Alignment: Overall Summary

​The instructional materials reviewed for Science and Technology Concepts Middle School, Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

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Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
6
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

0
29
48
56
N/A
48-56
Meets Expectations
30-47
Partially Meets Expectations
0-29
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

|

Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
28
46
54
N/A
46-54
Meets Expectations
29-45
Partially Meets Expectations
0-28
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

Criterion 1a - 1c

Materials are designed for three-dimensional learning and assessment.
4/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for G​rades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include some learning sequences that include and integrate the three dimensions, but CCCs are not consistently included. Further, the materials incorporate SEPs for students to make sense of and with DCIs, but do not incorporate CCCs to support student sensemaking. Additionally, the materials do not consistently incorporate three-dimensional learning objectives or include formative tasks addressing the three dimensions. The materials include few to no summative assessment tasks that are three-dimensional in design.

Indicator 1a

Materials are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning.
0/0

Indicator 1a.i

Materials consistently integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into student learning. Throughout the series, some learning sequences include three dimensions and consistently integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities.

The materials are divided into nine units with each unit divided into nine to twelve lessons.  Each lesson contains three to five investigations, which serve as the primary driver of all student learning. Throughout the series, each SEP is present. Students most often use the SEPs of developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations and designing solutions when conducting investigations. Through the investigations, students consistently improve their understanding of the DCIs by engaging with the SEPs. Across the series, all CCCs are present in the materials. However, the CCCs are not consistently included throughout the materials and connections to the CCCs are often limited to one reflection question related to individual investigations. The materials provide few opportunities that include more than one question for students to use the CCCs. In addition, many investigations do not include a reflection question or mention a CCC. Therefore, some learning sequences include and integrate the three dimensions into student learning, but the CCCs are not consistently included or integrated.

Examples of materials integrating the three dimensions into student learning:

  • In Unit: Structure and Function, Lesson 4: Photosynthesis, Investigation 4.1, students investigate how plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis (SEP-INV-M2) and analyze data to determine similarities and differences in findings between each sample and investigative group (SEP-DATA-M7). Prior to designing the investigation, students discuss how the parts of the plants relate to each other when plants photosynthesize (CCC-SF-M1). After determining how plants function with photosynthesis and its relationship to the health of the plant, students design their investigation. Students use evidence from the investigation to explain how plants use the energy from light to make sugars (DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 6: Modeling Waves, Investigation 6.1, students create a model of a wave showing the relationship between amplitude, wavelength, and frequency (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Students use a beaded chain to create model waves, modify the model (SEP-MOD-M2), and record the effect. Students use the model to determine how waves have a repeating pattern (DCI-PS4.A-M1) and read about wave characteristics before measuring and recording the wavelength and amplitude of model waves (SEP-INFO-M1). Students discuss the relationship between the energy transferred to the chain and the amplitude of the model wave (CCC-PAT-M3).
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 2: The Nature of Matter, Investigation 2.3, students plan and carry out an investigation to find out how different liquids affect the reactivity of iron (SEP-INV-M1). Students develop an understanding how different liquids cause the iron to react dissimilarly (DCI-PS1.B-M1), which in turn helps students understand chemical reactions (CCC-CE-E1).  
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 2: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Investigation 2.1, students model the sun-earth-moon system (SEP-MOD-P3) and calculate the relative sizes of the bodies in the system using ratios (SEP-MATH-M4). In Investigation 2.2, using the model created in Investigation 2.1, students develop a sense of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Students use their models to understand the relative proportions of the sun-earth-moon system (CCC-SPQ-M1).

Examples of the materials integrating, at most, two dimensions into student learning:

  • In Unit: Weather and Climate System, Lesson 4: Wind and Air Pressure, Investigation 4.4, students answer the question, “How do you think air pressure and weather relate to one another?” Students conduct the experiment and record their data and observations in their notebooks and determine trends (SEP-DATA-P1, SEP-DATA-P3). Students do not engage with a CCC during this learning sequence. Additionally, while students are engaged in the SEPs, the engagement does not lead to a deeper understanding of the intended DCI.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate System, Lesson 9: Introduction to Climate, students analyze data for five different locations and use the data to determine the climate classification for the observed areas (SEP-DATA-P3, DCI-ESS2.D-E2). Students record their climate zone and cite the average high and low temperatures, average precipitation in inches, the number of days of precipitation, and the hours of sunshine (SEP-ARG-E4). Students discuss why their group chose the classification they did for each location, based on climate as the range of an area’s typical weather conditions (DCI-ESS2.D-E2). The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 7: Selection, Investigation 7.2, students demonstrate how plants use specialized features or animals to aid in their reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). Students discuss how seeds are able to remain dormant and be transported to islands in the ocean. Students plan and carry out an investigation to test how different seeds are dispersed in nature (SEP-INV-M1). The students observe different methods (wind, water, gravity, animals, and mechanical propulsion) used by six different plants to move their seeds. Students record their results and answer questions. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, Investigation 5.3, students create “creature babies” to understand how traits and variation of those traits are inherited from parents (DCI-LS3.A-M2). Students create a model by combining alleles for the creature’s inherited traits (SEP-MOD-M6).  Students are not required to use their model to explain the underlying content of inheritance; students are simply asked to identify similarities and differences between parents and offspring. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 3: Density Makes a Difference, Investigation 3.3, students calculate the density of objects with irregular shapes (PS1.A-M2, SEP-INV-M1, SEP-DATA-M7). They collect and analyze their data, then compare their data to the data collected during Investigation 3.2. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Investigation 4.3, students use a computer simulation to model different phases of matter at the particle level (DCI-PS1.A-M6). After making observations, students pause the simulation then make a prediction by using a jar of plastic cubes to model changes in a system (SEP-MOD-M4). Students record their prediction and proceed with the simulation. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate Systems, Lesson 3: The Water Cycle, Cloud Formation, and Air Masses, Investigation 3.2, students follow a prescriptive set of instructions to build an apparatus they will use as a model for the water cycle  (DCI-ESS2.C-M1, SEP- MOD-M5). Students answer questions at the end of the activity. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.

Indicator 1a.ii

Materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences. Across the series, SEPs and CCCs are present in the materials and students most often engage with the SEPs in investigations to improve their understanding and use of the DCIs. In many instances, SEPs from previous grade-bands are used by students. Additionally, one instance was found where students used SEPs to make sense with a science content idea from outside of the grade-band DCIs. Further, the materials are not consistently designed for the CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions; investigations typically do not reference the CCCs or they are often limited to one reflection question related to individual investigations.

Examples of students using SEPs to make sense with DCIs:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 2: Cells, students observe, draw, measure, and compare onion cells and a paramecium (DCI-LS1.A-M1). In Investigation 2.3, students view prepared slides from a variety of other organisms, then draw and label structures within those cells (DCI-LS1.A-M2). Students read, “Introduction to Cell Types” to learn about different organelles and their structures. Students collect observations and measurements serving as a basis for their comparison (SEP-INV-E3), but CCCs are not included for students to make sense with the DCI or SEP.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces and Motion, Lesson 4: Newton’s First and Second Laws, Investigation 4.1, students draw force diagrams (SEP-MOD-E5) of a stone arch, pushing a car compared to a bike and swinging a baseball bat to hit a ball. Students answer questions about the forces acting on a car hooked to pulleys, but do not observe the motion of the car. In Investigation 4.2, students plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to collect data about the acceleration of a small plastic car. Students then write a paragraph describing motion using a force diagram (SEP-MOD-E5) to illustrate the forces acting on the car (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students use the SEPs to understand how an object with greater mass will need a greater force acting on it to make it move (DCI-PS2.A-M2), but CCCs are not included for students to make sense with the DCI or SEP.


Example of students using SEPs to make sense with DCIs, but the DCI was not from the appropriate grade-band:

  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 7: Gravity: Bending Space-Time, students begin the lesson by reading and interpreting graphs to determine the difference between causal and correlational relationships (SEP-DATA-M3). In Investigation 7.1, students read information from a table to answer questions comparing how much they would weigh on different planets. Students then use provided information to graph planet mass versus surface gravity factors and answer questions. Students use additional information to graph and describe the relationship between planet mass and radius (SEP-DATA-E1). Students read, “Mass and Weight: What is the Difference?” to understand the differences across planets. In Investigation 7.2, students read, “What is the Space-Time Continuum?” before using the Planetary Motion Model to observe how different sized objects interact with each other on the plastic sheet. Students also construct and support a claim about the space-time continuum (SEP-CEDS-M2). While students used this SEPs to make sense of the content, the space science content wasn’t aligned to any Grade 6-8 DCIs.

Indicator 1b

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
0/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Each lesson is comprised of multiple investigations. The Teacher Edition provides one or more learning objectives for each investigation, but the objective(s) for each investigation are rarely three-dimensional, as they frequently exclude the crosscutting concepts. Further, the formative assessment tasks do not consistently reveal student learning and use of the three dimensions.

Additionally, the Lesson Planner in the Teacher Edition indicates formative assessments located within each investigation, but the formative assessments are not clearly labeled within the lesson materials. During the investigation, teachers assess what students understand about the investigations through class discussions, student worksheets and assignments, or student presentations. The Reflecting on What You’ve Done section at the end of lessons and investigations provides an Exit Slip question in addition to multiple questions students can answer as part of a class discussion or in their notebooks.

Examples where materials do not have three-dimensional learning objectives, nor include formative assessment tasks addressing three dimensions:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 4: Cellular Reproduction, Investigation 4.5, the learning objective is for students to “compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis using a Venn diagram.” Students answer a series of questions about the two processes (DCI-LS3.B-M1) before making their own Venn diagram. They compare their answers with a partner then in a class discussion before making any revisions. The Exit Slip at the end of the investigation asks, “Where do cells come from?” (DCI-LS3.B-M1). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 5: Building Blocks of Matter, Investigation 5.2, the learning objective is for students to “Use physical models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules.” Students use a molecular model set to construct molecules for N2 and H20, drawing and labeling each in their science notebook. Students compare similarities and differences between the two molecules (DCI-PS1.A-M1). The Exit Slip at the end of the investigation, asks “How does a compound differ from an element?” (DCI-PS1.A-M1). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 9: The Electric Body, Investigation 9.2, the learning objectives are for students to “Describe the types of stimuli the nervous system respond to” and “Investigate factors that affect the time it takes for the body to respond to a stimulus.” Students plan and conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M5) related to reaction time (using different hands, while distracted, visual or auditory stimuli, etc.), performing multiple trials and recording their predictions, hypotheses, data, and claims in their science notebooks. Students answer questions about factors affecting reaction time (DCI-LS1.D-M1) in the Student Guide and share answers during a class discussion. The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 8: Gravity’s Role in the Universe, Investigation 8.1, the learning objective is for students to “Use a model to examine the relationships between relative body mass and the speed of an orbiting body.” Students swing a Moon Orbiter over their heads, recording the number of revolutions in a specified time period. Students repeat the task multiple times and calculate the average orbital period (SEP-INV-M4). Students then add different numbers of washers to change the mass to model the relationship between the mass of a planet and the speed of the orbiting body. Students analyze their data and compare it to the provided Planet and Moon Data before answering questions in the Student Guide (DCI-PS2.B-M2). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.

Indicator 1c

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
0/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The Teacher Edition does not provide specific learning objectives for each unit; rather, it provides a list (usually 10-15) performance expectations intended to be met by the end of the unit.

The materials include two types of summative assessments: performance assessments and written assessments. Written assessments include multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The final lesson in each unit serves as a performance assessment for the unit and is intended for students to apply learning from the unit as a performance task that includes research, preparing proposals or posters, and class presentations. Across each content area, neither type of assessment is consistently designed to measure student knowledge and use of all three dimensions, frequently omitting the crosscutting concepts.

Examples where the summative assessment tests and tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not fully assess the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives (listed as multiple PEs):

  • In Unit: Earth’s Dynamic Systems, Lesson 12: Assessment, the Teacher Edition shows alignment to seven performance expectations within the assessments and the alignment at the start of the unit includes 11 PEs; the ETS PEs are not included in the summative assessments and not all of the other seven PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students are guided by questions in the Student Guide as they research historic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and develop a proposal for geodynamic event preparedness. The written assessment includes ten questions which do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs and SEPs are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs. 
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 10: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to 10 performance expectations, while the alignment at the start of the unit includes 13 PEs; three of the ETS PEs are not included in the summative assessments and not all of the other 10 PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students are guided by questions in the Student Guide as they research neurological disorders and support a claim related to how the researched disorder could affect job function. The written assessment includes 10 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs, SEPs, and the CCC of cause and effect are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 11: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to six performance expectations, but not all of the PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students answer questions in the Student Guide as they research a technology used to develop or influence a desired trait of an organism; students create a poster showing what they learned about the technology and how it was used to influence the trait. The written assessment includes 15 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs, SEPs, and the CCC of cause and effect are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions: Lesson 11: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to 12 performance expectations while the alignment at the start of the unit includes 13 PEs; the assessment also includes MS-LS1-7, not listed at the start of  the unit. Not all of the other 13 PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students answer questions in the Student Guide as they research a threat to an ecosystem service in the area they live, create a plan for reducing the threat in their area, and create a poster to report their findings to the class. The written assessment includes 12 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs and SEPs area assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.

Criterion 1d - 1i

Materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.
2/10
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Criterion Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for G​rades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials infrequently incorporate phenomena and problems, but when present they do connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs. The materials do not present phenomena or problems to students as directly as possible. The materials incorporate few investigations across the series using phenomena or problems to drive students' learning and use of the three dimensions. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 11% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 7% of the lessons. The materials do not consistently elicit and do not leverage students' prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena or problems. Further, the materials do not incorporate phenomena that drive learning across multiple lessons and when problems are used to drive student learning, students are not provided the opportunity to use all three dimensions to solve them.

Indicator 1d

Phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.
2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meets expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). While there are few phenomena and problems in the series, those that are present connect to grade-band disciplinary core ideas or their elements.

The materials are divided into nine units with each unit containing nine to eleven lessons. Each lesson contains three to five investigations. While phenomena or problems are found within most units, they are found in very few lessons in each unit. When present, the phenomena are generally located on the first page of the unit with the Focus Question or are located near the start of individual investigations. When present, the problems usually occur as an investigation.

While the examples provided are connected to a grade-band DCI, these examples represent most of the phenomena and problems from across the series. There is a dichotomy between number of phenomena and/or problems present in the materials in conjunction with the number of lessons in each unit.

Examples of phenomena in the series connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, the phenomenon of how puppies from the same litter look different is used to help students understand that variations of inherited traits between parent and offspring arise from genetic differences resulting from the subset of chromosomes, and therefore, genes inherited (DCI-LS3.A-M2).
  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon of how the scent of peppermint oil is able to leave an open bottle and distribute through the classroom is used to help students understand molecular motion in different states of matter (DCI-PS1.A-M4).


Examples of problems in the series connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. While engaging in this design problem (DCI-ETS1.B-E1), students apply prior learning related to chemical reactions releasing energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit (DCI-LS2.A.M1).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range (DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, Investigation 8.2, students are challenged to design and build a prototype roller coaster that has the highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2).

Indicator 1e

Phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible.
0/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Few lessons and associated investigations present phenomena designed for students to explain. When phenomena are present, they are typically presented to students in a reading passage as an example or to illustrate a larger science concept or topic without further student engagement. When problems are present, students are generally given the problem and then directed to solve the provided problem. Only two instances were found where phenomena are presented as directly as possible. This is a missed opportunity for the materials to consistently present phenomena and problems more directly to support students' meaningful participation.

Example of a phenomenon presented in the materials, but not as directly as possible:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the lesson phenomenon is how multiple varieties of cabbages have been derived from a single wild cabbage species. This phenomenon is presented to students with a picture of wild cabbage and five varieties (e.g., broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) with the Focus Question, “How do natural and artificial selection change a population over time?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize the different varieties.

Examples of problems presented in the materials, but not as directly as possible:

  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit. After researching an assigned organism’s habitat, population, community, and ecosystem, students read how ecosystems are organized. Students then view a picture of a sloth bear exhibit at a zoo and the teacher tells students to determine if their organism would be a good candidate for a zoo exhibit. A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize requirements for zoo exhibits.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Students view a picture of freshwater mussels which have been reintroduced to parts of their historic range. The teacher (and Step 1 in the Procedure) tells students to determine whether their assigned organism should be reintroduced to a part of its historic range. A more direct presentation of species reintroduction is possible.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Unit, Lesson 5: Transforming and Transferring Energy, Investigation 5.2, the problem is focused on designing a device to maximize or minimize thermal energy from containers (used in the prior investigation). The problem is presented to students by reading text accompanied by three pictures (i.e., person in coat and gloves, pot of water boiling, mug of hot chocolate) and instructions in Step 1 of the procedure.  A more direct presentation of thermal energy transfer is possible.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, the problem is focused on designing and building a prototype roller coaster that has the highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills. This problem is presented to students with a picture of one loop in a roller coaster and the Focus Question, “How do energy transformations inform the design of a roller coaster?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize the motion and full design of a roller coaster.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on designing solutions to support humans living in space. This problem is presented to students with a picture of mars and the Focus Question, “What are the criteria and constraints for humans to live in space?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to help students visualize requirements for space habitation.


Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
0/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Materials provide few investigations across the series using phenomena or problems to drive student learning. For the majority of investigations, a science topic is used as the basis for learning.

When a phenomenon is present, the materials consistently provide students with an explanation of the phenomenon in the next step or paragraph. This represents a missed opportunity for students to engage with all three dimensions to make sense of the phenomenon. Problems drive learning within individual investigations more frequently than phenomena. However, when problems are used to drive student learning, key elements of all three dimensions are not incorporated, and most often exclude the CCCs.

Examples of lessons that use a problem to drive learning, but do not use key elements from all three dimensions, most often excluding CCCs:

  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. While engaging in this design problem (DCI-ETS1.B-E1, SEP-INV-M5, SEP-CEDS-M7), students apply prior learning related to chemical reactions releasing energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining which organisms are good choices for zoo exhibits (DCI-ETS1.A-E1). Students select or are assigned an animal. They research the animal’s habitat, population characteristics, and community (DCI-LS2.A.M1). Students identify what is needed to house their animal at a zoo (what does the animal need, what does the zoo need to do to meet that need - and is it possible/practical/cost efficient to do so). Students make a poster with a claim as to whether their animal would be a good choice as a zoo exhibit and support the claim with evidence about the animal’s habitat, needs, and the costs/constraints for the zoo (SEP-CEDS-M2).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Students research the organism assigned by the teacher and its role in an ecosystem, the proposed area for reintroduction, other reintroductions, and the stakeholders with an interest or concern in the problem. Students research and identify criteria that would be met for a successful reintroduction (e.g., food, shelter, impact on livestock). Students research and identify constraints (size of range, cost, stakeholders) that would impact the reintroduction plan. Students gather evidence to support their argument for whether the organism would be a good choice for reintroduction (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-LS2.C-M1). Students make a poster to communicate their solution.

Indicator 1g

Materials are designed to include appropriate proportions of phenomena vs. problems based on the grade-band performance expectations.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 were designed for students to solve problems in 11% of the lessons (9/85 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 7% of the lessons (6/85 lessons) were designed for students to explain phenomena. For this determination, the final lesson of each was not counted since the lesson was designed as a summative assessment. Problems students solved were typically found as a single investigation within a lesson; phenomena students explained were typically found at the start of a lesson. While few phenomena or problems were found across the series, at least one instance occurred within each discipline.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design and build a prototype coaster to solve the problem of highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students gather information about using calcium chloride to create a new hot pack, design a prototype, collect data, evaluate their prototype, and make a recommendation to their company.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Unit, Lesson 5: Transforming and Transferring Energy, Investigation 5.2, students design a device to maximize or minimize thermal energy from containers. They use information from the previous investigation to create a new hot pack, design a prototype, and collect data. Students evaluate their prototype and make a recommendation to their company.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on humans living in space. Students define criteria and constraints considering technology needed to live in space and begin to design solutions in support of human survival in space.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, the phenomenon is puppies from the same litter looking different even though they have the same parents.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the phenomenon is multiple varieties of cabbages having been derived from a single wild cabbage species.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 4: Electricity in Motion, the phenomenon is a compass needle moving when near an electrical circuit.
  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon is the scent of peppermint oil and its ability to leave an open bottle and distribute throughout the classroom.

Indicator 1h

Materials intentionally leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Lesson 1 of each unit is designed as a pre-assessment for each unit. Students are provided with a Focus Question and often an image related to that focus question, but the image is often not connected to a phenomenon students are asked to explain. The Getting Started section asks students additional questions related to the focus of the unit. If a phenomenon is present, these questions may elicit prior knowledge and experience about the phenomenon, but the questions generally elicit prior knowledge related to the broader science concept. Additionally, an investigation in Lesson 1 of a unit frequently has students begin a KWL chart related to the topic of the unit, but it is not specific to the phenomenon or problem, if present.

Examples where the materials do not elicit or leverage students’ prior knowledge or experience related to the phenomenon or problem:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the phenomenon is multiple varieties of cabbages having been derived from a single wild cabbage species. This phenomenon is presented to students with a picture of wild cabbage and five varieties (e.g., broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) and the Focus Question, “How do natural and artificial selection change a population over time?” Student prior knowledge or experience specific to cabbage varieties is not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, the problem is for students to design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. Before engaging in this design problem, students learned in prior investigations about chemical reactions releasing energy, but prior knowledge or experience specific to hot packs was not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit. Student prior knowledge or experience specific to zoos and designing zoo habitats is not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Student prior knowledge or experience specific to species reintroduction is not elicited or leveraged.

The materials infrequently elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience related to a phenomenon or problem, but when they do it is typically through a class discussion or students recording their ideas in their science notebooks. These student ideas are not leveraged in subsequent learning as students make sense of the phenomenon or solve the problem; often the explanation or solution immediately follows in the next step of the lesson or investigation. There are minimal instances where materials only elicit student ideas and experiences related to phenomena or problems, however, the elicitation is not found consistently across the series.

Examples where the materials elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge or experience related to the phenomenon or problem:

  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon is the scent of peppermint oil is able to leave an open bottle and distribute through the classroom. Student prior knowledge and understanding of this phenomenon is elicited by students describing the phenomenon and drawing a diagram of what they think happened with the peppermint oil particles. While student drawings are revisited and modified during a subsequent lesson in the unit, their understandings are not leveraged during the other lessons.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on designing solutions to support humans living in space. Student prior knowledge and understanding of this problem is elicited by a series of questions from the lesson that students discuss with partners and record in their science notebook. While student ideas are revisited and modified during subsequent lessons in the unit, their understandings are not leveraged during the other lessons.

Indicator 1i

Materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons (or investigations) for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Across the series, the materials provide few lessons using phenomena or problems to drive student learning of the three dimensions across multiple investigations. For the majority of lessons, a science topic is used as the basis for learning.

Each unit consists of multiple lessons; Lesson 1 of each unit is designed as a pre-assessment for each unit and the final lesson of the unit is intended to be a summative assessment. Each lesson provides a Focus Question and often an image related to that focus question. The Focus Question is rarely connected to a specific phenomenon that students are asked to explain or a problem students are asked to solve, but rather it is connected to a broader science concept or topic. As a result, the investigations within the lesson are typically connected to the science topic of the lesson, but not to a specific phenomenon or problem.

When a phenomenon is present, the materials consistently provide students with an explanation of the phenomenon in the next step or paragraph. Multiple examples of phenomena driving learning were not found. In two instances, problems drive learning across multiple investigations in a lesson. Additionally, when problems are used to drive student learning, key elements of all three dimensions are not incorporated, and most often exclude the CCCs.

Examples of lessons using a problem to connect multiple investigations for students, but do not use and build knowledge of all three dimensions:

  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, students design and build a prototype roller coaster. In Investigation 8.1, students follow procedures to build a basic roller coaster, then test how various heights will affect marble velocity (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2). In Investigation 8.2, students sketch a design, build a prototype, test whether their roller coaster design works, and plan modifications (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M1). After completing the design, students answer questions about energy transfers (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2) and read several articles and answer questions.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on humans living in space. In Investigation 9.1, students read scientific text and explore particular criteria and constraints regarding living in space, particularly on mars (SEP-INFO-M1, DCI-ETS1.A-M1). They present their group’s list to the class and accept feedback, as well as, provide feedback to other groups (SEP-ARG-M3). In Investigation 9.2, students brainstorm challenges of living in space (e.g., ground support, technology needed for moving around, supporting life, etc.) and gather additional information from assigned readings to support an argument for or against habitation in space (SEP-ARG-E6 ). In Investigation 9.3, students define criteria and constraints related to their specific topic for supporting life in space (ENG-INFLU-M1, ENG-INFLU-M2).

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Two Details
Materials were not reviewed for Gateway Two because materials did not meet or partially meet expectations for Gateway One

Criterion 2a - 2g

Indicator 2a

Materials are designed for students to build and connect their knowledge and use of the three dimensions across the series.
N/A

Indicator 2a.i

Students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit.
N/A

Indicator 2a.ii

Materials have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication.
N/A

Indicator 2b

Materials present Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) in a way that is scientifically accurate.*
N/A

Indicator 2c

Materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.*
N/A

Indicator 2d

Materials incorporate all grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas:
N/A

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

Materials incorporate all grade-band Science and Engineering Practices.
N/A

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

Materials incorporate all grade-band Crosscutting Concepts.
N/A

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

Materials incorporate NGSS Connections to Nature of Science and Engineering
N/A

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3d

Materials are designed to support teachers not only in using the materials, but also in understanding the expectations of the standards.

Indicator 3a

Materials include background information to help teachers support students in using the three dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems (also see indicators 3b and 3l).
N/A

Indicator 3b

Materials provide guidance that supports teachers in planning and providing effective learning experiences to engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems.
N/A

Indicator 3c

Materials contain teacher guidance with sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3d

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

Materials are designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students.
N/A
+
-
Indicator Rating Details


Indicator 3f

Materials provide appropriate support, accommodations, and/or modifications for numerous special populations that will support their regular and active participation in learning science and engineering.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials provide multiple access points for students at varying ability levels and backgrounds to make sense of phenomena and design solutions to problems.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials include opportunities for students to share their thinking and apply their understanding in a variety of ways.
N/A

Indicator 3i

Materials include a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.
N/A

Indicator 3j

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Indicator 3k

Materials are made accessible to students by providing appropriate supports for different reading levels.
N/A

Criterion 3l - 3s

Materials are designed to be usable and also to support teachers in using the materials and understanding how the materials are designed.

Indicator 3l

The teacher materials provide a rationale for how units across the series are intentionally sequenced to build coherence and student understanding.
N/A

Indicator 3m

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to NGSS.
N/A

Indicator 3n

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to English/Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards, including the standards for mathematical practice.
N/A

Indicator 3o

Resources (whether in print or digital) are clear and free of errors.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials include a comprehensive list of materials needed.
N/A

Indicator 3q

Materials embed clear science safety guidelines for teacher and students across the instructional materials.
N/A

Indicator 3r

Materials designated for each grade level are feasible for one school year.
N/A

Indicator 3s

Materials contain strategies for informing students, parents, or caregivers about the science program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
N/A

Criterion 3t - 3y

Materials are designed to assess students and support the interpretation of the assessment results.

Indicator 3t

Assessments include a variety of modalities and measures.
N/A

Indicator 3u

Assessments offer ways for individual student progress to be measured over time.
N/A

Indicator 3v

Materials provide opportunities and guidance for oral and/or written peer and teacher feedback and self reflection, allowing students to monitor and move their own learning.
N/A

Indicator 3w

Tools are provided for scoring assessment items (e.g., sample student responses, rubrics, scoring guidelines, and open-ended feedback).
N/A

Indicator 3x

Guidance is provided for interpreting the range of student understanding (e.g., determining what high and low scores mean for students) for relevant Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
N/A

Indicator 3y

Assessments are accessible to diverse learners regardless of gender identification, language, learning exceptionality, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
N/A

Criterion 3z - 3ad

Materials are designed to include and support the use of digital technologies.

Indicator 3z

Materials integrate digital technology and interactive tools (data collection tools, simulations, modeling), when appropriate, in ways that support student engagement in the three dimensions of science.
N/A

Indicator 3aa

Digital materials are web based and compatible with multiple internet browsers. In addition, materials are "platform neutral," are compatible with multiple operating systems and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
N/A

Indicator 3ab

Materials include opportunities to assess three-dimensional learning using digital technology.
N/A

Indicator 3ac

Materials can be customized for individual learners, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
N/A

Indicator 3ad

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 02/28/2019

Report Edition: 2019

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
STCMS Matter and Its Interactions 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1410-7 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Matter and Its Interactions Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1411-4 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Matter and Its Interactions Student Guide 978-1-4350-1412-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Earth's Dynamic Systems 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1415-2 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Earth's Dynamic Systems Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1416-9 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Earth's Dynamic Systems Student Guide 978-1-4350-1417-6 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Energy, Forces, and Motion 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1425-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Energy, Forces, and Motion Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1426-8 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Energy, Forces, and Motion Student Guide 978-1-4350-1427-5 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Weather and Climate Systems 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1430-5 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Weather and Climate Systems Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1431-2 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Weather and Climate Systems Student Guide 978-1-4350-1432-9 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Ecosystems and Their Interactions 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1440-4 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Ecosystems and Their Interactions Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1441-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Ecosystems and Their Interactions Student Guide 978-1-4350-1442-8 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Genes and Molecular Machines 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1445-9 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Genes and Molecular Machines Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1446-6 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Genes and Molecular Machines Student Guide 978-1-4350-1447-3 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Structure and Function 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1450-3 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Structure and Function Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-1451-0 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Structure and Function Student Guide 978-1-4350-1452-7 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Matter and Its Interactions 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1564-7 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Earth's Dynamic Systems 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1566-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Energy, Forces, and Motion 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1570-8 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Weather and Climate Systems 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1572-2 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Ecosystems and Their Interactions 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1576-0 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Genes and Molecular Machines 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1578-4 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2017
STCMS Structure and Function 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-1580-7 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Space Systems Exploration 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-2011-5 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Space Systems Exploration Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-2013-9 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Space Systems Exploration Student Guide 978-1-4350-2014-6 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Space Systems Exploration 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-2017-7 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer 1-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-2019-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Teacher Edition 978-1-4350-2021-4 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Student Guide 978-1-4350-2022-1 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018
STCMS Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer 5-Class Unit Kit 978-1-4350-2025-2 Carolina Biological Supply Company 2018

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

Science 6-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The science review rubric identifies the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubric supports a sequential review process that reflects the importance of alignment to the standards then considers other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For science, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Three-Dimensional Learning
  • Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning
  • Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions
  • Design to Facilitate Teacher Learning
  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The Evidence Guides complement the rubric by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

To best read our reports we recommend utilizing the Codes for NGSS Elements document that provides the code and description of elements cited as evidence in each report.


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