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ELARKindergarten | 2021
Publisher: IstationSeries includes:
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include various texts that are crafted and suitable for an adaptive, targeted instruction program. However, they do not represent the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. The publisher writes texts for the program; there are no trade books or authentic literature. The majority of texts are about animals or children. Language is controlled, and storylines are simple. Periodically, students are exposed to nonfiction texts focused on familiar topics. The materials increase in complexity across program “Cycles” and as Lexile levels increase; however, there is a limited selection of diverse, traditional, classical, and contemporary texts and high-quality texts for ELAR instruction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Book Levels Guide” indicates the Lexile measure, genre, and skill focus of each title across all program cycles. This resource shows texts grow in complexity across cycles in terms of the reading skills kindergarten students may practice. However, there is limited evidence of diverse texts or texts representative of traditional, contemporary, or classical genres.
Elbert’s Birthday by Bill Jones appears in “Foundations” and Cycle 9. The main character, a personified skunk, worries his friends have forgotten his birthday but is pleasantly surprised in the end. This text is engaging for a kindergarten student.
In Cycle 4, The Great Pig Escape (450L) tells the story of a diverse group of children known as “The Word Masters.” They chase a prize-winning pig across the state fairgrounds and win a prize for its capture. The book features a cliffhanger ending engaging kindergarten students. Fun with Friends (460L) features text written as journal entries narrating a trip to the beach.
In Cycle 7, the text Homes focuses on different animals and their homes. The text includes repetitive refrains and references to a fictional character, Bruce. Mr. Grump and the Beautiful Yard by Toni Moore tells the story of Mr. Grump, who will not let children play in his beautiful garden. Descriptive language like “run, skip, and jump in the green grass” helps students visualize details of the story. This cycle includes a twist on the classic tale of the gingerbread man in the fairytale The Oatmeal Man (430L). The story follows the oatmeal main character as he runs from the farm, encounters a stork and pig, and winds up in a fox’s den.
The materials provide limited opportunities for students to explore characteristics and structures of literary and informational texts. Materials include a limited variety of books and passages to meet grade-level requirements or provide adequate context for the instruction of kindergarten ELAR TEKS. The majority of texts are fiction; there are limited opportunities for students to analyze the features of various genres. Expository texts feature characteristics typically associated with fiction genres.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Comprehension Skill Trace” identifies the sequence of instruction for the adaptive student program. The document notes that it “provides grade appropriate texts” to facilitate student application of skills, such as identifying setting (Lessons 26–32), characters (Lessons 33–40), sequence of events (Lessons 41–46), main idea (Lessons 47–49), and summary (Lessons 51–52). The lessons cover various text structures. Beginning with Lesson 82, students apply this knowledge to various texts, including single-skill readers, cumulative readers, and fiction and nonfiction texts. While these lessons include various texts, the materials appropriate for this grade level do not have an opportunity to engage with drama as a literary text.
The 44 texts listed in cycles appropriate to the grade level include 36 titles labeled as fiction, one fairy tale, one fable, one “journal,” and five informational texts.
Authors are not noted in the booklist provided by the publisher.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Fun with Friends (journal)
Clem the Clown and Tim the Dog (fiction)
Where is Coco? (fiction)
Jen and Her New Friends (fiction)
King Zung and the Lark (fable)
Oatmeal Man (fairy tale)
Five informational texts included in materials appropriate for kindergarten are:
The Life Cycle of a Frog (informational)
Buddy Bench (persuasive)
Most of the texts available for review do fall within the recommended Lexile band for kindergarten. The publisher text complexity analysis provided does not include qualitative features for individual texts, and the program does not include read-aloud or shared reading texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Book Levels Guide” includes a Lexile level for most texts in the program. Some lessons include texts not listed in the Book Levels Guide, which are to be read aloud by the teacher (but not for the purposes of shared reading); however, a Lexile measure is not listed in the lesson document. This document also lists “approximate grade level” correlations to Lexile ranges. The listed Lexile range for kindergarten is BR60L–450L. According to “Istation’s Books and Passages,” texts at the appropriate Lexile level for kindergarten include the text Lamps. The text has a Lexile of 180, which is within the range of BR60L to 450L.
The materials provide a guide correlating reader and text characteristics to the program’s “Stages of Reading” and approximate Lexile measures in a document called “Istation Stages of Reading.” Reading stages are listed as “Emergent,” “Early,” “Beginner,” “Transitional,” “Intermediate,” and “Progressing Adolescent.” Texts at each stage feature increasingly complex qualitative features. For example, texts in the Emergent stage feature repeating patterns and predictable text with “strong pictorial support,” while Beginner texts contain “no evident pattern,” “some literary language,” and dialogue. However, there is no accompanying qualitative analysis for individual titles.
There is no dedicated collection of texts for read-aloud or shared reading. However, Istation offers opportunities for students to engage in read-alouds within the digital program and shared reading through lessons such as Elements of Drama: The Little Red Hen and Trips with My Family. Teacher lessons may contain instructions to read aloud a text depending on students’ reading ability but not for the express purpose of shared reading. For example, in Cycle 6, “Comprehension Lesson 2: Just in Time (210L),” the teacher guides children in a picture walk of the text and then is prompted to either read the text aloud or direct students to read independently. In “Early Reading: Poetry, K-1,” the teacher presents nursery rhymes as a shared reading activity to teach poetry features.
The materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-dependent, and prompt students to synthesize information.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
All “Cycles” include teacher-directed lessons on the topic “Reading for Meaning,” which can be downloaded for close reading and comprehension skill practice. Lessons provide formal and informal assignments and activities by directing teachers to deliver explicit instruction and then monitor progress through the independent application. Teacher-directed lessons on various comprehension skills and strategies, including theme, provide students opportunities to evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within a text. Each computer-based, interactive instruction cycle includes a lesson packet for teacher-directed instruction on comprehension strategies and skills. The lessons are for delivery in a small group setting over two consecutive days. The lessons contain questions and activities that grow students’ understanding of topics and literacy skills over the course of each unit.
In “Lesson 1, Making Predictions, K-1,” the teacher asks the text-dependent question, “Can anyone name what is on the cover?” while introducing the book. The teacher then speaks through “Bookworm Polly” to model a response, saying, “She says, ‘I see the snail sitting under the pail. She is sitting on a rug. Rugs are found in homes, so I think that is her home. I predict that the pail is the snail’s home.’” The teacher continues reading the story and engages students in confirming Bookworm Polly’s predictions. After two sentences, the teacher gives predictions Bookworm Polly made and asks students to affirm them by pointing to text: “Can anyone point to the sentence that tells us that the pail is Lorraine’s home? [Affirm.] Yes, the first sentence says she lives under the pail and the second sentence tells us that it is the perfect home for Lorraine.” In the guided practice portion of the same lesson, the teacher says, “After reading this page, we know that the garden is full of fruits and vegetables. We also know that snails need to eat to stay alive. Does anyone want to predict what Lorraine eats?... Now that we know it is a good prediction, how do we find out if that prediction is right or not? [Affirm]. Yes, we need to keep reading to find out if Lorraine eats fruits and vegetables.”
In Reading for Meaning lessons of Cycles 2, 5, and 7, kindergarten students pay close attention to picture cards to make meaning from words and sentences. The teacher writes, “See the cat sit.” The teacher guides students in thinking about the meaning of each word before matching it with an illustration. In Cycle 5, Lesson 21, Reading for Meaning, the teacher models the same process with the sentence “The man stands with a cane.” Students search their picture cards for the best match. In Cycle 7, Lesson 20, Reading for Meaning, students match picture cards to make meaning from the sentence “He has a sweet snack.”
In Lesson 3, “Asking Questions Strategy,” students reference their “Dudley Details” bookmark and complete a “Stop and Jot with Dudley” graphic organizer with the questions and ideas that occur to them while reading. In Lesson 69, Asking Questions, the teacher stops throughout the text Clara and Zara at School and prompts students to evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within the text.
There are opportunities for students to grow their understanding of topics. In “Writing Extension 4: The Toads Are Lost,” students complete a “KWL” chart to identify what they already know about toads and make a research plan to answer the questions they generate. Materials direct students to use the school library or internet for their research and to write the information learned in complete sentences. In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens,” students draw or write about farms they have visited by completing a story web to organize their thoughts, discussing with a partner what details they might add or remove from their web, and finally writing the description of the farm they imagined.
There are no grade-level-aligned lessons or materials to provide opportunities for students to analyze the author’s purpose, compare and contrast writings on a single topic, or analyze an author’s choices. Students do have the opportunity to study language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials state kindergarten-level materials are in Cycles 0–7. The text list accompanying the materials, “Books and Passages,” indicates that the author’s purpose lessons begin in Cycle 12. Scope and sequence documents indicate the author’s purpose is addressed in Cycles 12–13, aligned to grades 3–4.
The list of teacher-directed lessons available for review has two writing extension lessons for “Author’s Purpose and Craft.” In “Writing Extension 4: The Toads are Lost,” students complete writing prompts to sequence the story, write an alternate ending for the story based on characters’ actions, and make a research plan to answer questions about toads. In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens,” students illustrate the meaning of the word pen, write about what characters might have been doing while lost, and use a story web to describe visiting a farm. There is a mini-lesson for pronouns. However, neither writing extension lesson provides students opportunities to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose, compare writings of different authors on the same topic, or analyze how an author’s choices communicate meaning.
Students have opportunities to study language within texts. In “Early Reading: Poetry, K-1,” students learn about characteristics of poetry, including rhyme, rhythm, and imagery. The teacher reads “Hey Diddle Diddle” and guides students to find rhyming words, the rhythm of the poem, and the imagery used to convey what the poet wants us to “see, feel, and hear.”
The materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts, as evident in the program scope and sequence documentation and instruction embedded in the online adaptive assessments and instruction. Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners in the form of targeted intervention lessons delivered in whole or small group settings in response to data from online assessments and instruction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Vocabulary Skill Trace” guide explains how the online, interactive reading program presents an organized plan for vocabulary development by integrating vocabulary skills into daily activities within the differentiated, computer-based instruction. The program builds academic vocabulary through the following elements: “spoken words, listening opportunities, explicit instruction, repeated use of words, strategies for context clues, and ‘extensive practice and application of vocabulary in grade-level appropriate text.’” The guide includes renderings from the online program for each of these elements. In one section, materials include examples of how “students are taught utility content words across a broad range of categories.” Examples include student practice with words related to family, transportation, occupations, and other categories. The guide also shows how students gain exposure to new vocabulary and high-frequency words daily through read-alouds within the program. Students see strategies for deriving word meanings, including context clues, and they receive ongoing vocabulary development through reading and listening activities. These activities include picture and sentence matching, sentence completion, and paragraph completion to build vocabulary with previously introduced words.
The materials include vocabulary skills as an area of reading to be measured in grades PK–8. After students take the initial assessment for placement along the program’s instructional path, materials provide ongoing progress in vocabulary development through monthly assessments. The “Scope and Sequence for Istation Reading” further details the year-long plan for building academic vocabulary in kindergarten. Beginning in the “Pre-Reading Cycle” through Cycle 7, students “expand vocabulary through listening to meaningful texts that provide rich and concrete experiences.” In Cycles 1–7, students “develop vocabulary by listening to and participating in the introduction of animated letter activities,” with four letters appearing in each cycle of instruction; “use vocabulary that is taught directly”; and “categorize vocabulary using pictures to create sentences with high-frequency words.” Materials note that the words presented to students relate to “universal themes such as family, food, body, clothing, feelings, animals, school, and community.” The categories for kindergarten across the year include but are not limited to the following: Cycle 1, “Feelings, Family, and Community”; Cycle 4, “Family, Recreation, and Leisure”; and Cycle 7, “Things, Feelings, and Actions.”
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. There are cycle-specific and assessment-based intervention lessons in various reports based on student performance in the computer adaptive program. For example, in the online adaptive portion of the program, the “ISIP - Vocabulary” lesson packet provides teachers with multiple lessons to target vocabulary development for students performing at different levels. The lessons provide explicit instruction to small groups of students with difficulty with specific vocabulary skills (determined based on their performance in the vocabulary section of the monthly online assessment). Each lesson provides scripted language as a scaffold for teachers and follows the same design to support implementation. Each instructional cycle follows the same format: teach, guided practice, independent practice, reteach. Materials direct teachers to review program assessment data presented in reports to determine student groups and select the lesson from the packet that best meets the needs of students in each group.
In “Skill: Vocabulary,” Lesson 3, students sort picture cards into conceptual groups. Differentiated instruction supports include teacher directions for reteaching students who need more instruction and practice. The teacher provides instruction in a small group setting with modeling. The lesson format remains the same but uses only two picture cards (one belongs and one does not) during guided practice. As students’ accuracy increases, more cards are added. The teacher provides corrective feedback or affirms as needed.
In Skill: Vocabulary, Lesson 5, students practice prepositions by positioning an object in specific relation to another. Differentiated instruction supports include teacher directions for reteaching students who need more instruction and practice. The teacher provides instruction in a small group setting, modeling and speaking clearly. The lesson format remains the same, with the teacher providing additional modeling and support as the student moves their object according to the target preposition.
In “Vocabulary, Conceptual Sort,” students sort picture cards into conceptual groups based on their respective attributes; the sorts may be open or closed. An extended collection of images called “Additional Vocabulary Picture Cards” is available in the program’s online “Teacher Resource” section. Listed extensions and modifications for the teacher to differentiate the lesson include pre-teaching categories and discussing individual images in greater detail for struggling learners or English Learners. The program also recommends cards as independent practice in centers, where students sort by initial sound.
The materials have procedures, protocols, and adequate support for teachers to foster independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, including planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals. There are opportunities provided in the app and with “Istation Home” for students to self-select texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide usage guidelines for the computer-based portion of the program. These guidelines recommend students in Tier 1 spend 30 minutes or more per week in the program, while students in Tier 2 and 3 spend 40 minutes or more per week. Usage guidelines do not distinguish how much of this time should be allotted to self-selected, independent reading, as opposed to individualized, adaptive skill instruction.
“ISIP Early Reading (PK–3rd)” provides a Lexile reading measure for teachers to use when assigning texts to students. However, there is no explicit protocol or guidance provided for informing the student of their reading level so that they can independently self-select texts. Additionally, there is no protocol or guidance for providing or allocating dedicated reading time during small group teacher-directed lessons. When students choose a digital book, they have an option to hear it read aloud.
The materials include a library of fiction and nonfiction texts that may be accessed digitally or printed and assembled. There are accountability tools for achieving independent reading goals through the digital program. When students access the web-based application included in the program, their menu of options includes icons for “Books ” and “Teacher Station—Ipractice.” In Books, students select from a library of fiction and nonfiction texts, which can be read independently or listened to. In Ipractice, students choose from a library featuring alphabet stories, fiction, and nonfiction titles. As soon as students complete the ISIP™ Assessment, they will be taken to the ISIP Results Dashboard within the student app. The ISIP Results Dashboard provides students with access to recent results, assessment history, goals, and subtest scores. This dashboard provides an opportunity for teachers to begin one-on-one student data conferences. Teachers can view and manage the goals students see in the ISIP Results Dashboard from the Goals section found on the Classroom page. Student goals that are manually adjusted by teachers are reflected in the student ISIP™ Data Dashboard. Planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals is implicit in the self-paced, individualized nature of the online program, which is influenced by student performance within the program assessments.
Materials also provide the school-to-home resource Istation Home. It provides students with access to interactive books based on their reading level. However, there is no evidence of methods for tracking student reading that may occur in this specific program platform.
The materials also include teacher-directed lessons, which foster independent reading by teaching comprehension skills, such as retelling and creating mental images. In the lesson “Lamps,” students read the book Lamps independently, and the materials include a “Teacher Observation Chart” to make notes about individual students’ reading behaviors and plan the next steps. In this lesson, students also participate in a retelling activity and book discussion of character, problem, and setting. In “On the Dot,” students listen to the text read aloud, without accompanying illustrations. Students create mental images to help comprehend the story.
The materials provide students with opportunities to write in response to literary texts, but they do not provide sufficient opportunities for students to write personal narratives that convey their thoughts and feelings about an experience. Materials provide some opportunities to write informational texts. The materials available for review do not contain evidence of sufficient opportunities to write personal narratives across the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include opportunities for students to practice writing dictated sentences in response to texts they have read; however, they do not provide sufficient opportunities for students to write personal narratives that convey their thoughts and feelings about an experience. Furthermore, materials provide opportunities for students to write for a single purpose (i.e., writing about a story), but they do not provide opportunities to compose literary texts using genre characteristics. In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens,” students think and write about a farm they have visited. Students think about what they saw, tasted, smelled, heard, and touched while on the farm and use a story web to organize their thoughts. They share their story web with a partner to discuss areas where more details can be added; then, they write their description of a farm. In “Writing Extension 2: See Sam Sit,” students write a story about a real or imaginary pet. Students think about what the pet would look like, their name, where it would live, and what it would do. Students are reminded to use a story map to help organize their story; include a beginning, middle, and end; capitalize their pet’s name; and add ending punctuation. Students share their stories with a partner and use the editing checklist to revise and edit their stories.
The list of teacher-directed lessons lists dictation tasks for Jean and Dean and The Green Team as lessons aligned to writing personal narratives, but the lesson materials do not contain any tasks related to this purpose. Scope and sequence documentation for the program includes a section titled “Writing Extensions Overview.” Here, “The Toads Are Lost: Writing Prompt 3” is categorized as a narrative writing lesson. However, the lesson materials contain no opportunities for students to dictate or write a personal narrative text. The task requires students to research toads and produce informational writing about them. After reading The Toads Are Lost, in “Writing Extensions Prompt 3,” students make a research plan to answer questions generated on a “KWL” chart and then “use the new information” to write about toads. Lesson instructions include directions for students to write in complete sentences.
Materials provide intermittent opportunities for students to practice using the writing process elements through writing extensions that accompany texts. However, the materials do not facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and sharing/publishing) to compose text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program includes opportunities for students to engage in the writing process via “Writing Extensions” lessons. However, these lessons do not include explicit instructions or supports to facilitate students’ coherent use of elements of the writing process. The packets are optional, independent practice activities for differentiation with small groups of students demonstrating above-level skills rather than core instruction in the writing process with all students. The materials list six writing extension lessons for kindergarten. Each lesson usually has three prompts (occasionally, there are four). According to the publisher’s list of teacher-directed lessons, of the six lessons, three provide opportunities to practice elements of the writing process.
Prompts in the writing extension packet for Sam Tips the Lamp facilitate students’ use of the writing process elements to compose text. Each of the three prompts presents an opportunity to practice one or more elements, but none facilitates students’ coherent use of all writing process elements to compose text. In “Prompt 1,” materials facilitate students’ planning, drafting, and sharing to compose text but not revising text. Students think back to the story, draw a picture to predict, and then write a sentence using a provided frame to tell what might happen next in the story. Then they share their drawing and sentence with a partner. In “Prompt 2,” students draw and write to respond to the question “Do you have a cat?” They do not generate ideas for this writing through class discussion or drawing. Lesson instructions direct students to revise and edit their work by re-reading it to ensure there is a picture of a cat with an accompanying, properly capitalized name for the animal. Students also check to make sure that each sentence has a “who” and a “what.” However, the instructions do not involve examining the initial draft to edit the plot or add details to the story. The focus is solely on editing for writing conventions. In “Prompt 3,” students use a web to organize their thoughts before writing a description of a cat; students must use complete sentences and give an opinion on having a cat. Students share their writing with a partner and, while sharing, “look for places [they] can revise [their] writing by adding adjectives.” However, students do not plan by generating ideas through class discussions or drawings. After completing a prompt, students can use the editing checklist in the Sam Tips the Lamp writing extensions packet to self-assess their writing by giving themselves either a smile or frown face for the following criteria: word spacing, capitalization, punctuation, complete sentences, and handwriting. “Writing Extensions: Sam Tips the Lamp” also includes a separate mini-lesson focused on using complete sentences. During the mini-lesson, students reread their work to check for spaces between words, neat handwriting, and complete sentences. Students then trade their compositions with a partner and discuss their work using the following question frames: “What was your favorite part? What part was confusing? How could it be improved?” Students can edit their work using an editing checklist and then re-write a final clean copy before publishing it. There are no suggestions or instructions for how writing may be published. The question frames are general; the same frames are in every extension packet and accompanying mini-lesson. Writing extension lessons do not include linkages between prompts; the prompts do not build on each other to provide an opportunity for a coherent writing process overall.
In the second prompt of “Writing Extensions: Fred Has Ten Hens,” students consider, “What are the hens doing when Fred the farmer cannot find them?” Students revisit the story and describe what the hens are doing. Using the illustrations and the words from the story, students discuss with a partner what they think the hens are doing. For this task, students “write or draw to explain what the hens are doing and why.” In the third prompt of this writing extension, students think about whether they have ever visited a farm. After considering this, students create a picture of a farm in their mind. The teacher asks, “What did you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear while you were on the farm?” Then students complete a story web to help them organize their thoughts.
In “Writing Extensions: See Sam Sit,” students write a story about real or imagined pets, where they would live, and what they would do. Before they begin writing, students use a story map that identifies the beginning, middle, and end of their story as well as details that make the story interesting.
Writing extensions provide opportunities for the practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar, but there is little to no guidance for teachers to systematically teach these skills. Because the program is adaptive, the computer-based components of the program may deliver systematic instruction in grammar, punctuation, and usage. However, the materials lack the specific grade-level alignment and pacing guidance necessary to determine how and when skills are taught in and out of context across a year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Writing prompts and student materials included in “Writing Extension” lesson packets for Sam Tips the Lamp and My Dog Has Fleas provide limited opportunities for practice and application of conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. In the second prompt of “Writing Extension 1: Sam Tips the Lamp”, students draw and write to respond to the question “Do you have a cat?” Students revise and edit their work by re-reading to ensure it includes a picture of a cat and a label with the cat’s name, properly capitalized. Students also check to make sure sentences have a “who” and a “what.” Students share their work with a partner by reading their sentences or speaking about their drawings. The extension includes an editing mini-lesson on complete sentences and a “Revise and Edit” checklist for students. During the mini-lesson, students reread their work to check for “spaces between words, neat handwriting, and complete sentences.” Students trade their writing with a partner and discuss their work using the following question frames: “What was your favorite part? What part was confusing? How could it be improved?” Students use the editing checklist to revise and rewrite a final copy of their writing before publishing it. For the “Writing Extension: My Dog Has Fleas” prompt, students use a provided story map to retell the story in writing. The teacher reminds students to use complete sentences and proper punctuation. The extension includes an editing mini-lesson on types of sentences and the punctuation that goes with them. Students apply knowledge of sentence types by rolling a die and choosing which type of sentence to write, including correct punctuation. Though presented as a mini-lesson, there is no evidence of grammar instruction delivered by a teacher before, during, or after the die-rolling activity.
In the third prompt of “Writing Extension 3: Dots and Spots,” students draw a picture using only dots and spots, then use adjectives to describe the color, shape, and size of the objects. The teacher reminds students to write in complete sentences and use adjectives to describe the “where” of the sentence. The extension includes an editing mini-lesson on adjectives. The teacher defines adjectives, and students use a spinner to choose adjectives to describe three shapes. Students write a sentence about each shape using the adjective chosen. The teacher reminds students that adjectives come before the noun in sentences.
“Writing Extensions Overview Lessons 1–20” provides information about writing extensions but does not provide insight as to whether grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, in, or out of context.
The materials provide instruction in print handwriting, and there are opportunities to monitor and address student challenges with print handwriting. Materials include a plan for procedures and supports for teachers to assess students’ handwriting development through teacher guidance embedded in the lessons and resources included in the materials, namely the student practice page and a “Teacher Observation” form.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Cycles” contain explicit instruction on letters and letter formation; each cycle addresses a subset of letters. Cycles 1–7 address all 26 letters of the alphabet: Cycles 1–3 address uppercase and lowercase letters Cc, Aa, Mm, Pp, Ss, Tt, Ll, Ii, Oo, Nn, Rr, Dd; Cycles 4–7 address uppercase and lowercase letters Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Bb, Jj, Uu, Ww, Kk, Y,y Zz, Vv, Qq, Xx.
Letter lessons include a variety of activities such as mnemonics, analysis of visual characteristics, and explicit instruction in letter formation. In Cycle 5 “Letter Lesson Jj,” the teacher shows students the uppercase and lowercase Jj and tells them to think of jungle for uppercase and jellybeans for lowercase. Students compare and contrast the physical features of both versions of the letter and then listen as the teacher instructs, “To write capital J, I start at the top on the line. I pull my pencil down and curve around on the baseline. Then cross the top.” Students practice air writing the letter with their pencils. There is teacher guidance to narrate the movements so students can form an internal monologue for writing the letter. The process is repeated for lowercase j. For independent practice, there is teacher guidance to present students with multiple opportunities to practice writing target letters, including sand writing, stick and stem writing, noodle writing, yarn writing, and clay writing. Finally, students use a printable handout for handwriting practice.
In Cycle 3 “Letter Lessons: R, O, N, D Letter Name Recognition,” the teacher explains R is an uppercase letter with straight and curved lines and thinks aloud, “I think of a rope when I think of the capital R.” The teacher then introduces the lowercase letter r and asks students to explain how the uppercase and lowercase letters are the same and different. Students then are instructed to write in the air or their palm. The teacher states, “To write capital R, I start at the top on the line. I pull straight down to the baseline. I pick up my pencil and go back to where I started. Then curve around to the straight line and slant down to the right. Stop at the baseline.” The teacher then continues by teaching students to write lowercase r. The teacher says, “To write lowercase r, I don’t need to start at the top line because lowercase r is a short letter. I start at the midline instead. I pull down, trace back up, and make a little curve over. I need to read the letter I wrote: r.” Cycles 1–2 “Letter Lessons: M, A, P, C; T, I, S, Letter Name Recognition” support teachers in developing and assessing student handwriting by including scripts for letter formation and instructions to ensure accurate directionality. Teachers narrate with the same language to create “an internal monologue of the letter formation.” When writing “short” letters that begin at the midpoint of a line, the teacher checks to make sure students begin in the appropriate place. Every lesson in the materials, handwriting and otherwise, includes the same “Teacher Observation” form for collecting anecdotal notes on student progress. While present, the form is not unique to or customized for handwriting assessment.
The “Comprehension” lesson packets (which regularly accompany “Cycles” (units) of instruction) provide opportunities for students to listen actively during the retelling and discussion of texts, and they provide opportunities to ask questions to understand information about literary elements. Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions about texts; the discussion is limited to predetermined answers to teacher-directed questions, and there are some opportunities to share information and ideas about the topics being discussed.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Due to the intervention-focused, computer-adaptive nature of the program, students have some opportunities to engage in discussions that require them to share information and ideas about the topics they are discussing. Teachers deliver cycle-specific lessons in response to student performance on monthly assessments.
There are opportunities for students to listen actively during teacher-directed lessons and share information and ideas about the topics they are discussing. For example, in Cycle 3, “Comprehension 1: Lamps,” students learn about story elements by exploring the book Lamps. Students respond to the question, “Do you think this story is real or make-believe? Why?” and listen to the teacher’s explanation of the words character and setting. They also respond to the questions “Can characters in a story be animals?” and “Can anyone give me an example of where a story might take place?” During the discussion portion of the lesson, students respond to questions like, “Do all stories have just one character? How do you know?” “What is Tad’s problem in the story? How did Tad solve the problem?” “Where did the story happen? When did the story happen?” The “Setting Discussion” portion of the lesson includes a script for the teacher to model their thinking aloud, such as, “Hm, if it was daytime, then Tad would be able to see and he would not need any lamps... It seems that when and where a story happens is very important to the rest of the story.” However, the lesson does not include prompts, sentence stems, or other supports or guidance for students to generate and ask questions to understand information, nor are students prompted to use evidence from the story to support their claims. Students listen actively and answer questions to understand the information presented.
In Cycle 3, “Reading with Meaning 3,” students match pictures with sentences to build comprehension. During the “Teach” component of the lesson, the teacher asks students if specific pictures match target sentences (e.g., “Tom spins the top.”). After discussing the meaning of the sentence, the teacher shows a picture and asks students, “Is this the picture that matches our sentence? Why do you think that?” Guidance is provided for the teacher to pause for students’ responses and affirm or correct responses. The teacher shows another picture and says, “Talk to your partner about what you see in the picture. Do you think this is the picture that matches our sentence? Why do you think that?” Throughout the lesson, this pattern of whole group and peer discussion continues.
In “Skill: Comprehension—Lesson 69: Asking Questions, Grades K–1,” students practice active listening and asking questions to understand information. During the Teach portion of the lesson, the teacher models how to ask questions during a reading circle. Students actively listen to the teacher’s modeled questions about the text. For example, the teacher pauses after reading the first page of the story and asks, “Where are Clara and Zara going?” They confirm correct answers and then continue with “How do Clara and Zara get to school?” In “Guided Practice,” students generate questions. If they are struggling, the teacher provides the first word of a question. The teacher continues to model during independent practice, telling students, “I am going to read another story. Just like before, I will stop after each page so that you can ask questions. If you need help, I'll give you the first word of a possible question.” The materials state that the teacher should accept all student-generated questions and allow others to answer them, correcting when needed.
The “Writing Extension” activities provide additional evidence of opportunities for students to ask questions; students ask each other questions, but not for the purpose of understanding information in texts. For example, in “Writing Extension 1: Sam Tips the Lamp,” students trade their writing with a partner and discuss. They use provided sentence and question frames to guide the discussion, including “What was your favorite part? My favorite part was…. What part was confusing? I was confused when I read…. How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is….”
The materials do provide some opportunities for students to engage in discussion or practice grade-appropriate speaking skills using the standard conventions of the English language. The materials do not have evidence of a protocol to facilitate collaborative discussion between students; students do not have consistent opportunities to discuss collaboratively.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Reading Program Description” from the publisher does not mention student discussion in the online program overview or assessments. None of the various teacher-directed lessons (e.g., “Comprehension Packets,” “Writing Extensions,” “Cycle” lessons, “Skill” lessons) include routines, protocols, or implementation support for collaborative discussion.
Throughout lessons in the cycle-specific comprehension packets, materials direct teachers to facilitate student discussion. Students have opportunities to respond to teacher-directed questions. While the lessons include scripted questions and sample student responses, they lack teacher guidance for structuring student engagement in discussion. For example, in Cycle 3, “Comprehension Lesson Packet, Lesson 1: Lamps,” there is a discussion module about story elements. The teacher’s script includes several closed-ended questions; these are followed by “Do all stories have just one charter? How do you know?” Students share examples of other stories they know that have more than one character. The same questioning format is used in relation to the problem and solution. The materials direct teachers: “Guide the discussion if necessary by asking, ‘Why is it dark?’ and ‘How do you know.’” There are some supports or explicit information regarding what facilitation or discussion between students entails. The materials direct teachers to “pause for student responses and affirm [their answers]—affirm right answers and correct as necessary.”
There are some opportunities for collaborative discussions. In “Writing Extensions: Dots and Spots,” students discuss their writing with a partner; the lesson states: "Trade your writing with a partner. Discuss the following questions as you read your partner’s work. If you need to, you can use the sentence frames to help you discuss. Be sure to take turns speaking one at a time and ask questions to help you understand. What was your favorite part?
My favorite part was…. What part was confusing? I was confused when I read…. How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is….” In “Writing Extensions: See Sam Sit,” students trade writing with a partner. “Discuss the following questions as you read your partner’s work. If you need to, you can use the sentence frames to help you discuss. Be sure to take turns speaking one at a time and ask questions to help you understand. What was your favorite part? My favorite part was…. What part was confusing? I was confused when I read…. How could it be improved? One thing that could improve your writing is….”
Some lessons include student opportunities to talk about comprehension skills in a whole group setting. In Cycle 4, “Comprehension Lesson 1: The Green Team,” students practice visualization as a strategy to help understand texts. The teacher relates a story to the students and then instructs the students: “Open your eyes and let's talk about what you saw in your minds as I was telling the story.” Lesson materials include instructions for the teacher to “facilitate a quick discussion about what the students saw as you told them the story. As they are talking, draw the picture on a whiteboard or a piece of chart paper.” The teacher tells students that the pictures will help remind them about the story they just heard. Students are instructed to pay attention to the movie their mind makes as they read the target book for the lesson. While there are instructions for the teacher to facilitate a discussion about what students saw as they listened to the story, there are no supports or protocols for students/teachers to encourage collaborative discussions between students or to ensure grade-appropriate practice.
In the “Introduction,” “Shared Reading,” and “Discussion” components of the lesson “Determining Theme: The Little Red Hen,” students have opportunities to respond to the teacher’s questions, but the materials do not include protocols or routines for students to practice speaking and listening (e.g., “Turn and Talk,” “Think, Pair, Share”). To introduce the text and lesson, materials direct teachers to “guide a brief discussion using the following questions” and “pause briefly after each question to allow time for student responses and to facilitate the discussion.” Some questions in the teacher script include “What if your friend or sibling needs help with boring chores? What are some good things that can happen if you work together when a friend/sibling needs help? How do you feel when you need help and your friend/sibling says no?” During the Shared Reading component, materials similarly direct teachers to “guide a discussion around the characters’ actions and how their actions shape the outcome of the story.” Here materials provide correct student responses in parentheses after each scripted question, such as “Which character is the hard worker? (The little red hen.) What does she do in the story to make you think that? (She does all the work alone; the text says she is a hard worker, etc.) What is the result of their not helping? (They are not allowed to eat any of the bread).” However, teacher guidance for open-ended questions, such as “Do you think this is fair?” is limited to directing teachers to “pause for discussion” and to “use guiding questions below to help” if students struggle with verbalizing their responses.
In “Writing Extensions—Sam Tips the Lamps,” students answer questions posed by the teacher. They are asked to take turns, speak one at a time, and ask clarifying questions. The lesson script includes sentence stems to use in helping students generate questions (“What was your favorite part? My favorite part was…”), but it does not support the teacher in facilitating collaborative discussion. For example, there are no listed protocols such as Turn and Talk or Think, Pair, Share; rubrics or checklists for what grade-appropriate discussion might look like; or scripts for the teacher to use in modeling and teaching collaborative discussion.
In “Writing Extension 5: Fred Has Ten Hens (prompt 3),” students think and write about a farm they have visited. Students think about what they saw, tasted, smelled, heard, and touched while on the farm and use a story web to organize their thoughts. Then, they share their story web with a partner to discuss areas where more details could be added before writing their description of a farm. This lesson is an independent activity, and there is no protocol for the discussion between student pairs.
The materials provide short-term opportunities but not sustained or recursive opportunities for students to generate questions and gather information from relevant sources. Research assignments appear in stand-alone lessons and do not build into contexts or cumulative tasks. They include limited support for students to identify relevant sources based on their questions and limited support for students to understand, organize, and communicate ideas and information. Guidance for teachers to support students in developing research skills is limited to what is implicit in step-by-step handouts and fillable templates. The materials do not provide explicit instruction in research skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Kindergarten Research Plan” supports instruction for students to generate and follow a research plan; however, it is not connected to or listed as a resource for any kindergarten materials.
In the Kindergarten Research Plan, students first list topics about which they want to learn more and then generate questions about a chosen topic. In “Part 3: Sources,” students list two places where they may find answers to their research questions, such as the library or internet, and then complete a table with the names and locations of specific sources. In “Part 4: Gathering Information,” students use their sources to take notes and organize information that will help answer the research question. The materials include charts to record the facts and corresponding page numbers found in each source. Students use another chart to sort the information gathered from sources into at least three categories in Part 5. Materials caution students: “Be sure to write the sentences using your own words, not the exact words from your sources.” Finally, students write a research paper including the following elements (provided as a checklist for teachers): interesting beginning sentence; a paragraph to introduce the topic; facts and details to answer the question; a closing sentence.
“Writing Prompt 3” of the stand-alone lesson “Writing Extensions 6: My Dog Has Fleas” asks students to consider “What is a pest?” and identify a pest they would like to research. This prompt is an opportunity for students to engage with information about pests to understand the concept. The “KWLS Research Graphic Organizer” is provided as a resource for this writing extension, but it is not explicitly listed as a tool to be used with Writing Prompt 3. Questions in the chart imply students generate research questions: “K—What do I know about the topic?” “W—What do I want to know, or what questions do I have?” The materials direct students to work in pairs to generate at least four questions to answer, but there is no evidence of guidance for students on how to formulate questions. The lesson directs students, broadly, to use the internet and library as information resources. Instructions do not include guidance such as criteria for choosing credible internet sources, categories or genres of books to look for, or what to do if a relevant book is unavailable. Students record “source title” and “location” on a printable two-column chart, but the Kindergarten Research Plan lacks explicit instructions on how to use this document during the research activity. The lesson culminates with students illustrating and writing about their findings and sharing with a partner.
Questions and tasks are designed for students to build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language; tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. Teacher-directed lessons include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Students have opportunities to complete interconnected tasks related to a single text, including reading, discussing, and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In “Cycle 2,” “Read with Meaning 2,” students learn to comprehend words that are read. The direct teaching portion of the lesson begins with the teacher saying aloud a sentence (“See the cat sit.”). The teacher writes it for students to see and thinks aloud about the meaning of each word. The teacher displays pictures for students and thinks aloud, finding the best match for the sentence. The teacher continues using the think-aloud procedure to model the meaning of each word in a sentence by discussing unfamiliar vocabulary with the eight sentences. Students then practice matching pictures to sentences during guided practice; the teacher asks questions to scaffold student thinking. This section includes two practice sentences for students, and a reteach section provides one sentence for students requiring additional instruction. The lesson includes an independent practice sheet in which students practice matching three sentences with pictures.
The Cycle 4 “Comprehension Lesson Packet” presents two lessons, each designed to be delivered over two days in a small group setting with students of similar levels. On the first day of “Lesson 1: The Green Team,” the teacher introduces the book and guides student discussion. There is a picture walk with scripted questions such as “Do you think this story is fiction, which means made-up, or nonfiction, which means true? What do you think this story is about? What predictions can you make about the problem of the story?” The teacher records students’ predictions on a three-column chart and tells students they will revisit the chart after reading the text. Students “pay attention to the movie that [their] mind creates” as they read, with support as needed. Students have speaking opportunities when they volunteer to retell the story. The teacher rereads two pages, with students listening and drawing the movies in their minds. After reading, students co-create a group sentence about the text; the teacher states the sentence, and students write the dictated sentence. On Day 2 of the lesson, students reread independently, and individual students retell the story. The teacher points out punctuation in the text and facilitates choral reading for fluency practice. The teacher facilitates the guided practice of visualizing with two pages of text before students practice the skill independently with a third page. Finally, students practice reassembling and reading the group sentence from the previous lesson, presented as a cut-up sentence.
The materials include teacher-directed writing lessons that include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax. In these lessons, students respond to multiple prompts related to a text to demonstrate comprehension. In “Writing Extensions—My Dog Has Fleas,” students record the characters, setting, problem, and solution of My Dog Has Fleas on a story map. After discussing what a pest is, students write answers to the following questions: “Why are the fleas pests? What do the fleas do to the dog? How does the boy get rid of the fleas?” Using a sequence graphic organizer, students write a step-by-step explanation of what they would do to rid their dog of fleas.
In “Writing Extensions—The Toads Are Lost,” students write or draw pictures to sequence story events. The materials provide sentence frames to assist students in writing or speaking clearly. Later, students ensure they have written complete sentences with correct punctuation and look for places to replace nouns with pronouns before trading work with a partner.
During the “Revise and Edit” portion of each writing lesson, students offer feedback using questions such as “What was your favorite part?” and “How could it be improved?”
The scope and sequence indicates some standards are repeatedly addressed within and across units while others are addressed only once. While some teacher-directed lessons with integrated literacy skills include options for scaffolding and additional practice within the lesson, they do not offer the rigor required to meet the full intent of standards over the year. The materials show evidence of the integration of literacy skills that spiral over a few days, not over the school year. Due to the adaptive nature of the program, students receive skill instruction that they need rather than spiraled practice.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Examples of distributed practice across the year include vocabulary, listening, and sentence comprehension in “Cycles 1—11.” “Comprehension Lesson 1—Making Predictions,” “Writing Extension 1: Sam Tips the Lamp,” “Story Elements: Where is Coco and Wake Up!” and “Comprehension Packets” of Cycles 3–6 and 9 all provide practice in making predictions. Cycles 3–10 contain comprehension lesson packets that address identifying characters and setting in a story.
However, the program’s scope and sequence documentation shows distributed practice for only some literacy skills over the course of the year. For example, materials address vocabulary skills, such as “expand vocabulary through listening to meaningful texts and use vocabulary that is taught directly” in all seven cycles of instruction for kindergarten, yet they address the following reading comprehension skills in just one cycle each: “identify where and when a story takes place” (Cycle 3); “identify characters in a story” (Cycle 4); “sequence story events” (Cycle 5); “identify the main idea and supporting details” (Cycle 6). Additionally, materials provide only one teacher-directed lesson for most literacy skills, limiting support for distributed practice over the course of the year.
The materials provide a limited number of teacher-directed lessons as scaffolds and supports, including options for additional practice for students. While Cycles 1 through 7 spiral multiple vocabulary skills (e.g., “categorize vocabulary using pictures to create sentences with high-frequency words”), teacher-directed lessons for supplemental instruction in the area of vocabulary appear in the scope and sequence only for skills presented in Cycle 1, “sort pictures into categories”; and Cycle 2, “use knowledge of prepositions and prepositional phrases to follow directions.”
The scope and sequence indicates that the kindergarten standard for identifying and describing the main character(s) (ELA.K.7.B) is addressed once, in Cycle 4. Similarly, materials provide one teacher-directed lesson to address this standard. In “Lesson 70, Characteristics of Characters,” students practice paying attention to what characters do and say to describe their characteristics. The lesson includes explicit modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. First, the teacher reads a story aloud and elicits responses to questions about the characters to complete a chart. Then, in guided practice, the teacher and students read a second story together and complete a chart. Students listen to a third story read aloud and independently complete a graphic organizer in which they glue a picture of each character and write down the character’s words, actions, and characteristics. While this lesson provides scaffolding to support students through the gradual release model, materials do not support repeated practice with this skill over the course of the year, either through computer-based cycles of instruction or teacher-directed lessons.
The materials’ design includes the spiraling of some integrated literacy skills over the school year. While program documentation indicates some skills will be repeatedly addressed, no evidence of scaffolding of skills within and across cycles of instruction to ensure that students master the full intent of kindergarten standards was found. For example, materials spiral the skill “distinguish fiction from nonfiction” in Cycles 5 and 6, but there is no evidence that the instructional materials include scaffolds and supports for additional practice.
The materials provide explicit instruction, including connected text, in some but not all print awareness skills as defined by the TEKS (e.g., the return sweep, and the recognition of the difference between a letter and a word). Materials provide opportunities for students to connect print awareness knowledge to texts through independent reading activities embedded in comprehension lesson packets. Students have the opportunity to listen to the teacher’s instruction on the parts of a book, collect environmental print artifacts, and apply their knowledge of print concepts to interactions with printed books.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In “Environmental Print: Recognizing Letters (ABC Book),” the teacher shares examples of environmental print. They remind students of their collections of environmental print and ask them to examine the samples: “What are some things you notice…?” The teacher “checks for students with difficulty” and draws attention to font sizes, shapes, colors, etc. Later in the lesson, the teacher guides students in recognizing the print environment using examples from their own home or neighborhood, reinforcing the concepts of letters and words. Students use these environmental print examples during independent practice to create their own “environmental print ABC books.” Students work with a partner to find at least three examples of environmental print for each letter. While teacher instructions in the lesson allude to earlier tasks and learning about environmental print, no evidence of preceding lessons about environmental print was found.
Explicit instruction on letters and letter formation is in the “Cycles,” with a subset of letters addressed in each. Cycles 1–7 address all 26 letters of the alphabet: Cycles 1–3 address uppercase and lowercase letters Cc, Aa, Mm, Pp, Ss, Tt, Ll, Ii, Oo, Nn, Rr, Dd; Cycles 4–7 address uppercase and lowercase letters Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Bb, Jj, Uu, Ww, Kk, Y,y Zz, Vv, Qq, Xx.
Letter lessons include various activities such as mnemonics, analysis of visual characteristics, and explicit instruction in letter formation. In Cycle 5, “Letter Lesson J1,” the teacher shows students the uppercase and lowercase Jj and tells them to think of jungle for uppercase and jellybeans for lowercase. Students compare and contrast the physical features of both versions of the letter and then listen as the teacher instructs: “To write capital J, I start at the top on the line. I pull my pencil down and curve around on the baseline. Then cross the top.” Students practice air writing the letter with their pencils. There is teacher guidance to narrate the movements so students can form an internal monologue for writing the letter. The process is repeated for lowercase j. For independent practice, there is teacher guidance to present students with multiple opportunities to practice writing target letters, including sand writing, stick and stem writing, noodle writing, yarn writing, and clay writing. Finally, students use a printable handout for handwriting practice.
In Cycle 3, “Day 2: Lamps,” students recreate a “cut apart” sentence, including ending punctuation. This activity provides an opportunity to recognize that sentences are composed of words separated by spaces and to recognize word boundaries.
During Cycle 4, “Comprehension Lesson 1: The Green Team,” students observe the teacher introduce parts of the book. The teacher explains that the first part of the book is the front cover and points to it; then, the teacher asks, “What information does the front cover give us?” The teacher shows the back cover and reminds students that books include different information on the back cover. Then, the teacher intentionally passes out copies of The Green Team in a manner that forces them to demonstrate an understanding of directionality and front/back covers. The teacher asks which direction the pages should be turned during a picture walk. The teacher corrects directionality issues by “modeling top to bottom and left to right directionality.”
In Cycle 5, “Comprehension Lesson Packet” provides a two-day lesson plan covering two texts. This packet’s stated instructional activities and tasks include comprehension, book discussion, dictation, retell, and word work activities, but not print awareness. However, the lesson does have some support for print awareness through teacher script and instructions. In “Lesson 1: Fun at Home,” the teacher inquires about the text genre (fiction or nonfiction), then points out different parts of the book and what information each contains. Students also learn how to properly hold a book: “To take a picture walk, we need to hold our books correctly and turn the pages the right direction.” Students then practice appropriate directionality by taking a picture walk using teacher-provided books. The teacher provides support in left-to-right and top-to-bottom directionality if needed. This process is repeated in “Lesson 2: Raindrops.”
In “Phonics: Lesson 1, Letter Discrimination,” the teacher plays a game with students called “Who has the letter?” The teacher holds up a lowercase letter, and students have to match it with the corresponding capital letter. If matching the letters is a challenge, the teacher provides visual discrimination cues to scaffold learning. For example, “The capital letter T has a straight line going up and down and another straight line resting on top.” The game is played to match all capital letters to lowercase letters and vice versa. The game is repeated for guided practice. Students work in pairs to play the matching game during independent practice, and the teacher provides affirmation or corrective feedback.
In Cycle 2, in a book and print awareness (BPA) lesson, the computer guides students through explicit instruction in connecting print awareness to a story. The narrator instructs the students to identify parts of the book by clicking on them before reading it aloud. The narrator states, “Look at page 1, click on the end of the first sentence. Good thinking, you remembered a sentence ends with a period.” In Cycle 3, in a BPA lesson, the narrator instructs the students to identify parts of the book by clicking on them before reading it aloud. The narrator also reads the sentences using a highlighted tracker for the students to follow along. In Cycle 5, in a BPA lesson, the narrator reads the sentences using a highlighted tracker for students to follow along.
The materials have opportunities for students to practice listening, speaking, and responding; however, the opportunities are not always for the express purpose of foundational skills development. While materials provide opportunities for students to practice phonemic awareness skills, teacher-directed lessons do not provide opportunities for students to practice each newly taught sound and sound pattern aligned to the TEKS.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The publisher’s list of materials does not include teacher-directed lessons aligned to practicing oral language skills such as restating and following oral directions or developing social communication. While students have opportunities to actively listen and respond to questions about story elements in the “Cycle 3 Comprehension Packet,” materials do not provide opportunities to practice oral language activities as related to foundational skills development. During the “Book Discussion,” students listen while the teacher discusses story elements (character, problem, setting) and models thinking. Then, students respond to questions, including “What is Tad’s problem in this story? When does this story happen? And where does this story happen?” While there are opportunities for students to use oral language in engaging with texts, language use is prescribed and strictly focused on teacher-provided prompts with no evidence of student-generated or spontaneous language interaction.
Materials provide some explicit instruction and opportunities for students to practice some newly taught sound and phoneme patterns. Teacher-directed lessons follow a research-based gradual release model with multiple practice opportunities embedded into each lesson. Each cycle lesson follows the same format for explicit instruction: “Teach, Guided Practice, Reteach Opportunity, Monitor Progress/Independent Practice.”
In Cycle 0, “Lesson 6, Segmenting Spoken Words” provides opportunities for students to practice segmenting phonemes in CVC words. The teacher shows students a picture of a man and three sound boxes under the picture. The teacher models by touching each box and breaking the word man into three phonemes. The teacher says: “Put your finger on the picture of the man. See the three sound boxes under the man. The beginning sound in man is /m/. The middle sound in man is /aaa/. The ending sound in man is /n/. Great! We have taken the word man apart! It has three sounds: /m /, /aaa/, /n/.” After the teacher models with the word man, students repeat the process with the word dig. The teacher affirms as students touch each soundbox and say /d/ /i/ /g/. Students continue practicing with teacher support with the remaining four pictures on the “Sound Pictures” resource included in the lesson, for a total of six practice opportunities. Students then practice the skill independently by listening to the teacher say a word broken up into sounds and identifying the corresponding picture. For example, the teacher says /n/ /u/ /t/, and students circle the picture of a nut.
In Cycle 1, “Lesson 2, Segment Sounds in Spoken Words” provides explicit instruction in segmenting spoken words into syllables. First, the teacher displays a picture card of a cat and claps once for the syllable while saying the word cat. Again, the teacher models with a flower picture card and explains, “I heard two beats in flower, so I clapped two times. Did you also hear two beats in flow | er?” Students clap with the teacher, and the teacher asks, “How many beats, or syllables, does flower have?” Materials direct the teacher to “pause and then affirm correct answers.” During guided practice, the teacher displays two picture cards at a time, a one-syllable word and a two-syllable word, and leads students in counting syllables via multiple methods, including clapping, touching the chin, stomping, or shaking a maraca.
The materials include a sequence of grade-level foundational skills, but the phonics patterns are not consistently introduced in a manner that builds sequentially. Students have opportunities to apply phonetic knowledge in decodable texts, but explicit practice tasks exist in isolation, and program texts are not cross-referenced to specific phonics concepts. Students have the opportunity to read high-frequency words in and out of context and to build some spelling knowledge.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include scope and sequence documents indicating sufficient practice opportunities to achieve grade-level mastery. For example, students “apply letter/sound correspondence to blend and decode CVC words” in Cycles 1 through 5; “blend individual phonemes to create words using all previously taught letters and sounds” in Cycles 2 through 7; and “decode words in isolation using all letter/sound correspondence previously taught with regularly spelled words” in Cycles 1 through 7.
While the cycle and unit descriptions found in the online “Interactive User’s Guide” indicate the specific skills presented in each cycle, the sequence of instruction from one cycle to the next does not follow a sequence aligned to the systematic acquisition of grade-level skills. For example, Cycles 1 and 2 introduce short vowel sounds for a and i; Cycle 3 introduces the short vowel for e along with long vowel spellings ai and oa; and Cycle 4 introduces short vowel u along with long vowel spellings ee and ea.
Students have some opportunities to apply grade-level phonetic knowledge to connected texts (e.g., decodable readers) through the books in each cycle. In Cycle 1, students learn to decode CVC words and then apply the skill while reading decodable texts Mac and Cam and Pam and Cam (Cycle 1), Pam and the Cap (Cycle 2), and Bug in the Mud (Cycle 5). The books can be downloaded and printed for classroom use. The Cycle 3 “Comprehension Lesson Packet” provides decodable texts in the three books used for the teacher-directed lessons: Lamps, On the Dot, and Trips with My Family. The Cycle 5 Comprehension Lesson Packet also includes decodable texts—Fun at Home and Raindrops. However, the materials do not provide guidance or explicit connection between texts and phonics lessons. Wake Up! gives students “practice reading connected text containing long vowels with silent e and words with the chunk -are as in scare,” but no corresponding lessons address the skills.
Materials provide explicit instruction in 29 grade-level high-frequency words through cycle-specific lessons; these introduce four or five words at a time in Cycles 1 through 7. The teacher-directed lesson for Cycle 1 gives students practice with high-frequency words and, the, see, and has in isolation and in context. The teacher introduces the number of letters and syllables; then, students identify a deleted letter in each word. Students then practice writing each high-frequency word, saying each letter as they write. The lesson builds across three days. On the first and third days, students practice rapidly reading and writing high-frequency words in isolation. On the second day, students practice reading the words in two rhymes—“Hey, Diddle Diddle” and “Who Has Seen the Wind?” The Cycle 5 “Comprehension Lesson 1: Fun at Home” teacher notes state: “This book contains decodable and high-frequency words that are shown in the chart above. If students do not have control of the majority of high-frequency words, then read the book aloud while students follow along.”
As an adaptive curriculum, the materials provide lessons and instruction based on individualized student needs. A scope and sequence document presents a list of phonics skills addressed in Cycles 1—7. An example lesson from Cycle 1, “Letter Lesson A3: Sound-Symbol Correspondence,” introduces the letters m, a, p, and c. Then, in Cycle 2, “Letter/Sound,” students receive phonics instruction for the letters t, i, s, and l. In Cycle 2, “Lesson 19 Read CVC Words with Short i,” students practice decoding closed-syllable, short vowel words; later, in “Tier 2: CVCC Blends Practice—FLOSS,” they decode more complex spellings.
Materials include lessons to build spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS. Teacher-directed lessons focus on specific spelling patterns. In Cycle 2, “Spelling Lesson, Letter Focus T, I, S, L,” provides instruction in spelling words using target letters and knowledge of previously learned letters. The teacher models stretching out the sounds in the word it, counts the sounds in the word, determines which letter comes first and next, and finally spells the word using Elkonin boxes. This process is repeated with the words sit and lit. During guided practice, the teacher calls out a word, and students build the word using teacher-provided letter tiles; students then check it against the spelling the teacher writes on the board. For independent practice, students independently spell words called out by the teacher. An extension activity accompanying the lesson involves using letters already learned (C, A, T, S, M, P) to spell and manipulate letters in words in an activity called “Break and Make.” First, the teacher calls out letters for students to identify; then, students are guided to build a word (cat) and switch the letter c for the letter m to change the word to mat.
Most teacher-directed lessons present isolated practice of grade-level phonetic knowledge. In Cycle 2, “Lesson 19,” students practice reading CVC words with short i using letter cards. The teacher explicitly models tapping each letter card, saying its sound, and blending the sounds to read the words sit and lit. There is then guided practice with lip, sit, mat, cat, sat, tip, and lit. Students listen to each word in a sentence and build words for independent practice.
The Cycle 5 “Spelling Lesson” follows the same format as Cycle 2 “Lesson 19”: students spell words using letters B, U, J, W, adding letters they previously learned (M, A, P, C; T, I, S, L; R, O, N, D; E, F, G, H). The teacher introduces each letter and sound using mnemonic cards. The card for Bb shows two buttons forming the uppercase letter B and a bat and ball forming the lowercase letter b.
The materials include support and direction for teachers to track students’ progress in a foundational skill domain generally. However, the materials do not have the information necessary to monitor students’ growth and mastery of specific skills (e.g., skill gaps in phonetic knowledge). Assessments yield meaningful information for teachers to use when planning small group instruction and differentiation, but they do not have all the foundational skills required for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program includes ongoing assessment opportunities of the “skills most critical to early reading: phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge and skills, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.” The “Reading Program Description” explains that the reports are generated based on computer-adaptive student assessment results. They provide teachers with information regarding “individual students, subgroups, demographics, and performance levels.” Reports “inform teachers’ decision-making and intervention strategies,...and generate data that supports teachers in creating differentiated learning groups.” The program includes assessments for phonemic awareness but not phonological awareness; there is also no assessment for oral language or print concepts.
The “Help” section of the website includes a sample report and an explanation for each type of report. The Priority Report “helps identify students who will benefit from further intervention and provides links to teacher-directed lessons and supplemental materials.” The report groups students for small group or whole group lessons (with links to teacher-directed lessons for intervention) based on performance in the monthly “ISIP” assessment and “Cycles of Instruction.” The program requires teachers to record in the online portal the date of any lesson delivered, along with relevant notes. The note becomes part of the student’s intervention history, following them from year to year. This documentation supports planning for instruction and differentiation in response to assessment data.
Teachers may access multiple reports summarizing students’ monthly, benchmark, or on-demand assessments, to support them in understanding students’ progress and mastery of foundational skills content presented within the computer-adaptive program. For example, the “Skill Growth” report shows student growth in letter knowledge and spelling domains over time. While this report shows progress overall in response to instruction and interventions, it does not include detail on specific skill gaps, such as which letter names or sounds are not yet mastered or which specific spelling patterns a student has not mastered. The sample Skill Growth report is for a grade 1 student, highlighting the “Spelling” section of the report. There are monthly ability scores and trend lines for growth overall, but there are no details on skill gaps or strengths for specific spelling patterns to inform instruction.
The materials provide teacher-directed foundational skill lessons directing teachers to assess students’ growth and mastery by providing practice opportunities and observing and charting progress. In “Phonological/Phonemic Awareness: Syllables 3,” materials direct the teacher to “distribute the Independent Practice page for students and explain that they will say each picture’s name and clap the syllables for that word.” The lesson includes a teacher observation page for taking anecdotal notes on student reading behaviors and skills.
The materials have reporting features that support teachers with some limited guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs, based on assessments appropriate to the grade level. The materials do not include assessment opportunities to assess students’ understanding of print concepts. The materials have limited assessment opportunities to assess phonological awareness and phonetic knowledge.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials automatically place students in the program’s online adaptive curriculum based on a monthly computer-adaptive assessment. The “Reading Program Description” explains this assessment “helps teachers identify student needs for struggling learners to advanced learners.” The same document explains the reports generated as a result of monthly assessments help teachers “see which specific skills the student struggles with and provide targeted instruction for individuals or small groups. Reports automatically link to additional lessons for further intervention.” Reports show general progress in broad skill domains, such as phonemic awareness. Still, they do not include details on students’ mastery of specific sub-skills of a domain, such as rhyming or phoneme manipulation.
The program includes a “Priority Report” detailing recommended resources for intervention based on monthly assessment results. Here, teachers find recommendations for student grouping and lessons aligned to the skill or grade level. The program determines students’ performance and guidance for modifications based on student needs.
According to the Reading Program Description, computer-adaptive assessments for kindergarten include letter knowledge and phonemic awareness, but not phonological awareness. However, teacher-directed lessons listed in alignment with phonological awareness include a section called “Monitor Progress Through Independent Practice.” For example, in “Foundations Lesson 5, Alliteration,” materials direct teachers to provide multiple practice opportunities for students to demonstrate skill mastery and to observe and chart progress. The lesson also provides a reteach opportunity for students requiring more instruction and practice. While formative assessment is present within individual lessons, materials do not include regular and systematic assessment opportunities to assess student understanding of phonological awareness and to help students progress toward grade-level mastery.
In kindergarten, assessments of phonetic knowledge are limited to computer-adaptive analysis of letter knowledge. The students click on the letter (among a field of several letters, both capital and lowercase) that corresponds to the letter name or letter sound they hear. There are neither spelling nor alphabetic decoding assessments in the kindergarten materials. In addition, the materials do not include assessment opportunities for print concepts.
The materials provide some learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level, specifically in the “Writing Extension” lessons and in the course of the computer-based, individualized program. However, materials provide limited opportunities for teachers to engage students in more sophisticated work than their current grade level demands. The materials focus and prioritize planning opportunities on interventions for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level, as evidenced in the various reports generated by the program, along with the data-driven lessons embedded in them. There is no evidence of an explicit method to designate students as performing above grade level, nor is there a detailed plan for learning opportunities for this group of students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program uses an adaptive curriculum, which places students on a personalized instructional pathway based on their performance on monthly assessments. In this way, students demonstrating proficiency above grade level have differentiated learning opportunities to demonstrate working independently in the online program.
The “Early Reading Technical Manual” in the materials notes that students scoring above the 40th percentile in these assessments are Tier 1 and “on track or performing above grade level.” However, the materials do not include an explicit or specific plan for students performing above grade level.
The reporting templates and capabilities of the program all emphasize the needs of students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. As explained in the “Reports” section of “Program Description”: “Teachers can see which specific skills the student struggles with and provide targeted instruction for individuals or small groups. Reports automatically link to additional lessons for further intervention.” This report supports teachers in planning small group and whole group instruction for students needing additional support to meet grade-level expectations. However, the priority report (or any other report) does not similarly provide planning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. A teacher can use the report to identify students who need extensions and differentiation, but it does not provide recommendations or resources for upward scaffolds.
As noted in the Program Description, the “Assignments” feature “enables teachers to assign additional practice activities to individuals or small groups of students for completion at home or school. These lessons can be used for extra practice after an assessment or for students to work on at home.” It is unclear whether these assignments are designed to engage students in more sophisticated work and explore more learning or provide additional assignments. Additionally, it is unclear whether materials include specific support for teachers to select assignments for groups of students. The materials do not explain any linkages between the Assignments feature and program reporting.
The grade-level equivalencies of the program’s “Cycles of Instruction” overlap. Cycles 3–7 are aligned to both kindergarten and grade 1; Cycles 5–7 are aligned to kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2; and Cycles 7–10 are aligned to both grade 1 and grade 2. There is no explicit guidance in the materials for teachers to use this information to assign or provide instruction in skills that may be considered “above grade level” based on these cycle alignments.
The materials’ “Stages of Reading” document details the characteristics of readers and texts as well as their approximate corresponding Lexile levels. The document states, “Having a variety of resources that cover skills and strategies at different stages of reading gives educators flexibility to effectively differentiate instruction.” However, it is incumbent upon the teacher to seek out this information and devise a plan of instruction for students who demonstrate literacy skills above their expected grade level.
Teacher-directed “Writing Extensions” lessons provide some opportunities for students who demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency to investigate grade-level content in greater depth. In “Prompt 3” of “Writing Extension L: My Dog Has Fleas,” students choose a pest to research and then work with a partner to generate questions. Students then research the answers to their questions and illustrate or write to show what they learned about the pest. In “Writing Extension 4,” teachers assign prompts based on student understanding and needs. Students use higher-order thinking in “Prompt 3” to create a “KWL” chart with a partner. Partners share in the research process to answer their questions and synthesize their findings in writing.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. Assessment reports aid teachers in identifying students struggling with grade-level materials. The materials include small group lessons for students who perform below grade level to meet the grade-level literacy standards. Materials provide planning guides for teachers and opportunities for teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Through three main features (reports, “Teacher Resources,” and “Teacher Station”), the materials guide teachers in identifying students needing intervention and planning for blended learning opportunities that utilize both teacher-directed and web-based lessons in closing performance gaps. The “Priority Report” lists students needing support in specific Istation cycles and reading skills, as evidenced by performance in computer-adaptive assessment and interactive instruction. Students scoring at or below the tenth percentile are highlighted to indicate a need for critical intervention. The report hyperlinks to scripted lessons in PDF format, to be delivered in whole group, small group, or one-on-one settings as needed. Additionally, the Priority Report outlines intervention lessons for each area for students in Tier 3. In this report, the teacher finds a “History” of interventions, which includes the lesson provided and teacher notes on student performance. In the “Cycles 1–2” Priority Report on letter recognition, students learn to read and write letters. During the guided teaching portion of the lesson, students read the target letters (M, A, P, C), then follow teacher directions/modeling for writing the letters. Students practice writing multiple times using two methods: air-writing and writing on their palms with their fingers. Students read and write the target letter during independent practice, and the teacher monitors and observes using the teacher observation page. A “Priority Alert” on the Priority Report for kindergarten directs a teacher to utilize “Cycle 5, Reading With Meaning 5.” This lesson uses picture cards to develop comprehension and provides a teacher script for explicit instruction, guided practice, reteach, and independent practice.
The “Classroom Summary Report” provides data on cycle and skill performance. Teachers use the summary to find and assign learning opportunities through the Teacher Station. When students log in to Istation, the assignments appear in a backpack. This feature can be used to give students standalone or multistep assignments as reteach opportunities, workstation activities, small group instruction, and partner work. The “Reading Student Summary Report” provides skill insight into students in Tier 3. The report shows students’ ability level for the following components of literacy: “Overall Reading, Text Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Word Analysis, Vocabulary.”
After students take the “ISIP,” students are placed on a pathway based on their performance within the “Imagination Station.” Furthermore, teachers access a list of small group lessons as interventions for use in improving students’ performance in the following components: “Overall Reading, Text Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Word Analysis, Vocabulary.” Lessons can be used in a whole group setting or as an intervention for students who have not mastered skills. Lesson 34 includes focused support on the skill of understanding setting. The teacher explicitly models how to identify the setting and guides students to complete the skill using picture clues. As students complete the independent practice activity, the teacher assesses mastery. As identified by either report or teacher observation, the lesson provides support through the reteach activity for those students performing below grade. Students in this differentiated activity listen to a story as they read it aloud and choose the setting from two pictures.
Istation provides many articles that teachers can search based on keywords. This IUG (Istation User Guide) article gives teachers insight on how to group their students effectively. Small groups are created based on formative assessment data. The group consists of students who share a common instructional need. The teacher addresses the common need of the small group through guided instruction. The IUG also provides articles to help teachers set up their literacy workstations, giving small group suggestions, and understanding Istation's interactive instruction.
Lessons and activities include some strategies and scaffolds that can benefit English Learners (ELs) (i.e., sequenced, scaffolded instruction and visual supports), but the lessons do not provide linguistic accommodations commensurate with various levels of English proficiency as defined by the ELPS. While pictures are included in materials as a comprehension strategy for all students, materials do not provide scaffolds such as adapted text, translations, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, and/or other modes of comprehensible input. There is a Spanish-based reading program, but the English materials do not encourage strategic use of Spanish or any other first languages as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. While materials include lessons and activities that target vocabulary acquisition, the program provides limited opportunities for vocabulary development in the context of connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include an alignment document titled “Reading: Texas English Language Proficiency Standards,” which shows the correspondence between lessons and the Texas ELPS. Lessons may be designated as EL “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” or “Advanced High.” However, most do not include explicit instructions for EL accommodations commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS.
The lesson “Environmental Print: Recognizing Signs” is designated as appropriate for Emergent/Beginner ELs and above. The lesson is a two-day plan involving an explanation of the term environmental print by the teacher, an introduction to street signs, a walk around the neighborhood to find signs, and a matching game played with a partner. On Day 2, the students learn about positional words. The lesson does not include instructions for linguistic accommodation. In “Identify and Use Direction Words,” students follow the teacher’s directions to move in specific directions, but there are no particular accommodations for ELs, despite the lesson’s designation as being “appropriate for ELL students.”
The “Suggested Uses of Vocabulary Category Cards” document compiles vocabulary instruction activities, “particularly for ELLs”; however, most of the activities require prior knowledge of the vocabulary word meanings. The activities may be inaccessible to ELs at varying levels of language proficiency.
In Cycle 2, the teacher-directed “Lesson 24, Reading for Meaning” directs the teacher to explicitly model how to comprehend at the word and sentence levels and use pictures for support, but it does not provide linguistic accommodations commensurate with various levels of English proficiency as defined by the ELPS. ELs can only incidentally benefit from the sequenced, scaffolded instruction and visual supports in the lesson.
While the materials provide opportunities for students to listen, speak, read, and write, there was no evidence found of encouragement of the strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English.
There was no evidence found of scaffolds such as adapted text, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, or other modes of comprehensible input.
The materials include assessments and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress. Assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis; reports provide support to interpret and respond to student performance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Program Description” document accompanying materials describes program assessments as “universal screeners and progress-monitoring tools” that “inform instructional decision-making and intervention strategies appropriate for students.” Materials include a correlation document, “Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS English Language Arts and Read Grades PK-5,” which indicates how each subtest of the program’s monthly assessment aligns to TEKS expectations. For example, the phonemic awareness assessment is aligned to student expectations for phoneme blending and manipulation.
The program automatically administers a monthly computer-adaptive assessment to students during their first online session of each month. The materials present the initial, middle, and last monthly assessments of the school year as summative, benchmark assessments aligned to the “RTI framework.” The assessment is designed to assist teachers in identifying students in need of intervention. The beginning-of-year assessment identifies students with “potential reading problems.” The middle-of-year assessment determines whether students are “making adequate progress” or require further support. The end-of-year benchmark assesses whether students have “achieved grade-level reading standards.”
The same computer-adaptive tool serves as a formative measure. ISIP (Istation's Indicators of Progress) is an automated computer adaptive testing (CAT) system that automatically assigns a monthly assessment to each student (unless otherwise specified through the ISIP Configuration Settings). It can be given more often if desired. The monthly assessments are given the first time a student logs on during a calendar month. For example, if a student logs in on September 1, an ISIP Assessment will be given. If the student does not log in until September 15, an ISIP Assessment will still be given when the student logs in. Additional On Demand Assessments can be given at any time during the school year. ISIP Assessments can be used as benchmarks and as continuous progress monitoring tools. The monthly assessment uses “a sophisticated, adaptive algorithm” to select items based on student ability without considering age or grade level. Question difficulty increases or decreases based on previous responses. Kindergarten monthly assessments include listening comprehension, phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, and oral reading fluency.
Materials automatically score assessments and include the option to review individual student selections and response time, giving sufficient support to interpret and respond to student performance. The “Student Summary Handout” report charts student progress in each grade-level subtest, month to month, using a line graph. The student’s “ability index score” falls within a Tier 1, 2, or 3 range. This report can be generated in English or Spanish and shared with parents. The “Priority Report” lists students in groups according to a common skill need and links to teacher-directed lessons for targeted instruction. The “Program Description” states that “teachers can make immediate data-driven decisions from color-coded reports based on the Hasbrouck & Tindal (2017) national norms.”
While teachers can refer to the program materials using website search functions, a comprehensive teacher edition is not included. The program provides an adaptive curriculum in which students progress through “Cycles” of learning, aligned to their individual needs and independent of age or grade level. While this provides differentiation, it is unclear whether individual student pathways guarantee to work with grade-level materials to ensure success. Teacher-directed lessons provide support for students needing additional support but not necessarily for other groups. Ancillary materials, including digital applications, provide support for students and guidance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Reading Program Description” explains how students’ entry points in the adaptive curriculum align to “demonstrated ability levels.” Based on monthly assessment results, students are “seamlessly placed” into the program’s online adaptive curriculum and follow “an individualized path at their own pace.” Activities in this digital curriculum provide reteach opportunities as well as accelerated paths, based on the results of “embedded skill checks.” “Instructional Tier Goals” provides a year-long (August–July) view of the program’s proprietary benchmark “ability index scores” for grouping students by tier.
The materials do not provide a year-long plan of delivery for teacher-directed instruction. There are no supporting documents to indicate how teacher-directed lessons provide comprehensive instruction and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. These lessons are presented as stand-alone supplements to the online adaptive program, intended for use in response to ongoing assessment data and reports, rather than as part of an overarching plan for instruction. While some teacher-directed lessons include annotations that provide support for differentiated pacing and grouping strategies, many teacher-directed lessons do not. For example, the Cycle 3 “Comprehension Lesson Packet” includes notes for each of its two-day-long lessons. The teacher downloads the printable books. The materials remind the teacher that the lessons are intended for a small group of students with the same instructional needs. Preparation annotations include the number of various letter tiles needed for each student (e.g., three letter a’s, one letter s, one t). Also, in Cycle 4, “Comprehension Lesson 2: Jean and Dean” explains the text “contains decodable and high-frequency words that are shown in the chart above. If students do not have control of the majority of high-frequency words, then read the book aloud while students follow along.”
The materials do not include a teacher edition or comparable resources to provide a comprehensive overview of lessons or support for engaging students in the materials. Teachers may use the online search function in the “Teacher Resources” section of the program website to find materials.
Individual teacher-directed lessons include some annotations, which are primarily instructions at the beginning of a lesson packet, rather than notes or guidance throughout the document. Lesson instructions may include an overview of lesson design (teach, guided practice, independent practice, and reteach), directions for grouping students, and steps for presenting lessons to tiered groups of students. While not clearly stated, teacher-directed lessons correlate to the assessment strands within the program’s “Instructional Tier Groupings” document. This document includes guidance to present lessons to small groups of students. If “66% of the students in a class are struggling with the skill...warm up and guided practice lesson components” can be presented as whole group lessons.
The program includes digital applications for both independent student practice and whole or small group lessons presented by teachers. “Teacher Station” includes games and activities for skill instruction and practice.
Materials also include resources for at-home use. Students may “continue on their individualized learning path” or engage in learning activities assigned by their teacher. Teachers may choose lessons based on topic, theme, or skill for “individual or small groups” to complete at home, and they can track student progress through their digital accounts.
The “Parent Portal,” available in both English and Spanish, provides opportunities for parental involvement in the curriculum their child is learning at school. Parents may access online and printable lessons, track their child’s progression “through easy-to-read online reports,” or, with their child, choose digital books to read. Reading materials include books and passages supporting reading skills across instructional cycles and various Lexile levels. The Parent Guide provides a list of all the Ipractice activities available for Istation home.
The online, adaptive portion of the curriculum includes a school year’s worth of literacy instruction, but the teacher-directed curriculum does not. The program’s supporting documentation details the TEKS-aligned skills to be taught, but not the order in which they should be presented, or how knowledge and skills build and connect across grade levels. Materials do include additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended in the form of professional development and technical support.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a scope and sequence outlining the standards and skills taught in each “Cycle” of learning. The scope and sequence also highlights skills that are spiraled across learning cycles. For example, the skill “Identify and isolate initial and final sounds in spoken words” is spiraled across Cycles 1–7 and the pre-reading cycle. Also, the materials include a correlation document, “Reading Curriculum Correlated to TEKS English Language Arts and Reading Grades PK-5,” which aligns TEKS expectations to both the online, adaptive portions of the program and the teacher-directed lessons. However, this document does not indicate the order in which teacher-directed lessons should be delivered. The materials do not include pacing guidance for cycles of instruction, nor does the program include documentation on how teacher-directed lessons build and connect knowledge and skills across grade levels. For example, the program lists six lessons aligned to “blending spoken phonemes to form one-syllable words,” but the lesson titles do not indicate the cycle of instruction in which they should occur, nor does the document list a clear sequential order.
While materials include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction through the computer-adaptive instruction that can be delivered year-round, the materials do not include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction or realistic pacing guidance, routines, and support for 180-day or 220-day schedules through the “Teacher Resource,” or teacher-directed, lessons. The “Reading Program Description” describes that “Cycles of Instruction” begin at a foundational, pre-reader level and advance to a grade 8 level over the course of 16 cycles. Of the nine kindergarten comprehension TEKS, the publisher lists two lessons each for five standards and one lesson each for the other four, for a total of 14 teacher-directed lessons on comprehension across the school year. The lessons are not organized into units for pacing. Throughout a 180-day or 220-day schedule, one or two lessons per TEKS does not support a school year’s worth of literacy instruction.
Teacher Resource lessons (also referred to as “teacher-directed lessons”) provide guidance and support to teachers on instruction for targeted skills. Information is provided on the following instructional components: lesson design and instructional cycle, grouping, and how to use reports and data to inform instructional decisions. Support resources include a “Program Description,” including guidance on “Assessments,” “ISIP Reading,” “ISIP Reading Curriculum,” “Reports,” and “School-to-Home Connection.” Assessments outline the various forms of assessments teachers access in the materials, including “Computer-Adaptive Testing” and “On-Demand Testing.” ISIP Reading Curriculum discusses skills critical to building literacy and how these are embedded in the curriculum across grade clusters such as pre-k through 3, but it does not detail how critical skills build across grade levels. In the Reports section, the publisher provides teacher guidance on the purpose of each report and how to interpret the data. School-to-Home Connection includes resources such as printables and videos along with professional development for parents and teachers.
Information for administrators is in the Reading Program Description resource. Administrators are directed to information on reports, which “provide teachers and administrators with immediate data to inform effective instructional plans for students. Istation reports can be run at the class, school, or district level depending on the level of access and desired information.” This document also details the professional development services included by the publisher to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. These sessions “ensure fidelity of program implementation by training educators to differentiate instruction for effective screening and progress monitoring, disaggregate data for instructional use, and track growth toward campus/district goals and initiatives; and help schools drive adoption, boost implementation, optimize usage, and uncover growth opportunities.” Sessions are offered both virtually and in-person and follow a “train the trainers” model to help administrators support teachers by building capacity for implementation across campuses. The publisher offers unlimited technical support for school personnel in all roles, including teachers, administrators, instructional coaches, and support staff, and this support is available in both English and Spanish.
The print and digital materials feature pictures and graphics that are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the lesson “Theme: Day 2,” students use a simple flower-shaped graphic organizer to analyze Mr. Grump and the Beautiful Yard. Each petal lists a sentence starter, such as “Mr. Grump is...” or “The children are….” The flower center contains the sentence stem “I think the theme is….” Spacing in the organizer is appropriate for kindergarten students to write in each petal and the center of the flower.
“Reading: Poetry K–1” includes the poems “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” and “Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone?” in printable and digital formats. The use of white space and size of the font is visually appealing to kindergarten students; spacing allows room to mark the rhyming words.
The texts accompanying teacher-directed lessons are PDFs to be printed, cut, and stapled into book format. These texts feature an adequate amount of white space, and the design does not distract the reader overall. Printable books include a vertical text box on every other page, listing Lexile level and licensing information. The PDF version of The Green Team includes one to two lines of text per illustration, which is engaging, does not distract, and helps students understand what they are reading.
The digital components of the program also feature pictures and graphics that are supportive of student learning. For example, during “Text Fluency” assessments, students select their answer from a drop-down menu of choices within a line of text, and the correct word in the blank is provided. Text is a black sans-serif font on a white background. Each blank is highlighted in a bright yellow color for students to identify easily, and text in the drop-down list is the same black sans-serif font on a tan background. An easy-to-notice green arrow at the bottom right of the page allows students to advance to the next task easily.
When students work in the individualized learning portion of the digital application, content is presented thematically. For example, “Magical Miss Mousely” activities depict a treasure chest behind a curtain. When students click the treasure chest, pictures of words with the initial phoneme /m/ appear.
The materials support and enhance student learning as appropriate through digital lessons, activities, and assessments. They include appropriate teacher guidance on technology features and best practices for use.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a digital, adaptive curriculum accessed through a downloaded application, which is the primary mode of instruction. The program presents content in a “dynamic game-like” format to enhance and support learning. When students log in to the application, the main menu options include icons linked to the adaptive curriculum, digital books, writing activities, or tasks assigned by the teacher. The navigation and user interface are appropriate for kindergarten students, regardless of technology experience. For example, by clicking on a blue book icon, students enter their individualized path of instruction, and a backpack icon links to the assignments section. Categories in the e-book library are “Beginner Fiction,” “Medium Fiction,” “Advanced,” and “Nonfiction.” Students may read themselves or follow along as a text is read aloud. The program also includes an “At Home” portal for extended learning, where students may continue “Cycles of Instruction,” access work assigned by a teacher, or select e-books to read.
The program provides appropriate and sufficient guidance for teachers to use the digital application with students via video tutorials and instructions on the program website. For example, the “Interactive User’s Guide” includes sections detailing how to use the application, assessments, e-books, and assignment features. Teachers may also access the “Teacher Station” feature of the application to model how students should use the program. Teacher-directed lessons integrate technology through embedded hyperlinks, projector pages, and interactive whiteboard activities.
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