- Copyright Type
- Print Version
- Estimated number of pages:
- Digital Version
- Estimated number of click or scroll pages:
The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023. Visit the instructional materials webpage to view the slides and recordings from the focus groups.
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include various texts that are crafted and suitable for an adaptive, targeted instruction program. However, they do not represent the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. The publisher writes texts for the program; there are no trade books or authentic literature. The majority of texts are about animals or children. Language is controlled, and storylines are simple. Periodically, students are exposed to nonfiction texts focused on familiar topics. The materials increase in complexity across program “Cycles” and as Lexile levels increase; however, there is a limited selection of diverse, traditional, classical, and contemporary texts and texts of high quality for ELAR instruction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Book Levels Guide” indicates the Lexile measure, genre, and skill focus of each title across all program cycles. This resource shows that texts grow in complexity across cycles in terms of the reading skills kindergarten students may practice. However, the reviewed materials have limited evidence of diverse texts or those representative of traditional, contemporary, or classical genres.
The texts include engaging content for grade 1 students in terms of relatable or interesting topics, familiar tales, and participatory formats. In Cycle 4, The Great Pig Escape (450L) tells the story of a diverse group of children known as “The Word Masters.” They chase a prize-winning pig across the state fairgrounds and win a prize for its capture. The book features a cliffhanger ending.
Wake Up (140L) is a shared-reading text in Cycle 5 whose main character, Miss Hare, believes she has woken up late. The storyline is relatable to many young learners still learning how to read a clock. Cycle 5 also includes The Not So Great Skunk Adventure, which features descriptive language, such as “It smells like rotten eggs,” to help readers connect with the text.
The first cycle of the materials, “Foundations,” includes the fable King Zung and the Lark; the fable reappears in Cycle 8 with a different skill practice focus. In the tale, a king who wishes his caged bird would sing learns it must be set free to do so. The moral of the fable is clear and relatable to students.
The Mother Cat and Her Kittens by R. L. Miller is listed as an expository text in Cycle 9. While the book does present information on the ways a cat cares for newborn kittens, it also includes language more typical of prose narrative texts: “The kittens jump on the shelf. They jump into the pile of ribbons. What a mess! What fun!” The book does not include a table of contents or glossary.
In Cycle 10, texts increase in complexity; books and passages range from 270L to 720L. There is a “biography journal” about George Washington Carver. This text is formatted as an article in a children’s news publication. It includes facts about his life and contributions as an inventor.
The materials provide limited opportunities for students to explore the characteristics and structures of literary and informational texts. Materials include a limited variety of books and passages to meet grade-level requirements or provide adequate context for grade 1 ELAR TEKS instruction. The majority of texts are fiction; there are limited opportunities for students to analyze the features of various genres. Expository texts feature characteristics typically associated with fiction genres.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Comprehension Skill Trace” identifies the sequence of instruction for the adaptive student program. The document notes that it “provides grade appropriate texts” to facilitate student application of skills such as identifying setting (Lessons 26–32), characters (Lessons 33–40), sequence of events (Lessons 41–46), main idea (Lessons 47–49), and summary (Lessons 51–52). The lessons cover various text structures. Beginning with Lesson 82, students apply this knowledge to various texts, including single-skill readers, cumulative readers, and fiction and nonfiction texts. The materials include some informational texts, but most of the texts at this level are fictional in nature. Students have some opportunities to engage with drama as a literary text for example, students read The Little Red Hen, a drama.
Authors are not noted in the booklist provided by the publisher.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Fun with Friends (journal)
At the Farm (fiction)
Take That Off Stage (fiction)
The Case of the Haunted Barn (fiction)
Royce Likes to Share (fiction)
The Wise Crow (fable)
Where Will They Ride? (fiction)
The Queen’s Suitcase (fiction)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
How Mountains Form (expository)
Mother Cat and Her Kittens (expository)
Earthworms Help (expository)
The Life Cycle of a Frog (informational)
George Washington Carver (biography journal)
Buddy Bench (persuasive)
Most of the texts available for review do fall within the recommended Lexile band for grade 1. The publisher text complexity analysis provided does not include qualitative features for individual texts, and the program does not include read-aloud or shared reading texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Book Levels Guide” includes a Lexile level for most texts in the program. Some lessons include texts not listed in the Book Levels Guide, which are to be read aloud by the teacher; however, a Lexile measure is not in the lesson document. This document also lists “approximate grade level” correlations to Lexile ranges. While the listed Lexile range for grade 1 is 20L–570L, grade 1 materials include texts above and below this range. In Cycle 3, Dots and Spots and On the Dot are Lexile 0. Cycle 6 includes Pets: Fish (720L); Cycle 9 includes Treasure Hunt at Pirate’s Bay (640L). According to “Istation’s Books and Passages,” texts at the appropriate Lexile level for grade 1 include the text Trips with My Family. The text has a Lexile of 140L, which is within the range of 20L to 570L.
The materials provide a guide correlating reader and text characteristics to the program’s “Stages of Reading” and approximate Lexile measures in a document called “Istation Stages of Reading.” Reading stages are listed as “Emergent,” “Early,” “Beginner,” “Transitional,” “Intermediate,” and “Progressing Adolescent.” Texts at each stage feature increasingly complex qualitative features. For example, texts in the Emergent stage feature repeating patterns and predictable text with “strong pictorial support,” while Beginner texts contain “no evident pattern,” “some literary language,” and dialogue. However, there is no accompanying qualitative analysis for individual titles.
There is no dedicated collection of texts for read-aloud or shared reading. However, Istation offers opportunities for students to engage in read-alouds within the digital program and shared reading through lessons such as Elements of Drama: The Little Red Hen and the text, The Flying Pizza. Teacher lessons may contain instructions to read aloud a text depending on students’ reading ability. For example, in Cycle 8, “Comprehension Lesson 2: The Shrimp and the Shark (450L),” the teacher guides children in a picture walk of the text and then is prompted to either read the text aloud or direct students to read independently. In “Early Reading: Poetry, K-1,” the teacher presents nursery rhymes as a shared reading activity to teach poetry features.
The materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-dependent, and prompt students to synthesize information.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
All “Cycles” include teacher-directed lessons on the topic “Reading for Meaning,” which can be downloaded for close reading and comprehension skill practice. Lessons provide formal and informal assignments and activities by directing teachers to deliver explicit instruction and then monitor progress through the independent application. Teacher-directed lessons on various comprehension skills and strategies, including theme, provide students opportunities to evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within a text. Each cycle of computer-based, interactive instruction includes a lesson packet for teacher-directed instruction on comprehension strategies and skills. The lessons are for delivery in a small group setting over two consecutive days. The lessons contain questions and activities that grow students’ understanding of topics and literacy skills over the course of each unit.
In “Lesson 1, Making Predictions, K-1,” the teacher asks the text-dependent question “Can anyone name what is on the cover?” while introducing the book. The teacher then speaks through “Bookworm Polly” to model a response, saying, “She says, ‘I see the snail sitting under the pail. She is sitting on a rug. Rugs are found in homes, so I think that is her home. I predict that the pail is the snail’s home.’” The teacher continues reading the story and engages students in confirming Bookworm Polly’s predictions. After two sentences, the teacher gives predictions Bookworm Polly made and asks students to affirm them by pointing to text: “Can anyone point to the sentence that tells us that the pail is Lorraine’s home? [Affirm.] Yes, the first sentence says she lives under the pail and the second sentence tells us that it is the perfect home for Lorraine.” In the guided practice portion of the same lesson, the teacher says, “After reading this page, we know that the garden is full of fruits and vegetables. We also know that snails need to eat to stay alive. Does anyone want to predict what Lorraine eats?... Now that we know it is a good prediction, how do we find out if that prediction is right or not? [Affirm]. Yes, we need to keep reading to find out if Lorraine eats fruits and vegetables.”
In “Reading for Meaning” lessons of Cycles 3, 5, and 7, grade 1 students pay attention to picture cards to make meaning from words and sentences. In Cycle 3, Lesson 3, Reading for Meaning, the teacher writes, “Tom spins the top.” The teacher guides students in thinking about the meaning of each word before matching it with an illustration. In Cycle 5, Lesson 21, Reading for Meaning, the teacher models the same process with the sentence “The man stands with a cane.” Students search the picture cards for the match. In Cycle 7, Lesson 20, Reading for Meaning, students match picture cards to make meaning from the sentence “He has a sweet snack.”
The comprehension packet for Cycle 7 addresses compare-and-contrast and story elements and provides a two-day lesson plan for each comprehension skill. On day 1, the teacher introduces the terms with examples from daily life and presents a Venn diagram for modeling guided practice. The teacher guides the students through a familiar example (cats and dogs); students then apply their new skills to the text Mark and Kate during independent practice with partners. On day 2, students reread the book and complete a multiple-choice assessment, using their Venn diagrams from day one as needed.
A two-day “Theme” lesson asks students to “determine the theme of a story with adult assistance.” On day 1, after a brief discussion to activate prior knowledge, the teacher sets the following purpose for reading: “When we read the story today, I want you to pay special attention to who works hard and who does not.” The teacher reads aloud The Little Red Hen and guides student discussion on the characters’ actions, effects of those actions on story outcomes, and the author’s message. Students evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within the text by responding to questions such as “What is the message the author wants us to understand from this story?” and “What is the outcome for [each character]?” On day 2, students review an anchor chart from day 1, and the teacher and students discuss and record four pieces of text evidence on a graphic organizer. Students practice independently with Mr. Grump and the Beautiful Yard and a blank graphic organizer. The lesson includes questions to support students as they evaluate and discuss information from multiple places in the text, such as “How would you describe [each character]?” and “How does Mr. Grump change?”
There are opportunities for students to grow their understanding of topics. In “Writing Extension 20: George Washington Carver,” students choose from three writing prompts, each of which involves research about George Washington Carver. For example, in “Writing Prompt 1,” students list and alphabetize Carver’s inventions and then select one to research, alongside one each by Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin. Students write about how each invention helped people, as well as which inventions they feel are the most important and why. In “Writing Extension: Fairy Tale Characteristics,” students apply knowledge of fairy tales previously read (such as “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin”) to create their own. Students use a graphic organizer to create characteristics of fairy tales (opening and ending phrases, hero and villain characters, magic, problem and solution, and happy ending). After writing, students revise, edit, and share their work.
Students engage with informational and literary texts to identify their elements. However, the materials do not provide sufficient opportunities for students to compare and contrast the writing of different authors on the same topic. In addition, students do not have sufficient opportunities to study language and writing to discover how an author’s choices influence and convey meaning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In “Comprehension Lesson 17,” students learn about the author’s purpose (to persuade, inform, or entertain). The teacher reads aloud several passages and guides students to draw conclusions about the purpose of each. After reading a short paragraph about taking care of a dog, the teacher asks students, “What information or facts did the author give you about responsibilities of having a dog?” The teacher confirms or corrects responses and guides students to the knowledge that the author was trying to inform them.
The majority of passages focus on contemporary contexts, with one brief biography of George Washington. There are no readings with a cultural context. While the teacher models thinking to determine the purpose, students use cards to identify the purpose of each passage and do not provide explicit, text-dependent evidence for their reasoning.
There is no evidence of opportunities for students to compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of texts or to study language to support their understanding. While there is evidence of students analyzing prepositions or direction words as indicated by the publisher-provided teacher-directed lessons, there is no evidence that students study the language within the text. The lesson on direction words “Direction Words: Where Are You Going?” teaches students direction words in isolation, not in the context of an author’s text. In this lesson, students perform a “Direction Dance” and play a game: “Where are you going?” Although students can write using direction words in “Writing Extension: Mitch’s Big Fish Tales,” there is no evidence that students study the language within the text to support their understanding. In the “Early Reading: Poetry” (Grades K-1) lesson, students identify the characteristics of poetry, including rhyme, rhythm, and imagery. Students have an opportunity to study the language within the poems with support.
The materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts, as evident in the program scope and sequence documentation and instruction embedded in the online adaptive assessments and instruction. Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners in the form of targeted intervention lessons delivered in whole or small group settings in response to data from online assessments and instruction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Vocabulary Skill Trace” guide explains how the online, interactive reading program presents an organized plan for vocabulary development by integrating vocabulary skills into daily activities within the differentiated, computer-based instruction. The program builds academic vocabulary through the following elements: “spoken words, listening opportunities, explicit instruction, repeated use of words, strategies for context clues, and ‘extensive practice and application of vocabulary in grade-level appropriate text.’” The guide includes renderings from the online program for each of these elements. In one section, materials include examples of how “students are taught utility content words across a broad range of categories.” Examples include student practice with words related to family, transportation, occupations, and other categories. The guide also shows how students gain exposure to new vocabulary and high-frequency words daily through read-alouds within the program. Students see strategies for deriving word meanings, including context clues, and they receive ongoing vocabulary development through reading and listening activities. These activities include picture and sentence matching, sentence completion, and paragraph completion to build vocabulary with previously introduced words.
The materials include vocabulary skills as an area of reading to be measured in grades PK–8. After students take the initial assessment for placement along the program’s instructional path, materials provide ongoing progress in vocabulary development through monthly assessments. The “Scope and Sequence for Istation Reading” further details the year-long plan for building academic vocabulary in grade 1. In each cycle of instruction, students “develop vocabulary by listening to and participating in the introduction of animated letter activities,” with four letters appearing in each cycle of instruction; “use vocabulary that is taught directly”; and “categorize vocabulary using pictures to create sentences with high frequency words.” Materials note that the words presented to students relate to “universal themes such as family, food, body, clothing, feelings, animals, school, and community.” The categories for grade 1 across the year include but are not limited to Cycle 4, “Family, Recreation, and Leisure,” and Cycle 7, “Things, Feelings and Actions.”
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. There are cycle-specific and assessment-based intervention lessons in various reports based on student performance in the computer adaptive program. For example, in the online adaptive portion of the program, the “ISIP - Vocabulary” lesson packet provides teachers with multiple lessons to target vocabulary development for students performing at different levels. The lessons provide explicit instruction to small groups of students who have difficulty with specific vocabulary skills (determined based on their performance in the vocabulary section of the monthly online assessment). Each lesson provides scripted language as a scaffold for teachers and follows the same design to support implementation. Each instructional cycle follows the same format: teach, guided practice, independent practice, reteach. Materials direct teachers to review program assessment data presented in reports to determine student groups and select the lesson from the packet that best meets the needs of students in each group.
In Cycle 7, “Compound Words” appears as a lesson aligned to the “Cycle 7 Priority Alert” report. Differentiated instruction for the lesson directs teachers to reteach students who need more instruction and practice. This instruction is for a small group setting with modeling. The teacher provides each student with a compound word written on a sentence strip to fold back and forth and read. The student may also use two index cards, reading each word separately and then pushing them together to form a compound word.
In “Skill: Vocabulary,” Lesson 3, students sort picture cards into conceptual groups based on their respective attributes; the sorts may be open or closed. An extended collection of images called “Additional Vocabulary Picture Cards” is available in the program’s online “Teacher Resource” section. Listed extensions and modifications for the teacher to differentiate the lesson include pre-teaching categories and discussing individual images in greater detail for struggling learners or English Learners. The program also recommends cards as independent practice in centers, where students sort by initial sound.
In Skill: Vocabulary, Lesson 5, students practice prepositions by positioning an object in specific relation to another. Differentiated instruction supports include teacher directions for reteaching students who need more instruction and practice. The teacher provides instruction in a small group setting, modeling and speaking clearly. The lesson format remains the same, with the teacher providing additional modeling and support as the student moves their object according to the target preposition.
At least two lessons were available for review that did not include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners: “Language Development: Identify and Use Direction Words” and “Vocabulary Lesson 22: Context Clues.”
The materials have procedures, protocols, and adequate support for teachers to foster independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, including planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals. There are opportunities provided in the app and with “Istation Home” for students to self-select texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide usage guidelines for the computer-based portion of the program. These guidelines recommend that students in Tier 1 spend 30 minutes or more per week in the program, while students in Tier 2 and 3 spend 40 minutes or more per week. Usage guidelines do not distinguish how much of this time should be allotted to self-selected, independent reading, as opposed to individualized, adaptive skill instruction.
“ISIP Early Reading (PK–3rd)” provides a Lexile reading measure for teachers to use when assigning texts to students. However, there is no explicit protocol or guidance provided for informing the student of their reading level so that they can independently self-select texts. Additionally, there is no protocol or guidance for providing or allocating dedicated reading time during small group teacher-directed lessons. When students choose a digital book, they have an option to hear it read aloud.
The materials include a library of fiction and nonfiction texts that may be accessed digitally or printed and assembled. There are accountability tools for achieving independent reading goals through the digital program. When students access the web-based application included in the program, their menu of options includes icons for “Books ” and “Teacher Station—Ipractice.” In Books, students select from a library of fiction and nonfiction texts, which can be read independently or listened to. In Ipractice, students choose from a library featuring alphabet stories, fiction, and nonfiction titles.. As soon as students complete the ISIP™ Assessment, they will be taken to the ISIP Results Dashboard within the student app. The ISIP Results Dashboard provides students with access to recent results, assessment history, goals, and subtest scores. This dashboard provides an opportunity for teachers to begin one-on-one student data conferences. Teachers can view and manage the goals students see in the ISIP Results Dashboard from the Goals section found on the Classroom page. Student goals that are manually adjusted by teachers are reflected in the student ISIP™ Data Dashboard. Planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals is implicit in the self-paced, individualized nature of the online program, which is influenced by student performance within the program assessments.
Materials also provide the school-to-home resource Istation Home. It provides students with access to interactive books based on their reading level. However, there is no evidence of methods for tracking student reading that may occur in this specific program platform.
The materials also include teacher-directed lessons, which foster independent reading by teaching comprehension skills. In Lesson 5, “Comprehension,” the teacher reminds students of the habits of good readers using a printable “Bookworm Bookmark” with the following skills listed: predict, ask questions, clarify, summarize, visualize, and re-read. The program also includes a “Teacher Observation Chart” where teachers may make notes about individual students’ reading behaviors and plan the next steps.
There are some opportunities for students to compose across text types for a variety of audiences and purposes. While there is no evidence of opportunities for students to write poetry, there is evidence of opportunities for students to write personal narratives and informational texts and practice correspondence by writing friendly letters. However, the materials do not have opportunities for students to compose thank-you notes and letters.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students experience poetry by reading and analyzing its characteristics, but they have limited opportunities to write poetry. For example, in “Early Reading: Poetry, K–1,” students read/listen to “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” to learn about rhyme, rhythm, and imagery, but the students do not write or dictate poems of their own with rhyme and rhythm. In “Writing Extensions: George Washington Carver,” students write a “biography poem” about Carver and the reasons he is known as “The Plant Doctor.” The materials provide a template with instructions: “1st line: first name of the person, 2nd line: four traits that describe the person (descriptive adjectives), 3rd line: related to (e.g., daughter of, mother of, uncle of, grandparent of, etc.), 4th line: cares deeply about.” An additional prompt in the same lesson asks students to list Carver's inventions and then research one invention each by Carver, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Edison. Students write about how each invention helped people and defend a claim as to which invention is best.
In “Writing Extension 7: Fun at Home,” students write an email to a friend describing a fun activity.
In “Writing Extension 8: Late for the Game,” students write about a time they were late for something, including how it felt to be late, why they were late, and what they could have done differently to prevent being late.
After reading Dots and Spots, in “Writing Extensions,” prompt 2, students write or illustrate how they have, in the past, gotten spots on their clothes and what they did to remove them. Students must write the steps they took to remove the spot using a sequencing graphic organizer to organize their thoughts.
In “Writing Extension 12: Boats,” students think about the question, “Have you ever fished from a boat?” If not, students research the topic and use a sequencing organizer to write or draw the steps for using a fishing pole. The teacher reminds students to use transition words like first, next, then, finally, and meanwhile. Another prompt in the same lesson directs students to write a persuasive letter convincing someone to buy a particular boat.
In “Writing Extension 14: King Zung and the Lark,” students research wrens and larks and use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the songbirds and then synthesize their research into an informational piece of writing.
In “Writing Extension 23: Earth: Day, Night, and the Seasons,” students write a friendly letter after reading about two friends who live in different hemispheres. Students think about how each friend might describe the weather in January where they live. Students write letters or emails from one friend to another and a reply. The teacher reminds students to use the body of the letter to describe the weather and why it is either cold or warm where they are in January.
Materials provide intermittent opportunities for students to practice using the writing process elements through writing extensions that accompany texts. However, the materials do not facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and sharing/publishing) to compose text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program includes opportunities for students to engage in the writing process via “Writing Extensions” lessons. However, these resources do not include explicit instructions or supports to facilitate students’ coherent use of elements of the writing process. The packets are optional, independent practice activities for differentiation with small groups of students demonstrating above-level skills rather than core instruction in the writing process with all students. The materials list ten writing extension lessons for grade 1; each lesson usually has three prompts (occasionally, there are four). According to the publisher’s list of teacher-directed lessons, four of the ten lessons provide opportunities to practice elements of the writing process.
Prompts in the writing extension packet for Fun at Home facilitate students’ use of the writing process elements to compose text. Individual prompts present an opportunity to practice one or more elements, but none facilitate students’ coherent use of all writing process elements to compose text. In the first prompt of “Writing Extension 7: Fun at Home,” students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the homes of two characters and then use this information to write about the differences. However, they do not revise drafts or publish their work. In “Prompt 3,” students use a story map graphic organizer to change the story’s setting and explain how the events and other details in the story would consequently change. Students then use the story map to write a new story, including the new setting. Students look for places to add prepositions to their stories to revise and edit their work, but the teacher does not instruct students to consider details they might add. Students share their work with a partner when finished but do not publish it. This writing extension also includes a separate mini-lesson focused on singular and plural nouns. During the mini-lesson, students reread their work to check for spaces between words, neat handwriting, and complete sentences. Students then trade their compositions with a partner and discuss their work using the following question frames: “What was your favorite part? What part was confusing? How could it be improved?” Students edit their work using an editing checklist and then re-write a final clean copy before publishing it. There are no suggestions or instructions for how writing may be published. The question frames are general; the same frames are in every extension packet and accompanying mini-lesson. Writing extension lessons do not include linkages between prompts; the prompts do not build on each other to provide an opportunity for a coherent writing process overall.
In the second prompt of “Writing Extensions—Late for the Game,” students use a story map to list the characters, setting, problem, and solution of the story. Students consider what would happen if parts of the story were changed and discuss with a partner. Then, they complete a new story map reflecting changes in one or two parts of the story and rewrite it.
In many writing extension lessons, the focus of revision is mechanics and usage; students do not develop drafts by revising to add detail. For instance, in the third prompt of “Writing Extension 12: Boats,” students create a research plan to conduct research on houseboats after reading the text Boats. Students then create a brochure that contains facts and opinions about houseboats to convince buyers to purchase a houseboat. Students revise and edit their writing by making sure their brochure contains exclamation points and question marks. In prompt 1 of “Writing Extensions: Homes,” students think back to the text after reading and work with a partner to fill out a “KWLS” chart with what they already know and want to know about animal homes. Then they add what they learned from researching the topic and use details from the chart to write an informative paragraph. The extension lesson instructs students to revise their writing for spelling patterns and use the editing checklist to check their work. In prompt 2, students revise their writing for transition words and look for places to add comparative adjectives. In prompt 3, editing is aligned to a revising and editing checklist; students pay particular attention to spelling patterns. The checklist does not include items related to revising the content of the composition, such as details.
Writing extensions provide opportunities for the practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar, but there is little to no guidance for teachers to systematically teach these skills. Because the program is adaptive, the computer-based components of the program may deliver systematic instruction in grammar, punctuation, and usage. However, the materials lack the specific grade-level alignment and pacing guidance necessary to determine how and when skills are taught in and out of context across a year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Writing prompts and student materials in writing extension lesson packets for Dunes and Late for the Game provide limited opportunities for practice and application of conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. In the second prompt of “Writing Extension 1: Dunes,” students choose a new setting for the story and, using a story map, develop a new plot influenced by the alternate setting. The teacher defines adverbs and reminds students to add adverbs to their sentences to make their writing more interesting. The writing extension includes an editing mini-lesson on adverbs. Students work independently to create three categories of adverbs: “how, when, and where,” then add adverbs to their writing as needed. In an editing mini-lesson in “Writing Extension 8: Late for the Game,” students play charades using “action words.” The student who identifies the action word must state the word’s past, present, and future tenses. Then, students look back at their writing to ensure verbs are written in the correct tense.
In Cycle 4, “Comprehension: The Green Team,” students work with “cut up sentences.” They work independently to put sentences read aloud back together. Lesson instructions include teacher prompts such as “Does that make sense? What would make sense here? Where does the period go?”
“Writing Extensions Overview Lessons 1–20” provides information about writing extensions but does not provide insight as to whether grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, in, or out of context.
While students may incidentally practice handwriting during writing extension lessons included in the program, they do not receive explicit instruction in print handwriting. Also, the materials do not include a plan for teachers to assess students’ handwriting development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials do not include instruction in print handwriting for students in grade 1. While materials include opportunities for students to practice handwriting through writing extension lessons, these lessons provide opportunities for a written response without any mention of cursive handwriting.
While the “Revise and Edit Your Work” section of “Writing Extension 9: The Dunes” provides embedded student practice for handwriting development, the materials do not include explicit instruction in print handwriting for students in grade 1. Lesson instructions state: “Check that you have spaces between your words.” Students also self-assess their writing using a provided editing checklist. The first item listed is “I left spaces between the words.”
The materials do not include a plan for procedures and supports for teachers to assess students’ handwriting development in grade 1.
The “Comprehension” lesson packets (which regularly accompany “Cycles” (units) of instruction) provide opportunities for students to listen actively during the retelling and discussion of texts, and they provide opportunities to ask questions to understand information about literary elements. Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions about texts; the discussion is limited to predetermined answers to teacher-directed questions, and there are some opportunities to share information and ideas about the topics being discussed.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Due to the intervention-focused, computer-adaptive nature of the program, students have some opportunities to engage in discussions that require them to share information and ideas about the topics they are discussing. Teachers deliver cycle-specific lessons in response to student performance on monthly assessments.
In Cycle 5, “Comprehension Packet Lesson 1: Fun at Home,” materials provide students with opportunities to share information about print concepts and story elements (i.e., character, setting, problem, solution) as well as share their predictions before reading. During the “Book Discussion” component, the teacher script contains questions and modeled thinking to support student opportunities to discuss their questions and the story setting. For example, materials direct the teacher to model thinking by saying, “My question was ‘Why are the dog and the flea together?’” The teacher then asks students, “How do you know?” and models “how to provide evidence from the text if needed.” Throughout the discussions of questioning and setting, the teacher prompts students to use evidence to support their discussion. The teacher asks, “What does the setting change to?” “How do you know that it changes?” “Can you show me that part in your book?” The lesson includes information that students should share about the texts and topics they are discussing as additional guidance for teachers in eliciting student responses.
In “Skill: Comprehension—Lesson 3, Asking Questions Strategy,” students practice listening actively and asking questions to understand information. The teacher explains, “Good readers are always thinking about what they are reading or listening to in a story.…Asking questions helps good readers have a purpose for reading. When their questions are answered, they understand the meaning of the book or story better.” The teacher shows a bookmark with a picture of “Dudley” and uses it to model how to ask questions from the book The Garden Trail. Students follow along as the teacher reads. Lesson instructions include scripted questions like “Why is the snail sitting under a pail?” During guided practice, the teacher asks the students to keep the bookmark next to their book to remind them how to ask questions. The teacher will write down questions the students may have as well.
In “Environmental Print: Recognizing Signs,” students engage in discussions that require them to share information and ideas about the topics they are discussing. Students discuss where they have seen various signs shown by the teacher. During guided practice, the discussion centers on school signs. The teacher leads the discussion in response to students’ questions.
In the “Theme” materials, the teacher is to “guide a brief discussion using the following questions. Pause briefly after each question to allow time for student responses and facilitate the discussion. ‘What does it mean to help a friend or sibling? What if your friend or sibling needs help with boring chores? Would you help them then? What are some good things that can happen if you work together when a friend/sibling needs help? How do you feel when you need help and your friend/sibling says no?’” Students then discuss and identify themes. On day 2 of the lesson, the teacher asks, “What is something that happens in the story that shows us it’s important to help your friends?” The teacher pauses and listens to the discussion while affirming responses. During independent practice, the teacher facilitates a discussion about the characters in Mr. Grump and the Beautiful Yard. Students are not prompted to use evidence from the story to support their ideas.
In Cycle 7, “Comprehension Lesson: Compare and Contrast,” students “talk quietly with a partner” about how dogs and cats are the same, then come back as a whole group to share their ideas and record them on a Venn diagram. The same pattern of discussion is used to determine how cats and dogs are different. The teacher provides sentence frames for students to discuss the Venn diagram’s information. Students fill in blanks on the sentence frames, then read their sentences aloud. Students discuss their thinking in response to the teacher’s question, “How did you decide what goes in the blank?” During independent practice, students read a book called Mark and Kate; then, working with a partner, they follow the same, previously taught procedure to complete a Venn diagram comparing Mark and Kate. The teacher reminds students to look back in the text for answers. Students also use the sentence frames to convey information from the Venn diagram.
The materials do provide some opportunities for students to engage in discussion or practice grade-appropriate speaking skills using the standard conventions of English language. The materials do not have evidence of a protocol to facilitate collaborative discussion between students; students do not have consistent opportunities to discuss collaboratively.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Reading Program Description” from the publisher does not mention student discussion in the online program overview or assessments. None of the various teacher-directed lessons (e.g., “Comprehension Packets,” “Writing Extensions,” “Cycle” lessons, “Skill” lessons) include routines, protocols, or implementation support for collaborative discussion.
Throughout lessons in the cycle-specific comprehension packets, materials direct teachers to facilitate student discussion. Students have opportunities to respond to teacher-directed questions. While these lessons include scripted questions and sample student responses, the materials do not include teacher guidance for structuring student engagement in discussion. For example, the “Introduction” component of Cycle 5, “Comprehension Lesson Packet, Fun at Home: Lesson 1,” materials direct teachers to ask students “What makes you think that?” as a follow-up to asking whether they think the story is real or make-believe. Teachers pause for student responses and then ask students to explain their reasoning. While materials include sample student responses, there is minimal evidence of student engagement in a discussion beyond responding to the questions.
Some lessons include student opportunities to talk with a partner. In “Comprehension Lesson 6: Just in Time,” students learn about sequencing by responding to teacher-generated questions, including, “What do you know about sequencing or putting things in order?” Students also participate in partner talk about what they do each morning before coming to school. However, the lesson materials do not include supports or protocols to ensure grade-appropriate practice.
In the lesson “Elements of Drama: The Little Red Hen,” students have opportunities to respond to the teacher’s questions, but the materials do not include protocols or routines for students to practice speaking and listening (e.g., “Turn and Talk,” “Think, Pair, Share”). To introduce the play and lesson, materials direct teachers to ask a series of scripted questions and then “[p]ause for responses. Affirm responses and correct any misunderstandings.” The teacher continues following the script and points out the characters, setting, dialogue, and stage directions for students. Students listen to the teacher but do not practice grade-appropriate speaking skills beyond responding to questions provided in the teacher script. Before reading the play, the teacher displays a prediction chart. While the lesson directs teachers to “pause for predictions and record them on the chart to review during and after reading,” “facilitate a discussion about the play,” and “facilitate a discussion about the predictions students made before and after reading,” it does not provide any protocols or routines for students to practice speaking in a discussion format.
In “Writing Extensions—My Dog Has Fleas,” students answer questions posed by the teacher. They are asked to take turns, speak one at a time, and ask clarifying questions. The lesson script includes sentence stems to use in helping students generate questions, but it does not include supports for the teacher to facilitate collaborative discussion. For example, there are no protocols such as Turn and Talk or Think, Pair, Share; rubrics or checklists for what grade-appropriate discussion might look like; or scripts for the teacher to use in modeling and teaching collaborative discussion.
In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens (Revise and Edit Your Work),” students trade their writing with a partner and use sentence and question frames such as “What was your favorite part? My favorite part was.... What part was confusing? I was confused when I read.... How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is....” This lesson is an independent activity, and there is no protocol for the discussion between student pairs.
In “Writing Extensions—Boats,” students discuss their writing with a partner. The lesson states: “Trade your writing with a partner. Discuss the following questions as you read your partner’s work. If you need to, you can use the sentence frames to help you discuss. Be sure to take turns speaking one at a time and ask questions to help you understand. What was your favorite part? My favorite part was…. What part was confusing? I was confused when I read…. How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is….”
In “Writing Extensions—Where is Jane?,” students discuss their writing with a partner. Similar to Writing Extensions--Boats, the lesson states: “Trade your writing with a partner. Discuss the following questions as you read your partner’s work. If you need to, you can use the sentence frames to help you discuss. Be sure to take turns speaking one at a time and ask questions to help you understand. What was your favorite part? My favorite part was….What part was confusing? I was confused when I read…. How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is….”
The materials provide short-term opportunities but not sustained or recursive opportunities for students to generate questions and gather information from relevant sources. Research assignments appear in stand-alone lessons and do not build into contexts or cumulative tasks. They include limited support for students to identify relevant sources based on their questions and limited support for students to understand, organize, and communicate ideas and information. Guidance for teachers to support students in developing research skills is limited to what is implicit in step-by-step handouts and fillable templates. The materials do not provide explicit instruction in research skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “First Grade Research Plan” supports instruction for students to generate and follow a research plan; however, it is not connected to or listed as a resource for any grade 1 materials.
In the First Grade Research Plan, students first list topics about which they want to learn more and then generate questions about a chosen topic. In “Part 3: Sources,” students list two places where they may find answers to their research questions, such as the library or internet, and then complete a table with the names and locations of specific sources. In “Part 4: Gathering Information,” students use their sources to take notes and organize information that will help answer the research question. The materials include charts to record the facts and corresponding page numbers found in each source. Students use another chart to sort the information gathered from sources into at least three categories in Part 5. Materials caution students: “Be sure to write the sentences using your own words, not the exact words from your sources.” Finally, students write a research paper including the following elements (provided as a checklist for teachers): interesting beginning sentences; a paragraph to introduce the topic; facts and details to answer the question; a closing sentence.
The stand-alone lesson “Writing Extension 11: Homes” directs students to research their favorite animal and write a description of its habitat. This activity is an opportunity for students to engage with information about habitats to understand the concept. Lesson resources include the “KWLS Research Graphic Organizer,” which supports students in generating questions with the prompts “K—What do I know about the topic?” and “W—What do I want to know, or what questions do I have?” The lesson directs students, broadly, to use the internet and library as information resources. Instructions do not include guidance such as criteria for choosing credible internet sources, categories or genres of books to look for, or what to do if a relevant book is unavailable. As students research, they create a word bank with pictures to help them remember important words for use in their writing. Students record “source title” and “location” on a printable two-column chart, but the First Grade Research Plan lacks explicit instructions on how to use this document during the research activity.
Questions and tasks are designed for students to build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language; tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. Teacher-directed lessons include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Students have opportunities to complete interconnected tasks related to a single text, including reading, discussing, and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Cycle 5” “Comprehension Lesson Packet” presents two lessons, each designed to be delivered over two days in a small group setting with students of similar levels. On the first day of “Lesson 1: Fun at Home,” the teacher introduces the book and guides student discussion. There is a picture walk with scripted questions such as “Do you think this story is fiction, which means made-up, or nonfiction, which means true? What do you think this story is about? What predictions can you make about the problem of the story?” The teacher records students’ predictions on a three-column chart and tells students they will revisit the chart after reading the text. Then, students “learn how to ask questions before reading.” Students practice holding up a hand and moving a finger for each question word: “who, what, where, when, why, how.” They share questions about the characters, setting, and events in the story before reading. As students read, their task is “see if you can answer some of our questions.” Students read the book with support as needed; after reading, the teacher refers back to the prediction chart as students discuss the text. Students have speaking opportunities when they answer questions asked previously and provide evidence to support their answers. The materials provide scripted questions for teachers, such as “How do you know?” and “Can you show me that part in your book?” After reading, students co-create a group sentence about the text. The teacher states the sentence, and students write the dictated sentence.
On Day 2 of “Lesson 1: Fun at Home,” students reread independently, and individual students retell the story. Students then compare and contrast the two settings in the book using a Venn diagram. The teacher guides their thinking with questions such as “How are the two settings the same? What do they have in common? What did you notice that is different?” Finally, students practice reassembling and reading the group sentence from the previous lesson, presented as a cut-up sentence.
In Cycle 7, Lesson 20, “Read with Meaning,” students use pictures to comprehend unfamiliar words. The direct teaching portion of the lesson begins with the teacher saying aloud a sentence (“The men in the fort are safe.”). The teacher writes it for students to see and thinks aloud about the meaning of each word. The teacher displays pictures for students and thinks aloud to find the best match for the sentence. The teacher continues using the think-aloud procedure to model the meaning of each word in a sentence, discussing unfamiliar vocabulary with the eight sentences provided. Students practice matching pictures to sentences during guided practice, with the teacher reading the sentences and asking questions to scaffold student thinking. This section includes one practice sentence for students; a reteach section provides one sentence for students requiring additional instruction. The lesson includes an independent practice sheet, “See What the Words Say,” in which students practice matching three sentences with pictures.
The materials include teacher-directed writing lessons that include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax. In these lessons, students respond to multiple prompts related to a text to demonstrate comprehension. In “Writing Extension 8—Late for the Game,” students record the characters, setting, problem, and solution of Late for the Game on a story map. Then they discuss how the story would change if some events differed; they use a story map to alter events and create a new version. While students revise and edit their writing, they check to ensure all verbs are in either past or present tense, focusing on suffixes -ed and -ing.
In “Writing Extension 20—George Washington Carver,” students use a template to write a “bio poem” about George Washington Carver. In the “Revise and Edit” portion of the lesson, the teacher directs students to ensure all proper nouns begin with a capital letter and that they have used known word patterns and spelling rules.
The scope and sequence indicates some standards are repeatedly addressed within and across units while others are addressed only once. While some teacher-directed lessons with integrated literacy skills include options for scaffolding and additional practice within the lesson, they do not offer the rigor required to meet the full intent of standards over the year. The materials show evidence of the integration of literacy skills that spiral over a few days, not over the school year. Due to the adaptive nature of the program, students receive skill instruction that they need rather than spiraled practice.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program’s scope and sequence shows distributed practice for only some literacy skills over the year. For example, materials address vocabulary skills, such as “expand vocabulary through listening to meaningful texts and use vocabulary that is taught directly” in all grade 1 “Cycles of Instruction,” yet they address the following reading comprehension skills in just one cycle each: “sequence story events” (Cycle 5); “identify the main idea and supporting details” (Cycle 6); “identify similarities and differences in characters and events” (Cycle 7); “identify the main problem and its ultimate solution in a story” (Cycle 8). Additionally, materials provide only one teacher-directed lesson for most literacy skills, limiting support for distributed practice over the course of the year.
The scope and sequence indicates the grade 1 standard for describing the main character(s) and the reason(s) for their actions (ELA.1.8.B) is addressed only once, in Cycle 4, and describes the skill as “identify characters in a story.” The materials provide only one teacher-directed lesson to address this standard. In “Lesson 38, Comprehension: Character,” students practice paying attention to what characters do and say to learn about them. The lesson includes explicit modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. For the “Teach” portion, the teacher reads a story titled Bert and Gert aloud and elicits responses to questions about what the characters said and did, which completes a chart. For guided practice, students read a second text, The Mailman, with partners, and the teacher facilitates group completion of a character web for the three characters in the story. Students then independently create a character web for The Mailman as an assessment of mastery. The lesson includes a reteach opportunity in which the teacher delivers the same instruction and has students complete the web with a third story, Pals. While the teacher-directed lesson on characters provides scaffolding to support students through the gradual release model, materials do not support repeated practice with this skill over the year, either through computer-based cycles of instruction or teacher-directed lessons.
The materials’ design includes the spiraling of some integrated literacy skills over the school year. While program documentation indicates some skills will be repeatedly addressed, no evidence of scaffolding of skills within and across cycles of instruction to ensure that students master the full intent of grade 1 standards was found. For example, materials spiral the skill “distinguish fiction from nonfiction” in Cycles 5 and 6, but there is no evidence that the instructional materials include scaffolds and supports for additional practice.
The materials do not provide sufficient or fully aligned explicit instruction in print awareness. Materials have limited opportunities to connect print awareness to books/text, as defined by the TEKS.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials list the “Cycle 5 Comprehension Packet” as it connects to grade 1 print awareness standards. During “Introduce the Book” of “Day 1: Fun at Home,” the teacher passes out copies of the book Fun at Home and states: “Before we take a picture walk, I want to talk about the parts of this book. There are different parts of a book that give us information. The first part is the front cover. [The teacher points to the cover.] ‘What information does the front cover give us?’” The teacher continues with the back cover: “This is called the back cover of the book. Different books have different information on the back cover. This back cover tells us how to make the book and the skills the book teaches us.” The Cycle 7 book and print awareness (BPA) activity guides students in identifying certain features of a book before reading.
While teacher-directed lessons may provide incidental opportunities for students to connect print awareness knowledge to texts implicitly, they do not include any explicit instruction aligned to grade 1 print awareness standards. For example, in Cycle 6, “Time to Ride, Just in Time” students have the opportunity to read a book independently, but instruction during the discussion that follows centers on comprehension skills and does not prompt students to apply print awareness knowledge.
The materials have opportunities for students to practice listening, speaking, and responding; however, the opportunities are not always for the express purpose of foundational skills development. While materials provide opportunities for students to practice phonemic awareness skills, teacher-directed lessons do not provide opportunities for students to practice each newly taught sound and sound pattern aligned to the TEKS.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The publisher’s list of materials does not include teacher-directed lessons aligned to practicing oral language skills, such as asking relevant questions to clarify information, sharing information and ideas about the topic of discussion, or developing social communication. In the same list of materials, “Environmental Print: Signs” is listed as the only lesson providing opportunities for students to follow, restate, or give oral instructions and work collaboratively with others. As the teacher asks students to read signs and explain what they might mean, the teacher reminds students “to speak at an appropriate pace and in complete sentences when answering questions.” The teacher shares expectations for discussion, including “not to talk over each other” and “to take turns speaking and listening.” Students call on the next person to speak after giving their responses. The teacher provides sentence frames, such as “Have you ever seen this sign? Where did you see this sign? What were you doing when you saw the sign?” The lesson continues as students turn and talk. While the lesson provides opportunities for students to engage in oral language, it is solely in response to teacher-generated questions. There is no evidence of student-initiated oral language interactions or unstructured oral language interactions between students to express needs, feelings, and interests.
Materials provide some explicit instruction and opportunities for students to practice some newly taught sound and phoneme patterns. Teacher-directed lessons follow a research-based gradual release model, with multiple practice opportunities embedded into each lesson. Each cycle lesson follows the same format for explicit instruction: “Teach, Guided Practice, Reteach Opportunity, Monitor Progress/Independent Practice.”
In Foundations “Lesson 7—Rhyming with Pictures,” students repeat rhyming word pairs, such as cat and hat. Then students repeat a sentence containing both words: “The cat wears a hat.” Students must identify the word that rhymes with cat. The practice continues with mouse and house, pig and wig, as well as rug and bug. During guided practice, students take turns matching picture cards representing rhyming words and then say the rhyming words aloud. For independent practice, the game is repeated but with picture cards face-down.
In Cycle 6, “Letter Sound Correspondence: Zz, Kk, Vv, Yy” provides directions and a script for the teacher. First, the teacher explains that words are made of individual sounds and that students will be focusing on the beginning sound in words. The lesson states: “The word zip begins with the /z/ sound. Listen for /z/ now: /z/, /z/, /zip/. The beginning sound in zip is /zzz/.” The materials direct the teacher to say /zzz/ rather than /zuh/. The teacher listens for correct responses and pronunciation as needed. Students turn to a partner and repeat the task. The routine repeats with the words zap, zoo, zero, vote, van, vane, very, you, yarn, yes, and yard. However, the materials do not provide explicit instruction in all the newly taught sound patterns. Guidance is provided for /z/ but not /k/, /v/, or /y/.
In Cycle 8, “Lesson 1 Segmenting and Blending Sounds in Words” provides explicit instruction in segmenting and blending words with the digraph /sh/. First, the teacher and students repeat the word ship. Then, the teacher models segmenting ship into three sounds, and moves a counter into a soundbox for each sound: /sh/ /i/ /p/. The teacher asks students to repeat the initial, medial, and final sound in the word and then touches each soundbox as students say each sound in unison. Students then repeat the sounds more rapidly to blend the sounds into a word. During guided practice, students practice using counters and soundboxes to segment and blend /sh/ words with up to five phonemes, including brush, fish, shed, and slush.
The materials include a sequence of grade-level foundational skills, but the phonics patterns are not consistently introduced in a manner that builds sequentially. Students do have opportunities to apply phonetic knowledge in decodable texts, but explicit practice tasks exist in isolation, and program texts are not cross-referenced to specific phonics concepts. Students have the opportunity to read high-frequency words in and out of context and to build some spelling knowledge.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include scope and sequence documents indicating sufficient practice opportunities to achieve grade-level mastery. For example, students “apply letter/sound correspondence to blend and decode CVC words” in Cycles 3 through 5; “blend individual phonemes to create words using all previously taught letters and sounds” in Cycles 3 through 7; and “decode words in isolation using all letter/sound correspondence previously taught with regularly spelled words” in Cycles 3 through 7.
Materials include some lessons to build spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS. Teacher-directed lessons focus on specific spelling patterns. In Cycle 5, Lesson 20, students spell words using the CVCe patterns a_e and o_e. First, the teacher reviews previously taught long a and long o spelling patterns, ai and oa. The teacher then introduces new patterns by saying a word (name), asking students to identify the sounds they hear, modeling how to spell the word using letter cards, and pointing out the spelling pattern. Explicit instruction continues with the teacher repeating this process for made, home, and bone. Students then practice by listening to each sound in a word as the teacher says it slowly; students then work with a partner to spell the word using letter cards. For independent practice, students write dictated sentences containing the lesson’s words, rather than use letter tiles to spell. The lesson also includes an extension in which students practice manipulating initial sounds to spell new words. Cycle 9, Lesson 27, follows the same framework to teach variant vowels oi and oy.
Students apply grade-level phonetic knowledge to connected texts (e.g., decodable readers) through the books in each cycle. Cycle 6, Lesson 13, provides instruction and practice in decoding words with consonant blends. The teacher explains that consonant blends sk and sc make the same sound. The teacher also introduces scr. Students practice reading words with the target initial consonant blends; they read the teacher-provided words silently to themselves, then aloud to the teacher, who provides affirmation or corrective feedback. For independent practice, students have a sheet with multiple words that follow the consonant blend pattern. They read this page to the teacher to show mastery.
In Cycle 9, Lesson 16, students practice reading words with the vowel patterns /ay/ /ey/ /oe/ /ie/ by using letter cards to make and read words. The teacher introduces the skill, saying, “Remember, ‘When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.’” The teacher then explicitly models using letter cards to spell the word day. Explicit instruction continues with the teacher introducing each vowel pattern and spelling the words key, toe, and pie with letter cards. Students practice applying the skill in guided practice, using letter cards to spell and read the words may and tie. Students receive teacher support and feedback on blending the sounds first slowly and then faster.
As an adaptive curriculum, the materials provide lessons and instruction based on individualized student needs. A scope and sequence document presents a list of phonics skills addressed in Cycles 3–10. An example lesson from Cycle 5, “Lesson 20: Spelling CVCe with a_e and o_e,” introduces long vowel spellings with final silent e. Then, in Cycle 7, “Lesson 8: Open Syllables (me, go, by),” students practice a new spelling for long vowels and explore open syllables. While the cycle and unit descriptions found in the online “Interactive User’s Guide” indicate the specific skills presented in each cycle, instruction from one cycle to the next does not follow a sequence aligned to the systematic acquisition of grade-level skills. For example, in Cycle 9, students read words with vowel spellings ay, ey, oe, and ie (Lesson 16) before learning digraph ch in Lesson 24.
Materials provide explicit instruction in 29 grade-level high-frequency words through cycle-specific lessons; lessons introduce four or five words at a time in Cycles 3 through 10. In Cycle 7, students read do, come, there, have, of, and some both in and out of context. The lesson builds across three days. On the first and third days, students practice rapidly reading and writing high-frequency words in isolation. They first develop visual memory of each word by identifying a deleted letter, then practice reading the words on a rapid naming chart. On the second day, students practice reading the words in the connected text We Come to School. The first teacher-directed lesson for Cycle 10 gives students practice with high-frequency words good, many, their, too, would, and look in context as well as via rapid reading. After the teacher introduces each word, students repeat it and then snap and clap the letters in the word. The teacher summarizes the number of letters and syllables in each word and points out any unique features in the word. Students then play “Letter Deletion,” in which they identify a missing letter in a word written by the teacher. For independent practice, students practice writing each high-frequency word, saying each letter as they write.
While there is explicit instruction in fluency, including rate, accuracy, and prosody, teachers have no routines or opportunities to monitor and provide corrective feedback regularly. The program includes a digital assessment tool that uses voice-recognition technology to score oral reading fluency, but it does not include instructions or routines for teachers to evaluate students’ fluency. Additionally, lessons are designed for interventions in response to assessment data rather than presented as a comprehensive curriculum for all students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program includes a computer-based fluency assessment, described in the “Reading Program Description” as “voice recognition technology to automatically measure oral reading fluency.” During the assessment, students read three passages aloud. Assessment result reports may indicate a need for tiered intervention and list teacher-directed lessons to be delivered as determined by the program.
The materials include one lesson packet, “ISIP ORF (Oral Reading Fluency)—Priority—1st Grade Practice,” for isolated instruction in each component of fluency (rate, accuracy, and prosody) as well as grade-level passages for fluency practice. Each lesson follows the same format for explicit instruction. The lessons are broken into “Demonstrate” and “Practice” components and include passages below and above level for differentiation. The materials have a “Rate Chart.”
The accuracy lesson objective is for students to “increase the number of words they can read correctly.” The materials provide step-by-step guidance for teachers to deliver explicit instruction in accuracy during the Demonstrate portion of the lesson. In step 1, the teacher projects the passage and provides a copy to students. In steps 2 and 3, the teacher reads the passage aloud while intentionally making miscues that students identify by highlighting or circling on their papers. In steps 4 and 5, the teacher asks students what miscues they identified and facilitates discussion of their observations. In steps 6 through 11, students listen to the teacher reread the passage while making few or no errors and discuss what they heard. Materials direct the teacher to “reinforce how miscues are notated” and “explain how practice and repetition can help improve accuracy and comprehension” before moving on to the Practice portion of the lesson. Students take turns with a partner in the Practice portion, reading the passage multiple times and marking each other’s miscues.
The prosody lesson objective is “for students to read with prosody with proper phrasing, pauses, and pitch.” Teachers follow numbered instructions to project a portion of a passage, then read the excerpt aloud without expression or cadence. Students assess the reading according to a provided rubric, with supporting explanations for their ratings. Afterward, the teacher explains that fluent readers express emotion and read naturally and that their goal moving forward is to read with prosody.
All oral reading fluency lessons in the materials direct teachers to monitor students as they work in pairs during the Practice portion of the lesson. For example, the prosody lesson states: “Monitor the groups, ensuring students are on task and are using the rubric correctly. Praise examples of prosody (intonation, proper breaks, expression), modeling as needed.” Then, the teacher asks students what they learned about reading accuracy and how they can apply this knowledge in the future. However, the program does not include direction or support for teachers to evaluate students’ oral reading fluency or provide corrective feedback.
The Rate Charts are based on grade-level expectations and allow students to compare their first and second reading attempts and chart progress. Instructions state to “use the chart below to indicate the reader’s words per minute (WPM) by shading the chart to the correct number. Write the exact WPM in the appropriate blank above each chart.”
Materials include three practice passages with the lesson packet “ISIP ORF (Oral Reading Fluency)—Priority—1st Grade Practice”: “The Green Team” (190L), “Jean and Dean” (200L), and “Fred Has Ten Hens” (300L). These passages have word counts per line to assist in measuring the rate. While there is space for teacher notes in the right-hand margins, the passages do not include any teacher guidance for monitoring and providing corrective feedback on rate, accuracy, and prosody.
The materials include support and direction for teachers to track students’ progress in a foundational skill domain generally. However, the materials do not have the information necessary to monitor students’ growth and mastery of specific skills (e.g., skill gaps in phonetic knowledge). Assessments yield meaningful information for teachers to use when planning small group instruction and differentiation, but they do not have all the foundational skills required for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program includes ongoing assessment opportunities of the “skills most critical to early reading: phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge and skills, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.” The “Reading Program Description” explains that the reports are generated based on computer-adaptive student assessment results. They provide teachers with information regarding “individual students, subgroups, demographics, and performance levels.” Reports “inform teachers’ decision-making and intervention strategies,...and generate data that supports teachers in creating differentiated learning groups.” The program includes assessments for phonemic awareness but not phonological awareness; there is also no assessment for oral language or print concepts.
The “Help” section of the website includes a sample report and an explanation for each type of report. The Priority Report “helps identify students who will benefit from further intervention and provides links to teacher-directed lessons and supplemental materials.” The report groups students for small group or whole group lessons (with links to teacher-directed lessons for intervention) based on performance in the monthly “ISIP” assessment and “Cycles of Instruction.” The program requires teachers to record in the online portal the date of any lesson delivered, along with relevant notes. The note becomes part of the student’s intervention history, following them from year to year. This documentation supports planning for instruction and differentiation in response to assessment data.
Teachers may access multiple reports summarizing students’ monthly, benchmark, or on-demand assessments, to support them in understanding students’ progress and mastery of foundational skills content presented within the computer-adaptive program. For example, the “Skill Growth” report shows student growth in letter knowledge and spelling domains over time. While this report shows progress overall in response to instruction and interventions, it does not detail specific skill gaps, such as which letter names or sounds are not yet mastered or which specific spelling patterns a student has not mastered. The sample Skill Growth report is for a grade 1 student, highlighting the “Spelling” section of the report. There are monthly ability scores and trend lines for growth overall, but there are no details on skill gaps or strengths for specific spelling patterns to inform instruction.
The materials provide teacher-directed foundational skill lessons that direct teachers to assess students’ growth and mastery by providing practice opportunities and observing and charting progress. In “Phonological Awareness—Lesson 41, Medial Phoneme Substitution,” the materials direct the teacher to assess students through observation using the chart provided. In “Cycle 7, Letter Sound Correspondence: Xx,” the teacher observes and charts progress while students spell CVC words ending in x using letter cards. Both lessons direct the teacher to use data to plan small group instruction.
The materials have reporting features that support teachers with some limited guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs, based on assessments appropriate to the grade level. The materials do not include assessment opportunities to assess students’ understanding of print concepts. The materials have limited assessment opportunities to assess phonological awareness.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials automatically place students in the program’s online adaptive curriculum based on a monthly computer-adaptive assessment. The “Reading Program Description” explains this assessment “helps teachers identify student needs for struggling learners to advanced learners.” The same document explains that the reports generated as a result of monthly assessments help teachers “see which specific skills the student struggles with and provide targeted instruction for individuals or small groups. Reports automatically link to additional lessons for further intervention.” Reports show general progress in broad skill domains, such as phonemic awareness. Still, they do not include details on students’ mastery of specific sub-skills of a domain, such as rhyming or phoneme manipulation.
The program includes a “Priority Report” detailing recommended resources for intervention based on monthly assessment results. Here, teachers find recommendations for student grouping and lessons aligned to the skill or grade level. The program determines students’ performance and guidance for modifications based on student needs.
According to the Reading Program Description, computer-adaptive assessments for grade 1 include letter knowledge, alphabetic decoding, spelling, phonemic awareness, and fluency, but not phonological awareness. However, teacher-directed lessons listed in alignment to phonological awareness include a section called “Monitor Progress Through Independent Practice.” For example, in “Foundations Lesson 5, Alliteration,” materials direct teachers to provide multiple practice opportunities for students to demonstrate skill mastery and to observe and chart progress. The lesson also provides a reteach opportunity for students requiring more instruction and practice. While formative assessment is present within individual lessons, materials do not include regular and systematic assessment opportunities to assess student understanding of phonological awareness and help students progress toward grade-level mastery.
Students encounter real and nonsense words in grade 1 computer-based assessments aligned to phonetic knowledge. In the “Spelling” subtest, students spell target words using a limited menu of letters. Words indicative of various spelling patterns as well as non-phonetic words are included. In the subtest “Alphabetic Decoding,” students listen for a phonetic nonsense word spoken aloud and choose the correct spelling from a field of four answer choices. The materials assess grade 1 students’ letter knowledge. Students click on the letter (among a field of several letters, both capital and lowercase) that corresponds to the letter name or letter sound they hear.
Grade 1 teacher-directed lessons provide opportunities for assessment in a section titled “Monitor Progress Through Independent Practice.” In “Letter Sound Correspondence” lessons for both Cycles 6 and 7, teachers “provide multiple opportunities for each student to demonstrate mastery” and “observe and chart progress for each student.”
The program includes a computer-based fluency assessment, described in the “Reading Program Description” as “voice recognition technology to measure oral reading fluency automatically.” During the assessment, students read three passages aloud. Assessment result reports may indicate a need for tiered intervention and list the teacher-directed lessons.
The materials include one lesson packet, “ISIP ORF (Oral Reading Fluency)—Priority—1st Grade Practice,” for isolated instruction in each component of fluency (rate, accuracy, and prosody) as well as grade-level passages for fluency practice. Each lesson follows the same format for explicit instruction: “Demonstrate” and “Practice” components, as well as passages below and above level for differentiation. The materials also have a “Rate Chart.” “ORF—Progress Monitoring Instructions” provide information about gathering materials, administering the assessment, scoring, and making reading level adjustments for the program’s printable progress monitoring resources for oral reading fluency. These instructions also include an oral reading fluency log to track student progress and readability ranges for each grade. The materials do not include assessment opportunities for print concepts.
The materials provide some learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level, specifically in the “Writing Extension” lessons and in the course of the computer-based, individualized program. However, materials provide limited opportunities for teachers to engage students in more sophisticated work than their current grade level demands. The materials focus and prioritize planning opportunities on interventions for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level, as evidenced in the various reports generated by the program, along with the data-driven lessons embedded in them. There is no evidence of an explicit method to designate students as performing above grade level, nor is there a detailed plan for learning opportunities for this group of students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program uses an adaptive curriculum, which places students on a personalized instructional pathway based on their performance on monthly assessments. In this way, students demonstrating proficiency above grade level have differentiated learning opportunities to demonstrate working independently in the online program.
The “Early Reading Technical Manual” in the materials notes that students scoring above the 40th percentile in these assessments are Tier 1 and “on track or performing above grade level.” However, the materials do not include an explicit or specific plan for students performing above grade level.
The reporting templates and capabilities of the program all emphasize the needs of students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. As explained in the “Reports” section of “Program Description”: “Teachers can see which specific skills the student struggles with and provide targeted instruction for individuals or small groups. Reports automatically link to additional lessons for further intervention.” This report supports teachers in planning small group and whole group instruction for students needing additional support to meet grade-level expectations. However, the priority report (or any other report) does not similarly provide planning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. A teacher can use the report to identify students who need extensions and differentiation, but it does not provide recommendations or resources for upward scaffolds.
As noted in the Program Description, the “Assignments” feature “enables teachers to assign additional practice activities to individuals or small groups of students for completion at home or school. These lessons can be used for extra practice after an assessment or for students to work on at home.” It is unclear whether these assignments are designed to engage students in more sophisticated work and explore more learning or provide additional assignments. Additionally, it is unclear whether materials include specific support for teachers to select assignments for groups of students. The materials do not explain any linkages between the Assignments feature and program reporting.
The grade-level equivalencies of the program’s “Cycles of Instruction” overlap. Cycles 3–7 are aligned to both kindergarten and grade 1; Cycles 5–7 are aligned to kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2; and Cycles 7–10 are aligned to both grade 1 and grade 2. There is no explicit guidance in the materials for teachers to use this information to assign or provide instruction in skills that may be considered “above grade level” based on these cycle alignments.
The materials’ “Stages of Reading” document details the characteristics of readers and texts as well as their approximate corresponding Lexile levels. The document states, “Having a variety of resources that cover skills and strategies at different stages of reading gives educators flexibility to effectively differentiate instruction.” However, it is incumbent upon the teacher to seek out this information and devise a plan of instruction for students who demonstrate literacy skills above their expected grade level.
Teacher-directed “Writing Extensions” lessons provide some opportunities for students who demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency to investigate grade-level content in greater depth. In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens,” students think and write about a farm they have visited. Students think about what they saw, tasted, smelled, heard, and touched while on the farm and use a story web to organize their thoughts. Then they share their story web with a partner and discuss areas where more details can be added. In “Writing Extension 11: Homes,” teachers assign prompts based on student understanding and needs. In “Prompt 3,” students use higher-order thinking to create a “KWL” chart and use a research process to answer their questions and synthesize their findings in informational writing.
Additionally, “High Frequency Words” in Cycle 6 provides extension suggestions. The teacher directs students through a make-and-break process to demonstrate how the word that would be broken into onset and rime. Students change the onset while retaining the rime to make new words. Students practice reading the words in a fluency station. However, this lesson is intended for students needing intervention to practice mastering high-frequency words. Therefore, the extension activity serves as an additional opportunity to interact with certain words and strengthen students’ recognition rather than as an enrichment opportunity for students performing above grade level.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. Assessment reports aid teachers in identifying students struggling with grade-level materials. The materials include small group lessons for students who perform below grade level to meet the grade-level literacy standards. Materials provide planning guides for teachers and opportunities for teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Through three main features (reports, “Teacher Resources,” and “Teacher Station”), the materials guide teachers in identifying students needing intervention and planning for blended learning opportunities that utilize both teacher-directed and web-based lessons in closing performance gaps. The “Priority Report” lists students needing support in specific “Istation Cycles” and reading skills, as evidenced by performance in computer-adaptive assessment and interactive instruction. Students scoring at or below the tenth percentile are highlighted to indicate a need for critical intervention. The report hyperlinks to scripted lessons in PDF format, to be delivered in whole group, small group, or one-on-one settings as needed. Additionally, the “Priority Report” outlines lessons as interventions for each area for students in Tier 3. In this report, the teacher finds a “History” of interventions that includes the lesson provided and teacher notes on student performance. For example, a “Priority Alert” on the Priority Report for grade 1 directs a teacher to utilize “Cycle 7, Reading With Meaning 7.” This lesson uses picture cards to develop reading for comprehension and provides a teacher script for explicit instruction, guided practice, reteach, and independent practice.
The classroom summary report provides data on cycle and skill performance. Teachers can use it to find and assign learning opportunities through the Teacher Station. When students log in to Istation, the assignments appear in a backpack. This feature can be used to give students standalone or multistep assignments as reteach opportunities, workstation activities, small group instruction, and partner work. The “Reading Student Summary Report” provides skill insight into students in Tier 3. The report shows students’ ability level for the following components of literacy: “Overall Reading, Text Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Word Analysis, Vocabulary.”
After students take the “ISIP,” students are placed on a pathway based on their performance within the “Imagination Station.” Furthermore, teachers access a list of small group lessons as interventions for use in improving students’ performance in the following components: “Overall Reading, Text Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Word Analysis, Vocabulary.” Lessons can be used in a whole group setting or as an intervention for students who have not mastered skills. For instance, the teacher can search for “main idea” and download the “Comprehension—Lesson 10—Main Idea” lesson, which provides a scripted intervention lesson. The teacher explicitly models identifying the main idea and details of a chart story using pre-written statements and then prompts students to do the same. The teacher observes and notes progress toward mastery at the end of the lesson; a reteach section includes another activity for students requiring additional practice. In addition, Lesson 25 includes focused support on determining cause and effect in text. The teacher explicitly models how to identify causes and effects and guides students to color code sentences. Students independently apply their understanding to the text. As students complete the provided independent practice activity, the teacher assesses mastery. As identified by either report or teacher observation, the lesson offers support through the reteach activity for those students performing below grade. Students in this differentiated activity listen to Lamps as the teacher reads it aloud and discusses cause and effects throughout the story. Further understanding is developed through identifying causes and effects for common events.
Istation provides many articles that teachers can search based on keywords. This IUG (Istation User Guide) article gives teachers insight on how to group their students effectively. Small groups are created based on formative assessment data. The groups consist of students who share a common instructional need. The teacher addresses the common need of the small group through guided instruction. The IUG also provides articles to help teachers set up their literacy workstations, giving small group suggestions, and understanding Istation's interactive instruction.
Lessons and activities include some strategies and scaffolds that can benefit English Learners (ELs) (i.e., sequenced, scaffolded instruction and visual supports), but the lessons do not provide linguistic accommodations commensurate with various levels of English proficiency as defined by the ELPS. While pictures are included in materials as a comprehension strategy for all students, materials do not provide scaffolds such as adapted text, translations, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, or other modes of comprehensible input. There is a Spanish-based reading program, but the English materials do not encourage strategic use of Spanish or any other first languages as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. While materials include lessons and activities that target vocabulary acquisition, the program provides limited opportunities for vocabulary development in the context of connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include an alignment document titled “Reading: Texas English Language Proficiency Standards,” which shows a correspondence between lessons and the Texas ELPS. However, the correspondence consists of a list of discrete skills with no guidance on connected lessons for instruction in the stated skills. Lessons may be designated as EL “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” or “Advanced High.” However, most do not include explicit instructions for EL accommodations commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS.
Materials and lessons from Cycle 7, including Fun at the Pond and The Case of the Haunted Barn, are listed as aligned to ELPS 1F, “use accessible language and learn new and essential language in the process,” but the materials do not contain modifications or suggested scaffolds for ELs.
Cycle 8, “Reading with Meaning,” prompts students to use pictures to support vocabulary acquisition. The teacher models aloud how to match pictures to keywords from a sentence. The teacher continues thinking aloud in guided practice as students determine which sentence their assigned picture best fits. While the lesson focus is vocabulary, students do not engage in connected discourse, nor does this lesson include any specific support for scaffolds for ELs.
In Cycle 4, the teacher-directed “Lesson 25, Reading for Meaning,” directs the teacher to explicitly model how to comprehend at the word and sentence levels and use pictures for support, but it does not provide linguistic accommodations commensurate with various levels of English proficiency as defined by the ELPS. ELs can only incidentally benefit from the sequenced, scaffolded instruction and visual supports in the lesson.
While the materials provide opportunities for students to listen, speak, read, and write, there was no evidence found of encouragement of the strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English.
There was no evidence found of scaffolds such as adapted text, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, or other modes of comprehensible input.
The materials include assessments and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress. Assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis; reports provide support to interpret and respond to student performance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Program Description” document accompanying materials describes program assessments as “universal screeners and progress-monitoring tools” that “inform instructional decision-making and intervention strategies appropriate for students.” Materials include a correlation document, “Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS English Language Arts and Read Grades PK-5,” which indicates how each subtest of the program’s monthly assessment aligns with TEKS expectations. For example, the word analysis assessment is aligned to student expectations to use letter-sound patterns to spell one-syllable words with consonant blends.
The program automatically administers a monthly computer-adaptive assessment to students during their first online session of each month. The materials present the initial, middle, and last monthly assessments of the school year as summative, benchmark assessments aligned to the “RTI framework.” The assessment is designed to assist teachers in identifying students in need of intervention. The beginning-of-year assessment identifies students with “potential reading problems.” The middle-of-year assessment determines whether students are “making adequate progress” or require further support. The end-of-year benchmark assesses whether students have “achieved grade-level reading standards.”
The same computer-adaptive tool serves as a formative measure. ISIP (Istation's Indicators of Progress) is an automated computer adaptive testing (CAT) system that automatically assigns a monthly assessment to each student (unless otherwise specified through the ISIP Configuration Settings). It can be given more often if desired. The monthly assessments are given the first time a student logs on during a calendar month. For example, if a student logs in on September 1, an ISIP Assessment will be given. If the student does not log in until September 15, an ISIP Assessment will still be given when the student logs in. Additional On Demand Assessments can be given at any time during the school year. ISIP Assessments can be used as benchmarks and as continuous progress monitoring tools. The monthly assessment uses “a sophisticated, adaptive algorithm” to select items based on student ability without considering age or grade level. Question difficulty increases or decreases based on previous responses. Grade 1 monthly assessments include listening comprehension, phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, alphabetic decoding, reading comprehension, spelling, text fluency, and oral reading fluency.
Materials automatically score assessments and include the option to review individual student selections and response time, giving sufficient support to interpret and respond to student performance. The “Student Summary Handout” report charts student progress in each grade-level subtest, month to month, using a line graph. The student’s “ability index score” falls within a Tier 1, 2, or 3 range. This report can be generated in English or Spanish and shared with parents. The “Priority Report” lists students in groups according to a common skill need and links to teacher-directed lessons for targeted instruction. The “Program Description” states that “teachers can make immediate data-driven decisions from color-coded reports based on the Hasbrouck & Tindal (2017) national norms.”
While teachers can refer to the program materials using website search functions, a comprehensive teacher edition is not included. The program provides an adaptive curriculum in which students progress through “Cycles” of learning, aligned to their individual needs and independent of age or grade level. While this provides differentiation, it is unclear whether individual student pathways guarantee work with grade-level materials to ensure success. Teacher-directed lessons provide support for students needing additional support but not necessarily for other groups. Ancillary materials, including digital applications, provide support for students and guidance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Reading Program Description” explains how students’ entry points in the adaptive curriculum align to “demonstrated ability levels.” Based on monthly assessment results, students are “seamlessly placed” into the program’s online adaptive curriculum and follow “an individualized path at their own pace.” Activities in this digital curriculum provide reteach opportunities as well as accelerated paths, based on the results of “embedded skill checks.” “Instructional Tier Goals” provides a year-long (August–July) view of the program’s proprietary benchmark “ability index scores” for grouping students by tier.
The materials do not provide a year-long plan of delivery for teacher-directed instruction. There are no supporting documents to indicate how teacher-directed lessons provide comprehensive instruction and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. These lessons are presented as stand-alone supplements to the online adaptive program, intended for use in response to ongoing assessment data and reports, rather than as part of an overarching plan for instruction. While some teacher-directed lessons include annotations that provide support for differentiated pacing and grouping strategies, many teacher-directed lessons do not. For example, in Cycle 6, the “Comprehension Packet for Grade 1” consists of two lessons, each taking place over two days. Lesson instructions include suggested time allotments for lessons overall (45 minutes for Day 1, 35 for Day 2) and individual lesson elements. For instance, pacing for the book introduction is five minutes; the comprehension mini-lesson is allotted seven minutes; discussion is ten. The “Teacher’s Notes” section at the bottom of the lesson overview page states “intended for small-group instruction of students with similar instructional needs.” There is no additional guidance on what grouping strategies are present in the materials or whether the groupings are dynamic, so students may move if their needs change. Also, the Cycle 8 Comprehension Lesson Packet includes notes for each of its two-day-long lessons. The teacher downloads the printable books. The materials remind the teacher that the lessons are intended for a small group of students with the same instructional needs. The teacher preparation annotation reminds teachers to prepare a T-chart and prediction chart before the lesson.
The materials do not include a teacher edition or comparable resources to provide a comprehensive overview of lessons or support for engaging students in the materials. Teachers may use the online search function in the “Teacher Resources” section of the program website to find materials.
Individual teacher-directed lessons include some annotations, which are primarily instructions at the beginning of a lesson packet, rather than notes or guidance throughout the document. Lesson instructions may include an overview of lesson design (teach, guided practice, independent practice, and reteach), directions for grouping students, and steps for presenting lessons to tiered groups of students. While not clearly stated, teacher-directed lessons correlate to the assessment strands within the program’s “Instructional Tier Groupings” document. This document includes guidance to present lessons to small groups of students. If “66% of the students in a class are struggling with the skill...warm up and guided practice lesson components” can be presented as whole group lessons.
The program includes digital applications for both independent student practice and whole or small group lessons presented by teachers. “Teacher Station” includes games and activities for skill instruction and practice.
Materials also include resources for at-home use. Students may “continue on their individualized learning path” or engage in learning activities assigned by their teacher. Teachers may choose lessons based on topic, theme, or skill for “individual or small groups” to complete at home, and they can track student progress through their digital accounts.
The “Parent Portal,” available in both English and Spanish, provides opportunities for parental involvement in the curriculum their child is learning at school. Parents may access online and printable lessons, track their child’s progression “through easy-to-read online reports,” or, with their child, choose digital books to read. Reading materials include books and passages supporting reading skills across instructional cycles and various Lexile levels. The Parent Guide provides a list of all the Ipractice activities available for Istation home.
The online, adaptive portion of the curriculum includes a school year’s worth of literacy instruction, but the teacher-directed curriculum does not. The program’s supporting documentation details the TEKS-aligned skills to be taught, but not the order in which they should be presented or how knowledge and skills build and connect across grade levels. Materials do include additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended in the form of professional development and technical support.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a scope and sequence outlining the standards and skills taught in each “Cycle” of learning. The scope and sequence highlights skills that are spiraled across learning cycles. For example, the skill “Identify the sound of the vowel or spelling pattern” is spiraled across Cycles 3–8. Also, the materials include a correlation document, “Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS English Language Arts and Reading Grades PK-5,” which aligns TEKS expectations to both the online, adaptive portions of the program and teacher-directed lessons. However, this document does not indicate the order in which teacher-directed lessons should be delivered. The materials do not include pacing guidance for cycles of instruction, nor does the program include documentation on how teacher-directed lessons build and connect knowledge and skills across grade levels. For example, the program lists six lessons aligned to “blending spoken phonemes to form one-syllable words,” but the lesson titles do not indicate the cycle of instruction they should occur in, nor does the document list a clear sequential order.
While materials include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction through the computer-adaptive instruction that can be delivered year-round, the materials do not include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction or realistic pacing guidance, routines, and support for 180-day or 220-day schedules through the “Teacher Resource,” or teacher-directed, lessons. The “Reading Program Description” describes that “Cycles of Instruction” begin at a foundational, pre-reader level and advance to a grade 8 level over the course of 16 cycles. Of the nine grade 1 TEKS for comprehension, the publisher lists one lesson each for seven standards and does not list any lessons for two standards (creating mental images and making connections), for a total of seven comprehension lessons across the school year. The lessons are not organized into units for pacing. Throughout a 180-day or 220-day schedule, only having one or two lessons per TEKS does not support a school year’s worth of literacy instruction.
Teacher Resource lessons (also referred to as “teacher-directed lessons”) provide guidance and support to teachers on instruction for targeted skills. Information is provided on the following instructional components: lesson design and instructional cycle, grouping, and how to use reports and data to inform instructional decisions. Support resources include a “Program Description,” including guidance on “Assessments,” “ISIP Reading,” “ISIP Reading Curriculum,” “Reports,” and “School-to-Home Connection.” Assessments outline the various forms of assessments teachers access in the materials, including “Computer-Adaptive Testing” and “On-Demand Testing.” ISIP Reading Curriculum discusses skills critical to building literacy and how these are embedded in the curriculum across grade clusters such as pre-k through 3, but it does not detail how critical skills build across grade levels. In the Reports section, the publisher provides teacher guidance on the purpose of each report and how to interpret the data. School-to-Home Connection includes resources such as printables and videos along with professional development for parents and teachers.
Information for administrators is in the Reading Program Description resource. Administrators are directed to information on reports, which “provide teachers and administrators with immediate data to inform effective instructional plans for students. Istation reports can be run at the class, school, or district level depending on the level of access and desired information.” This document also details the professional development services included by the publisher to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. These sessions “ensure fidelity of program implementation by training educators to differentiate instruction for effective screening and progress monitoring, disaggregate data for instructional use, and track growth toward campus/district goals and initiatives; and help schools drive adoption, boost implementation, optimize usage, and uncover growth opportunities.” Sessions are offered both virtually and in-person and follow a “train the trainers” model to help administrators support teachers by building capacity for implementation across campuses. The publisher offers unlimited technical support for school personnel in all roles, including teachers, administrators, instructional coaches, and support staff. This support is available in both English and Spanish.
The print and digital materials feature pictures and graphics that are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the lesson “Skill: Comprehension—Lesson 3, Asking Questions Strategy,” students use the “Stop and Jot with Mr. Dudley” worksheet to record the questions they ask and answer for themselves. The handout features four squares with enough space for students to write their questions and answers; it is visually appealing.
The texts accompanying teacher-directed lessons are PDFs to be printed, cut, and stapled into book format. These texts feature an adequate amount of white space, and the design does not distract the reader overall. Printable books do include a vertical text box on every other page, listing Lexile level and licensing information. Time to Ride includes one to two lines of text per illustration, which is engaging, does not distract, and helps students understand what they are reading.
The digital components of the program also feature pictures and graphics that are supportive of student learning. For example, during “Text Fluency” assessments, students select their answer from a drop-down menu of choices within a line of text, and the correct word in the blank is provided. Text is a black sans-serif font on a white background. Each blank is highlighted in a bright yellow color for students to identify easily, and text in the drop-down list is the same black sans-serif font on a tan background. An easy-to-notice green arrow at the bottom right of the page allows students to advance to the next task easily.
When students work in the individualized learning portion of the digital application, content is presented thematically. For example, when learning about r-controlled syllables, students see two characters, a person and a dog, dressed in soldiers’ uniforms. The background scene is of a military camp and provides enough detail to interest but not distract grade 1 students. Occasionally the dog barks “Ar” to emphasize this r-controlled syllable.
The materials support and enhance student learning as appropriate through digital lessons, activities, and assessments. They include appropriate teacher guidance on technology features and best practices for use.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a digital, adaptive curriculum accessed through a downloaded application, which is the primary mode of instruction. The program presents content in a “dynamic game-like” format to enhance and support learning. When students log in to the application, the main menu options include icons linked to the adaptive curriculum, digital books, writing activities, or tasks assigned by the teacher. The navigation and user interface are appropriate for grade 1 students, regardless of technology experience. For example, by clicking on a blue book icon, students enter their individualized path of instruction, and a backpack icon links to the assignments section. Categories in the e-book library are “Beginner Fiction,” “Medium Fiction,” “Advanced,” and “Nonfiction.” Students may read themselves or follow along as a text is read aloud. The program also includes an “At Home” portal for extended learning, where students may continue “Cycles of Instruction,” access work assigned by a teacher, or select e-books to read.
The program provides appropriate and sufficient guidance for teachers to use the digital application with students via video tutorials and instructions on the program website. For example, the “Interactive User’s Guide” includes sections detailing how to use the application, assessments, e-books, and assignment features. Teachers may also access the “Teacher Station” feature of the application to model how students should use the program. Teacher-directed lessons integrate technology through embedded hyperlinks, projector pages, and interactive whiteboard activities.
Read the Full Report for Technology
(pdf, 387.08 KB)
Read the Full Report for Pricing
(pdf, 174.54 KB)
Read the Full Report for Professional Learning Opportunities
(pdf, 378.13 KB)
Read the Full Report for Additional Language Supports
(pdf, 160.76 KB)