pieces that we normally review as a part of Gateway 3 (e.g. differentiation) in our comprehensive reviews are critical to the success of a program, and are, therefore, interspersed and combined with other indicators in Gateway 2.