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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include high-quality ELAR instruction texts and cover a range of student interests. Texts are well crafted, representing the quality of content, language, and writing that is produced by experts. The materials include complex traditional, contemporary, classical and multicultural diverse texts at various Lexile levels, such as very easy, moderate, to very challenging, throughout the units for the whole school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, students read “Disconnect: The Argument Over Cell Phones in Our Schools” by Sarah Kokernot. This selection was written specifically for the publisher in August 2018 and is comparable to other contemporary reports on the subject. The Lexile level is 1100, which is considered a moderate degree of readability. This is a high student interest piece focusing on teenagers’ pros and cons of cell phone ownership. Later in the unit, students read informational texts that are well crafted and genre-specific in quality of content. The selections are well crafted and contain appropriate language. “Digital Savant: Don't Want a Hands-Free Driving Ticket? Here Are Some Upgrade Options” is a contemporary article written by Omar Gallaga published in the infamous newspaper, the Austin American Statesman.
In Unit 3, students begin with the article “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking” by American Journalist Margot Sanger-Katz, a high-interest topic for students about the argument that junk food should be banned from schools. The publisher gives the text complexity as easy with a Lexile level of 780. Later in the unit, students read “Self-Flying Planes May Arrive Sooner Than You Think. Here’s Why” by science journalist Dan Falk. The text increases in complexity and is of high interest as it aligns with the ideas related to technological advancements and using computers to perform human functions.
In Unit 4, students read the poetry selection “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats. This poem gives students an experience with classic text from one of the most important literary writers from the Irish Literary Renaissance during the turn of the 20th century. While there is not a Lexile rating, the materials refer to this poem as easy to read. The poem’s context is of a mature and self-sacrificing nature, which appeals to students in this age group who seek the attention or approval of others.
In Unit 6, students read two complex informational texts with rich language, an extensive vocabulary, and quality content for ELAR instruction. “Mount Tovar” by Barbara Gowen is a diverse text about Native American culture published in the Cobblestone published Faces magazine. “Your Brain on Movies” by Aaron Millar, an award-winning travel writer, is a contemporary article published in the scholarly journal Odyssey.
In Unit 7, students read the article “Looking Through Their Eyes: How Dorothea Lang Used Photography to Focus on Poverty and Injustice” by Linda McCuen. This is a more challenging text with a Lexile level of 1130. It explores the hardships of the great depression. In the next activity, the text complexity increases slightly (1170L) as students explore two different perspectives of the same story. “Mary Ellen Wilson: How One Girl’s Plight Started the Child-Protection Movement” and “The Story of Mary Ellen: The Beginnings of a Worldwide Child-Saving Crusade” both stories authored by the American Humane Society. The language is extremely complex as the text cites legal terms and addresses mature content, child abuse.
In Unit 9, students shift from informational readings to more challenging text, poetry, as they examine Wiliam Ernes Henley’s “Invictus” and Emily Dickinson’s “Much Madness is Divinest Sense.” Later in the unit, students read “Atlas” by Kay Ryan and “The Weight of the World” by Meg Moss. These are easy texts; however, students are asked to perform the challenging task of comparing a poem with a myth.
In Unit 10, students read a challenging text with a Lexile level of 1160. “Ha! Takes a Serious Look at Humor” by Florence Williams, published in the New York Times, offers an informative insight into how humans use humor to communicate. It is a contemporary informational text with complex vocabulary. This subject is one that students find interesting and entertaining.
The materials for grade 8 partially meet the indicator because they include various text types and genres across the academic year; but do not meet all the TEKS requirements at this grade level, specifically in the genres humor and science fiction. Additionally, some print and graphic features are evident throughout the texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 4, students read an informational article, “Covered in Dust” by Peter Roop, which contains a picture of a black dust cloud, which supports the readers in grasping the information provided.
In Unit 7, students read ”Looking Through Their Eyes: How Dorothea Lang Used photography to Focus in on Poverty and Injustice” by Linda McCuen. Lang’s photographs of poor immigrant workers bring attention to the government policies during the Great Depression.
In Unit 8, students read an informational photo essay, “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor that contains photos of the actual oil spill, which supports that reader with making mental images of the text.
In the Writing Modules, the magazine article “How the Greek Agora Changed the World” features photos of Greek statues and a map of Athens’s agora’s location. However, student comprehension would be enhanced from graphics or more meaningful images directly related to the text. Some other examples of this include: A graphic was necessary, but missing in The Gullah: An Island People, where the text prompts students to “Find Senegal, Gambia, Angola, and Sierra Leone on [a map]. With your finger, trace a line west to Barbados in the West Indies.” A map was not provided in the text for students to be able to complete this task. The fiction text War by Jack London was written in 1910, yet it has a photo of a modern-day man with a sniper rifle and a color photo of a recent civil war reenactment.
The materials contain various challenging texts at the appropriate level of complexity. The texts are accompanied by a text-complexity analysis that provides the quantitative Lexile level and qualitative features that provide insight into the rigor level that students will encounter when reading the text. Texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels and qualitative features for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In every unit, the Teacher Edition provides a “Text-Complexity Analysis” for each text used within the modules. The analysis consists of the text’s Lexile level and an explanation detailing how the rating was achieved. Each module features a sidebar that lists levels as very easy, easy, moderate, challenging, very challenging for the readability of text, corresponding task, and overall rating of the text and task. A very challenging text will be combined with an easy or moderate task to provide balance, or a very easy text will be combined with a challenging activity.
In Unit 3, students read “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking” by Margot Sanger-Katz. The text has a text complexity rating of easy and a Lexile level of 780L. The text displays the writer’s argument with easily identifiable transitions to signal reasons and counterarguments. Students also read “Self-Flying Planes May Arrive Sooner Than You Think. Here's Why.” by Dan Falk. the Lexile level 1250L, which is listed as very challenging. This text contains challenging vocabulary and sentence structures, but the content is appropriate and interesting for students in Grade 8.
In Unit 4, students read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The Lexile level is 1000L, which is very easy for midyear Grade 8. The text has a linear plot structure and includes foreshadowing. While the text is rated as very easy, the task consideration is difficult. Students synthesize their understanding of the actions of multiple characters to write about themes. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is moderate.
In Unit 5, students read “This Startup Wants to End World Hunger with Solar-Powered Irrigation” by Madison Roberts. The text has a text complexity rating of moderate and a Lexile level of 1100L. The text consists of high knowledge demands supported by a straightforward structure used to aid comprehension and domain-specific vocabulary.
In Unit 6, students read “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. The reading selection has a Lexile of 890L, which is very easy for the end of year grade 8. The analysis task has a moderate rating. Students write their narratives with twist endings. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is moderate.
In Unit 7, students read “Looking Through Their Eyes: How Dorothea Lange Used Photography to Focus in on Poverty and Injustice” by Linda McCuen. The text is listed as challenging with a Lexile level of 1130L. Later in the unit, students read “Mary Ellen Wilson: How One Girl’s Plight Started the Child-Protection Movement,” an American Humane Society article. The text is listed as challenging with a Lexile level of 1170L. The text is a third-person overview of a young girl’s story of abuse and neglect. Legal terms and mature content make it a challenging read for students at this grade level.
In Unit 8, students read “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor. The reading selection has a Lexile level of 1580L, which is very challenging for end-of-year grade 8. The analysis task has a difficult rating. Students craft an argument that compares the poem “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink to the nonfiction text to evaluate its portrayal of the disaster. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is difficult. Later in the unit, students read “Critics Question Zoos’ Commitment to Conservation” by Laura Fravel. The reading selection has a Lexile of 1300L. The analysis task has a difficult rating. Students craft an argument using the evidence they feel best supports their claim. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is difficult.
In Unit 9, students read the poems “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and “Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” by Emily Dickinson. The Lexile level is not provided; however, the publisher assigns the poems a text complexity rating of very challenging because they contain challenging language, expressed using symbolism.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. The materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-dependent, target complex elements, and integrate multiple TEKS. The questions and tasks have students connect to personal experiences and the world around them while interacting with major themes in each module.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In every unit, the writing tasks are supported by activities that build background knowledge, reinforce vocabulary, and provide comprehension practice and writing practice that build conceptual knowledge while focusing on complex elements and integrating multiple TEKS. Most questions in these activities are text-dependent and build upon students’ knowledge through reading and writing.
In Unit 3, students analyze text for claims and evidence, apply inferencing skills to support their understanding, and participate in a class debate to formulate their opinions and substantiate their claims based on text evidence. The materials prompt students to work with partners and participate in whole-class discussions to build conceptual knowledge about the mentor text essay’s theme, Government Role in Healthy Eating. Students engage in a class discussion with questions to consider, such as “What is regulated in your life by adults…?” “How do these rules and regulations help you?” or “Do you ever have conversations about changing those regulations? Why or why not?” Students read the essay “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking?” by Margot Sanger-Katz and make inferences based on evidence from the text. Students then analyze their evidence, select the best supporting evidence, and share with a partner why they chose that evidence. Another activity requires students to research a national policy they think should be changed or enacted. They research the topic and devise a solution. Finally, students write a letter to their congressmen, presenting their research and solution.
In Unit 4, students read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Students conduct a text analysis for literary elements, making inferences about what they have read. Students also analyze story structure and apply this analysis to their arguments. The lesson culminates in a Collaborating to Find Evidence discussion to answer the class discussion question, “How do conflict and the struggle for dominance affect the human spirit?” Students synthesize their understanding of multiple characters’ actions to write about character motivation. Multiple TEKS are integrated into this lesson.
In Unit 5, students make inferences, apply the skill of supporting and explaining ideas clearly to their informative essays, and engage in a Socratic Discussion. In addressing the theme, Social Entrepreneurship, students share “what they think of first when they read the word ‘entrepreneurship.’ Then, students read the title of the news article, “This Startup Wants to End World Hunger with Solar-powered Irrigation?” by Madison Roberts and address the question, “How might irrigation be connected to world hunger?” with a partner. The materials support students in making connections between seeing a need, creating a potential solution, and persevering through challenges to be successful. Students brainstorm a business they would like to start and write a proposal to an organization for grant money. Afterward, students share their business ideas and provide two feedback to their partners. After reading the text, students independently determine and trace the central idea through details and analyze connections of the evidence to the central idea within the informational text. Students re-read the text for more evidence as needed.
In Unit 6, read the selection “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and respond to the discussion question, “How do authors use their characters’ plans and motives to develop the plot?” This question provides an analysis of complex elements within a text and integrates multiple TEKS. Students begin the module by noting personal connections about books, movies, or stories that surprised the audience with an unexpected twist. During the closing activity, students discuss the question within a group by writing a response on a sticky note, sharing responses, then writing a summary of the collective ideas.
In Unit 7, students read “Looking Through Their Eyes: How Dorothea Lange Used Photography to Focus In on Poverty and Injustice. Students answer five text-dependent questions such as “An important time in Dorothea’s life that helped shape her character is..?.”Students respond to questions about the elements of the famous photograph. The teacher prompts class discussion by asking, “What are some important images in our society?” to help students connect with the theme and main idea of the text. Students complete a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting characteristics of the article with characteristics of the photograph.
In Unit 10, students read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant. Before reading, students connect to the text by reflecting on the following questions: “Have you ever pretended to be something you are not in order to fit in with a certain group? How did it make you feel?” Students use the text to analyze the impact of money on happiness. Text analysis is also used to find examples of personification, story elements, and setting. Students write an informative piece that connects characters to the theme. The lesson culminates in the Debate Game to answer the class discussion question, “How does money affect our moral decision-making?” Multiple TEKS are integrated into this lesson.
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. The materials contain questions and tasks that provide students opportunities to analyze literary elements of texts by inferring the author’s purpose with textual evidence, analyzing the author’s choices, communicating meaning, and asking students to study the author’s language to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 3, Module 2, students read the news article, “Self-Flying Planes May Arrive Sooner Than You Think. Here’s Why” by Dan Falk to identify the claim and evidence the author provides. Students analyze the author’s counterarguments and rate their effects on the claim. Additionally, students complete a graphic organizer where they select from a list of reasons the author could use to support the claim, “People should use automated planes.” Then, students find evidence from the text to support the reasons.
In Unit 4, students prepare to read “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats by reading the module’s Writing Prompt and Discussion Question. Both entities display the analysis students encounter in the language poets’ module that supports understanding. The writing prompt, “Based on the language of the poem, do you think the speaker will be successful in appealing to his beloved with the metaphors he chooses?” and the discussion question, “How do poets use language to help their communities understand and appreciate their experiences and values in ways no one else can?” are supported with comprehension activities over rhythm and rhyme and imagery and mood.
In Unit 5, Module 2, students read the news article, “SMARTwheel Earns N.H. Children a Beltway Audience” by Tanya Mohn. Students complete a chart to connect the central idea, supporting ideas, and the text features the author uses to help readers understand the central idea. Students complete a rhetorical device chart by providing examples of selected literary device terms and analyzing each device’s impact on understanding the text. Then, students select a paragraph in the article and explain why it helps the reader understand a central idea about the SMARTwheel.
In Unit 6, students read “Off the Shelf” by Patti Smith and respond to the discussion question, “How do authors convey themes about important moments of change in their lives to their readers?” Students analyze themes and diction in literature for comprehension practice, identify literary elements, and analyze the story’s subject. Later in the unit, students read and analyze “The Gift of the Magi.” Students look closely at the author’s narrative form and words to evoke feelings and help readers visualize important events. As students read the text, they are to think about characters and motives and how authors use both to develop plots. A direct instruction activity linked to the story requires students to identify the literary elements of plot, character, theme, tone, metaphors, and similes from the text and describe how they promote a deeper understanding of the text.
In Unit 7, Module 2, students read two news articles by American Humane Society, “Mary Ellen Wilson: How One Girl’s Plight Started the Child-Protection Movement” and “The Story of Mary Ellen: The Beginnings of a Worldwide Child-Saving Crusade.” The questions and tasks require students to describe and analyze how the text’s images support the reader’s understanding of the story using specific examples. Students also respond to the question, “How do the two articles portray the power of the case of Mary Ellen Wilson and the actions of many people who helped her differently?” In another activity, students work with a partner to select a topic from the text, discuss how the two texts explain the topic differently. Afterward, students complete the graphic organizer by writing an example from each text about the same topic.
In Unit 8, students read the selections “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor and “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink and respond to the discussion question “How does art help us process and make sense of tragic events?” Students compare and contrast the two texts from different genres and answer questions such as “What are some similarities between the poem and the article?” “How have the writers contributed to the subject of the Gulf oil spill differently? Did both texts take the same approach on the subject?” Students then analyze the authors’ tone by listing words and details from both texts that show the authors’ feelings toward the Gulf oil spill.
The materials provide a cohesive, year-long plan for students to build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. There are lessons for direct vocabulary instruction to build academic vocabulary and prompts and requirements woven into other activities for students to apply new vocabulary terms. The vocabulary lessons offer scaffolding and differentiation for students of various literacy levels and support teachers in assisting vocabulary development for all students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide teacher guidance in the Vocabulary Connection note to prompt students to use academic vocabulary throughout the year and model this throughout future lessons. Teachers receive guidance on differentiation for instruction to support students using vocabulary during the comprehension activities. For bilingual students, teachers provide dictionaries to serve as models for their vocabulary notebooks that they complete throughout the year. Students in need of extra support write vocabulary terms on the front of flashcards and the back note the part of speech, pronunciation, unit, and definition. Students in need of support receive instruction to create quick visualizations or picture cues for vocabulary terms. Students then compare their illustrations with a partner or small group and discuss how it helps indicate the definition.
In Unit 2, students complete a vocabulary practice Word Drawing Activity. Students choose two words, draw a picture to represent the word, and write a caption for the drawing using the caption’s word. The Resources tab provides a list of vocabulary words with each unit’s definitions. The Differentiation Sidebar suggests that the teacher works with individual students or small groups to describe their word drawings. The teacher “models how to consider the word’s connotation” used in the word’s pictorial representation. For Extra Support, the teacher has the students act out the word meaning. Students represent a vocabulary word and its antonym in a one-word drawing as a Challenge. The caption must represent both the word and the antonym. The vocabulary connection allows for academic vocabulary as students read the poem “He Wished for the Cloths of Heaven” by Willam Butler Yeats.
In Unit 3, students use a graphic organizer to expand vocabulary knowledge in the form of a word web. Students use the graphic organizer to list the synonyms, antonyms, definitions, pictures, sentence usage, and the word’s feelings. The Differentiation in vocabulary development includes providing students with a list of related but less challenging words, teacher modeling, and sentence stems, providing words from the text that students must use context clues to complete a word web.
In Unit 4, the Student Edition has students complete a word web vocabulary practice activity. Students receive the word’s definition then give a pictorial representation, antonym, synonym, a sentence using the words and feelings associated with the word. Then, students engage in reciprocal teaching, where they teach each other a key term they learned. The materials support students’ learning of how understanding word parts like Greek and Latin roots helps students figure out word meanings. As students read the selection “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, they look for words with Greek and Latin roots and add them to their list.
In Unit 8, students read a news article, “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor and the poem “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink. Students complete the Frayer Model graphic organizer by providing the definition, using the word in a sentence, and listing synonyms and antonyms for key terms. Then, students engage in reciprocal teaching, where they teach each other a key term they learned. Also, students analyze the author’s use of language by searching and making a list of figurative language phrases and their meanings as they read the two texts.
In Unit 10, students complete a vocabulary practice Word Drawing in the Student Edition. Students choose two words from the vocabulary box, draw a pictorial representation, and write a caption for the picture using the word in the caption. The Vocabulary Connection suggests that students use the parts of the word to understand the meaning of the word. Students are given visuals in the Differentiation sidebar to aid in understanding vocabulary words. It is suggested that teachers show a video to illustrate their meaning; for example, a video of water permeating sand to represent the word permeate.
The materials contain a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. Students are given the option to self-select texts and are given time to read independently, both in class and elsewhere. Students are held accountable for independent reading through reading practice logs and writing or discussing what they have read.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit contains a list of novels and longer informational texts connected to the unit theme and are suggested for independent reading. Teachers assign students a particular novel, or students choose based on their interests. In the sidebar of the Student Edition, the “Extend the Reading” shows students a list of theme-related text for independent reading. There is also space for students to generate questions before, during, and after reading.
Students use the Reading Practice logs in the Student Edition to take notes and track their reading progress. Time is provided during Extend the Reading for reading and discussion in class. Teachers are given options to have students write about or discuss the books they are reading. Suggestions for activities include: Students determine why and how the author organized the text’s parts into a structure to achieve a purpose. Students keep track of the elements of the writer’s language and word choice. Students write their pieces in a similar style as the author. Students create annotations using sticky notes by stopping and jotting what they think about the writing. Students create a calendar of the pages and chapters they will read each day. Students create their discussion questions.
In the “Teacher Toolkit,” there is a section titled, “Implementing ThinkCERCA Using a Stations Model 3 Days a Week,” which suggests teachers set up three rotations with one of them being an “Island Station” where students can read silently. The times set for the rotation stations are 18–30 min, an explicitly stated sustained reading time is absent.
The materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Direct instruction is provided to craft literary, informational and argumentative texts. Students are provided examples of each writing type throughout the entire school year through selected text readings. Although writing correspondence is minimal, students are provided with ample and consistent opportunities to write in other genres.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, students are provided instruction based on the module writing lesson. The unit provides the opportunity for students to complete an essay based on the argumentative prompt, “Do school uniforms and dress codes violate students’ rights?” The direct instruction focuses on claims and evidence to strengthen students’ argumentative writing development. The unit provides students the opportunity to complete an essay based on the argumentative prompt, “Should teachers allow cell phone use in the classroom?” The direct instruction focuses on counterargument, audience, and reasoning to strengthen students’ argumentative writing development.
In Unit 3, students complete a graphic organizer by analyzing and recording the evidence to support the author’s claim after reading the news article, “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking?” by Margot Sanger-Katz. Then, using the prompt “Do soda taxes improve public health?” students write an argumentative essay focusing on the organization of their ideas, including personal experiences and text evidence. Later in the unit, students choose a societal issue to debate. They then debate with their partner and draft a reflection essay about how the debate went. Students reflect on the other person’s perspective and whether that point of view influenced their own. Later in the unit, students read the article “Free public transport is great news for the environment, but it’s no silver bullet” by Ansgar Wohlschlegel. Students analyze the text and highlight evidence that will be used to respond to the prompt regarding how the city should encourage people to use public transportation. Students write a letter to a local leader outlining their plan.
In Unit 5, students read the news article, “This Startup Wants to End world Hunger with Solar-powered Irrigation” by Madison Roberts. Students analyze and record the author’s words and details to connect to the main idea. Afterward, students write an information" al essay to respond to the prompt, “How has Sun Culture’s product helped farmers in Kenya?” Students focus on the introduction and supporting details, and text structures. Later in the unit, students write and perform a commercial with a partner. They also create multiple versions of their commercial, varying the use of features the actors use to build the commercial’s message, such as language, setting, and non-verbal actions.
In Unit 6, students are given opportunities to write literary texts in the form of personal narratives. One of the personal narrative requirements is that a student must include a twist at the end. Later in the unit, students have the opportunity to complete the narrative essay prompt, “Write a personal narrative about a big risk you took using strong sensory details to describe the experience and your feelings about it.” The direct instruction contains a lesson on Description and Details in Narrative Writing, which supports students in understanding the development of their personal narratives.
In Unit 8, students create an informative writing piece. They read six texts and use evidence from each to support a clear purpose. The writing will develop a central idea with explanations to understand the topic presented. Students also have the opportunity to present information in different formats, such as creating an informative poster on inherited and environmental traits and writing an advice column about how to best cope with and take advantage of the teen years. In Unit 8, students are provided instruction based on the module writing lesson. The unit provides the opportunity for students to complete an informational essay based on the selection, “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor and “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink.” Students gather evidence from both selections to support their claim for the writing prompt, “Does the imagery in Klink’s poem accurately reflect the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster?” Students are supported with teacher instruction on Understanding a Topic through Multiple Texts and Organizational Patterns in Informative Writing.
The materials provide several opportunities for students to use clear and concise evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. These opportunities present themselves with activities related to longer works and short passages. Students are asked consistently to refer back to the text to support their reasoning. The materials also provide ample opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. Questioning and tasks are almost always linked to what the students have read.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 3, after reading the news article, “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking?” by Margot Sanger-Katz, students make three inferences from the essay and provide text evidence supporting their inferences. Additionally, students complete a graphic organizer by analyzing and recording the evidence to support the author’s claim about soda taxes improving public health.
In Unit 4, students practice writing an argument. They read two texts and use evidence from each of the texts in their argument. The written piece must have a clear claim and strong reasoning to persuade readers to agree with the argument’s position. In the same unit, students use the direct actions from the protagonist in the text and use a graphic organizer to help them select the best evidence to support their claim.
In Unit 5, students read the news article, “This Startup Wants to End world Hunger with Solar-powered Irrigation” by Madison Roberts. Students analyze and record the authors’ words and details to connect to the main idea. Later in the unit, students read “SMARTwheel Earns N.H. Children a Beltway Audience” by Tanya Mohn. Students “choose a paragraph in the article and explain why it helps the reader understand a central idea about the SMARTwheel.”
In Unit 6, students read a short passage and then write about the passage’s theme using text evidence to support their reasoning. Students reflect on what they have learned in the unit’s closing activity. Students are asked, “What was the most interesting thing you learned during this unit? What new information did you learn? What did you learn about your learning style that you want to remember in the next unit?” Students use evidence from the texts they read in the unit to support their claims.
In Unit 7, students read the news article, “Looking Through Their Eyes: How Dorothea Lange Used Photography to Focus on Poverty and Injustice” by Linda McCuen. Students look at the author’s photographs and address the questions: “What are some of the characteristics of the article?” “What are some of the characteristics of the photographs?” and “What are the similarities between the article and photographs?” Students also complete a comprehension practice, an Author’s Purpose worksheet, where students record which lines from the poem emphasize what the author is trying to communicate about Dorothea Lange’s photographs.
In Unit 8, students compare the tone of two different text genres written about the same subject. Students gather examples from each of the texts as evidence of their claims about the text’s tone. Students list words and details from both texts and images that show the authors’ feelings toward the Gulf oil spill. They are then asked, “Does your evidence suggest that each writer created a positive or negative tone?” Later in the unit, students read an article relating to zoos and animal conservation. Students use text evidence to answer questions such as “What is the author’s claim? Write one reason the author uses to support her claim. What evidence can you find to support this reason? Is this evidence a fact, opinion, reasoned judgment, or speculation? How do you know?"
In Unit 9, students read the poems “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and “Much Madness is Divinest Sense” by Emily Dickinson. Students compare and contrast how the two poets use rhyme, alliteration, and assonance to convey the theme of personal strength. The students analyze the form of both poems and write about the details they notice. Later in the unit, students read the poems “Atlas” by Kay Ryan and “The Weight of the World” by Meg Moss and complete an Imagery and Mood worksheet. Students formulate an opinion as to which poet created a more convincing mood.
Composition convention skills are applied in increasingly complex contexts with opportunities for publishing over the course of the year. The materials for each unit facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process, such as planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing to compose text. Students learn and practice these skills in relation to the selected texts they are reading in class. The materials also provide opportunities in each unit for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar, both in and out of context with reading selections. There is a separate module in each unit where grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically. Materials also provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. In the ThinkCERCA (claim, evidence, reason, counterargument, audience) resources within the “Teacher Toolkit” section, an article, “implementing a Writing Lesson with Engagement Strategies,” provides a writing plan for teachers to use as they direct students through the writing process in each unit of study along with suggested interactive strategies. Before planning their essays, students engage in scaffolding activities that position them to think critically about each unit’s writing prompt. Afterward, students engage in the writing process by using the information they have accumulated in their work with the topic. The steps include the topic overview, vocabulary building, Step 1: Connect, Step 2: Read, Step 3: Engage with the Text, Step 4: Summarize, Step 5: Build an Argument, and Step 6: Create your CERCA. The topic overview activates students’ background knowledge and builds buy-in for the topic. Vocabulary is embedded in the writing lesson to ensure a greater understanding of the text and focused concepts. Step 1: Connect allows students to respond to a personal connection question to build relevance for the topic. Step 2: Read and Step 3: Engage with Text allow students to read the text and find evidence in the text that responds to the writing prompts in each unit. Step 4: Summarize requires students to summarize the text using academic language. Then, in Step 5: Build an Argument, students begin to construct their response to the writing prompt. Finally, in Step 6: Create your CERCA, students create their CERCA and collaborate with classmates for peer editing. In the “Review and Revise” section, built into every module in each unit, students also use the writing rubrics and checklist to review and revise their essays before submission to their teachers. Additionally, the materials provide direct instruction and skills lessons that build sequentially in writing arguments, narratives, and informative text.
Unit 1, the materials focus on a process for writing. Students choose their topic, purpose, and audience and then have a choice to write an opinion or argument, an informative or explanatory essay, a narrative or story, or a poem or song. Direct writing instruction for this unit involves planning the first draft, organizing with structure, developing ideas with details, and revising clarity.
In Unit 2, students are tasked with using the writing process elements to craft an argumentative essay from the prompt, “Do school uniforms and dress codes violate students’ rights?” Direct instruction practice allows students to practice and apply academic language conventions, such as the summarizing activity. Students are presented with a short passage they read and provide a short summary. The unit ends with a grammar unit where students use subjects and predicates in a sentence as they review complete sentences versus sentence fragments.
In Unit 3, the Student Workbook provides guided practice on Composing Correspondence. Students create a letter to a politician in support of changing current law or policy. Instruction begins with creating a header and salutation. Then students plan and draft the body of the letter and closing of the letter. After the first draft is complete, students learn the formatting of a physical letter and email correspondence. Lastly, students edit and revise their own writing and a peer’s writing with clear criteria to look for when reviewing the written correspondence.
In Unit 5, activities and lessons include working with adjectives and articles, comparative adjectives, superlative adjectives, types of adjectives, identifying adverbs in a sentence, identifying the difference between comparative and superlative adverbs, comparing with adjectives and adverbs. Direct writing lessons in the unit include revising drafts for clarity, development, organization, style, word choice, and sentence variety.
In Unit 7, students learn how to write a research paper using activities with skills directly taught and assessed to synthesize their understanding of the unit’s reading materials. These lessons include how to generate questions about a text before reading, synthesize information from multiple sources, demonstrate understanding in writing, paraphrase and summarize texts, interact with sources in meaningful ways, generate research questions, develop and revise a research plan, refine a major research question, identify and gather information from sources, differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism, examine and evaluate sources, display academic citations and present research in an appropriate mode.
In Unit 9, the Teacher Edition guides students through the writing process of the prompt, “What can the animal kingdom teach us about why teens take risks?” Students begin by reading the selection “Leaving the Nest” by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. In the Comprehension practice of Analyzing the Prompt, students prepare to plan their writing by paraphrasing the prompt and completing the Before Writing activity. Students plan for their writing by summarizing the text and develop their essays using a graphic organizer. Students discuss their responses and then draft their essays. Students finalize their essays by individually reviewing and revising their essays and conducting a peer review. The reviews consist of students following the Informative Writing Rubric that provides expectations on the claim, organization, audience-appropriate language, evidence, reasons, reasoning, and English conventions.
The materials provide opportunities that support students’ listening and speaking about texts. Each unit requires students to analyze the text, form discussions and arguments based on text evidence, and share the information with classmates. Students use information from the text to state their claims or synthesize information to present new arguments. Speaking and listening skills are interwoven with text studies and targeted, stand-alone lessons to practice those skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are stand-alone, targeted lessons on enhancing speaking and listening skills in the materials. These lessons focus on specific elements such as the rules of positive discussion, how to deliver oral presentations, and understanding your audience. These lessons are found on the grade level page under the heading “Direct Instruction & Skills Lessons” and by clicking on the tab titled “Speaking and Listening.”
In Unit 2, students read from the essay “Freedom of Choice: The Very Best Policy” by the authors of the materials and analyze the author’s bias selection. Students determine the author’s claim with supporting evidence from the essay by responding to prompts, such as “List for characteristics of a good claim and four types of evidence used to support a claim.” “What evidence, specific to personal choice, supports the claim?” or “Did the paragraph on educators strengthen or detract from the claim? Explain.” Students discuss the phrases and sentences that indicate the author’s bias within the essay with a partner.
In Unit 4, students read the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and complete a graphic organizer using clues from the text and their own experiences to make inferences. Sharing with a partner, students explain the clues they use to make inferences.
In Unit 5, students read the selection, “This startup wants to end world hunger with solar-powered irrigation” by Madison Roberts. Students review the definitions of tone, connotation, figurative language, and context clues. Students read the instructions, complete the activity while using the text and discuss responses with a partner. After completion, the class discusses their selected text details and their connection to the main idea.
In Unit 6, students read the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry. Students complete a graphic organizer identifying the literary elements and figurative language and describing how they helped students understanding. Students then partner to discuss which elements were the most effective in their understanding.
In Unit 7, students read the selection “Remember the Maine!” by Katherine Majewski. Students review the definition of text features with the teacher. Students read the instructions, complete the activity while referring to the text features of the text for support. After completion, the class discusses the illustrations and captions of the Spanish-American War and their impact.
In Unit 8, students read the news article “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor and the poem “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink. Afterward, students compare and contrast the news article and the poem by responding to a series of prompts such as: “What was the aftermath of the oil spill?” “What are some similarities between the poem and the article?” “How have the writers contributed to the subject of the Gulf oil spill differently?” and “Did both [authors] take the same approach on the subject?” Finally, with a partner, students discuss how reading both texts impacted their perspective and comprehension of the Gulf oil spill.
In Unit 9, students read the selection “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. Students review the definition of summary, elements of successfully written summaries, the definition of theme, and how writers develop themes. Students read the instructions and complete the activity individually. After completion, the class discusses the details identified from the selection and their effect on the summary.
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions. The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to express their own thinking in numerous ways. Each module features several opportunities built within lessons and activities that require students to discuss their thinking with peers in partnerships, small groups, and the whole class. Many culminating projects in the materials feature student-organized presentations that require students to speak clearly and concisely using language conventions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students explore strategies that will make them stronger readers and writers. Students then discuss the strategies they have learned in the past for reading and writing. Then, students answer questions such as “What would you most like to read about this year? Think about your favorite topic. Is it sports? Video games? Art? Music? Something else?” Students use the answers to these questions to convince a partner to learn more about their favorite topic by using interesting examples.
In Unit 3, the Teacher’s Edition guides the Debate Game with the discussion question, “What are the most important steps to develop a position on societal issues and express it constructively?” The teacher reads the question aloud and posts student responses in the classroom. Students then vote on which step is the most important to answer the essential question. Student responses guide the teacher to divide the class into groups for the Debate Game. The teacher explains the game rules and ensures the students are prepared. Students work within groups on Step 1, “Take three minutes and write notes to answer the unit essential question. Use information from the texts and your personal experiences” and Step 2, “Think about what you learned in this unit about developing and expressing a position. Use your thinking to write two questions that relate to the unit essential question and help you clarify it.” Upon completion, teachers prompt students to think about the rebuttal of their points as they prepare for the speaking portion of the game. Students form a circle from their small group and begin practicing their debate. One student shares their claim in the clockwise direction; students share their responses, evidence, and reasoning to support the claim. One student then shares the rebuttal. Students discuss the debate elements and the rebuttal with guiding questions from the teacher. One student finally shares the closing statement, and students discuss its connection to the argument and leave listeners with important information.
In Unit 4, students work with a partner to answer the question, “How do conflict and the struggle for dominance affect the human spirit?” Students use the Collaborating to Find Evidence protocol and supporting evidence from the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Additionally, in the Unit 4 project titled Learning from Mistakes, students write a personal narrative from someone who was impacted by their mistakes. Students share their projects with peers.
In Unit 5, students participate in a Pass the Mic discussion activity where they plan and host a discussion. They first think of an issue that affects their school or community. Next, they find four to five people or classmates with perspectives on the issue and host a discussion where they share their perspectives. Then, they come up with interview questions to ask their panel participants. Finally, students ask follow-up questions at the end of the discussion.
In Unit 7, the Teacher’s Edition guides the World Cafe with the discussion question, “How do individuals stand up and take responsibility for changing their societies?” One student reads the discussion question aloud, and the teacher informs students that the World Cafe Strategy’s objective is to answer the question as a class. Students form several small groups and nominate a leader to take notes and summarize the discussion. The teacher visits groups and encourages students to use evidence from the text and their personal experiences. After crafting the collective response, group members stand and join a leader from a different group. The new groups will nominate a new leader and conduct the same process again of creating a collaborative summary. This forming new group is done three more times until all summary boxes are completed on the Student Workbook page dedicated to the Class Discussion. The teacher conducts a discussion with the whole class where students orally share summaries and note similarities and differences. The teacher guides students to craft a class answer using the summaries shared aloud.
In Unit 9, students study poetry and use an evolving discussion format to express their ideas. In a closing activity after reading, students form a central idea to answer the discussion question, “How do poets use the sounds of words to convey themes?” Then they pair up with a partner and blend their ideas into one central idea. The classmates team up with another pair of classmates and repeatedly share, discuss, and combine central ideas. The activity culminates when all groups share their central ideas and discuss them to formulate a final central idea representing all groups in the class.
The materials engage students in short-term and sustained recursive inquiry. The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources using articles directly from newspapers or magazines in most units focusing on informative texts. The materials also support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade level audience in a unit specifically dedicated to the research process.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. In the “Direct Instruction and Skills Lessons” section under Writing Informative Text, lessons provide students guidance on research skills, selecting and evaluating evidence, sources in informative writing, and citing and documenting resources. Additionally, the materials provide opportunities for students to practice organizing and presenting their ideas.
In Unit 3, the Student Workbook provides instructions on completing the Unit Projects’ task. The Unit Project Activity 2 Task is “Write a letter to a political leader.” Students begin by brainstorming a national law or policy that they believe should be changed. Once identified, students identify primary and secondary sources that support the policy or law’s research. Then, students create an action plan of implementation based on their research. Students then create a letter with teacher guidance on composing correspondence that will consist of the research conducted.
In Unit 4, students create comic strips. First, they interview a family or community member about a real-life setback or struggle. Students obtain information such as “How did a person make it through a difficult time?” and “What did that person learn?” Then, students write a comic strip about how the person acted in the face of adversity. Finally, students share their comic strips with peers to see if they can describe the setback or struggle. Students reflect on the question, “Did you provide enough information?”
In Unit 7, students read informational texts and primary sources to learn about important historical moments and how they influenced society, particularly poverty and child abuse. Students compare texts, images, and primary sources to analyze the different perspectives they provide. In an activity called Different News, students write a research paper to share information about a controversial news event. In this unit, students complete the Writing the Research Paper Module and use the Writing a Research Paper pages in the student edition to support their preparation, planning, creation, and delivery of their final research paper.
In Unit 8, students write a policy proposal at the end of the unit. Students research current environmental policies in the U.S. They consider policies such as pollution, hunting, farming, and natural resources. Then, they think about how the policies can be improved and write a new policy that would improve a particular environmental issue. The sources should be unbiased and explain the policy but not be definitive in a position about the policy.
The materials contain interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. The materials include questioning and tasks designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The materials also contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Students are also given tasks to integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency, as needed; and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials focus on the foundational skills. Students learn about the reading processes through activities that explore pre-reading, active reading, and connections. Students also learn about the writing process and how to revise for clarity, develop and organize their writing, and the art of maintaining style through word choice. Students continue to build and apply knowledge of the foundational skills throughout the curriculum. Moreover, students integrate ideas and learned concepts to analyze various texts and share their thinking with peers throughout the materials.
In Unit 2, students delve deeper into the concept of the materials revolving around creating sound arguments. This is described as Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, Counter Evidence, and Arguments (CERCA) Framework. Students read arguments about violating students’ rights through school dress policies and cell phone use. Students analyze the articles to determine claims, evidence, counter-arguments, and audience. Afterward, students create and use a discussion to answer an essential question, “What is the best way to create an effective argument?” following the previously taught and practiced discussion rules involving listening and speaking skills. Students write several arguments using text evidence in response to a writing prompt. Culminating activities for the unit require students to write and present solutions to important problems facing themselves, their community, and the world.
In Unit 3, Module 1, students read the essay “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking?” by Margot Sanger-Katz and make inferences based on evidence from the text. Students then analyze their evidence, select the best supporting evidence, and share with a partner why they chose that evidence. Another activity requires students to research a national policy they think should be changed or enacted. They research the topic and devise a solution. Finally, students write a letter to their congressmen presenting their research and solution.
In Unit 5, students write an informational essay. Students read the informational article “This startup wants to end world hunger with solar-powered irrigation” by Madison Roberts and the news article “SMARTwheel Earns N.H. Children a Beltway Audience” by Tanya Mohn and answer text-dependent questions. Students analyze the articles for the author's purpose and connections within texts and use the Socratic Discussion method to analyze, discuss and respond to questions to help build understanding. Throughout the unit, students respond to prompts such as “How can entrepreneurship and innovation change the world?” Students engage in direct practice in identifying informational text features, connections within the text, text structure, and detail. The final project allows students to choose to write a commercial or facilitate a discussion about an important idea they want to share.
In Unit 8, students read informational texts and a poem to build background knowledge about environmental tragedies and how humans respond. Students analyze the texts to determine tone and author’s bias and then evaluate an argument’s strength. Students use the Socratic Discussion method to discuss, discuss, and respond to questions to build understanding individually and in groups. Students also write several arguments using text evidence in response to a writing prompt. Culminating activities include creating a nature journal or writing a new policy that improves humans’ relationship with nature.
In Unit 10, the Teacher’s Edition provides instructions for the two Unit Projects in the Wrap-Up section. Activity 1 requires students to write a play and Activity 2 requires students to create a brochure. Students are provided a list of guiding tasks that support completion and a rubric for expectations. Teachers give students time to finalize their projects. Students will read and review their peers’ projects and give feedback. Upon receiving feedback, students will adjust their writings. Students then present their projects while peers listen attentively and ask questions. Teachers assess students using the project rubric and confer with students about their learning throughout the process.
Students are given an End of Year Assessment at the end of the materials. The assessment consists of text-dependent questions where students have to answer based on the assessment reading. Students are then provided a rubric that guides them independently completing a CERCA. The requirements of completing a CERCA were taught over the course of the year, with different elements scaffolded throughout various lessons.
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice. The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. Students get repeated and consistent practice with a large variety of grade-level standards. The materials also include scaffolds for teachers to implement with students of various literacy levels to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials support practice over the year. The unit begins with an introduction to writing and the writing process. This recursive practice spirals through the year as students read given texts, analyze for key elements, and model through their own writing.
In Unit 1, the Teacher’s Edition contains instructions for the Module 1 Lesson: A Process for Writing. Students begin with an opening activity that builds on their background knowledge before the vocabulary activity where they match terms with definitions for vital terms to argumentative writing such as argument, counterargument, claim, reason, evidence, reasoning, and audience. Students complete two comprehension activities, “What is CERCA?” and “The Reading Process,” which establishes the foundation for future lessons in the materials. In the Teacher Toolkit, teachers are provided a Scaffold Scope and Sequence that provides guidance for scaffold lessons in different writing modules. In the writing module, “Role of Machines,” students get scaffold practice of Claims in Arguments and Selecting and Arranging Reasons. In the writing module, “Sports and Society,” students get scaffold practice of Integrating Evidence and Supporting Claims with Evidence. In the writing module, “Government Role in Healthy Eating,” students get scaffold practice of Reasoning. In the writing module, “School Policy,” students get scaffold practice of Organizing Arguments and Counterarguments. In the writing module, “Video Games,” students get scaffold practice of Introductions and Conclusions of Arguments. In the writing module, “Social Media,” students get scaffold practice of Audience and Transitions in Arguments.
In Unit 3, students build on the foundational skills taught in the first unit. Students use these skills through lessons on the writing process and the reading process. In Unit 3, students build on what they learned about making connections and inferences. Students distinguish between implied and explicit information. Students complete a graphic organizer by identifying three inferences from the news article “More Evidence That Soda Taxes Cut Soda Drinking” by Margot Sanger-Katz and provide explicit information that supports their identified inferences. Students also practice inferencing skills in the “Direct Instruction Practice,” where students read a short passage and underline the explicit information that helps them to make an inference.
In Unit 4, students read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and receive instruction over the TEKS 7(C), analyzing plot development. The same TEKS are spiraled in Unit 6, as students read “The Gift of Magi” by O. Henri and “Off the Shelf” by Patti Smith and receive instruction on analyzing plot elements. In Unit 10, students read “The Lady’s Maid” by Katherine Mansfield and receive instruction on analyzing how setting influences character and plot development.
In Unit 5, students engage with the informational articles as they analyze the organizational patterns. Students then begin to draft their own essay that addresses the prompt, “How has SunCulture’s product helped farmers in Kenya?”
In Unit 7, students move to a deeper analysis using text and images and continue to identify organizational patterns. Students generate questions about the text as they answer text-dependent questions to determine claims and central ideas. Students continue to reflect and adjust their thinking as they engage in peer and group discussions.
The materials include a variety of supports for students that demonstrate proficiency above grade level. The materials provide planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation for these students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include activities at the beginning of each unit on the “Extend the Reading” page, where students read associated works, both long and short pieces, and connect the reading to written and verbal discussions. Additionally, extension activities involving various English Language Arts Skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) are tied to lessons under the “Challenge” title and are readily available for the teacher.
The materials provide writing modules by theme; and, some provide extension activities. For example, in the Black Lives Matter module, the lesson support has a supplemental resource for teachers that contains extensions for students above grade level, such as reading an article that explores how cultural and racial stereotypes impact individual perceptions and identity. Students analyze the impact of specific word choices and then write an argument focusing on the author's word choices.
In Unit 1, the Teacher Edition provides differentiation activities for students to synthesize their background knowledge of the writing process. In the introduction of the lesson, students create a K-W-L chart to explore what they know and want to know about the process of writing. The Challenge assignment provides activities for students above grade level. Students extend their learning by summarizing the larger themes captured in their chart and provide summaries for classmates to view collectively.
In Unit 2, students read “Freedom of Choice: The Very Best Policy.” The Teacher Edition provides extension and challenge activities as students prepare to write an argument debating whether school uniforms and dress code violate student rights. Students who show literacy skills above grade level represent a vocabulary word and its antonym in a one-word drawing after the vocabulary has been introduced. The students then write one caption to describe the word and the antonym. Students analyze the reading, review the TEKS associated with the lesson, and then create their own quiz questions using the TEKS language to demonstrate mastery of the TEKS. Later in the unit, students explore effective arguments by analyzing a text for an effective counterargument. Students must identify the counterargument in a given paragraph. Students are challenged to deconstruct and identify each argument’s flaws and provide suggestions to modify the text to make the arguments stronger.
In Unit 6, students analyze texts to build background knowledge relative to the narrative form and how the author’s word choice evokes emotion and helps the reader to visualize important events. Students are challenged to extend their learning by researching other memoirs and/or personal stories.
In Unit 7, students complete a word web from a given set of terms. Students provide the definition, synonym, antonym, picture, sentence, and feelings associated with the word. Students who are above level derive definitions from three sources: a conventional dictionary, the online dictionary embedded with the lesson, and a definition of their own making. As students are reading the text selection, they decide which of the three definitions most coincide with the meaning of the word as it is used in the passage.
Unit 7, the Teacher Edition, provides differentiation activities for students to demonstrate their comprehension of vocabulary. Students extend their learning by writing captions that incorporate figurative language to reflect their understanding of the vocabulary.
In Unit 9, a whole-class lesson involves thinking and discussing what conflicts are and how they arise. Students that are above grade level in literacy are challenged beyond the whole-class discussion to make connections between listening actively and resolving conflicts. Later in the unit, students study poetry, particularly patterns of rhyme and rhythm. Students who are above level in literacy examine the poem “Invictus” for examples of alliteration and create theories as to why the author chose this literary device.
In Unit 10, students analyze literary and information texts and consider tone and mood. Word choice is critical in attending to tone and mood. In the opening activity, students build background by responding to prompts asking for a list of ways they have become more self-reliant as they have gotten older and a second list of the ways they consider themselves to be dependent upon others. Above level, students are challenged to make cross-curricular connections by linking key vocabulary words such as self-reliant and dependent on math variables. Students are further challenged to create and graph a mathematical equation that shows their thinking about the question.
The materials provide a variety of supports for students that perform below grade level. The materials provide planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation for these students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, all students justify their choices in “Would You Rather” using a claim, reasons, evidence, and counterargument to choose between preferred talents or personality traits. “Extra Support” is offered for students below grade level with a similar activity focusing on a more concrete, real-life application of choosing an improvement to an element in their classroom.
In Unit 3, students play a vocabulary game using a word web. Teachers review each web element and model how to complete each smaller circle. Students work as a group to select a word and complete the web. For a class debate, students performing below grade level participate in a collaborative debate with a small group. The teacher assigns each team member a part of the debate: claim, reason, evidence, reasoning. Students work together to build an argument and counterargument to share with the class. Later in the unit, students are introduced to the writing process. Students create a K-W-L chart to brainstorm what they know, list questions about what they want to know, and learn what they have learned at the lesson conclusion. For struggling learners, a green-lined sidebar provides teachers with suggested strategies for Extra Support. For example, students use photographs or pictures from magazines to represent elements for the first column.
In Unit 4, all students read and use clues from the text and their own experiences to make inferences and add them to a graphic organizer. Extra Support is offered for students with below-level literacy skills by breaking the text into chunks for students to pre-read with an adult or a peer before class.
In Unit 5, students participate in a Socratic discussion. Students performing below grade level create a visual representation of their journey throughout the unit. Teachers provide reflection questions: “How did you feel about the Essential Question at the beginning of the unit, and how do you feel now?” Students use the visual representations as a starting point as they plan for and participate in Socratic discussion.
In Unit 7, students compare ideas and themes across texts independently. Students performing below grade level list characteristics of manageable chunks of the texts. Afterward, students synthesize their ideas to analyze the text holistically.
In Unit 8, all students create a Frayer Model in a vocabulary activity. An extension of this activity offers support for students with below-level literacy skills to increase vocabulary retention. The students are given copies of the Frayer Models and cut them out to create foldable self-quizzes. Students are shown how to fold down the corners to hide the answers and write the categories (definition, synonyms, etc.) on the flaps. Students quiz themselves on each of the categories and then check their answers by folding up the flaps. Later in the unit, the teachers introduce Module 1 in the Student Workbook; students interact with the text titles “The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later” by Alan Taylor and “Terrebonne Bay” by Joanna Klink and prepare for their Module writing prompt. The Extra Support assignment provides supported teacher activities for literacy skills below grade level. Teachers provide a word bank of adjectives that students can choose from when identifying the author’s tone.
In Unit 9, struggling learners are given the answers to a word web graphic organizer and asked to choose where each answer belongs. As students consider the imagery in poetry, the teacher edition provides strategies to support the struggling learners by having “students consider the imagery in ‘Invictus.’” The teacher asks, “What does ‘the night that covers me’ make you see, hear, and feel? What about ‘the bludgeonings of chance’? How would the poem feel if we used synonyms for these phrases?” Teachers help students tie the background they researched about “Invictus” to its title and theme.
In Unit 10, all students review and discuss the essential questions of the unit as a class. Extra Support for this activity is offered for students below grade level in literacy by providing them with peer buddies who are more confident. The peer buddies invite their partners into the conversation after speaking.
The materials include limited support for English Learners (EL) to meet grade-level learning expectations. The materials include some accommodations for linguistics with various levels of English language proficiency. Materials include scaffolded activities, translations, cognates, glossaries, and bilingual dictionaries for support. Vocabulary development is not isolated but evident in whole class lessons and activities. The materials did not include the strategic use of a student’s native language to develop proficiency in academic English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In each unit, the materials include a “Differentiation” section. Although the English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS (beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high) are not specifically listed, the Differentiation section includes: “Developing Bilinguals,” “Extra Support,” “Support,” and “Challenge.” These supports benefit all students as needed; however, the various support levels are not provided consistently throughout the units’ progression.
The materials also include “Unit Resources,” consisting of a Student Packet, Teacher Guide, Student Vocabulary, and Spanish Student Resource. The materials contain an “Introduce the Summary” written in both English and Spanish. The Spanish Student Resource consists of academic vocabulary and definitions that are translated into Spanish. The list is a bilingual glossary that includes translations from English to Spanish and cognates between the two languages. The CERCA question and summary of the text are provided in English and translated to Spanish.
The Teacher Guide for each core text includes sentence stems in the “Expanding” and “Bridging” sections. Additionally, the “Student Engagement” section provides more avenues for student verbal discourse to enhance learning and to build vocabulary, including and not limited to background knowledge, checking for understanding, gallery walk, think-pair-share, and last student standing. At the beginning of each vocabulary section, the materials provide the teacher instruction on developing the vocabulary, checking for understanding, and encouraging students to share their work in partner/small group/whole group settings. Additionally, the “Vocabulary Connection” section provides prompts to help the teacher build their vocabulary and encourage the use of those words in students’ writings.
In Unit 1, in an introductory lesson on writing, EL students are supported with listening and speaking skills. The teacher reviews questions aloud and asks students to repeat the question aloud before they provide their responses. The vocabulary is introduced to the class as a whole, but EL students create their vocabulary notebooks. The vocabulary notebooks are modeled after an actual dictionary provided by the teacher. The teacher also ensures students place new vocabulary in alphabetical order throughout the year.
In Unit 2, Developing Bilinguals has students engage in a “think-pair-share” after direct instruction where they think about their response and then pair with a partner to discuss. The teacher works with Developing Bilinguals individually or in small groups to describe their word drawings. The teacher models how to consider the connotation of the word in the drawing and caption. For Extra Support, students consider acting out the word meanings using their bodies or searching for other ways to depict the word. For Support, the teacher creates a shape for students to incorporate into their word drawings. For Challenge, students represent a vocabulary word and its antonym in a one-word drawing. Later in the unit, Developing Bilingual students work in paired mixed-ability groups to collaborate with peers who have different perspectives on what they read.
In Unit 3, students create an argumentative essay, and accommodations are listed for ELs. The students are given transition words to help them organize their evidence. Teacher support is provided as needed. Students pair up with one another to complete sentences with three pieces of evidence. Students use reasoning in their argument and are prompted to use because or therefore. Students are shown by the teacher how to move their argument into an online graphic organizer. Later in the unit, a whole class activity uses Frayer Models to develop the core text’s vocabulary. EL students are given words that will help them understand the content of the lesson. These words are not on the vocabulary list but will help students further comprehend the text and add to their vocabulary development. EL students then work with a partner who did the Frayer Model with the vocabulary list to learn those words.
In Unit 4, Developing Bilinguals encourages students to use their first language knowledge to aid in their understanding of the vocabulary word for the text and create word webs. Students determine the most exact translation for the word and generate a sentence using their first language. Students further discuss how the English word and its translation compare in meaning. Additionally, Developing Bilinguals practice developing fluency and oral language skills using the poem “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats. Students rehearse the poem before class while looking in the mirror and using the voiceover as a model.
In Unit 5, the teacher introduces vocabulary using Elaboration Technique #2 while supporting students with additional words not listed. In the Level 3‒4 Expanding section of vocabulary, students work with a partner student to write definitions of the vocabulary words in their language with support from the teacher. Students focus on understanding the core idea of each definition.
In Unit 6, the teacher provides challenging words not in the vocabulary list needed for Developing Bilingual students to understand the story. For extra support, the teacher teaches and reviews each of the word web elements, so students know the meaning of the individual words on how to complete each smaller circle on the Word Web. Later in the unit, the teacher encourages students to take a leadership role and in pairs or groups while students orally discuss a summarization of what is read.
In Unit 7, students summarize and cite sources of evidence found during the research phase for the end product of writing a research paper. EL students receive extra practice in summarizing and paraphrasing text. Students read a paragraph from one of their sources, then explain what they read. Prompting the teacher asks questions to help them add more detail to their oral summaries. Students then write down the explanations they gave the teacher.
In Unit 8, Developing Bilinguals has students complete a unit project. Students select a topic before creating an oral presentation. Developing bilinguals underline keywords in their topic and purpose to use in their claims. For Extra Support, the teacher provides printed versions of vetted articles divided into meaningful chunks for students to read aloud and take notes. For Support, the teacher provides a collection of vetted sources for students to choose a topic. For Challenge, students use references and hyperlinks within texts to find additional sources. Later in the unit, students read along as they listen to a text recording. Students pause the recording, reread sections aloud, read ahead, and then check their accuracy by listening to the recording.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress. The materials contain both formative and summative assessments aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information in the materials provide sufficient guidance for teachers and administrators to interpret and respond to student performance. Unit assessments are connected to the regular content taught and practiced within each unit to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Formative assessments include a baseline writing assessment, found at the start of the curriculum, before any units. Students answer ten reading comprehension questions about the article and then write an essay supporting evidence from the text. Each assessment under the sessions is given a 45‒60 minute time limit. Students take two more writing assessments, one at mid-year and another at the end of the year, on different topics. As students draft their essay, teachers assess via conference, offering comments based on preset student growth focus areas. Teachers score writing through individual components based on a five-point rubric, including descriptors representing beginning, developing, and mastery of each category of the rubric. Scores on the rubrics add up to an overall score on a 100-point scale.
Another formative assessment included in the materials is leveling assessments which indicate a student’s literacy level. Students receive three texts from reading and answering multiple-choice questions. Students are automatically assigned one text at their grade level, one text at one grade level above, and one text at one grade level below. Teachers can manually adjust these levels if necessary. Teachers use the data from these assessments in lessons to make adjustments or accommodations for students who are below, at, or above grade-level literacy.
Summative assessments are found at the end of each unit and consist of gauging the mastery of skills taught within the unit. These unit assessments typically contain two reading passages similar in genre and content to the unit’s reading passages. The questioning structure is set up to assess the texts individually, as well as how they connect. Additional questioning focuses away from the passages and more towards specific skills.
Teachers also assess by having students complete exit tickets for understanding core skills and using writing and oral presentation rubrics. Guidance is given throughout each unit to leverage activities to respond to student needs. Differentiated strategies provide extra support for students who are above, on, and below grade level.
Teachers and administrators have access to the data provided by these assessments in the Data Analysis Portal. This portal allows the viewer access to lesson usage, grading progress, and reading and writing growth. Access to this information allows teachers to do a deep dive of the data and create actionable next steps and supports to guide student mastery of literacy skills. Reports provide scoring information and performance by strands. Students’ assessment data falls within consistent mastery greater than 85%, proficient between 70%‒85%, not yet proficient, less than 70%, or inactive, which is zero engagement. The Resources section provides a Data Analysis Protocol graphic organizer, which provides information about the data, interprets the data, the implications for practice, possible strategies to implement based on the data analysis, and next steps for teaching, re-teaching, and/or assessing. Located in the Admin Toolkit is the Implementation Checklist for District Administrators, Principals, and Instructional Coaches. This information contains a screenshot of the Data platform where Administrators can monitor student performance. There is a PowerPoint that provides administrators with the five steps of the ThinkCERCA Data Analysis protocol. The checklist provides the administration with a timeline for implementation and action items to prepare for a successful launch of ThinkCERCA. The timeline consists of planning, implementation, and reflection, which includes data analysis protocol. Resources also include an administrator dashboard that provides bi-weekly administrator progress reports to help guide instructional practice.
The materials lack support in providing year-long plans to promote student learning and provide differentiated instruction. The materials do not provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers. However, they provide some suggestions for engaging students in multiple grouping structures such as small groups and partners. The materials include suggestions with most lessons to differentiate activities to support students, but no separate lesson or learning structure is provided. The materials include annotations and support for teachers to follow on how to engage students in the materials. However, limited evidence was found for supporting the implementation of ancillary and resource materials and student progress components.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Plans for student engagement are included in the front-end materials of the Teacher Edition for each unit. Icons delineate a plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures. A key is included at the bottom of the plan, which identifies the icons and explains each reference’s type of student participation. The plans align with the materials’ layout; however, they are not comprehensive or content-specific. Each plan is a simple overview of the unit without detailed instructions or activities. The materials offer some teacher support on meeting students’ needs: discussing content, building background knowledge, questions and prompts for extending students’ thinking, and developing bilingual scaffolds. Additionally, teachers are provided with several models of rotation stations for working with students in small groups. The materials also provide a Scope and Sequence with a guide to focus on skills and writing. However, there is no Scope and Sequence for the reading components. Lesson plans are included for six weeks of argumentative writing lessons and four weeks of narrative writing lessons for teachers’ usage. However, there are no lesson plans provided for the other components.
For example, in Unit 2, there is an overview of the 17-day plan of instruction and activities for the unit in the Teacher Edition. This overview provides teachers with a quick, at-a-glance guide on what students are expected to do and how they are to engage with the materials. Grouping structures for engagement listed in the unit overview include whole-class instruction, whole-class discussion, small group discussion, partner activity, and solo activity. However, instructions or guidance on how to group students is not readily evident. There was no evidence to support grouping based on literacy level or instructional need.
In Unit 3, students participate in a class debate; however, students performing below grade level participate in a collaborative debate with a small group. The teacher assigns each team member a part of the debate: claim, reason, evidence, reasoning. Students work together to build an argument and counterargument to share with the class.
In Unit 5, students participate in Socratic Discussion to address the question, “How can big ideas change the world?” Students performing below grade level create a visual representation of their journey throughout the unit. Teachers provide reflection questions, “How did you feel about the Essential Question at the beginning of the unit, and how do you feel now?” Students use the visual representations as a starting point as they plan for and participate in Socratic Discussion.
In Unit 6, the first module begins with an introductory activity of a class discussion led by the teacher. The teacher edition includes steps to the activity that guides the teacher on introducing the text and giving a preview of student expectations for learning throughout the module. Included are discussion prompts for both whole group and partner discussions. Later on in the module, annotations guide the teacher in a step-by-step process of planning a personal narrative.
In Unit 7, students describe an image that comes to mind when they think of the Great Depression. Guidance is given in the Teacher Edition for teachers to invite students to turn their descriptions into descriptive poems using sensory details and figurative language to help readers visualize the image. Subsequent sidebars provide differentiated strategies for engaging struggling learners and challenges for students above grade level. The front matter of the materials contains support for implementing additional resources such as longer readings and novels. Guidance is also given for differentiation and unit projects. The “Extend the Reading” component provides additional reading practice to discuss and write about the texts. The resources tab in each unit provides support for ELLs. Product Support provides teachers access to lessons, assessments, grading, data, and reports to track student progress.
The materials provide implementation support for teachers. The materials contain a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills taught within each unit and module. The materials also include additional support to help teachers implement the materials as intended and additional support to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. The materials provide a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The online platform section Resources consists of the following four options: “Training Courses,” “Online Support,” “Teacher Toolkit,” and “Admin Toolkit.” The Teacher Toolkit has a link for the Scaffolded Scope and Sequence. This Scope and Sequence is solely based on the Argumentative writing lessons that are throughout the materials. The columns consist of information pertaining to the Skills Lessons, Student Engagement, Feedback on Student Writing, and Student Output samples. The Scope and Sequence are in order by themes of the Module Lessons. The information provided is essential to guiding teachers on how knowledge and skills build in Argumentative Writing over the course of the year. For example, at the beginning of Unit 1, the Instructional Overview includes a list of skills taught and assessed. Next to each skill on this list is a reference to the TEKS addressed. For example, Purpose for Reading 5(A), Generate Questions 5(B), Make/Confirm Predictions 5(C). On the introductory page, there is a sidebar on the right side of the page listing the TEKS addressed in the module, written in the same manner as they were in the unit’s opening pages. At the bottom of some of the lesson pages, a box can be found listing additional lesson TEKS. The TEKS are listed by number, without mention of the skills, for example, 1(A), 1(B), 1(D), 2(A), 2(B). In the teacher resource section, teachers are prompted to download a Scaffolded Scope and Sequence. This document does contain links to skills across a wide array of grade levels, connected by topic or theme. However, the TEKS are not mentioned in this document.
The Teacher Edition provides annotations and support for engaging students in lessons. Teachers’ support on meeting students’ needs includes discussing content, building background knowledge, questions and prompts to extend students’ thinking, and developing bilingual scaffolds. Additionally, teachers are provided with several models of rotation stations for working with students in small groups. The materials also include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress, including interpreting and acting on data yielded.
Materials include additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. Under the Resource Tab, the For Admin Toolkit provides ways for engaging families, training courses to become familiar with the materials, and an administrator checklist of action items to prepare for a successful launch and implementation of the program. The Planning section consists of links on the following topics to support implementation: Curriculum Alignment and Planning, Administrator and Technology Facilitator Checklists, Understanding Bi-Weekly Administrator Progress Reports, and Reports Available to Administrators. The Implementation section consists of links on the following topics to support implementation: Creating a Positive CERCA Culture, Data Analysis Protocol, and Learning Walk Toolkit. The dashboard provides several reports such as license activation, lesson usage, grading progress, and reading and writing growth. Further, a data analysis protocol provides administrators a method for taking a deep dive into the data and creating actionable next steps with the professional learning communities to ensure students’ academic success.
Although materials do not include a table, calendar, or pacing guide for a 180-day or 220-day schedule, the lessons in the materials support an academic year of instruction. In the Teacher’s Edition, each Unit consists of a section titled “Planning the Unit.” It provides the suggested amount of days that a teacher should instruct per the unit. The plans range from 5 days to 26 days and entail focus and group structure per day.
The visual design of the student edition is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include visually appropriate use of white space and design that supports student learning without being a distraction. Pictures and graphics within the units support student learning and engagement without being overwhelming or visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The online instructional materials’ visual design promotes student learning. The information is presented in manageable chunks in a slide presentation mode throughout the materials rather than one larger document. There is sufficient white space on each page, and across all units, the layout of information is consistent, where students can easily navigate through the materials. Pertinent information is aligned on the left-hand side. This information includes the unit number and title, the unit essential question, and the unit goals. On the right side of the page are suggestions for extended reading materials. The page’s background has a calming effect with a yellow heading filled with lighter shades of yellow polka dots. Major headings and subheadings are written with the easy-to-read blue colored font on a white background. The other text on the page is written using a black colored font with the goals bulleted and the titles of extended readings bolded. The articles in each unit are in readable font size. A button is available for students to expand the page if they want to allow for more text on the screen. Additionally, unit projects are identified with a light blue background. At the beginning of each module, the reading genre is contained in a blue box, and the writing type is contained in a green box. Directions for instructions are written on the left side of the page, and icons are used to distinguish different aspects of the online tools. For example, the computer icon is used to provide students instructions to complete steps in the learning process. The workbook icon lets students know their work is to be completed in the workbook. The screen projector lets know that they will engage in online skill instruction, and the pen and paper let students know they will engage in a writing lesson. The building blocks denote a skills lesson, and the person reading a book lets students know they will engage in reading practice.
Each unit in the Student Edition consists of pictures and graphics that support student learning without distracting students visually. Readings are paired with thematically linked visuals, and students are provided graphic organizers that support their comprehension throughout the modules. As students read the text selections, tools are available for students to highlight and make annotations. They are also able to have text read to them by an authentic speaker.
Each unit is introduced with pictures that correlate to the reading selections’ topic with the corresponding theme. The pictures and graphics are appealing and engaging to students because they are relevant to students’ interests and the topic being discussed. The graphic organizers help students to organize their thoughts in a structured format. The instructional videos provide an authentic voice, images, and graphics related to the topic under discussion. Students are given information on the Speaking and Listening opportunity and the Unit Writing assignment. Students are then given a synopsis of the Unit project options students will complete at the end of the unit.
The technology components are appropriate for grade-level students and provide learning supports. The materials utilize technology that enhances student learning as appropriate, and the materials include appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In each unit, students access the material via the online platform. Direct instruction lessons are presented in a slideshow format, with a combination of pictures or graphics and text in small, manageable chunks. Students have the option of scrolling through the presentation at their own pace and reading the content on each slide, or they can choose to have the slides narrated with additional support or an automatic advance feature. A small assessment to check for comprehension is found at the end of the lesson presentation. Skills lessons are presented differently as students are asked questions throughout the lesson presentation and receive immediate feedback from their responses. The writing lesson pages contain several interactive features. Students are presented with a menu that allows them to choose a topic overview, selection vocabulary, the featured text, and evaluation criteria rubric and highlights on the far left side of the screen. To the right of this menu, the featured text is presented. Students have the option to widen the text, or they may choose text narration. On the far right of the page, students have access to the assessment questions. Students have the option of keeping the text open on the left side of the page, which can assist with providing text evidence in their responses. Reading practice lessons are set up similarly to the writing lesson pages. The end of unit assessments is also structured in this manner since they are familiar with navigating through the material in the same way.
The materials online platform contains literacy software and curriculum to help educators facilitate instruction to meet diverse learners’ needs. Lessons are thematically organized and leveled, and differentiation tools are present to auto-assign lessons to students based on their readiness levels. The online platform also provides tools for teachers to monitor students’ growth and to provide feedback. These supports include standards-aligned grading rubrics, analyzing student work protocols, and real-time data to track students’ progress.
Additionally, the platform provides reading aids for students. These supports include in-text vocabulary and audio, discipline-specific highlighting and summarizing practice, and automated assessments for comprehension. Moreover, students develop their essays through the online platform. There are discipline-specific writing prompts, interactive graphic organizers, and writing scaffolds and sentence stems to assist students through the writing process. The online platform provides direct instruction lessons for language and literacy skills, the writing process, and the writing framework for students to access as needed or assigned by their teachers. Resources for facilitating speaking and listening activities are also available to students through the online platform. Examples of the resources include Feedback Loop, Rules of Discussion, and How to Deliver an Oral Presentation.
The materials also include teacher guidance through embedded professional development. In the Resources tab, teachers are provided 13 training courses divided among four chapters to acclimate the teacher with the writing framework. After each chapter, teachers take a certification quiz and must score 80% or higher to receive certification in the designated area.
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