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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 leveled texts for ELAR instruction that cover student interests. The fiction texts include relatable themes, and the nonfiction texts include topics of interest for students. Most texts are created specifically for the materials with evidence of the quality produced by experts in various disciplines. The texts in the materials increase in complexity, as demonstrated by their Lexile levels. The texts include contemporary, traditional, and multicultural diverse texts. The materials do not include classical texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The texts are created for the materials and organized in cycles by Lexile levels; these cycles correspond with the student’s reading performance within the program. Cycles 7–14 are appropriate for use with grade 4 students of varying reading performance levels. These cycles include 90 full-text, leveled readers and 50 passages from a variety of genres.
George Washington Carver is a nonfiction student reader with a Lexile level of 580. This biography follows the life of George Washington Carver. The text contains relatable content for grade 4 students (e.g., “Do you dry yourself with a cotton towel after a shower? If so, then George’s work helps you too!”). The author of the book is not listed.
Brookside’s Best Science Fair Ever, written by Paul Winston, is a contemporary realistic fiction student reader with a Lexile level of 630. The story describes a third-grader as he prepares for a school science fair. The illustrations and story content are relatable to students at this grade level. Evidence is not found to establish the credibility of the author as an expert.
The Three Little Bugs, written by Linda Jacobs, is a traditional fiction student reader with a Lexile level of 670. The story follows the pattern of the classic fairy tale The Three Little Pigs. The language and content are relevant and interesting to students in grade 4 (e.g., “Not by the mandibles on our little bug heads will we let you in.”). Evidence is not found to establish the credibility of the author as an expert.
Race Across the Arctic is a contemporary fiction student reader with a Lexile level of 810. This reader is a story about a veteran sled dog team racing in the Iditarod. The content and language are interesting to students in grade 4 (e.g., “winding through the spruce trees of the Alaskan taiga”). The text includes appropriately challenging words like advertisements, enthusiastic, and clutches. The author of the text is not listed.
My Trip to Yellowstone: An Adventure with Amanda is a nonfiction student reader with a Lexile level of 850. The text includes topics interesting to grade 4 students, such as geysers and magma. This text also includes a brief history of Native Americans. The author of the text is not listed.
The expository passage titled “It's a Bird...It's a Plane... It's Jetman!” gives information about the first man in history to fly with a jet-powered wing. This passage expands vocabulary and supports responses. In Cycle 13, the expository passage titled “A Vaquero's Life” lends itself to practicing response writing and vocabulary skills.
In Cycle 14, the fictional passage titled “Escaping Gravity's Grasp” contains opportunities to practice response writing and identifying vocabulary.
The materials include some text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of the TEKS for grade 4. Texts in the materials are labeled by Lexile level and grouped in cycles. Text types that fall within grade 4 Lexile levels include fairy tales, folktales, myths, legend, and expository and informational texts. There are a limited number of argumentative texts and no tall tales within the grade 4 Lexile levels. The majority of text types in the materials are leveled readers and passages. The materials include print and graphic features.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials indicate the grade 4 Lexile (L) range is 580L–940L. Students progress through cycles within the program and can move above their grade-level cycles based on their performance. The cycle ranges are Cycles 1–7 (grades 2–3), Cycles 7–14 (grades 3–4 and 4–5), Cycles 7–15 (grades 5–6), and Middle School Bridge and Timeless Tales (TT) Units 1–4, HumanEX, and NexLevel (grades 6–8).
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
“The Three Little Bugs” by Linda Jacobs, Cycle 10 (fairy tale leveled reader)
“Sandbox Games,” author unknown, Cycle 11 (argumentative passage)
“Fossil Hunters: The Black Hills Dig,” author unknown, Cycle 13 (fiction comic leveled reader)
“Monkey Brothers and the Hero Twins,” author unknown, Cycle 13 (fable passage)
“First Round Up,” author unknown, Cycle 13 (poem)
“Myths of the Great Bear,” author unknown, Cycle 14 (legend passage)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
“How Mountains Form,” author unknown, Cycle 10 (expository leveled reader)
“Power for the Planet,” author unknown, Cycle 13 (expository leveled reader)
“Asteroid Hunters,” author unknown, Cycle 14 (expository passage)
“A Boon for the Planet,” author unknown, Cycle 14 (biography passage)
“How Can Brown Make a Car Go Green?” author unknown, Cycle 14 (expository passage)
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
“Deepwater Horizon: Solving the Spill,” author unknown, contains images that show an explosion and an oil spill, as described in the book. There is another image of a blowout preventer, and the word is bolded.
“How Can Brown Make a Car Go Green?” author unknown, contains titles, subtitles, and tables to organize information. The subtitle “Who Uses Biogas?” matches the section’s information about which countries use biogas.
“Visit Yellowstone,” author unknown, includes a map of Yellowstone that shows locations and landforms within Yellowstone Park.
“The Bats of Austin,” author unknown, includes a bulleted, step-by-step procedure for viewing the bats in Austin.
Texts in the materials are not accompanied by a full text-complexity analysis provided by the publisher. The texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels, as indicated by each text’s labeled Lexile level. The materials do not include qualitative features for each text within the grade level; they provide a general overview of qualitative features based on Lexile levels.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The publisher provides the “Lexile Framework for Reading (LFR),” which includes a Lexile scale. Lexile scales are quantitative measures of text complexity, such as word frequency and sentence length. The materials provide a grade-level estimate that corresponds to the Lexile (L) level of each text. The approximate grade 4 range is 580L–940L. According to the information provided by the publisher in “LexileⓇ Levels,” students receive a Lexile score via the comprehension subtest of the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment. The materials suggest using this score to “match students with texts at or near their reading level (with a 75% forecasted comprehension rate) rather than using a grade-based list.” According to “Istation’s Books and Passages,” texts at the appropriate Lexile level for grade 4 include “The Lost Island” 660L, “Man on a Wire” 730L, and “Bees at Risk” 840L.
According to the “Istation Stages of Reading,” each stage has a general “Reader Characteristics” and “Text Characteristics” that will guide the qualitative selection of text based on Lexile measurement and targeted skills. For example, for a “Beginner Reader” (380L–590L), the text characteristics are “text contains complex sentences, a variety of punctuation, and dialogue.” For a “Transitional Reader” (Lexile 590L–720L), the text characteristics are that the “few illustrations in fiction generally are not intended for comprehension support” and “many multisyllabic words and complex or compound sentences.”
Most questions in the materials are text-specific and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions in the materials target complex text elements and require students to identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details. The materials include questions and tasks that require students to make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include lessons on the program’s online student app. On the app, students work through automatic “Cycles” of lessons based on their reading performance on the “IStation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment. In addition, the app includes a limited number of texts with accompanying lessons that students self-select. The materials also have the “ISIP Advanced Reading Teacher Directed Interventions” lessons in reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary. The teacher selects these face-to-face lessons mostly for small group intervention instruction.
Within the automatic cycle portions of the student app, an animated teacher reminds students to use “CAPS” as they read. CAPS is an acronym that stands for “Clarify and Connect, Ask Questions, Predict or Picture it, and Summarize.” For example, before reading the book Power for the Planet, Mr. Marco, an animated character, reviews CAPS and shares actions he took to help conserve energy. He asks the student reader to think about the steps they can take to help the earth as they read the book.
The “Discovery Island” portion of the student app contains 19 texts in the Lexile (L) range 590L–730L. Students within Cycles 12 and 13 can self-select these texts and corresponding computer-based lessons. “Exploration Station” includes ten stories with a Lexile range of 690L–750L for students working within Cycle 14. For example, the expository text “Forest Fires: Lessons from the Front Line” has an accompanying lesson that teaches text structure, author’s purpose, and descriptive language and sensory details. After reading the text, students answer text-specific questions (e.g., “Which sentence shows that a forest fire is difficult to control?”) If a student chooses the wrong answer, the student is sent back into the story to reason through the correct answer with help from the narrator.
In “Comprehension,” Lesson 50, students read the expository passage “How to Be an Underwater Explorer” and answer procedural questions about the text organization. For example, “If you want to be an underwater explorer, what is the first thing you should do?” “Besides your scuba gear, what items would you get in preparation for your trip?”
Students learn about themes in Comprehension Lessons 59, 60, and 61. For example, in Lesson 60, students summarize and explain the message or theme of the fiction text “The Hero Twins.” The teacher reviews the meaning of themes and facilitates a student discussion regarding characters’ actions and the consequences of their actions. The teacher asks questions such as “How does the myth describe the young hero twins?” and “How are they treated?” Following the discussion, the teacher asks students to express the message or theme of the myth.
In Comprehension, Lesson 61, students read the fiction text “The Rainforest Howlers.” The lesson includes sections with a discussion about the following components of text: theme, elements of plot, character, sensory language, and figurative language. Each section contains text-dependent questions (e.g., “What do you picture when you read this simile?” and “How do they resolve their difference of opinion?”).
In the five-lesson set “6B Reading Comprehension,” students read the narrative fiction text “The Big Day.” The lessons address the areas of vocabulary, making predictions, making connections, summarization, main idea, and comprehension. In Lesson 1, students learn the meaning of vocabulary in the story. In Lessons 2 and 3, students make connections to the story by answering questions that are not specific to the text. The teacher says, “Think about connections you made to yourself, to another story you have read that sounds similar, or to something else in the world.” “What do you think about the beginning of the passage?” In Lesson 4, the teacher models summarizing details to find the main idea. The teacher reads students a short passage and asks, “What is the topic of the paragraph?” Students use the “Main Idea Graphic Organizer” to answer the questions “What is the Big Subject” and “What’s the Most Important Point?”
In “Timeless Tales,” Lesson 1.1C, “Making Connections,” students make connections to themselves and the world. First, students make connections to a quotation. Then, students read and make connections to two adapted fairy tales: “Running Barefoot Through Shadows” and “The Three Pig Brothers.” The teacher states: “Usually when a story is designed to teach something, we can make strong connections to it. We may be able to make even stronger connections to the adapted version because the adapted fable features people as characters and is set in modern times.” The teacher asks guiding questions like “How does this text connect to me?” and “Does it remind me of myself or any experiences I’ve had?”
The materials contain some questions and tasks within teacher-guided lessons and independent practice that support students’ analysis of literary elements. Students analyze and make inferences about the author’s purpose while reading different text types, including cultural, historical, and contemporary texts. Students do not compare and contrast the purposes of texts written by different authors on the same topic. Students analyze the author’s choices and the language within a text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Reading Comprehension Lesson 2B” is a five-lesson packet. In Lesson 4, the teacher reviews three author’s purpose types: persuade, inform, and entertain. The teacher holds up a book example of each type and states: “Each of these works was written for a different purpose.” The teacher asks, “Why would someone read this book?” Next, the teacher helps students determine the author’s purpose for three short passages about George Washington Carver. Students choose one topic and write a paragraph about the topic with the three different authors’ purposes taught in the lesson.
“Timeless Tales” Unit 4, “Author’s Purpose,” is a set of four 25-minute lessons. The first three lessons each teach a different author’s purpose: persuade, entertain, and inform. The final lesson teaches about “Author’s Stylistic Choices.” In Lesson 1, the teacher presents an author’s purpose chart and shares an example of persuasive writing. The teacher asks, “Is the author giving opinions?” “Does the author want me to do something or buy something?” Students read different passages, determine the author’s purpose, and record notes. Students write a definition and examples for each type of author’s purpose.
In the “Author’s Craft: Voice” lesson, students discuss how the author’s use of language contributes to the understanding and voice of the text. The teacher reads two different paragraphs about the same situation, and the students make observations about each paragraph. The teacher leads a discussion with questions including “Who do you think the writer of this paragraph is?” “What language does the author use to show you who is writing the paragraph?” “Does the author use any figurative language to help describe the situation?” “How does this help us understand what the author is trying to convey?” The teacher then defines voice: “The way that authors use different types of language to show feelings, opinions, and their personality is called voice. The voice of an author is what makes something interesting to us as we read it.” An additional lesson in Cycle 15 guides students with identifying the author's purpose from a text using appropriate support for fourth grade. After a teach and guided practice section, students have an opportunity to independently identify the author's purpose from a new passage.
The materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for learners through leveled, teacher-guided lessons. The online student learning app differentiates instruction for students based on monthly assessment data. The materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to build academic vocabulary.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This adaptive program relies on the monthly “Istation Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment to measure student growth. Based on results, students are placed in a learning “Cycle” for the online student app and receive vocabulary instruction within the Cycle lessons. The materials also include “Teacher Resource Lessons” in reading subcategories, including vocabulary. According to the document “Istation Teacher Resource Lessons ISIP—Vocabulary,” the lessons are to “help students reach mastery level in a particular skill.” There are three tiers of lessons: “Tier 3” (Lexile levels 600–800), “Tier 2” (Lexile levels 750–900), and “Tier 1” (Lexile levels 850–1000). The interactive program places students in a level of vocabulary study individually based on the ISIP assessment results administered monthly. Students then follow learning paths that include games and activities designed to develop vocabulary focusing on different areas. Teachers can deliver small group instruction to students struggling based on the monthly ISIP assessment results and the data collected as students work on the program between monthly assessments.
The “Teacher Resource Lessons” have a script and are generally in five-lesson sets. Each lesson follows the sequence of “Teach,” “Guided Practice,” “Independent Practice,” and “Reteach.” The lessons are for small groups of students who have difficulty with a specific skill. However, if two-thirds of a class struggle with the same skill, the teacher presents the Teach and Guided Practice portions of the lesson to the whole class. There is further guidance to modify the lessons according to the needs of students and to regroup students based on additional instructional needs.
Lesson 1 of each Teacher Resource Lesson begins with practice using context clues to determine word meaning in sentences that the teacher shares. Students read a Lexile leveled fiction or nonfiction passage, and the teacher models and guides students in using context clues. All lessons include guiding questions to ask students (e.g., “What do the words around the word tell me about the word?” “Are there examples or descriptions given for the word?” “Is there a word part that can help me with the meaning?”) In Lesson 2, students complete sentence stems with the words they learned in Lesson 1. In Lesson 3, students use the same words they learned to fill in missing words in a passage. Lesson 4 introduces an additional skill that varies among sets, such as root words. Lesson 5 is a review of the words learned using varying structures.
“Vocabulary 6A” is a Tier 3 lesson set. In Lesson 1, students read an expository passage and practice finding and using context clues to determine word meanings (e.g., displaced). In Lesson 4, the teacher writes two sentences on the board that contain the word file, as an example of a homograph. In “Student Activity 4,” students write definitions for homographs based on how they are used in sentences. In Lesson 5, students divide up to play tic-tac-toe with the target vocabulary words (e.g., obtain and dismayed).
“Vocabulary 8A” is a Tier 3 lesson set. In Lesson 4, the students have two sentences and find two words in the sentences that are opposites or antonyms (e.g., major and minor). The teacher repeats this process to introduce synonyms. Students record the antonyms and synonyms from the lesson. For independent practice, students create a foldable with synonym and antonym pairs.
In “Timeless Tales,” Unit 2, “Vocabulary Visa Analogies,” students read a fictional story and learn the mnemonic chart method for studying vocabulary. For example, the lesson suggests students link the word baboon with spoon and visualize a baboon with a spoon to remember the vocabulary word baboon. The lesson includes “Vocabulary Charts” that show the vocabulary word, a linking word, the definition, two sample sentences from the passage, and a drawing depicting the word in the context of the story students read. Students learn about analogies by analyzing examples and practicing analogies with missing words.
Students can self-select texts by searching for leveled texts within the online student materials. The materials include support for teachers in the form of brief descriptive documents and a video tutorial that mentions independent reading. The materials include limited resources and protocols to support independent reading and lack a clearly defined reading plan. The materials do not have a document that explicitly outlines an independent reading plan.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students complete the “Istation’s Indicator of Progress” (ISIP) assessment on the student-facing app and are assigned a computer-based learning pathway based on their results. As students work through the program’s “Cycles” of online lessons, the program collects data and automatically moves students through the program based on their performance. The Cycle ranges of the program are Cycles 1–7 (grades 2–3); Cycles 7–14 (grades 3–4 and 4–5); Cycles 7–15 (grades 5–6), Middle School Bridge, and Timeless Tales Units 1–4, HumanEx, and NexLevel (grades 6–8). Teachers and students cannot adjust student placement within the Cycles.
The “Library” found under the “Book” icon of the program’s student app includes leveled books that students can self-select to read independently. There are four collections of books: “Fiction: Beginner” (61 titles, 0L–620L); “Fiction: Medium” (40 titles: 140L–870L); “Fiction: Advanced” (13 titles, 450L–810L); and “Non-Fiction” (23 titles, 170L–940L). The Lexile range for grades 3 through 5 is 480L–950L. The texts are leveled readers with no listed author. Students can sort the books by Lexile level or by title. Students scroll through images of the front covers of the books and click on their chosen book. The teacher can project the texts and read with students; students can listen to the audio in the student app; or teachers can print hard copies from a PDF file. The books are not online versions of published books.
Students who advance to Cycle 13 in the online program have access to 19 passages to self-select in the “Discovery Island” component of the materials. Students who advance to Cycle 14 in the online program have access to 10 passages to self-select in the “Exploration Station” component of the materials. There is no evidence of procedures, protocols, or support for teachers to foster independent reading with this component.
There is no specific planning guide for using the texts for independent reading. There is no evidence of a plan for students to self-select the texts, and there is no planning or accountability for students to achieve independent reading goals while reading these texts.
The materials include the printable “Bookworm Bookmark” with strategies for independent reading. The bookmark states: “What good readers do,” “Predict,” “Ask Questions,” “Clarify,” “Summarize,” “Visualize & Re-read.”
The article “Lexile Levels,” found in the “Instructional User Guide,” suggests using student Lexile scores when finding books for students. The materials’ website contains a “Find a Book” feature. Teachers can search for books based on students’ Lexile levels on this site. The site allows users to save book lists and titles for purchase from online sellers or check out at a library. The titles are not included in the materials.
The materials include support in the form of “Training Videos.” The videos provide a quick tutorial and help articles to support teachers and administrators with the initial steps in getting started using the program. The “Teacher’s Features” button includes a video about how to use the Teacher Station: “The educator will see how they can use featured Istation animation in various topics, to teach whole group, small group, or even one on one to enhance the learning experience.” Specifically, at 4:24 minutes, the speaker mentions the self-selected reading section of the program: “As they read passages, they’ll earn rewards that will be added to their profile.”
The User Guide includes the section “Literacy Work Station Activity Ideas.” The document recommends five stations: “Computer/Ipad, Library, Reading, Writing, and Word Study.” The document has a link for the “Istation Books and Passages” document in the Library section. This document lists the books and passages found in the materials, grouped by Cycle. The books and passages listed are the same texts used in the materials’ teacher-directed lessons and animated lessons. The “Stations Procedures” section states: “Students are given ‘free choice’ of books where they can read and explore any topic of interest.” Within the “Reading Work Station” section, the document lists “Independent Reading,” “Shared Reading,” and “Partner Reading.” The section again links the Istations Books and Passages document. The Station Procedures section for Independent Reading states, “Students choose a spot in the room to sit and read text at their ability level.” There are no specific protocols and procedures for independent reading.
The materials provide students opportunities to write literary texts to express their ideas, informational texts to communicate ideas, and correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. The materials do not provide students opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials do not provide lessons that are specific to grade 4. “Writing Extension 21–49” are listed for grades 3 through 5 in the “Istation Reading Curriculum Correlation to the TEKS for ELAR” document. Each activity consists of directions written for students to read and follow themselves. The activities do not include teacher lesson notes or directions.
According to the Istation Reading Curriculum Correlations to TEKS for ELAR document, students compose literary texts such as personal narratives and poetry, using genre characteristics and craft, in Writing Extensions 21, 22, 27, 29, 32, and 34, along with “Writing Rules: Personal Narrative Interventions.” In Writing Extension 27, students write an acrostic poem describing the Moon. The teacher prompts students to think of ways to describe the Moon. In Writing Extension 34, students write a journal entry about an adventure they had in their “hometown, school, or neighborhood.” Students write a story describing the adventure; directions tell students to include details that build suspense and bring the story to a climax.
Students compose informational texts, including brief compositions that convey information about a topic, using a clear central idea and genre characteristics and craft, in Writing Extensions 23–26, 30, 35, 36, and 38, along with “Writing Rules: Expository Essay Interventions.”
In Writing Extension 26, students write an essay comparing and contrasting the Earth and the Moon. Students use a Venn diagram to plan their writing. Students describe aspects such as weather, gravity, and atmosphere within their essays. In Writing Extension 38, students write a letter informing another person of what they have learned about the desert. The students find facts about the desert and record their information on the “Idea Organizer.” They begin their letter with a friendly introduction paragraph, then write three more paragraphs. In “Writing Rules: Expository Essay, Planning an Introduction,” students learn about the characteristics and components of an introduction by analyzing examples. Students then write an expository introduction about an important invention, with a “lead,” “topic,” and “controlling idea.” Students learn about different leads, including “Offer a challenge” and “State a shocking fact.”
According to the Istation Reading Curriculum Correlations to TEKS for ELAR document, students compose argumentative texts, including opinion essays, using genre characteristics and craft, in Writing Extensions 31, 33, and 39. However, these activities require students to compose persuasive writing instead of argumentative writing. These activities do have an opinion writing component. In Writing Extension 39, students write a blog entry describing the dangers bees face, based on information read in the text “Bees at Risk.” The assignment directions tell students to include a problem and its effect on bees and a possible explanation for the bees’ problem. In the closing paragraph, students persuade the reader to care about the issue and explain what they can do. In Writing Extension 33, students write a book recommendation and attempt to persuade their classmates to read the book. Students use the “Story Elements Chart” to plan their writing. They share a short summary of the book, their opinion of the book, and reasons why other students should read the book.
The materials provide students opportunities to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. However, the materials do not offer students opportunities to write correspondence to request information, as is required in the grade 4 TEKS. In Writing Extension 23, students write a letter describing the weather. Students work with a partner to determine causes and effects in the book Earth: Day, Night, and Seasons and record their thinking on a graphic organizer. Students write a letter or email from one character in the book to another character. The directions state to start the letter with a friendly introduction, then use the body of the letter to tell about the weather and explain why temperatures are warm or cool in January.
The materials also include “Writing Rules!” lessons. The publisher’s documents and online resources contradict grade levels listed for this resource. The Istation Reading Curriculum Correlation to the TEKS for ELAR document states these lessons are for grades 4 and 5. They state the following lessons provide opportunities for students to compose texts: “Writing Rules: Personal Narrative,” “Writing Rules: Expository Essay,” “Writing Rules Paragraph Building: Ideas, Organization,” and corresponding teacher-directed intervention lessons. On the publisher’s website, the “Literacy Work Station Activity Ideas” page contains the subtitle “Writing Rules! Teacher-Directed Lessons (3rd–5th grade only).” The “Ipractice Teacher Station” app includes a “Writing 4th–8th” button, which takes the user into the interactive Writing Rules! lessons.
The “Writing Rules! Scope and Sequence” states that this component contains “Interactive Online Instruction” and “Teacher-Led Small-Group or Individual Instruction.” Within the “Essay Writing” section of the student-facing app, students can choose “Essay Introduction,” “Personal Narrative,” or “Expository Essay.” There is one interactive lesson path for each. For example, in Expository Essay, the animated teacher explains the components, organization, and purpose of expository writing. Students interact during the learning portion. Then, students follow step-by-step directions to complete different components of each step of the writing process and write their expository essay. In the Personal Narrative section, students learn the components of a personal narrative and write it, via interactive lessons.
The materials provide students with opportunities to provide textual evidence; however, the materials do not allow students to use evidence from the text to support their claims and opinions. The materials have some opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through the analysis of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students work through automated, computer-based “Cycles” of the materials on a student-facing app. Students are assigned to a Cycle based on their results on “Istation’s Indicators of Progress” (ISIP) assessment. Lessons and activities within the app do not include written tasks or tasks that require students to use information and text-supported claims to demonstrate the synthesis of texts. Within the Cycles, students listen to or read texts. Students respond to text by, for instance, answering multiple-choice questions, clicking the correct word, and dragging the text to the correct spot.
“Teacher-Directed Lessons” are for use with small groups of students or the whole class as needed based on data collected from ISIP. These lessons contain some opportunities for students to use text evidence to support their answers. For example, in “ISIP Advanced Reading 1C,” Lesson 5, students independently reread the passage “Fire and Ice” and answer multiple-choice questions about the text. The directions state for students to provide evidence from the text after each question. Questions include “What forced airports to stop all flights on April 14, 2010? Why were airline companies not laughing the week of April 14, 2010?”
In “9B Reading Comprehension,” students learn about drawing conclusions. The teacher says: “In order to draw good conclusions or make sound decisions about what we read, we need to ask ourselves questions like, What information does the text provide? and, What knowledge do I already have about the subject? Asking these questions is necessary for us to find unstated information in text.” Students provide text evidence for each of their answers. On the lesson assessment, students answer multiple-choice questions to draw conclusions. Students provide written text evidence for each of their answers. The questions include “At the pep rally, what causes Mariah to start singing like a pop star?” and ”Because Mariah won a contest for young pop singers, the reader can conclude that….” Then, students write a summary with information “about the main character(s), the goal, the problem, the solution, and the ending.” Students also summarize the selection using the “Story Elements” activity sheet and use the information to write a one- to three-sentence summary.
In ISIP Advanced Reading 2C, Lesson 4, “Reading Comprehension,” students independently draw conclusions about two poems. After reading the two poems, students answer open-ended questions, some asking for text evidence. Questions include “What does poem 1 describe? What does poem 2 describe? Which words or details tell the reader this?”
In ISIP Advanced Reading 7C, students read the passage “Night Light” and write a summary. As students read the passage, they pause after each paragraph to write the most important ideas from the reading. Students complete this for all six paragraphs; then, they combine the ideas to write a complete selection summary.
In Cycle 12, students learn how to write a summary of a text. Using the roller coaster graphic organizer, students write a short summary to the text “Evie Earns Ears.” The organizer displays carts with guiding questions for students to include evidence from the text. For example, “What does the character want? What is the problem that is keeping the character from the goal? What is the solution?”
The materials facilitate students’ use of elements of the writing process to compose multiple texts within activities that students read, follow, and complete independently. The materials include a limited number of “Teacher-Directed Lessons” related to composition conventions skills, and these lessons are not clearly indicated for grade 4. The materials provide some opportunities for practice and application of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. The materials do not include the systematic teaching of grammar, punctuation, and usage. Using student checklists, students practice editing while working on their writing. It is unclear how the complexity of applied composition convention skills increases over the course of the year, as the materials do not provide guidance on sequence, alignment, or frequency of the included composition instruction; this was also unclear when reviewing the materials.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
According to the “Istation Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS ELAR” document, “Writing Extensions 21–49” provide opportunities for students to use the elements of the writing process to compose text. The lessons are listed for grades 3 through 5, with no specific lessons for grade 4. Each Writing Extension activity consists of directions and an assignment for students to read and complete autonomously. Within the Writing Extensions, students practice the writing process elements, including planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. In “Before You Write,” the directions introduce the topic to students. In “Writing a Draft,” the directions explain the assignment. In “Revising” and “Elaborate,” the directions provide brief tips. The “Editing Mini Lesson” is a short instructional portion that includes a teaching point for students to read; students are reminded to apply it as they write. Each Writing Extension consists of an “Editing Checklist” for students to evaluate their work or a peer’s work with the ratings of “Very Well,” “Fairly Well,” and “Not so Well.” Then, there are brief directions for a final draft. Some Writing Extensions include templates for student work. There are brief opportunities for practice and application of academic language within the student directions, student mini-lesson, and Editing Checklist. For example, in Writing Extension 31, “Before You Write,” students use an idea web to explore the main ideas in the book Atmosphere. In Writing a Draft, students write a draft of a creative speech persuading creatures not to steal Earth’s atmosphere. In Revising, the directions include to “revise by adding repetition, famous quotations, or strong words to make your style more forceful, and use conjunctive adverbs...and a semicolon to connect the two sentences.” Students also elaborate by “adding details that support each main idea.” In “Editing Mini-Lesson: Irregular Verbs,” students read a definition of adverbs along with examples and are reminded to check their work for the use of and correct spelling of irregular verbs. Finally, students use the Editing Checklist to evaluate each stage of the writing process in the lesson. “Final Draft” tells students to improve their work based on the checklist and “prepare a final draft,” share it with a partner, take their suggestions into account before publishing, prepare their speech, and present their speech.
The materials also include “Writing Rules!” lessons. The publisher’s documents and online resources have contradicting grade levels listed for this resource. The Istation Reading Curriculum Correlation to the TEKS for ELAR document states these lessons are for grades 4 and 5. They state the following lessons provide opportunities for students to compose texts: “Writing Rules: Personal Narrative Interventions,” “Writing Rules: Expository Essay Interventions,” “Writing Rules Paragraph Building: Six Traits, Units 1–6.” On the publisher’s website, the “Literacy Work Station Activity Ideas” page contains the subtitle “Writing Rules! Teacher-Directed Lessons (3rd–5th grade only).” The “Ipractice Teacher Station” app includes a “Writing 4th–8th” button, which takes the user into the interactive Writing Rules! lessons. The “Writing Rules! Scope and Sequence” states that this component contains “Interactive Online Instruction” and “Teacher-Led Small-Group or Individual Instruction Using Istations’ Teacher Resources.” The online instruction provides “intensive and direct instruction, practice, and repetition with multiple opportunities for skill application for students struggling in writing.” The teacher-directed interventions can be used for “targeted skill instruction for individuals and small groups.” The lessons teach writing using “six traits of good writing as the foundation for building essays in the narrative, expository and persuasive genres,” as stated in the “Interactive Instruction” section of the publisher’s website. Within the “Writing” section of the student-facing app, students can choose either “Introduction,” “Paragraph Building,” or “Essay Writing.” Paragraph Building includes one interactive lesson on each of the six traits of writing: “Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions.” The Essay Writing section includes three choices (i.e., “Essay Introduction, Personal Narrative, Expository Essay”) with one interactive lesson path for each. For example, in Expository Essay, the animated teacher explains the components, organization, and purpose of expository writing. Students interact during the learning portion. Then, students follow step-by-step directions to complete different components of each step of the writing process.
The materials provide limited opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. For example, in the teacher-directed lesson “Writing Rules! Unit 6: Conventions Trait,” students learn how to edit a paragraph. In Lesson 6.1A, students learn about parts of the Editing Checklist, including spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and paragraphing. In Lesson 6.1B, students use the Editing Checklist and proofreading marks to edit a paragraph, beginning with correcting spelling errors using a dictionary. Students continue editing their writing in the other categories of the checklist. Finally, in Lesson 6.1C, students independently practice editing a paragraph for basic writing conventions.
Although grammar, punctuation, and usage are addressed in the Writing Extensions and Teacher-Directed Lessons, they are not taught systematically. The materials do not provide a document describing the writing instruction as progressive or explaining the progression of writing instruction; progression was also not evident during the materials’ review. According to the Istation Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS ELAR document, most grammar TEKS are in Writing Extensions 21–49. Yet, some grammar TEKS are not listed in the document. The TEKS missing include adverbs that convey frequency and degree as well as pronouns, including reflexive pronouns. This conflicts with the provided “Istation TEKS TDLs” document, which states that lessons are available for all TEKS.
Most TEKS found in the Writing Extensions do not include direct instruction. Rather, there are mini-lessons, which are notes and examples for students to read themselves. Else, the TEKS are referred to on the Editing Checklist. For example, according to the Istation Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS ELAR document and the Istation TEKS TDLs document, adjectives, including their comparative and superlative forms, are listed in Writing Extensions 21, 24, and 25. In Writing Extension 25, the editing mini-lesson is on superlative adjectives. However, it only provides students with a definition of superlative adjectives; rules for one-, two-, three-, or more-syllable words; and examples.
Specific teacher-directed lessons for grammar are limited. One example is “Cycle 9 Comprehension Word Work,” where students learn about reflexive pronouns. The teacher defines reflexive pronouns and explains how these refer back to a singular subject in the sentence and always end with -self. Students look for reflexive pronouns in a text and determine their relation. Students practice deciding which reflexive pronoun works best in a sentence.
The materials do not include practice for students to write in cursive or instruction in cursive handwriting. The materials do not include a plan for teachers to assess students’ handwriting development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
According to the “Reading Curriculum Correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills English Language Arts are Reading Grades PK-5” document, “Writing Extensions 21–49,” in the “Teacher Resources,” address the student expectation to “write complete words, thoughts, and answers legibly in cursive leaving appropriate spaces between words.” The Writing Extensions include an “Editing Checklist” for students to evaluate their writing. In the “Editing” section, the checklist asks, “Did you write legibly in print or cursive?” “Did you write legibly?” The student checklists are the only mention of cursive found in the materials.
The materials include speaking and listening opportunities focused on text(s) being studied in class. The speaking and listening opportunities include limited direction and structure, hindering students’ ability to demonstrate comprehension effectively. The materials include oral tasks that ask students to use text-supported claims. The oral tasks minimally guide students to use well-defended claims or clear and concise information via provided tools and structures.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide students with speaking and listening opportunities in the teacher-directed lessons focused on the texts being studied in class. For example, in “Cycle 12 Comprehension: Inferencing,” students make inferences based on text scenarios. Students read a scenario with the teacher, talk about the scenario, and record notes that correspond to their discussion, addressing the following prompts: “Facts from the story”; “What I know from experience”; “I can infer/conclude that….” The teacher asks questions such as “What are some facts that we read in the scenario?” The teacher models drawing a conclusion based on information in the text. Next, students practice the same steps with a partner, drawing a conclusion with a second scenario. Finally, students read a short story called “The Nosebleed.” The lesson includes questions for teachers to ask as they read the story (e.g., “What are some important facts that we have discovered about the events leading up to the nosebleed?”)
In “Cycle 12: Summarizing,” the teacher or students read aloud the passage “Evie Earns Ears” The teacher leads the class in a comprehension discussion, asking questions such as “What do we know about Evie so far from the text?” and “What happens that changes the course of the story or how the events of the story are going?” The class rereads paragraph 1, and the teacher completes the first parts of the “Roller Coaster Summary Graphic Organizer.” The students read the rest of the story with a partner and complete the graphic organizer. The teacher tells students how to write a summary based on information in the graphic organizer. Students work with a partner to write a summary and share their summary with a new partner. Directions for listening and speaking are not included.
In “Cycle 12 Comprehension: Predicting Outcomes,” the teacher reads task card scenarios and reviews how to make inferences and predict outcomes. Then, students read task cards aloud to the class. After each scenario is read, the class discusses the facts and their background knowledge. The teacher asks the students questions such as “How do you feel about making inferences and predicting the outcome?” Then the class reads the short story “Mia’s Bravery.” The teacher asks questions such as “What do we learn about Mia from this first paragraph?” and “Was the inference we made about Mia correct?” The students read the rest of the story with a partner, underlining text evidence and recording inferences on a chart.
In Lesson 4 of “Lesson 3A: Reading Comprehension,” the teacher shares the following example from the text: “Arthur slammed the door and threw his backpack down after walking into the house. He knew that his parents would not be happy after reading this letter from his teacher.” The teacher is to “facilitate a discussion” about making inferences using the following guiding questions: “What can we infer about the letter Arthur has from his teacher? What kind of mood does the author suggest Arthur is in? What are the things a reader uses to make an inference?” Specific discussion directions are not included.
In “Group Work...How Does it Work?” students speak and listen to use their communication skills in a group setting, giving specific discussion and presentation directions. For example, teacher directions state, “Each group member should look at the tiles that are in their hand and check the ‘key’ to determine what they will be sharing with the group. Take a minute to think about what you will share with your group. Remember to listen attentively when others are speaking and wait until they are finished to ask any questions. Listen and try to find connections between yourself and your teammates as they are telling things about themselves. Each person will have 1-2 minutes to talk. You may begin.”
The materials provide few opportunities to engage students in productive teamwork and in student-led discussions. The materials provide limited guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion. The materials include limited opportunities for students to give organized presentations/performances and speak in a clear and concise manner.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The lesson “Group Work...How Does It Work?” is the only lesson in the materials that provides practice with protocols for productive teamwork and discussion. This lesson is listed for grades 3, 4, and 5. In the lesson, “students will learn how to efficiently work in a group with classmates, how to give a presentation, and how to be a good audience member during a presentation.” The teacher leads a class discussion and explains that, regardless of preferences, it is important to “learn how to work with a diverse group of people on a task or project.” To form groups, students are each given a puzzle piece and find the three other students who have pieces that complete their puzzle. Students share about themselves and learn about their group members following a discussion protocol. Students share information about themselves based on colored tiles they have randomly picked. The teacher reminds students “to listen attentively when others are speaking and wait until they are finished to ask any questions. Listen and try to find connections between yourself and your teammates as they are telling things about themselves.” After groups share, the teacher asks the students reflective questions, such as “Did you find that you actually had something in common with someone from your team?” Then, students act out four jobs within their group: “Timekeeper, Materials Manager, Director, Task Manager.” Each group prepares an organized presentation about how to work in a group. The requirements for the project are: “1. Make sure that your information is organized and written or presented in a manner that is clear to your audience. 2. You must include some sort of visual component to your presentation. 3. Your presentation can be anything you want it to be: a poster, a poem, a skit, an advertisement, a TV commercial, a how-to book, a play, etc. It can be anything your group wants to do as long as it makes sense for this particular project. 4. Be creative, but use your time wisely.” The teacher reminds students how to present effectively and how to be a good audience member. During the presentations, students in the audience take notes and write a summary to remember new information. Students reflect on presentations during a class discussion and end the lesson by creating a list of rules to remember when working as a group.
Additional presentation opportunities could not be located, though there are opportunities for students to share their writing. For example, in Writing Extension 22, after students complete their final draft, they are given directions to “Share with their classmates.” In Writing Extension 37, after students publish their writing, directions state: ”Give your collection a title and a cover and share it with younger students in your school.” No additional presentation directions are provided. Writing Extensions 21–49 are listed for grades 3, 4, and 5.
“Inquiry and Research Writing Extensions” are included in the materials for grades 4 and 5 in two separate documents, although no difference was found between the two. Students develop and complete a research plan. Upon completion of their research and final draft, the student directions state, “Present your research report to your classmates.” Specific guidelines for the presentation are not provided.
The lesson “G4 Fluency 4: Afternoon Snack” is marked on the publisher’s teacher website for grades 4 and 5. In this lesson, students practice a reader’s theater script. The teacher models reading the script with expression, proper phrasing, and intonation. Students practice reading the script for a performance. Teacher directions state to choose one of three performance formats for students: video record it and watch it back as a whole group; audio record it and play it back for the entire group; or have each group perform for another class.
The materials include some inquiry processes for students to analyze a topic. The materials do not indicate that the inquiry components are short-term or sustained; this is also not evident from the review. The materials include an introduction to primary and secondary sources; materials define them for students, provide examples, and prompt students to find and select sources for their research. The materials include some support for the summary of primary and secondary sources by providing students with steps to follow to take notes. The materials support student practice in organizing their ideas and information through checklists and graphic organizers. The materials do not support students in presenting their ideas.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The inquiry and research components in the materials for grades 3, 4, and 5 are the same. Research is found in “Writing Extension” Lessons 40–42: “Power of the Planet”; 44–46: “Coral Reefs”; and 47–49: “Ecosystem.” Each lesson set includes a directions page for students and graphic organizers.
Power of the Planet includes two teacher mini-lessons. One mini-lesson teaches primary and secondary sources, while the other teaches how to combine sentences when editing. The “Coral Reefs” and “Ecosystem” lesson sets do not include teacher mini-lessons. There is no teacher guidance for any of the lesson sets on how to teach inquiry or when to use the lessons; there is also no pacing or time allotment specified for the lessons.
In Writing Extension Lesson 40: Power of the Planet, there is a directions page for students that includes two sections: “Finding a Research Topic” and “Making a Research Plan.” The directions correspond to student graphic organizers. Steps for students include brainstorming a topic related to “green energy,” choosing a topic, writing questions about the topic, and planning where to find information. For example, students list possible primary and secondary sources to use, then complete sentence starters about locating sources (e.g., “I will look on the internet for….”) In the mini-lesson, the teacher defines primary and secondary sources. There are questions for students to ask themselves to determine if a source is primary or secondary (e.g., “Is this an eyewitness account or was the artifact present at the event?”) For practice, students work with a partner to determine if the given sources are primary or secondary.
Writing Extension Lesson 41 includes directions for students to “research your ‘green energy’ topic and take notes on what you read.” In the “Doing the Research” section, students complete four steps: finding and exploring sources, checking sources for reliability, recording source information on the “Source Information Log,” and copying or printing sources. In the “Taking Notes” section, students read their sources and summarize information on note cards or the provided notes page. The directions tell students: “First, write the main idea of the source. Then, list details included in the source to support the main idea. Remember to include details that help answer your research question.”
In Writing Lesson 42, students write a draft, revise and edit, and work on their final draft. In the included “Editing Mini-Lesson: Compound Sentences,” the teacher defines a compound sentence, provides examples, lists coordinating conjunctions, gives reasons why the use of compound sentences improves writing, and shares steps for editing for compound sentences. Students use a “Revising and Editing Checklist” for a self-evaluation or have a peer complete it; they use the notes from the checklist to improve their draft. Students share their draft with a partner, respond to questions from their partner, and make any changes before completing a final draft. Presentation, in addition to sharing the draft with a partner while editing, is not in the materials.
Writing Extension Lessons 46 and 49 are similar in format to Lesson 42; however, these lessons do not have students share with a partner before publishing.
The materials contain interconnected tasks to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. Tasks include opportunities for increased independence. The materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Tasks within the materials are designed to help students build knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. In Cycle 14, “Bridge Lesson: Compare and Contrast,” the teacher reviews how to compare and contrast. Students read the text “The Recitals” and participate in a teacher-led discussion with provided guiding questions. Students think about and revisit the text before orally responding. They write information and similarities about each character on the provided student page. After this, students reread the story and focus on its events, which revolve around two recitals. Students work independently or in pairs to compare and contrast the recitals and record their observations on a student page.
“10A Reading Comprehension” is a five-lesson packet for Tier 3 students that includes four lessons and an assessment with tasks that integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. Within the lessons, students read narrative fiction texts and complete tasks that teach skills such as vocabulary, making predictions, summarization, and theme. Independence increases within the lesson set: Students begin by working with the teacher, followed by working with a partner, and finally working independently. In the first lesson, the teacher guides students to define eight vocabulary words from the text. Students place each of the words into five categories on the board: “Characters, Setting, Goal and Problem, Events, Solution.” Students think about the categorization of the words and write a prediction of the text. In the next lesson, students preview a passage and answer text-dependent questions (e.g., “Who appears to be the main character of this passage?”) While reading, students use text evidence to answer text-dependent questions (e.g., “Do you think Hong’s mother will allow her to buy the $100 pair of jeans?”). During Lesson 3, students reread the passage to build fluency and comprehension, marking and visualizing parts of the story. Students describe their mental images with a partner. Students write a summary paragraph using the “Somebody Wanted But So Then” structure; this requires them to integrate their knowledge of plot elements to write a summary. In Lesson 4, the teacher uses three guiding questions to teach students to find the theme of a story (e.g., “What life lesson can be learned from these events?”) The teacher models writing notes on a graphic organizer, including the use of proper syntax. Students first practice determining the theme of a short passage with the teacher, then practice independently with another passage. In Lesson 5, students complete an assessment in which they apply their learning within a new text. Students read a new passage, answer multiple-choice questions, and provide text evidence for their answers.
The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. The materials include some scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within this adaptive program, teachers place students into an individual instructional pathway based on their “Istation Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment score. The materials are designed to “supplement classroom instruction” and provide students with “intervention, additional practice, and extension activities.” The materials describe that the instruction is delivered on a “needs-based” path for students.
The materials are organized in “Cycles.” According to the “Istation Scope and Sequence,” Cycles 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 contain a cumulative letter and sound review. Skills in reading comprehension, such as setting, sequence, simple story structure, and cause/effect, are also spiraled in these cycles. Cycles 8–15 include lessons on comprehension, word analysis, fluency, and vocabulary.
For example, according to the “Istation Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS” document, students practice explaining characters’ interactions and the changes they undergo in “ISIP AR Reading Comprehension Teacher-Directed Lessons 1A, 2C, 3A, 3B, 4C, 5B, 6A, 6B, 8A, 8B, 9B, 10A, and 10C.” There is also practice in “Comprehension Lessons 60–63, Cycle 10, Lesson 17” and “Cycle 15: General Comprehension Lesson 3.” The “Istation Scope and Sequence” document states that students practice analyzing characters in a story in Cycles 10–14.
“Teacher-Directed Lessons” for “students requiring more instruction and practice” include a “Reteach” section with limited scaffolding. The lessons’ scaffolding includes explicit instruction with modeling in small groups. In Lesson 1 of “5A Vocabulary Tier 3,” the teacher and students read a passage aloud together, stopping and clarifying words as needed. The teacher uses four question sets to help students determine the meaning of words (e.g., “What do the words around the unknown word tell me about the word?” “Is there a word part that can help me with the meaning?”) Students use these processes throughout the cycles.
In the Cycle 11 lesson “Comprehension 11,” students compare and contrast two familiar stories. As a scaffold, the teacher provides a Venn diagram.
Cycle 14, “Bridge Lesson: Compare and Contrast,” includes English as a Second Language (ESL) modifications as scaffolds for students needing support. These supports include reading the text aloud for students, choral reading, and echo reading. During independent practice, the scaffolds suggest placing students in heterogeneous pairs. The teacher also provides students with graphic organizers.
The materials provide systematic instruction and practice of foundational skills. The materials support grade-level phonics patterns, word analysis skills, and spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS. The materials allow students to practice grade-level word recognition skills to promote automaticity and practice and apply word analysis skills both in and out of context. Finally, the materials specifically attend to supporting students in need of effective remediation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a research-based sequence of grade-level foundational skills instruction and opportunities for sufficient student practice to achieve grade-level mastery. The “Reading Program Description Guide” states that “the curriculum is organized by sequential, cumulative cycles of instruction ranging from the foundational base for reading to the final cycle.” Skills are introduced and practiced within a “Cycle” until the student shows mastery. Many skills are revisited throughout the remaining units. For example, in grades 3 and 4, r-controlled vowels are practiced in Cycles 7–9, and decoding words with inflectional endings are practiced in Cycles 9–11. In grades 4 and 5, students decode words with digraphs in context and isolation in Cycles 9–14 and use root words and other structural cues to recognize words in Cycles 11–14.
Identifying and reading high-frequency words is located in the “High Frequency Words Lessons” in Cycles 9 and 10. The materials provide opportunities for students to practice grade-level word recognition skills to promote automaticity with lessons such as the “High-Frequency Words Lessons” found in Cycles 9 and 10. For example, in the Cycle 9, “Priority Report” lesson, students practice words including because, thought, and goes. In Cycle 10, Lessons 3 and 4, the teacher reviews high-frequency words with students and teaches them to “snap and clap” the words. Students group the words based on similar features (e.g., two-letter words). Students practice reading the words and sort them based on their level of automaticity reading the word.
Decoding multisyllabic words is in Cycle 11, Lesson 11; Cycle 12, Lesson 3; and Cycles 12–14, Lesson 8A. In Cycle 11, Lesson 11, students practice identifying and reading syllable patterns in syllables like duce and ploy. The lesson includes the following syllable patterns: “Closed Syllable, R-Controlled Syllable, Open Syllable, Vowel-Consonant-Silent e, Consonant -le Vowel Team. In Lesson 8A, students learn about open and closed syllables and how to use knowledge of open and closed syllables to spell words. Students practice reading and spelling words like attic, dinner, and bacon.
In Cycle 10, Lesson 23, “Spelling—Changing the y to i,” students learn about changing the y to i when adding a suffix with words like tries and parties. Students practice spelling words that do and do not require this change.
In Cycle 11, Lesson 2, “Suffixes: ful, ly, less, er, or,” students learn what a suffix is and how it changes the meaning of the base word. The teacher writes example words on the board, sorting them into suffix categories. Students read the words and use what they know to determine the meaning. Students find words with suffixes within sentences, circle the suffixes, and practice reading the words. Decoding words using knowledge of suffixes is also in “ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons” 2C, 3A, 6A, and 8C and “Vocabulary Lessons” 2B, 3A, 4A, and 5B. In Vocabulary Lesson 5B, students decode and spell words with the suffixes -ate, and -ify. Students look for words with suffixes within a text and write sentences using suffixes.
In Cycle 11, Lesson 11, “Multisyllabic Words,” the teacher introduces the following syllable types: closed, r-controlled, open, vowel-consonant-silent e, consonant -le, and vowel team. Students read cards with syllables and place them under the correct category. Students put two syllables together to make words.
The instruction and opportunities for student practice systematically develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns and word analysis skills. For example, in ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons 4A and 7B, the instruction and practice focus on decoding words with specific orthographic patterns and rules such as regular and irregular plurals. Decoding multisyllabic words is found in Cycle 11, Lesson 11; Cycle 12, Lesson 3; and Lesson 8A. Decoding words using advanced knowledge of syllable division patterns is taught in Cycle 11, Lesson 11, and Cycle 12, Lesson 3. There is instruction and practice for decoding words using knowledge of prefixes in ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons 1C and 8B and Vocabulary Lessons 1A, 1B, 1C, 3C, and 7B. Decoding words using knowledge of suffixes is practiced in ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons 2C, 3A, 6A, and 8C, along with Vocabulary Lessons 2B, 3A, 4A, and 5B.
The materials provide opportunities for students to practice and apply word analysis skills. For example, in Spelling 8B, Lesson 1, students learn the prefixes im-, mis-, and non-. The teacher writes the words impossible, misunderstand, misread, and nonsmoking on the board. With teacher help, students state the prefix and the meaning. In Spelling Lesson 1C, Lesson 3, students complete sentences based on word meaning using a given prefix word list. There is instruction and practice for decoding words using knowledge of prefixes in ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons 1C and 8B and Vocabulary Lessons 1A, 1B, 1C, 3C, and 7B. For example, in Word Analysis Lesson 1C, students practice decoding and spelling words with the prefixes un-, re-, dis-, pre-, and sub-.
In ISIP AR Word Analysis Lessons 4A and 7B, students practice decoding words with specific orthographic patterns and rules such as regular and irregular plurals. In Lesson 7B, students read and spell irregular plurals like leaves and teeth. Students match the singular and plural forms of words and practice spelling them with a partner.
The materials include opportunities for students to build spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS. For example, in Lesson 5B of ISIP Advanced Reading, students practice using and spelling homophones. The teacher reads a sentence containing a homophone, and students record the correct word for the sentence. Students complete a “Read, Cover, Remember, Spell” exercise to practice spelling homophones and an independent practice activity to choose the correct homophone for a sentence.
The responsive nature of the materials supports students in need of remediation. When a student’s results on the “Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment reveal skill deficits, the program automatically assigns lessons appropriate to their skill level and responds to areas of need. The materials also provide “Word Analysis—ISIP Advanced Reading Teacher-Directed Interventions.” These are whole group or small group lessons that “suggest an instructional sequence to master targeted and prerequisite skills needed to improve reading.” The lessons are grouped into three tiers. Tier 3 indicates the highest level of intervention needed. Tier 1 skill lessons include “Simple Suffixes” and “-ion Ending.” Tier 2 skills lessons include “Open and Closed Syllables,” “Irregular Plurals,” and “Vowel Patterns in Accented Syllables.” Tier 3 skill lessons include “R-Controlled Vowels,” “Diphthongs,” and “Hard and Soft C and G Sounds.”
In the lesson “5B Spelling Tier 2: Homophones,” students practice determining word meaning and spelling homophones. Students complete an assignment writing the correct homophone in a sentence.
In the lesson “8A Spelling Tier 3: Open and Closed Syllables,” students “decode and spell multisyllabic words with closed syllables.” The teacher explains what makes a syllable closed or open by analyzing the words diner and dinner. Students practice reading, sorting, and writing words (e.g., crater, comment, enjoy).
The materials include diagnostic tools; these are administered at regular intervals through the online student app. The data from assessments provides information for teachers to make instructional adjustments. The materials include tools to support and direct teachers to assess students’ growth in and mastery of foundational skills out of context in online student assessment. The materials support teachers with guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on assessments; they provide teacher-directed lessons and automatically assigned lessons within the online student content. No evidence was found in the materials to support the teacher in working with students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or self-correct understanding, or employ rereading when appropriate.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include tools to support and direct teachers to assess students’ growth in, and mastery of, foundational skills out of context. These tools consist of the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress” (ISIP) “Early Reading” assessment for pre-k through grade 3, “ISIP Advanced Reading” for grades 4–8, and the “Oral Reading Fluency” (ORF) assessments for grades K–5.
The “Istation Reading Program Description” describes ISIP as “an online developmental assessment that serves as a universal screener and progress-monitoring tool that informs teachers’ decision-making and intervention strategies.” ISIP helps teachers to “identify student needs for struggling learners to advanced learners through computer-adaptive testing….”
The ISIP assessment for grades 4–5 assesses word analysis of multisyllabic words, reading fluency focused on understanding, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension skills. The assessments provide regular formative assessments administered at the beginning of year (BOY), middle of year (MOY), end of year (EOY), and monthly. Immediately after the BOY ISIP assessment, students are placed on an individualized online adaptive curriculum and follow it at their own pace. The MOY benchmark determines whether students are making adequate progress or need additional support. The EOY benchmark assesses whether students have achieved grade-level reading standards. The materials include monthly student assessments. It recommends that all students log on monthly to take the ISIP assessment for consistency in the reports and to help show growth over time. In addition to the scheduled monthly assessments, teachers can give an on-demand assessment to students at any time. The teacher assigns this assessment to students, which they begin the next time they log in.
The ORF assessment uses voice recognition technology to assess students’ fluency and accuracy. The program records students reading grade-level passages. The reading is automatically scored for grades 1–3. The assessment calculates a words-correct-per-minute (WCPM) score used for benchmarking and progress monitoring. This Fluency Skills Trace document is a guide for teachers that shows pieces of Istation Reading's interactive program and the ways in which it supports a carefully organized instructional plan for fluency.
The materials also include “ISIP Oral Reading Fluency Progress Monitoring” passages in various Lexile levels. Teachers listen to individual students read to assess reading fluency. The “ORF Progress Monitoring Assessment Instructions” include how to mark students’ errors in accuracy, self-corrections, and mispronunciation and how to determine words per minute. Students read a short passage and answer comprehension questions.
The materials support teachers with some guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on tools and assessments. Multiple reports “provide teachers and administrators with immediate data to inform effective instructional plans for students.” A description for each type of report is found in the “Istation User’s Guide,” along with how to run the report, the suggested uses for instructional purposes, and the frequency of review. The reports include the “Summary Report,” “Skill Growth Report,” “Priority Report,” and “Student Summary Handout.”
The Priority Report “alerts teachers of students needing additional support and provides lessons based on demonstrated weaknesses,” based on an ISIP assessment or students’ interactive instruction. The materials recommend that teachers use this report “weekly or as needed to plan and document interventions.” The report groups students based on skill to facilitate whole group and small group instruction using “teacher-directed lessons and materials.” For example, “Cycle 9, Inflected Endings: s, ing, ed” is a three-lesson set provided for use with students who have not shown mastery in decoding words with inflected endings. In the first lesson, the teacher introduces and models how to read words like jumps. Students fold and read words on word strips to practice. The “Reteach” tells teachers to have students read additional words like sleeping, focusing on blending word parts. In “Monitor Progress,” the materials state to listen to students read a paragraph aloud and for teachers to “Observe and chart progress for each student. Use data to plan and group for instruction.” No additional instructions for assessing student progress are included.
The “Progress Report” “shows student progress through Istation’s Cycles of Instruction by skill areas.” Once students complete the monthly ISIP, students are placed into an updated Cycle of Instruction tailored to their needs. Students move through the cycles and units of practice as they continue to work in the program.
The materials provide opportunities for students to read grade-level texts as they make meaning, build foundational skills, and practice oral and silent reading fluency. The materials include explicit instruction in fluency, including accuracy, rate, and prosody. The materials provide opportunities and routines for teachers to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback on phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide students opportunities to read grade-level texts as they make meaning and build foundational skills within the student-facing app in the “Reading with ISIP” lesson cycles and the “Books” library. The materials have grade-level texts as part of the “Teacher-Directed Lessons” and “Fluency Passages” found in the online “Teacher Resources.”
The “Istation Books and Passages” document states: “Although Istation does not link directly to grade levels, it is possible to estimate the grade-level correspondences to Lexile measures of texts encountered in the Istation curriculum.” A chart shows the Lexile level (L) range of 580L–940L for grade 4. Based on performance on the monthly “Istation’s Indicators of Progress” (ISIP) assessment, each student is placed on an instructional path within the materials’ “Cycles.” Students read and interact with texts within the Cycle lessons.
Students practice fluency while reading grade-level texts found in the “Books” library of the student app. For example, while reading “Earth: Atmosphere” (730L), students make meaning and build foundational skills through the structural analysis of unknown words.
The materials include Lexile-leveled texts for fluency practice, such as “Fluency Passage: A Food Feud” (810L). The materials state these passages can be used for fluency practice, administering a running record, or using the “ISIP ORF Accuracy, Rate, and Prosody” lessons.
The materials’ “Teacher-Directed Lessons” include grade-level texts where students make meaning and build foundational skills. For example, in the lesson “6B Vocabulary Tier 2,” students learn the meaning of the Greek root graph and how to use root words to determine word meaning. Students read a grade-level passage, “Picture This,” containing words with the root.
The materials include instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy within the “Oral Reading Fluency—Rate Lesson,” “Oral Reading Fluency—Accuracy Lesson,” and “Oral Reading Fluency—Prosody Lesson.” The materials advise that each of these lessons, including rubrics and charts, can be reused with the publisher’s other grade-level passages to practice the skill. Texts for grade 4 are found in “Fluency Lessons” 1–10 and include “Behind the Scenes,” “MP3 Play,” and “Golden Touch.”
The Oral Reading Fluency—Rate Lesson teaches students to “increase the number of words per minute read orally within their grade level range.” The teacher models a slow and fast reading rate using the passage “Water Recycled” (620L). The teacher asks for student feedback, shows students how to find words per minute, and explains that rate can affect text comprehension. Students practice reading the same text and shade their results on the “Rate Chart.”
The Oral Reading Fluency—Accuracy Lesson teaches students to “increase the number of words they can read correctly.” The teacher models reading the passage “Water Recycled” with poor accuracy, including omissions, mispronunciations, and incorrect substitutions, and charts the mistakes on the “Accuracy Table.” Students practice reading the same passage with a partner and mark each other’s miscues.
The Oral Reading Fluency—Prosody Lesson teaches students to “read with prosody: proper phrasing, pauses, and pitch.” The teacher models reading the passage “Water Recycled” with no expression or intonation and incorrect pauses. Students score the teacher’s reading using the “Prosody Rubric.” Students practice with a partner and assess themselves using the rubric.
Fluency Lessons 1–10 are teacher-directed, five-lesson sets that teach fluency and include grade-level texts. For example, in “G4 Fluency 1,” students practice oral reading fluency with a reader’s theater script, “Behind the Scenes.” The teacher models correct expression, proper phrasing, and intonation. Then, students read the script with an assigned partner. In Lesson 2, the students practice fluency, including using correct phrasing. In Lesson 3, the students practice correct phrasing, paying attention to the commas and their intent. Students learn about and practice intonation in Lesson 4. In Lesson 5, the teacher listens to individual students read and records their words correct per minute on a student “Fluency Chart.”
The materials provide opportunities and routines for teachers to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback on phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy. The “ISIP Oral Reading Fluency Progress Monitoring” passages are in various Lexile levels. The “ORF Progress Monitoring Assessment Instructions” include how to mark students’ errors in accuracy, self-corrections, and mispronunciation and determine words per minute. Students read a short passage and answer comprehension questions.
Within the online materials, students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level are automatically moved forward to the next set of standards. This instruction provides differentiation in pacing but not in delivery. The materials include a limited number of learning opportunities that extend the learning for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. The adaptive nature of the materials has students working at their current level of mastery. Extensions included in each cycle are for mastery of that skill rather than grade-level mastery. The materials provide reports to indicate students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Limited planning is included for these students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students take the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress” (ISIP) assessment, a computer-based test on the student-facing app that assesses reading ability. The automated program uses results to determine students’ “Instructional Tier” and learning pathway on the app, called “Cycles.” Students are assigned instruction based on their “Overall Reading Ability Index” and Instructional Tier instead of their grade level.
As stated in the “Cycle and Unit Descriptions” document, the program is designed to automatically place students at their instructional levels and move at the students’ pace. Therefore, students may be placed in, or progress to, grade-level content above their current grade level. Students and teachers cannot choose or change cycle placement. Instead of extending learning within Cycles that could be deemed “on grade level” based on Lexile levels and TEKS correlation of the materials, the program moves students to the next cycle. According to the “Interactive Instruction” section of the publisher’s website, the “Istation Reading: Cycles 1–15,” indicated for elementary grade students with “Middle School Bridge: (Timeless Tales with Paige Turner),” are designed to “transition learners from elementary to middle school content” and “Middle School Reading (HumanEX).”
According to the “Creating Small Groups” section on the website, teachers create small groups based on formative assessment data. Guided instruction in small groups can be used to include re-teach, intervention, and enrichment. Materials state: “During guided instruction, teachers differentiate the content by varying instructional materials and the level of prompting or questioning provided to students...Istation’s Teacher Directed Lessons may be used during small group, guided instruction to target students’ needs.”
There are limited examples of extensions within the material’s “Teacher-Directed Lessons.” One example is in Cycle 12, “Comprehension: Sequencing,” where students are guided through sequencing the events of the story “A Beach Vacation.” Students learn sequencing signal words, identify main events, and write main events in a sequence graphic organizer. There is “Extension or Extra Practice” at the end of the lesson. The directions for this portion state that students can complete an additional graphic organizer using a book of their choice.
The materials include a “Reports” section on the publisher’s teacher website. Report options include information on student usage, ISIP scores and trends, and student data alerts. The “Priority Report” groups students in need of intervention for specific skills. This report could include student(s) deemed by the program as “above level” who have not shown mastery in a particular skill. Or, this report could consist of student(s) who are working through a cycle of the materials that are above grade level and who have shown a weakness in an above-grade-level skill. This and other reports on the teacher website do not clearly group students who are performing above grade level for the purpose of planning learning opportunities, extensions, or differentiation.
The “Classroom Summary” report includes ISIP scores and Lexile levels, determined by performance on ISIP, for all students in the class. Specific guidance regarding how to use the provided reports to group above-grade-level students is not included in the materials.
Teachers can assign additional practice activities to students using the “Students Assignments” feature. The assignments are grouped into “Early Reading,” “Advanced Reading,” and “Science.” Students access these extension activities through the “Assignments” icon on the student app; alternatively, the teacher can project the lesson, accessing it in the “IPractice Teacher Station.” The activities are labeled “3rd–5th” or “3rd–8th.” For example, “Cause and Effect,” marked 3rd–8th, is an animated lesson that reviews the cause-and-effect text structure, provides examples in graphic organizers and texts, and has students practice by labeling and sorting cause-and-effect statements. This activity provides extra practice of cause and effect, but it does not extend the learning.
The materials provide several “Writing Extension” lessons that can be used with students who demonstrate literacy skills above their grade level. Each thematic lesson contains writing prompts or topic choices for students and directions written for students to read and follow. For example, in the Writing Extension “Fairy-Tale Characteristics,” students plan and write a fairy tale. The directions provide students with a list of characteristics to incorporate, including royalty, magic, and repetition. The directions tell students to “evaluate [their] own work or that of a peer” using the “Editing Checklist.”
Materials include support for students who perform below grade level to ensure they meet the grade-level standards. The materials are a computer-based, adaptive reading program designed to meet the needs of individual students with customized learning paths based on assessment results and face-to-face intervention lessons. The materials provide lessons for use when students have skills below that expected at the grade level. The materials include guiding resources for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
According to the “Istation User Guide,” “ISIP (Istation’s Indicators of Progress) is an automated computer adaptive testing (CAT) system that automatically assigns a monthly assessment to each student.” The ISIP assessment measures a student’s reading ability and skill development and adjusts the difficulty of test questions based on student responses. The materials assign a computer-based learning path based on individual students’ ISIP results.
Istation currently offers three performance scale options for grouping students. The three performance scales are levels (quintiles), instructional tiers, and RTI+. Levels 1 and 2 target small group interventions or one-to-one interventions to provide intense or supplemental intervention to students who perform below grade-level. Additionally, students are placed in one of three tiers based on their “Overall Reading Ability Index Performance” on ISIP. Usage guidelines state that Tier 1 students should use the digital component 30+ minutes per week. Students in Tier 1 are “On track to meet grade level expectations.” Students in Tiers 2 and 3 should use the digital component 40+ minutes per week. Students in Tier 2 are “At some risk of not meeting grade level expectations.” Students in Tier 3 are “At significant risk of not meeting grade level expectations.” Students can move ahead in the program based on future ISIP scores or working through the online learning program. The RTI performance scale includes Tier 2 (targeting at or below 49th percentile) and Tier 3 (targeting at or below 25th percentile). These tiers help teachers determine the intensity of intervention students need during small group work.
In addition, the materials include intervention lessons for teachers to select and use based on student ISIP results. These scripted lessons are in two reading levels: “Advanced Reading” and “Early Reading.” Each lesson is formatted in three sections: “Teach,” “Guided Practice,” and “Independent Practice.” For example, the intervention lesson set “8A Spelling Tier 3: Open and Closed Syllables” includes five 20- to 30-minute lessons. Students learn what open and closed syllables are and use this knowledge to spell words. The lessons include a teacher script with example words, words to practice the skill with, a game, the “Student Activity 1” worksheet for practice, and a student assessment. The intervention lesson set “9A Vocabulary Tier 3—Homographs ‘Food for Thought’” includes five 30-minute lessons. Students read an expository text referenced to teach vocabulary skills and strategies, such as using context clues, root words, and homographs to determine unknown word meanings.
The “Student Assignments” feature “allows teachers to assign additional practice activities to small groups of students or individuals.” The assignments are grouped into Early Reading, Advanced Reading, and “Science.” Students access these extension activities through the “Assignments” icon on the student app; alternatively, the teacher can project the lesson, accessing it in the “IPractice Teacher Station.” The activities are labeled “3rd–5th” or “3rd–8th.” For example, in the “Problem and Solution” activity, marked 3rd–5th, the program reviews the problem-and-solution text structure using examples, interactive graphic organizers, and short texts.
The materials provide some opportunities for students to achieve grade-level learning expectations. The materials include some accommodations for linguistics through sequenced and scaffolded lessons commensurate with various English language proficiency levels as defined by the ELPS. The materials include summaries, pictures, and some glossaries. The materials do not have native language supports or cognates, bilingual dictionaries, or thesauri. The materials do not include strategic use of the students’ first language as a strategy to develop English. The materials have a strategic program to build vocabulary; however, the materials do not contain specific information on how the program addresses English Learners’ (ELs’) needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials are organized in “Cycles” that provide leveled texts and lessons based on students’, including ELs’, abilities. Monthly, students take the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment, and the computer-based program matches students with leveled content. The materials also include teacher-facilitated, face-to-face lessons based on students’ needs as indicated by ISIP results.
The Cycle 12 lesson “Comprehension: Predicting Outcomes” contains “ESL Modifications,” including the use of sentence stems; partner work; and choosing to read aloud, choral read, or echo read a fiction story. Students learn how to make inferences in the “Teach” portion of the lesson, and then work with a partner to practice making inferences. Students record their inferences on a graphic organizer.
In the lesson “Environmental Print: Classifying,” students classify examples of environmental print, working in teams. Although not explicitly labeled for ELs, the lesson includes scaffolds, including sentence frames. An example sentence frame is “I like to eat…for breakfast.”
In Cycle 15, “Bridge Lesson—General Comprehension 1,” there is an ESL Modifications section for each portion of the lesson (“Teach and Guided Practice” and “Independent Practice”). The suggested modifications are “Read passage aloud. Use pictures or a picture dictionary to help with vocabulary.”
In the “Timeless Tales” Unit 2 lesson “Word Analysis, Root Words,” students “identify and construct word-family words derived from common roots.” The lesson includes a “Word-Building Chart” with definitions for prefixes, root words, and suffixes. The materials also include “Word Family Web” charts showing definitions and word examples containing specific root words. The lesson lists “Modifying for ELL” suggestions, such as providing hints to students and having students create pictures that match word meanings.
Cycles 7–11 include “Vocabulary Category Cards,” “Vocabulary Picture Cards,” and “Word Bank Cards.” The materials have “Suggested Uses” documents for each card type. The documents suggest games, such as “Word Grouping” and “Cloze.” The documents also suggest practice activities, such as having students place the Vocabulary Category Cards in alphabetical order, working individually or with a partner.
The materials include assessments and guidance for teachers and administrators to interpret and respond to student performance. Assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis, and they support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide “an automated computer adaptive testing system.” The “Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment for grade 4 assesses students in the areas of word analysis of multisyllabic words, reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension. 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 doesn't 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 ISIP assessment monitors students’ progress and shows growth over time.
The “Istation Reading Program Description” document states the assessments’ purpose: “Skills build on skills, and the sequence of subtests builds on prior subtests. As skills of lower-level difficulty are eliminated from the test battery, more difficult skills that rely on mastery of the prior skills are added.” The materials do not include a list of which TEKS are assessed through the ISIP assessment; however, the “ISIP Standards Report” groups standards related to each ISIP skill assessed. The “Istation Reading Program Description” document also states that “Istation’s adaptive assessments and curriculum are aligned to Texas educational standards.”
The materials include various reports with guidance for teachers and administrators to interpret and respond to student assessment results. The reports track mastery and growth for individual students and classes. The reports include the “ISIP Summary Report,” the “Classroom Summary Report,” and the “Priority Report.” For example, the Priority Report identifies students who need additional support and provides teacher-directed lessons to address student learning needs for specific TEKS deficits. Reports can be run at the class, school, or district level.
Assessment reports show student levels of performance, including Tier 1, 2, and 3 classifications. Students in Tier 3 are those needing the most intervention. The program also assigns students one of five colored levels: red, yellow, and three shades of green. Students coded “red” need the most intervention. Students coded “green” are predicted to be “Approaches,” “Meets,” or “Masters” on the STAAR test. Coding systems correspond to intervention lessons included in the materials. "Istation currently offers three performance scale options for grouping students. All three performance scales use nationally normed Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP™) to provide accurate insight and determine whether students are on target to meet end-of-year grade-level expectations. Plus, teachers and administrators get the formative data they need to differentiate instruction. Schools can change scales at any time during the academic year. The three performance scales are: Levels (Quintiles), Instructional Tiers, and RTI+."
There is guidance for teachers in the “Assessment” section of the publisher’s website. For example, in the “On Demand Assessment” section, videos for teachers include “Best Practices for On Demand Assessments,” “Assigning On Demand Assessments,” and “Suggested Uses for Instructional Purposes.”
The materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify the needs of students and provide instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners. Due to the individualized student pacing of the materials, the materials cannot ensure grade-level success. The materials provide a year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures. Plans for differentiation to support students are included; however, the plans for differentiation are not comprehensive. The materials’ online teacher platform resources include annotations and support for student learning and engaging students in the materials; there is also assistance for teachers in implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple groupings and other structures. Instruction is driven by student results on the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment. After the assessment, each student is placed on an individualized learning pathway differentiated in the included skills and the level of texts. Differentiation is achieved through the use of teacher-led lessons, which are indicated for small groups or individual students based on assessment results. There are teacher-led lessons for skills in each of the program’s parts: “Listening,” “Phonics and Word Analysis,” “Writing and Spelling,” “Vocabulary,” “Fluency,” and “Comprehension.”
The “Istation Scope and Sequence” states that for grades 3–4 and 4–5, students complete “Cycles” 7–14. The Scope and Sequence includes guidance for teacher-led classroom small group intervention lessons, cycle-based teacher resources, and skills-based teacher resources. Additionally, the “Writing Rules! Scope and Sequence” provides information about supplemental writing instruction and when different types of writing are best addressed within the “Cycles of Instruction.”
The materials do not include a clear, comprehensive plan for differentiation. For example, students complete their ISIP assessment and interactive instruction independently on the student-facing app. The “Istation User’s Guide” on the website includes ideas for literacy workstations and other groupings. The “Teacher Station” includes the lessons and activities students experience on the student app. These lessons can also be projected and used with students as lessons with the teacher. There are “Teacher-Directed Lessons” for small-group or whole-group instruction as needed based on student performance within the program.
Resources in the User’s Guide include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials; there is also support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. For example, the “Getting Students and Teachers Started with Istation” document outlines how to engage students in the materials by taking the initial assessment; it also explains the next steps for the teacher to use assessment data to implement ancillary and resource materials. The following are also included: an overview of assessment data reports, sample reports, suggested uses, and guiding questions for the teacher to reflect on. There is a description of the purpose of “Teacher Station” lessons and information on how to access these lessons. Teacher-Directed Lessons have instructions on how to search through the materials for specific lessons.
The materials include a “Help Center,” which supports teachers in implementing resource materials. The included section “Get Started, Teachers and Administrators, Implement Istation: Day 1 through Ongoing usage” provides a step-by-step guide for implementation. 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 materials include supports to help teachers and administrators implement the materials as intended.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Istation Scope and Sequence” outlines the knowledge and skills taught in the program and the order in which they are taught. This document is not aligned with the TEKS. The Scope and Sequence lists the “Cycles of Instruction” and the skills in each Cycle. The Scope and Sequence is organized by grade bands and skills. According to the Scope and Sequence, grades 2–3 align with Cycles 1–11; grades 3–4 align with Cycles 7–14; grades 4–5 align with Cycles 7–14; grades 5–6 align with Cycles 7–15. Due to Istation's adaptive nature, the Scope and Sequence references what cycles a student could progress through depending on their ISIP score. The check marks in the Scope and Sequence are not a definitive range of the cycles for the grade, it is what a student could see depending on their individualized placement.
The “Istation Reading Curriculum Correlated to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills—English Language Arts Reading Grades PK-5” document lists TEKS standards by grade level, the TEKS student expectation statements, the aligned student app Cycle(s), and the aligned “Istation Teacher Resources” lesson(s). For example, instruction for TEKS 4.8C (analyze plot elements, including the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) is found in Cycle 10 of the student app and in Istation Teacher Resources, Cycle 15—“General Comprehension” Lesson 3.
The online “Help Center” provides resources to support teachers and administrators in getting started with the materials. These include training videos, how-to documents, and articles. Training videos are organized into the following categories: “Getting Started,” “Teacher Reports,” “Administrator Reports,” “Teacher Features,” “IStation Overview,” and “Specialized Implementations.” Videos include information on how to “Build and Save Reports,” how to examine “Lexile Trend for a District or Campus,” and “Istation in a Balanced Literacy Environment.”
Teachers can search the Teacher Resources section of the online platform by product, skills, type, and stage of instruction. Advanced search items include searching by text, standard, and Lexile measure. Searches provide lessons and teacher guidance documents.
Teachers and administrators can access and create reports on the publisher’s website. The “Istation Reading Program Description” indicates that “Istation reports 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.”
The materials’ computer-adaptive instruction includes a school year’s worth of literacy instruction; it can be delivered year-round. However, the Teacher Resource, or “Teacher-Directed Lessons,” 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. Students work on an individualized instructional pathway of lessons based on their results on the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress (ISIP)” assessment. The “Cycle and Unit Descriptions” page on the publisher’s website states: “Students move forward through the Istation interactive instruction at their own pace. Because the Istation curriculum is designed to place students at their individual instructional level automatically, students and teachers do not choose what activities to complete, nor can students be moved backward in the instruction. Istation performance is not intended to be used for classroom grades.”
The visual design of the student edition is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include an interactive online student application and printable student handouts within the teacher-directed lessons.
The online student platform contains limited white space; however, the design does not distract from student learning. Upon opening the app, students see the “Main Menu,” which consists of small square icons and corresponding labels of sections (e.g., “Reading with ISIP,” “Books”). The icons and labels are spaced evenly across the page, and the labels are typed in an easy-to-read, medium-sized font. The background image is simple and lightened to not distract from the content.
The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning without being visually distracting. The student platform includes animated characters that narrate and give directions to students within lessons and activities. The characters are also present at the beginning of assessments, but they disappear once the students begin the assessment.
Within assessments, pictures are used appropriately. For example, in the assessment of a blended sound, the program displays pictures of objects and the sound for the student to match. The pictures are clear and are appropriate for the grade level and skill. All text is legible.
Most of the screen is the text and graphics relevant to the lesson. The bottom of the screen displays the student’s name, elapsed time on the program, a question mark for help, a pause button, and a stop button.
Books or texts presented in the app have a blue background with a white page on top. The text is on the left in black and white, with a corresponding illustration on the right and a blue line separating the text and picture. For example, in “Main Idea Independent Practice,” the materials display a text about ways police officers help the community. Next to the text is an illustration of a police officer tipping his hat to greet an individual holding a cat.
The printable student materials use appropriate white space and graphics that support student learning. For example, the “Semantic Web” has a star shape in the middle of the page with ample room inside to write a vocabulary word or main idea. There are eight arrows connected to the star and enough space for students to write ideas and examples. There is white space around the graphic, and the design is grade-level appropriate.
The materials include technology components that are appropriate for grade-level students, support student learning, and provide appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include technology that supports and enhances student learning. A student-facing app provides interactive instruction. Students access the materials’ components within the student app, including the “Istation’s Indicators of Progress” (ISIP) assessment, interactive instruction, books, and assignments.
The format of the student-facing app is appropriate for grade-level students and provides visual and auditory clues to assist students. The visual clues include animated, speaking characters to introduce content. Animations either disappear or pause while students read text or answer questions. Students can click a “question mark” button as needed to have the program repeat the instructions, words, or information.
If a student does not answer a question fast enough while taking an assessment or attempts to move forward too quickly when reading a text, the program states a prompt such as “Try your best and work as fast as you can.” Students must listen to the entire prompt before they can proceed. This procedure is repeated each time students click too soon or go too slow, likely interrupting students’ work.
Technology components are appropriate for grade-level students. For example, there is a blue background with a white page on top when reading books or texts. The text is on the left in black, and the illustration is on the right; a blue line separates the pages. Most of the screen is the text and graphics. The bottom of the screen displays the student’s name, elapsed time, a question mark for help, a pause button, and a stop button.
In the “Books” component of the student app, students see genre and text level options: “Fiction Beginner,” “Fiction Medium,” “Fiction Advanced,” “Nonfiction.” Students select a level and a genre; they are then taken to the “Library,” which displays books in two rows of five. Once students select a book, they can read the book, listen to the book, or print the book. Some books include an introduction by an animated character and a vocabulary preview.
The teacher accesses materials through the publisher’s website. The website includes the “Search Wizard” to assist teachers in searching for lessons. “Teacher-Directed Lessons” are viewable online in PDF format. The “Toolbox” dropdown menu provides teachers with links to “Reading Level Guide,” “Instructional Tier Goals,” “State Correlations,” “Percentile Rank,” “Assessment Information,” “Glossary of Terms,” “Usage Criteria,” and “Cycle and Unit Descriptions.”
The “Istation User’s Guide” includes articles for teachers. For example, the “Interactive Instruction” article gives an overview and details about the student application, including student placement based on ISIP results, instructional paths for students, and lessons with engaging multimedia. The “Help Center” includes recorded webinars and training videos. The teacher accesses student data in the “Istation Report and Management Portal,” with reports such as “Skill Growth” and “Rate of Improvement.”
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