ELA Foundational Skills Summary of Alignment & Usability

This report is for a supplementary foundational skills program intended for use alongside a comprehensive core English Language Arts program.

The Pathways to Reading Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 materials reviewed partially meet the criteria for alignment to standards and research-based practices for foundational skills instruction.  The instructional materials use a synthetic approach to phonics. Materials include a scope and sequence that clearly delineates an intentional sequence in which phonological awareness and phonics skills are to be taught, with a clear explanation for the order of the sequence. Materials provide limited instructional support for general concepts of print. Materials include frequent opportunities for students to engage in phonological awareness; however, explicit instruction of counting syllables is not evident. Additionally, instruction in distinguishing vowel sounds is limited. When distinguishing vowel sounds, practice opportunities provided in the materials focus on written words rather than spoken words. Materials meet the criteria that materials emphasize phonics instruction through systematic and repeated modeling. There are frequent opportunities for students to decode and encode words, including common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns and to review previously taught grade-level phonics; however, materials utilize Large Group and Small Group lessons which does not guarantee that every student will have the opportunity to decode grade-level words. Materials include systematic instruction of high-frequency words and practice opportunities of high-frequency words to develop automaticity. Students have opportunities to read and write high-frequency words in tasks. Materials include some instructional opportunities for systematic, evidence-based, explicit instruction in fluency; however, materials do not include explicit instruction in rate. Fluency practice is limited to the use of sentence strips and to outside resources. Materials provide opportunities for students to practice using confirmation or self-correction of errors. 18 Decodable texts are provided for Kindergarten that align to the program’s scope and sequence of phonics instruction and high-frequency words. No decodable texts are provided for Grades 1 and 2.

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