Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Science Bits SmartNGSS 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.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
3
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

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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

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Science Bits SmartNGSS 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.
0/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Science Bits SmartNGSS Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials do not  consistently incorporate learning sequences that engage students in use of the three dimensions and the materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to engage in sensemaking with the three dimensions. The materials do not provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level that build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence and the materials do not provide corresponding assessments at the lesson level to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions. Further, the materials do not provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the unit level and the corresponding summative assessments do not consistently assess the three dimensions.

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.
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 integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning opportunities. Few lessons include all three dimensions or consistently integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities.

Each grade includes nine 5E learning sequences (units), comprised of 5 lessons each (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate). Within the unit, Engage and Explore lessons often were comprised of more than one session, so the full 5E learning sequence varied from 11 to 17 sessions. In Grade 6, six units focus on physical science content and three units focus on earth and space science content. In Grade 7, three units focus on earth and space science content, five on life science, and one on physical science. In Grade 8, five units focus on life science content and four units on earth and space science content.

Across all grade levels in the series, the materials present 12 lessons that include all three dimensions. Seven are found in Explore lessons, and five are found in Elaborate lessons. In Grade 6, three of the nine units have at least one lesson that is three dimensional; all are within the physical science units. In Grade 7, two of the nine units have one lesson that is three dimensional; one is within an earth and space science unit and the other within a life science unit. In Grade 8, five of the nine units have at least one lesson that is three dimensional; three are within life science units and two are within earth and space science units. One-dimensional learning opportunities are consistently focused on DCIs whereas two-dimensional lessons consistently incorporate either CCCs or SEPs along with the DCIs.

Examples where lessons include three dimensions and integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs into student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, students design and create a chemical hand warmer that keeps humans warm in cold weather. Students research information on existing designs for hand warmers, the chemical reactions used in them, and how those chemical reactions release or store energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3). They also determine how to measure the amount of thermal energy released by the chemical reaction. Students then design their own version of a device (SEP-CEDS-M7) that uses a specific amount of thermal energy (CCC-EM-M4) to solve the problem of keeping hands warm.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Explore, the materials introduce a simple energy transfer system that includes a clay flower pot, a cardboard lid, two thermometers, and a beaker of ice water. The online model of the system shows that once a beaker of ice is placed inside of a closed container, energy transfers between the air in the pot and the water in the beaker as evidenced by the changes in temperature of both. With this concept of energy transfer that results in equilibrium (CCC-EM-M4), students watch how ice melts more quickly versus ice wrapped in wool and then construct an explanation of how energy flows through each system (SEP-CEDS-M4, DCI-PS3.B-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Elaborate, the challenge is to design and create a mug that successfully keeps liquids warm. Students analyze information on existing mug designs, including size, shape, and whether the materials used to make the mug are good thermal insulators. Students determine mug design based on these properties, then construct and test their mug design to determine whether the design helped to that slow the energy transfer from hotter to colder areas (DCI-PS3.B-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M3). Through the lens of tracking energy transfer (CCC-EM-M4), students then create their own designs to test a device that minimizes thermal energy transfer (SEP-CEDS-M6).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-A-Distance Forces, Elaborate, students solve the problem of designing and building an electromagnetic car crane that must have the force to lift and move toy cars. The materials present data regarding voltage, core material, wire length, turn, and solenoid strength to determine the components of an electromagnet (SEP-DATA-M4). From this data, students develop questions around the variables that determine the force of the electromagnet (DCI-PS2.B-M1). They build and test their designs, measuring the strength of the magnetic force, then refine their designs using their data, such as number of turns in the coil (CCC-SPQ-M3), to determine how changes in the variables impact the amount of force exerted by the electromagnet.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Earth’s External Processes, Elaborate, students learn about and answer questions on the importance of soil and the process of desertification. Using this information, students generate a report (SEP-INFO-M5) on human activity affecting desertification (CCC-CE-M2) and possible means to offset or reduce this process (DCI-ESS3.C-E1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6: Ecosystems, Explore, students are investigating the island ecosystem using a simulator (SEP-INV-M2). Students are asked what may have caused changes in the species that remain after running the simulation (CCC-CE-M2). Additional questions in this section require students to use the results of the simulations to explain the effects of changes in the ecosystem (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Reproduction, Development, and Growth, Explore, students investigate (SEP-INV-M2) spontaneous generation via an online simulation of Francesco Redi's experiments where a closed jar and open jar each have meat inside. Students collect data (DATA-M3) to determine the source (CCC-CE-M1) of the maggots on the meat. At the end of the Explore section, students learn that only life can come from other life (DCI-LS1.B-E1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Explore, students use an online simulation (SEP-MOD-M7) to produce data from the cross-pollination of both pea plants and fruit flies. In this investigation (SEP-INV-M2), students gather data about genotypes and phenotypes passed from parents to first and second generations (DCI-LS3.B-M1). They predict percentages (SEP-MATH-M4) of the offsprings’ phenotypes and genotypes and use the concept of patterns to make sense of the results (CCC-PAT-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Elaborate, students investigate with an online simulation (SEP-INV-M2) and test hypotheses regarding the problem of why certain plants are not growing to an expected height. Incorporating scientific principles of heredity (DCI-LS3.B-M1), students use patterns in the data (CCC-PAT-M3) to explain (SEP-CEDS-M4) the results of the simulated crosses and determine whether genetics or environmental factors impact the growth of the plants (CCC-CE-E1, DCI-LS1.B-M4).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Evolution, Explore, students use numerous simulators to investigate how environmental conditions like temperature affect the transmission of the trait for fur thickness in a species of rat. In analyzing the data (SEP-DATA-M1), students identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-PAT-M4) in order to make predictions about the effect of environmental changes on a given trait. The data analysis leads to an understanding of adaptations (DCI-LS4.C-M1) and natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1) in organisms.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, students conduct virtual experiments (SEP-INV-M2) to ascertain the type of rock in which a fossil tooth was found. In conjunction with images of the cross section of Earth’s layers, including rock types, students then use patterns in the fossil record (CCC-PAT-M4) to determine the relative age of the fossil (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). Lastly, students use their evidence to support an explanation of what type of animal it is (SEP-CEDS-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9: Climate, Explore, students compare location and temperature data using maps and tables (SEP-DATA-M4). In addition, they collect data during an investigation (SEP-INV-M4) to determine the effect of the angle of light on temperature (CCC-PAT-M3). Following those activities, the materials present an investigation that shows the difference in heating sand versus water which relates to the differences between the sun heating continents and large bodies of water. Students learn how climate and weather are influenced by interactions involving the oceans, the atmosphere, and sunlight (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).

Examples where lessons do not include three dimensions nor integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs into student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Structure and Matter, Elaborate, students research different types of synthetic materials and develop a presentation to share the information with the class. Students report on how synthetic substances are put to different uses based on their different properties (CCC-SF-M2). Students read and synthesize information and assess the credibility or possible biases of the sources (SEP-INFO-E4). While students identify the raw materials used to make the synthetic material, and identify the atomic structure and its physical and chemical properties, the student presentation (or associated rubric) does not include an explanation of the chemical reaction that is involved in making the synthetic material or how the properties differ from the original materials.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 7: The Earth in the Universe, Explore, students use various models of the Sun and Earth in learning about the relationship between them (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Students observe a time lapse video of the sun’s apparent movement across the sky, then determine which model(s) could account for the observation. They then observe time lapse videos of the motion of stars in the night sky from various locations, and from the same location but different days of the year, identifying and narrowing models that would account for these observations. Students then determine which model best accounts for the observations in all videos (SEP-MOD-M5). The CCC of patterns is presented in text as a statement to the students; however, the materials do not explicitly direct students to use the concept to analyze and determine which model best represents the data concerning the Sun-Earth relationship.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 8: The Solar System, Explore, the materials present a scale model of the solar system using the National Mall to show relative distances between the planets (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, CCC-SPQ-M1). The concepts of this lesson are provided to the students who do not engage with an appropriate SEP to make sense of the model or relative distances between planets.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Earth’s Internal Processes, Explore, students use an online simulator to measure mass and volume in order to calculate the density of four balls and compare the results to a standard of clay. Materials then present a table of density of different components of the Earth’s crust. After students complete a simulation of generating S-waves through varying molten core sizes (SEP-MOD-M5), the materials explain that S-waves and P-waves provide enough information to determine Earth’s interior make-up (DCI-ESS2.A-H2). Students do not engage in any crosscutting concepts as they develop this understanding.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, students use a virtual simulator to observe changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as plants undergo cellular respiration and photosynthesis (DCI-LS1.C-H1). The simulator provides a model where students can test various inputs to determine what plants require for photosynthesis (SEP-MOD-M7). A complete understanding of photosynthesis and cellular respiration is not required in order to complete the simulations and create the proper conditions for plant growth, nor does the lesson incorporate the use of CCCs.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 9: Waves, Explore, the materials present various animations for students to learn about the pattern of waves including period, frequency, and length (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Through counting and timing, students use patterns (CCC-PAT-P1, CCC-PAT-E1) to describe wave properties observed in a stadium wave and transverse wave in a rope. As students use an animation to develop vocabulary about waves (amplitude, wavelength, frequency, period, and speed) the materials also provide the mathematical relationships. However, students do not engage with an SEP because they do not derive or use these mathematical relationships.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, in Explore, students learn about the similarities between parents and offspring by observing the adult and young of different dog breeds. Through observations (SEP-DATA-P3), they compare physical characteristics between the parents and offspring. Through guiding questions and text provided in the materials, students learn that similarities in characteristics (e.g., color, body shape, fur type) are a result of sexual reproduction. The materials ask students to identify differences in characteristics, such as tail length and fur patterns, and learn that these are acquired traits and not determined through genetics (DCI-LS1.B-M1). Materials do integrate CCCs into this learning opportunity.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, Explore, materials present illustrations and videos depicting the processes that water goes through on the planet (DCI-ESS2.C-M1, DCI-ESS2.C-M3). After each video, students answer questions about the information presented. The concept that water is cycled (CCC-EM-M2) is briefly mentioned; however, students do not apply this concept to make sense of the DCIs nor is there evidence that students use SEPs.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 8: Weather and Atmosphere, Explore, the materials introduce the concept that meteorologists predict the weather by studying how meteorological variables change over time, and thereby aide in predicting air movement. Through a set of videos, students learn about air mass, air particle movement, and how wind is created (DCI-ESS2.C-M2). After each video, students answer questions based on the information presented. There is no evidence of CCCs or SEPs integrated into the lesson.

Indicator 1a.ii

Materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they consistently support meaningful student sensemaking: the materials are not designed for SEPs and CCCs to support student sensemaking with the other dimensions. With nine units at each grade level, each is structured as a 5E lesson sequence with few three dimensional learning opportunities occuring during the Explore and Elaborate sessions. Across the series, eight lessons support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Two are found in Grade 6, two are in Grade 7, and the remaining four are located in Grade 8. An additional four lessons in the series include all three dimensions, but only two of these support meaningful sensemaking with the DCI and CCC dimensions and the remaining two do not support any sensemaking.

Out of the 123 lessons that are not three-dimensional, sensemaking in two dimensions is consistently found during the Explore lessons and incorporates DCIs and SEPs without CCCs. However, very few of the Explain lessons provide opportunity for sensemaking in two dimensions; the materials present the content directly to the students and focus on one dimension (DCIs); therefore, they do not support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.

Examples where materials are three-dimensional and support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, students solve the problem of warming up cold hands. Students research information on existing designs for hand warmers and the chemical reactions used in them (DCI-PS1.B-M3) in order to design their own version (SEP-CEDS-M7) of a device that uses a specific amount of thermal energy. Using an understanding of chemical reactions and release of heat energy, students develop their own process to track the amount of energy given off by the reaction in order to test and continually refine their solutions (CCC-EM-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-a-Distances Forces, Elaborate, students design and build an electromagnetic car crane with a sufficient force to lift and move toy cars. The materials present data regarding voltage, core material, wire length, turn, and solenoid strength to determine the components of an electromagnet (SEP-DATA-M4). Students develop questions around the variables that determine the force of the electromagnet (DCI-PS2.B-M1). As students build, test, and refine their designs, they make sense of electromagnetic forces and develop a deeper understanding of how changing the number of turns in the coil (CCC-SPQ-M3) impacts the amount of force exerted by the electromagnet (DCI-PS2.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Earth’s External Processes, Elaborate, students learn about and answer questions about the importance of soil and the process of desertification. Students make sense of this information by generating a report (SEP-INFO-M5) on human activity affecting desertification (CCC-CE-M2) and possible means to offset or reduce this process (DCI-ESS3.C-E1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6: Ecosystems, Explore, students investigate an island ecosystem using a simulator (SEP-INV-M2) to see what happens to different species (plants, rodents, insects, snakes and birds) when one of the species disappears from the island. After running the simulation, students determine what may have caused changes in the species that remain (CCC-CE-M2). Students then look at how environmental (temperature, soil moisture, humidity) changes can affect an ecosystem and its populations (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Elaborate, students design an experiment to test their ideas regarding the problem of why Reginald's pea plants are not the expected height. They use an online simulator to make various crosses and summarize their results (SEP-INV-M2, SEP-DATA-M3, SEP-CEDS-M4, CCC-PAT-M3). Students can change growing conditions (humidity, light, and soil) and select which plants to cross from each crop. Using what they've learned about heredity (DCI-LS1.B-M4), students make sense of the data of the simulation of crosses to determine if genetic or environmental factors are the cause (CCC-CE-M3) of Reginald’s plants not reaching the height he expected.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Evolution, Explore, students use an online simulator that graphs the number of shrews with normal fur and thick fur over 100 generations (SEP-MATH-M2). Students use this data to determine that there are changes in the distribution of this hair type allele in the population (DCI-LS4.B-M1). After further investigation with additional selective pressures like temperature and predators, students identify and analyze patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) in the shrew data (SEP-DATA-M1). This provides students enough information to make and test predictions, further developing understanding of adaptations (DCI-LS4.C-M1) and natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, a fossil tooth is found in a rock in the side of a mountain. To determine if it is a dinosaur or marine animal, students use a virtual lab to conduct an experiment on the type of rock. Students use the layers of rock strata to make a prediction about the tooth being from an animal that lived in water. Students apply what they know about rock strata and then use the patterns in the rock (CCC-PAT-E3) to construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M2) about the origin of an artifact found in rock strata (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9: Climate, Explore, the students compare location and temperature data using maps and tables. Then, they collect data to investigate the angle of light on temperature (DCI-ESS2.D-M1, SEP-INV-E3, SEP-DATA-M4). Questions about the patterns of temperature readings in the data table allow students to use patterns as well as cause and effect to make sense of the data (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-CE-M2). In addition, students use their observations (SEP-INV-E3) of heating sand and water to explain how proximity affects the temperature in regions close to large bodies of water (DCI-ESS2.D-M1, CCC-CE-M2).

Examples where SEPs or CCCs meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Explore, the materials present a scenario where children are discussing if putting a coat on a snowman will keep it from melting. Students watch a series of videos showing investigations that demonstrate what happens to the temperature of a closed environment when ice is added. Subsequent videos show what is happening at the molecular level. At the end, students complete a fill-in-the-blank explanation of their observations, followed by an explanation as to what will happen to the snowman if a coat is put on him. Students utilize the idea of energy transfer (CCC-EM-M4) as they make sense of the how energy transfer affects molecular motion and, hence, change in temperature (DCI-PS3.A-M3). While sensemaking is occurring with a CCC in context of a DCI, students are not using an SEP.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Explore, students are led through a series of questions comparing two rock types having the same chemical composition. Students record observations (SEP-DATA-P1) on the effect of heat and pressure on the chemical composition (DCI-PS1.A-M6) and are asked to draw conclusions (SEP-DATA-M4) about those observations. Student sensemaking of the DCI is supported with the use of the SEPs on data. No CCCs are incorporated in this learning opportunity.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7: Energy and Matter in Ecosystems, Explore, students use pre-determined modules and combine them to create a habitat on Mars that will allow humans to survive. Students choose from the four modules of habitation, atmosphere, greenhouse, and waste to complete the base (SEP-MOD-M6). Prior to and after building the base, materials prompt students to provide short answers to questions, complete multiple choice questions, and determine if statements are true or false. Students are given the opportunity to use various SEPs, such as SEP-CEDS-M4, to make sense of how matter transfers in an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.B-H3). For example, one of the prompts tasks students to explain the role of waste modules in the Mars habitat: “use the simulator and notice what happens when the Mars base doesn’t have enough waste modules. Describe what you see and explain why that happens.” There are no opportunities for students to use CCCs
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Explore, students use an online simulation (SEP-MOD-M7) to investigate (SEP-INV-M2) generations of peas and fruit flies in order to predict percentages of offspring phenotypes and genotypes (SEP-MATH-M4, DCI-LS3.B-M1). To carry out these virtual tests, students drag and drop to simulate generations and produce data, but the simulation provides the mathematics involved are doesn’t support students in actively making sense of the DCI and CCC. Through finding patterns in the data resulting from the crosses (CCC-PAT-M3), students are sensemaking about the DCI of each parent contributing half of the genes acquired by the offspring (DCI-LS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Diversity of Life, Explore, students are given opportunities throughout the explore lesson to classify organisms and explain their thinking for the classification choices. Students are led through various groups (external anatomy, internal anatomy, physiological criteria and genetic criteria) and ultimately end with creating a family tree based on classifications (CCC-PAT-P1). Students use patterns to explore the concept that embryological development reveals similarities that show relationships (DCI-LS4.A-M3). Students complete a family tree at various points in the lesson after receiving new information. The lesson ends with students being given information about classification. The materials do not support sensemaking with any SEPs.

Examples where SEPs and CCCs do not meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Energy, Explore, students use a simulation to collect data (SEP-DATA-E1) and answer questions on how changes in height and mass correspond to changes in gravitational potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2). The materials pose the same two questions at the completion of each simulation. While the question asks about each relationship specifically (i.e., potential energy and mass, object’s height and gravitational potential energy) students are not provided an opportunity to put all aspects together. The materials provide a conclusion where information is presented directly. Students are not explicitly asked to use a CCC to make sense of either the DCI nor SEP used in this lesson.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 9: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Explore, students watch video simulations on the effect of the angle of incidence on shadow length and then answer a number of questions about their observations and predictions. This is followed up with questions in regards to temperature differences (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). After being asked to identify an appropriate model (SEP-MOD-M3), students are provided an explanation of the system. The materials do not support student sensemaking of the DCI nor with an SEP or CCC.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Cells, Explore, students use a light microscope simulation to observe different types of cells (DCI-LS1.A-M1, SEP-INV-P4). The materials ask students to identify similarities and differences in their structures. As there is no evidence of students thinking about the relationship between the structures and possible functions, no CCC is present. While students make observations with the microscope simulation, the SEP is being used to provide information related to the DCI but not in sensemaking of the DCI.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 8: Responses to the Environment, Explain, students interact with text to build content understanding of how organisms have receptors to help them interact with stimuli in the environment (DCI-LS1.D-M1). Throughout the lesson, students build content understanding related to stimuli, receptors, and how plants and animals respond to different inputs and how that impacts the organism’s behavior. No CCCs or SEPs are used to help students make sense of the DCI.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Reproduction, Development, and Growth, Explain, students interact with text to build content understanding of how sexual and asexual reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M1) at the organism and cellular level (DCI-LS3.B-M1). Additionally, students learn how organisms grow through embryonic development and the organism’s biological cycle. Students also learn about ways that plants reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M1). No CCCs or SEPs are used to help students make sense of the DCIs in this lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9: Climate, Explain, students interact with text to build content understanding of factors that influence climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) and the main climatic regions of the earth. Students also learn what methods scientists use to study current and past climates and causes of global warming (DCI-ESS2.D-H3). No CCCs or SEPs are used to help students make sense of the DCIs in this lesson.

Indicator 1b

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
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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 for three-dimensional learning. Materials do not provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level that build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence. In the Teacher’s Guide and linked to the cover page for each 5E unit, the overall objectives are not three dimensional, but are categorized into three types: knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Within Engage and Explore lessons, there are three to seven objectives found in the Teacher’s Guide and accessible from the lesson-level pages. While the lesson-level objectives building towards the overall unit objectives, neither the lesson-level learning objectives nor the unit-level learning objectives are three-dimensional.

The Engage and Explore lessons have assessment tasks that are not designed to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions, nor are the tasks incorporated for purposes of supporting the instructional process. Assessment opportunities occur in both Engage and Explore sessions in the form of questions that are consistently one-dimensional and focused on DCIs. The few that are two-dimensional include SEPs along with the DCIs. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data. “Related activities” are located in the Explain sessions and provide additional opportunities for formative assessment; however, the instructional materials present these as optional.

Examples of learning sequences without three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 7: The Earth in the Universe, Explore, the materials present seven learning objectives of which four are one-dimensional, one is two-dimensional, and two are not connected to any dimensions. The four one-dimensional objectives are aligned to SEPs for developing and using models. For example, the materials include the following objective: “understand how observations are combined to discard some models and expand others.” This practice connects to the idea of modifying a model based on evidence (SEP-MOD-M2). The two-dimensional objective is: “realize how difficult it is to create a cosmological model from the observations we can make from the surface of our planet.” Students evaluate various models of the solar system to provide evidence that supports their observations (SEP-MOD-M5), and the content focuses on the apparent motion of celestial bodies (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). An example of a learning objective that is not connected to any dimension is for students to “work on the ability to mentally visualize images and motion from a perspective different from ours.” The materials pose multiple one- and two-dimensional questions throughout the lesson focusing on the concept and/or practice objectives. For example, students view a video of the apparent motion of the sun over the course of a day. They then view animations of four different models and are asked “Which of the following models could account for the previous observation?” The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 9: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Engage, the materials include two learning objectives. The first is one-dimensional: “mobilize students’ knowledge of the existence of the seasons and their cause.” This connects to the concept of seasons being caused by the Earth’s tilt (DCI-ESS1.B-M2). The second one is: “raise a cognitive conflict to challenge the widespread misconception among students regarding the cause of the seasons and to predispose them to build more appropriate models.” This is not a three-dimensional learning objective for students. Students watch a video explaining the causes of the seasons. Then they answer questions related to the information presented in the video. For example, question b asks, “What patterns distinguish winter days?” Students also select true or false to statements such as “the days are longer” and “the sun appears to sit lower in the sky.” These assess student knowledge of the content in the video and the first learning objective, but do not assess student understanding of the CCC of patterns. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 9: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Explore, two of the learning objectives are one-dimensional, and one is two-dimensional. For example, the materials present this two-dimensional objective: “Construct an astronomical model to correctly account for the causes of the seasons and the climatic zones on the planet.” This entails using a model (SEP-MOD-M5) to describe the phenomenon of seasons and climate (DCI-ESS1.B-M2). The objective that is one-dimensional incorporates the concept of Earth’s seasons (DCI-ESS1.B-M2): “Understand geometrical reasons that cause variation in the angle of incidence of sunlight on the Earth’s surface.” Throughout the Explore sessions, students read text, watch videos and animations, and view illustrations to build understanding of the objectives. Questions throughout the session assess student understanding of the objectives. Questions are typically one-dimensional about practices, such as “Carefully watch this experiment. What temperature does the black cardboard reach in each of the three situations?” or two-dimensional between practice and content objectives such as, “How can you explain the relationship between the temperature reached by the cardboard and the tilt of the light rays?” The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Earth’s Internal Processes, Explore, four of the learning objectives are associated with understanding DCIs, and three call for inferences around content. The objectives do not include any SEPs or CCCs. Two examples focused on understanding include, “understand that it is possible to determine the structure of the Earth's interior indirectly” (DCI-ESS2.A-H2) and “understand that the study of seismic waves allows us to determine the presence of different concentric layers in the geosphere” (DCI-ESS2.A-H2). Two of the inference objectives are: “infer the composition of an object from its density” (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and “infer that the substances in the Earth's interior are denser than those on the surface” (DCI-ESS2.A-H2). Throughout the Explore sessions, students read text, watch videos and animations, and view illustrations to build understanding of the objectives. Questions throughout the session assess student understanding of the objectives. Students are asked one-dimensional questions about content, such as “What is the approximate volume of Earth?” and practices, such as “rank the spheres in order of density, from most dense to least dense” after watching a video showing the mass of each of four identical sized spheres. Additional there are several two-dimensional questions that assess both practice and content objectives such as “Based on your observations, can you be sure that Earth’s interior is a mass of molten rock in the liquid state? Why or why not?” Students answer this question after using a simulator to trigger an earthquake. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7: Energy and Matter in Ecosystems, Explore, the five learning objectives are one-dimensional with each aligned to a DCI. For example, “understand the role of producers in an ecosystem's matter cycle” and “present the key role of decomposers in the matter cycle of ecosystems” are two objectives that connect to the concept of food webs and how organisms play different roles in the cycling of matter (DCI-LS2.B-M1). To understand and to present are outcomes related to content knowledge and are not tied to SEPs. The objectives do not include CCCs as a lens for understanding the DCI. A third objective is stated as “observe the carbon and nitrogen cycles in a model ecosystem” (DCI-LS2.B-H3). CCCs and SEPs are not incorporated in this learning objective as it only calls for observations. Throughout the Explore sessions, students read text, view illustrations, and engage in computer simulations to build understanding of the objectives. Questions throughout the session assess student understanding of the objectives. Some questions are one-dimensional for the content, such as, “Complete the list of products and reactants in this reaction” and students select the appropriate molecules from a drop down list. Students also answer two-dimensional questions as they compare different proposals for a Mars base that is supposed to grow plants. For example, students evaluate the design and answer: “Why is this the best module?” or “Would the Martian base still work without the atmosphere module? Explain your reasons.” None of the questions assess student use of a CCC. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Explore, there are a total of four learning objectives. One of them is not associated with any dimensions: “present one’s own ideas in a clear manner.” The remaining three are one-dimensional and focus on DCIs. For example, “observe and describe the traits of living organisms.” This objective builds towards the concept of the variation of inherited traits between parents and offspring leading to genetic differences (DCI-LS3.A-M2). Throughout the Explore sessions, students read text, view illustrations, and engage in simulations to build understanding of the objectives. Questions throughout the session assess student understanding of the objectives. Some questions are one-dimensional for the content, such as, “Keeping the genotype of the F1 generation in mind, tell the genotype of genotypes that could be passed on to the flies in the F2 generation”, or the practice as students count offspring in their virtual laboratory experiment, such as, “How many of the offspring have normal wings? How many have vestigial wings?” Students also answer two-dimensional questions as they compare different experiments and their results. For example, students answer, “So, how come in the third experiment, repeated crosses between a fruit fly with normal wings in the F2 generation and a purebred fruit fly with vestigial wings sometimes produced different results?” None of the questions directly assess student understanding of a CCC. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9: Climate, Explore, the lesson presents five learning objectives that are one-dimensional and connected to DCIs. Two examples include, “understand what climate is” and “differentiate between weather and climate.” The former incorporates the definition of climate (DCI-ESS2.D-E2). The latter builds toward the idea of varying factors affecting weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). A third example is, “realize that the ocean exerts an important influence on the weather and climate, by absorbing the sun's energy and releasing it over time.” This incorporates the concept of how weather and climate are impacted by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Throughout the Explore sessions, students read text, view illustrations, and engage in simulations to build understanding of the objectives. Questions throughout the session assess student understanding of the objectives. Some questions are one-dimensional for the content, such as, what “factors could explain the temperature of different locations” or a practice objective where students read a climate graph and answer, “Look at the climate graphs. What are the precipitation levels like in Honolulu and Portland?” Students also answer two-dimensional questions such as, “Watch the video. How are the latitude of a point on Earth’s surface and the angle of incidence on this point related?” On slide 13, students read data from a table and identifying patterns when they answer, “How do you explain the pattern of temperatures in these cities?” While this question is two-dimensional between an SEP and CCC, the objectives for this lesson do not include student understanding of patterns. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.

Indicator 1c

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
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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 three-dimensional learning. Each unit is structured as a 5E learning sequence and includes the overall learning objectives in the Teacher’s Guide linked on the cover page. The learning objectives are not three-dimensional in design but instead are organized into three distinct categories: knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The number of knowledge objectives vary from 10 to 23 per unit. There are four to six objectives for attitudes per unit and four to six skills objectives per unit. The knowledge objectives generally connect to DCIs or their elements. The skills objectives are often one-dimensional and focus on SEPs but there are instances where skills objectives are two-dimensional and incorporate SEPs with DCIs. Across the series, the objectives rarely incorporates CCCs. The learning objectives are not three-dimensional in design and the assessment tasks generally are not three-dimensional in design.

The summative tasks are presented in the Elaborate and Evaluate sessions. The assessment tasks in Elaborate are consistently designed to assess DCIs and SEPs, but infrequently assess the CCCs. Four of the Elaborate sessions across the series assess all three dimensions but the assessment does not connect to any three-dimensional objectives for the unit. In Elaborate sessions, when the summative assessments are aligned to objectives, they are consistently two-dimensional and designed to assess the targeted DCIs and SEPs of the objectives. In Evaluate sessions, the questions are consistently one-dimensional and focused on DCIs targeted by the objectives. Less consistently, the Evaluate questions are designed with SEPs; however, only a few tasks are designed to measure CCCs and the CCCs frequently are not included in the unit objectives.

Examples where learning objectives are not three-dimensional and summative assessments are not three-dimensional in design:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Structure of Matter, none of the unit objectives or summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional. Nine knowledge objectives build content knowledge related to matter and its interactions (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2 ), such as “the atoms of a given element have a specific mass and properties”. All four skills objectives focus on developing student understanding and use of models related to the DCI, such as, “develop and use models to show that the total number of atoms does not change during a chemical reaction and that mass is also conserved.” The four attitudes objectives are not aligned to any of the three dimensions, although they help build towards understanding of nature of science elements. One example is the objective, “Appreciate the atomic model as a tool for interpreting everyday phenomena and making predictions,” which builds towards understanding that science investigations use a variety of methods and tools to make measurements and observations (NOS-VOM-M1). In the Elaborate sessions, students are assessed on a CCC and SEP when their presentation reports on how synthetic substances are put to different uses based on their different properties (CCC-SF-M2), and they read and synthesize information and assess the credibility or possible biases of the sources (SEP-INFO-E4). However, these CCCs and SEPs are not part of the objectives for the unit. The Evaluate session assesses students knowledge about the atomic model; the summative assessment is split into seven parts with each including multiple questions. All of the tasks are one-dimensional and aligned to a physical science DCI. For example, on slide three, students drag and drop atoms needed to form reactants for a reaction involving ammonia (DCI-PS1.A-M1), students need only to count the atoms to complete the task. Another example of an item not designed in three dimensions is located on slide six: students are asked to “look up the periodic table and enter the symbol and mass” for several atom types. Students do not relate the information to the atoms’ placement in the table nor state the resulting common properties. This assessment item is linked to the concept that substances are made of different types of atoms (DCI-PS1.A-M1), but not to any SEPs nor CCCs.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 8: Solar System, none of the unit objectives or summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional. Nine knowledge objectives build content knowledge related to Earth’s place in the universe and solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1 DCI-ESS1.B-M2, DCI-ESS1.B-M3), such as, “the most widely accepted hypothesis about the origin of the solar system is that it formed from a rotating disc of dust and gas.” The four skills objectives help build towards SEPs, such as “analyze graphs and tables on astronomical data” builds towards elements of SEP-DATA. One objective builds towards a SEP and CCC; “develop scaled models of the solar system, both with respect to the distances and to the dimensions of the astronomical objects” relates to developing a model to represent relationships and relative scales in the natural world (SEP-MOD-P3) and understanding that objects in space can be observed at various scales using models (CCC-SPQ-M1). The five attitudes objectives are not aligned to any of the three dimensions, although they help build towards understanding of nature of science elements. One example is the objective “Think autonomously and creatively by accepting that scientific knowledge evolves with the search for evidence and with discussions of the interpretation of phenomena,” which builds towards understanding that science findings are revised and/or reinterpreted based on new evidence (NOS-OTR-M3). In the Elaborate sessions, students use NASA’s solar system simulator to answer various knowledge-level questions that check their ability to utilize the software. For example, “zoom into Saturn and place the following list of satellites in order, from the closest to Saturn to the furthest from Saturn.” The assessment task ends with each student creating a timeline of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 Satellites presenting the pathways traveled, orbits crossed, and discoveries made by each. The session in two-dimensional with content focused on the objects in the solar system including planets and their moons (DCI-ESS1.B-M1) and developing a timeline (SEP-MOD-P3), but students are not assessed on their understanding that objects in space can be observed at various scales using models (CCC-SPQ-M1). The Evaluate session assesses students knowledge about various aspects of the solar system; the summative assessment is split into nine parts with each including multiple questions. Most of the tasks are one-dimensional and connect to an earth and space science DCI. For example, on slide two, students drag and drop objects in the universe to order from largest to smallest. This connects to understanding the part of a DCI related to the collection of objects within the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), but the focus is on the size of these objects. Other items are one-dimensional with an SEP, such as the graph of meteor data over a year (SEP-DATA) on slide 3 and accompanying questions like “according to the graph, in what month was the meteor shower heaviest?” However, these questions do not address specific elements of this SEP or elements of the DCIs or CCCs.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7: Energy and Matter in Ecosystems, none of the unit objectives or summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional. Twenty-seven knowledge objectives build content knowledge related to energy and matter in ecosystems (DCI-LS2.C-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M2), such as, “sunlight is the external source of energy that sets ecosystems in motion” and “the flow of matter in ecosystems is cyclical and in the direction of the feeding relationships.” The six skills objectives help build towards SEPs; examples that build towards the SEP-DATA include: “analyze growth curves” and “represent the carbon and nitrogen cycles in simple ecosystems by means of graphs.” The five attitudes objectives are not aligned to any of the three dimensions, although they help build towards understanding of nature of science elements. One example is the objective, “understand the importance of multidisciplinary team work in the study of ecosystems” which builds towards understanding many people have contributed to science knowledge (NOS-WOK-M2). In the Elaborate sessions, the summative assessment task involves students preparing two enclosed aquatic ecosystems and exposing one to light and one to limited light (DCI-LS2.A-M1). They observe samples from each of the systems daily for a week and then regularly after that in order to collect data for graphing (SEP-DATA-E1). Students write a report explaining what they were hoping to find through the observations and the procedures used to create and observe the ecosystems (SEP-INV-P4). The students are also instructed to explain if the results matched the expectations and why (SEP-CEDS-M4). The Evaluate session assesses students knowledge about various aspects of energy and matter in ecosystems; the summative assessment is split into four parts with each including multiple questions. Many of the items require students to read or interpret a graph, table, or diagram to answer the question, and assess a content and/or practice objective for the unit but do not fully assess a DCI. For example, Question 1a on slide 2 assesses whether students can interpret a graph of three species populations following a forest fire. Students are asked to determine “what type of succession has occurred in this forest after the fire?” While this assesses both a content and practice objective for this unit, this assessment asks students to analyze and interpret data (SEP-DATA-M2), but the content knowledge focuses on specific vocabulary terms within the larger DCI that ecosystem characteristics can vary over time and disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations (DCI-LS2.C-M1). The assessment tasks are not designed to reveal student knowledge of CCCs.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 8: Responses to the Environment, none of the unit objectives or summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional. Sixteen knowledge objectives build content knowledge related to how organisms detect and process stimuli from their environment and then use that information for survival (DCI-LS1.D-M1), such as “living organisms can detect physical and chemical stimuli” and “animals have developed specialized receptors called sense organs.” The five skills objectives help build towards SEPs: “develop and use a model that describes the interactions of animals, plants, and unicellular organisms with their environment” (SEP-MOD-M2) and “build scientific explanations based on experimental evidence” (SEP-CEDS-E2). The six attitudes objectives are not aligned to any of the three dimensions, although they help build towards understanding of engineering and nature of science elements. One example is the objective, “assess the significance of using scientific knowledge and the interactions between science and technology, in order to meet the needs of humans and to become involved in decision making regarding social problems on a local and global scale, so we can move towards a sustainable future” which builds towards understanding that technologies and their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions (ENG-INFLU-M2). In the Elaborate session, the materials ask students to develop a five-slide presentation about the mechanism the brain uses in order to receive information and use it to coordinate a response or create a memory. The task connects to the idea that sense receptors respond to different inputs and send messages via nerve cells to the brain for processing (DCI-LS1.D-M1). Students then research the topic, selecting at least two resources, evaluating each source in terms of trustworthiness and bias (SEP-INFO-M3) before sharing findings with the class. The materials do not integrate CCCs within this assessment task. The Evaluate session assesses students knowledge about various aspects of how organisms respond to their environment; the summative assessment is split into five parts with each including multiple questions. Many of the items require students to read or interpret a graph, table, or diagram to answer the question, and assess a content and/or practice objective for the unit but do not fully assess a DCI or SEP. For example, Question 1a on slide 3 assesses whether students can interpret a graph of the conditions needed for a plant to flower. Students are asked to determine “How many hours of sunlight does Xanthium strumarium need to flower?” This question does not assess a knowledge or skills objective for this unit. Other questions are one-dimensional and assess knowledge objectives, such as, “What kind of behavior do the ants exhibit in response to the butterfly larvae in the ant next?"
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Evolution, none of the unit objectives or summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional. Twenty knowledge objectives build content knowledge related to biological evolution and natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1, DCI-LS4.B-M2, DCI-LS4.B-H1, DCI-LS4.B-H2), such as, “For natural selection to act on a population, a certain degree of variability is needed. The environment must also exert a selection pressure” and “For speciation to occur, populations must be separated by reproductive barriers.” The four skills objectives help build towards SEPs: “apply the model of natural selection to explain the origin of adaptations” (SEP-MOD-M5) and “interpret evolutionary relationships from phylogenetic trees” (SEP-DATA-M4). The five attitudes objectives are not aligned to any of the three dimensions, although they help build towards understanding of nature of science elements. One example is the objective, “assess the scientific method as a dynamic form of knowledge, progressing through experimentation and the continuous evolution of the models we use to interpret the world around us” which builds towards understanding that scientific investigations use a variety of methods, tools, and techniques to revise and produce new knowledge (NOS-VOM-H5). In the Elaborate sessions, the materials ask students to develop a presentation about a species that has been domesticated by humans. The task connects to the DCI that humans have the capacity to influence certain characteristics of organisms by selective breeding through artificial selection (DCI-LS4.B-M2). One can choose desired parental traits determined by genes, which are then passed on to offspring (DCI-LS4.B-M2). Students then research the topic, selecting at least two resources, evaluating each source in terms of trustworthiness and bias (SEP-INFO-M3) before sharing findings with the class. The materials do not integrate CCCs within this assessment task. In the Evaluate session, the assessment is comprised of four sections that each focus on a different topic. Each section is comprised of multiple questions. Most questions are one-dimensional and are designed in line with DCIs. For example, on slide five, students are prompted with a multiple choice question: “can speciation eventually happen after many generations?” (DCI-LS4.D-H1). A second example found on slide eight presents four pictures of various combinations of beetles. Students are prompted via multiple choice to “indicate the image that shows the population best adapted to the following environments” (DCI-LS4.B-M1). There are two questions that are two-dimensional with SEPs and DCIs. The first is where the students use a map of plants within contaminated and non-contaminated areas (SEP-DATA-M2) to answer the question of what types of plants they would find in each area and what would happen to each type over time (DCI-LS4.C-M1, DCI-LS4.B-M1). The second task that is two-dimensional is where students read accounts of various species (SEP-INFO-M4) and decide if they agree with current evolutionary models by clicking the yes or no option (DCI-LS4.C-M1, DCI-LS4.B-M1). None of the questions are three-dimensional in design as CCCs are not incorporated.

Criterion 1d - 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Science Bits SmartNGSS Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include three phenomena that are consistently linked to grade-band appropriate DCIs. Of those three phenomena, only one is presented as directly as possible. The materials frequently include a topic or concept that is used to drive learning within the lesson and lessons are not consistently driven by phenomena, with only two instances where phenomena are driving learning and use of two or three dimensions within a lesson. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 19% of the units, and explain phenomena in 11% of the units, with most instances occurring within a single lesson within the unit. The materials elicit student prior knowledge for phenomena but not for problems and, further, do not leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems. Additionally, the materials do not consistently incorporate phenomena or problems at the unit level and the few that are present do not drive student learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons or concepts.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). With a total of three phenomena presented across the series, one is presented in the Engage sections and two are presented in the Explore sections. The materials connect three of the four phenomena to grade-band DCIs and their elements; one phenomenon is aligned to an elementary DCI. The series includes five problems presented in five different Elaborate sections and consistently connect to grade-band DCIs and their elements.

Examples of phenomena that connect to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Engage, the phenomenon is two rocks, granite and rhyolite, have different characteristics but the same chemical makeup. After watching a video about the various chemical make-ups, formation, and characteristics of rocks, students answer questions eliciting prior knowledge and understanding of sediment, metamorphic rocks, chemical composition, and rock characteristics. The concepts of rock formation connects to the idea that energy that flows and matter cycles to produce chemical and physical changes in Earth’s materials (DCI-ESS2.A-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, the phenomenon is plants are able to grow, without eating like animals eat, and do not appear to take in matter for growth and repair. The materials present an explanation of Helmont’s experiments where matter for tree growth does not come from soil. Students test plant growth via virtual experiments to learn what factors are essential for plant growth, namely, carbon dioxide, water, light, and mineral salts. The phenomenon connects to the concept that plants use the energy from light, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and water to make sugars (food) through the process of photosynthesis, which releases oxygen (DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, the phenomenon is a fossil of a marine organism is found in the mountains. As students analyze layers of rock strata and the geologic time scale, students develop an understanding of time on Earth and how the formation of rock strata leads to determining relative time scales. The phenomenon connects to an understanding that Earth’s history is organized from interpretations of rock strata providing a relative geologic time scale (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).

Examples of problems that connect to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a chemical hand warmer to keep humans warm in cold weather. Students apply their understanding of exothermic reactions to carry out the iterative process of testing the most promising solutions for hand warmers and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results to develop an optimal solution. Students research information on existing designs for hand warmers, the chemical reactions used in them, and how those chemical reactions release or store energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3), then determine how to measure the amount of thermal energy released by the chemical reaction.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a mug that keeps liquids hot. Students analyze information on existing mug designs, including size, shape, and whether the materials used to make the mug are good thermal insulators. Students determine mug design based on these properties, then construct and test their mug design to determine whether the design helped to slow the energy transfer from hotter to colder areas (DCI-PS3.B-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Forces, Elaborate, the problem is to develop a solution to decrease the number of fatalities on a particularly dangerous stretch of road. Students apply Newton’s Third Law to design a technical solution to lessen mortality in traffic accidents. This problem connects to the concept that a force exerted by one object on another is equal in strength to but opposite in direction of the force that the second object exerts on the first (DCI-PS2.A-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-a-Distance Forces, Elaborate, the problem is a toy factory needs to move miniature toy cars with a device using magnetic forces. Students design an electromagnet with enough force to lift and move toy cars. This problem connects to the concept that size of electromagnetic forces depends upon the magnitude of magnetic strengths and distances between objects (DCI-PS2.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, Elaborate, the problem is to design a process that can be used to conserve water in a school. To reduce the negative environmental issue of water consumption with an increasing population, students are tasked with doing a water audit at their school and developing solutions to mitigate the impact. The goal is to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a specific human impact on the environment. This connects to the concept of human population growth negatively impacting Earth unless technologies are engineered otherwise (DCI-ESS3.C-M2).

Indicator 1e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible. Whereas the materials present one of the three phenomena across the series as directly as possible through video, some missed opportunities occur where more direct presentation is possible for observation and common experience for all students with the phenomena. Of the five problems presented during Elaborate sessions, the materials presented all of them as directly as possible.

Examples where phenomena and problems are presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a chemical hand warmer to keep humans warm in cold weather. The problem is presented to the students via text explaining the challenge of keeping warm in cold weather and a picture of a pocket warmer.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a mug to successfully keep liquids warm. The design problem is presented to the students via pictures and text outlining that mugs are different shapes and can be made of different materials, the purpose of which is to keep liquids hot.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Forces, Elaborate, the problem presented to students is to develop a solution to decrease the number of fatalities in the case of accidents on a specific stretch of road. The problem is presented through a series of pictures and a back story via text outlining the county’s challenge to make the road safer.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-a-Distance Forces, Elaborate, the problem is to design and build an electromagnetic car crane with a certain force to lift and move toy cars. The problem is presented through pictures and a background story describing the needs of a toy factory.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, Elaborate, the problem is for students to design a process that can be used to conserve water in a school. The problem is presented to the students via text outlining the reasons behind the need for water conservation within a school.

Examples where phenomena are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Engage, the phenomenon is that two rocks, granite and rhyolite, have different characteristics but the same chemical makeup. The materials present the phenomenon through a video of two rocks with the same chemical make-up, a picture of the rocks, and text. This is a missed opportunity to provide common experiences or entry points to this phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, the phenomenon is that plants are able to grow—without eating like animals eat—and do not appear to take in matter for growth and repair. The phenomenon is presented as a drawing of a small plant and a large plant. This is a missed opportunity to provide common experiences or entry points to this phenomenon.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, the phenomenon is that a fossil of a marine animal is found in the mountains. The phenomenon is presented in a small photo of a fossilized tooth and with some text. This is a missed opportunity to provide common experiences or entry points to this phenomenon.

Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
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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. In most lessons in the series, a topic or concept is used to drive learning within the lesson, rather than a phenomenon or problem. Across the 27 units in the series, the materials provide two phenomena that drive student learning within a lesson: one in Grade 8 uses a phenomenon to drive student learning and engage in all three dimensions, and the other in Grade 7 uses a phenomenon to drive student learning and engage in two dimensions. Both of these are in the Explore sessions.

The Elaborate sessions were considered as summative assessments; these call for application of knowledge and are presented with rubrics. Therefore the five problems within the Elaborate sessions of the series assess student learning, rather than drive student learning.

Example of a phenomenon that drives student learning and engages with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, the phenomenon is the fossil of a marine animal is found in rock layers of a mountain. During the lesson, students conduct virtual experiments (SEP-INV-M2) to determine the type of rock in which the fossil was found: they gather evidence by dropping hydrochloric acid onto the rock, dragging a copper nail across its surface, and examining closely for details with a magnifying glass. Using the evidence gathered to justify the type of rock, students determine if it is from a marine animal (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). In using images of the cross section of Earth’s layers, students use patterns in the fossil record (CCC-PAT-M4) to determine the relative age of the fossil and use that evidence to support an explanation of what type of animal it is (SEP-CEDS-M2).

Example of a phenomenon that drives student learning and does not engage with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, the phenomenon is plants are able to grow without eating like animals eat and don’t appear to be taking in matter for growth and repair. Students engage in online simulations, to model plant growth under varying conditions (SEP-MOD-M7). This allows students to figure out what plants need for survival as students observe changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as plants undergo cellular respiration and photosynthesis (DCI-LS1.C-M1).

Examples where topics or concepts drive learning rather than phenomena and problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Explore, the concept of corpuscular-kinetic model of matter drives the learning. Students are presented with a scenario where children are discussing if putting a coat on a snowman will keep it from melting. Students watch a series of videos showing investigations demonstrating what happens to the temperature of a closed environment when ice is added. Subsequent videos show what is happening at the molecular level. At the end, students complete a fill-in-the-blank explanation of their observations, followed by an explanation as to what will happen to the snowman if a coat is put on him. Students utilize the idea of energy transfer (CCC-EM-M4) as they make sense of the how energy transfer affects molecular motion and, hence, change in temperature (DCI-PS3.A-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 9: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Explore, the concept of the Sun-Earth system and how it affects temperatures and seasons drives learning. Students watch video simulations on the effect of the angle of incidence on shadow length and then answer a number of questions about their observations and predictions. This is followed up with questions in regards to temperature differences (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). After being asked to identify an appropriate model (SEP-MOD-M3), students are provided an explanation of the system.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6: Ecosystems, Explore, the concept of ecosystem dynamics drives learning. Students investigate an island ecosystem using a simulator (SEP-INV-M2). Students are asked what may have caused changes in the remaining species after running the simulation (CCC-CE-M2). Additional questions in the section require students to use the results of the simulations to explain the effects of changes in the ecosystem (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Reproduction, Development, and Growth, Explore, the concept that living organisms must come from other living organisms drives learning. Students investigate (SEP-INV-M2) spontaneous generation via an online simulation of Francesco Redi's experiments where a closed jar and open jar each have meat inside. Students collect data (DATA-M3) to determine the source (CCC-CE-M1) of the maggots on the meat. At the end of the Explore section, students learn that only life can come from other life (DCI-LS1.B-E1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, Explore, the concept of Mendelian genetics drives learning. Students use an online simulation (SEP-MOD-M7) to produce data from the cross-pollination of both pea plants and fruit flies. In this investigation (SEP-INV-M2), students gather data about genotypes and phenotypes passed from parents to first and second generations (DCI-LS3.B-M1). They predict percentages (SEP-MATH-M4) of the offsprings’ phenotypes and genotypes and use the concept of patterns to make sense of the results (CCC-PAT-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Evolution, Explore, the concept of natural selection mechanisms drive learning. Students use numerous simulators to investigate how environmental conditions like temperature affect the transmission of the trait for fur thickness in a species of rat. In analyzing the data (SEP-DATA-M1), students identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-PAT-M4) in order to make predictions about the effect of environmental changes on a given trait. The data analysis leads to an understanding of adaptations (DCI-LS4.C-M1) and natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1) in organisms.

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 19% of the 5E learning sequences (five out of 27 units) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 11% of the 5E learning sequences (three out of 27 units) include phenomena.

Every grade is comprised of nine 5E learning sequences, each of which are made up of five lessons: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. For any given unit, the lessons vary in length with Engage being as short as one session or activity, and the longest, Explain lessons, including anywhere between three and nine sessions. The length of 5E learning units across the series ranges from 11 to 17 sessions total.

Across the series, problems or design challenges that students solve are presented in the Elaborate sessions of five units. The four in Grade 6 are in Physical Science units, and the one in Grade 8 is focused on Earth and Space Science. As the problems are presented with a rubric, the Elaborate sessions are evaluative by design. Students apply their learning from the previous sessions in the unit to develop solutions to the problems presented.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a chemical hand warmer to keep humans warm in cold weather. Students apply their understanding of exothermic reactions to carry out the iterative process of testing the most promising solutions for hand warmers and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results to develop an optimal solution.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a mug that keeps liquids hot. Students build a prototype, revise the prototype using peer feedback, and build a final product which the class then collectively determines the effectiveness in minimizing heat transfer away from the mug.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Forces, Elaborate, the problem is to develop a solution to decrease the number of fatalities on a particularly dangerous stretch of road. Students apply Newton’s Third Law to design a technical solution to lessen mortality in traffic accidents.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-a-Distance Forces, Elaborate, the problem is a toy factory needs to move miniature toy cars with a device using magnetic forces. Students design an electromagnet with enough force to lift and move toy cars.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, Elaborate, the problem is to design a process that can be used to conserve water in a school. To reduce the negative environmental issue of water consumption with an increasing population, students are tasked with doing a water audit at their school and developing solutions to mitigate the impact. The goal is to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a specific human impact on the environment.

Across the series, students have few opportunities to experience phenomena and then collect evidence to make sense of the phenomena. Two phenomena are presented in the Engage sessions and two phenomena are presented during Explore sessions. The materials present two phenomena in Grade 7 and two in Grade 8. Each of those grade levels include one phenomenon in a Life Science unit and one phenomenon in an Earth and Space Science unit.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Engage, the phenomenon is two rocks, granite and rhyolite, have different characteristics, but the same chemical makeup. While watching a video about the various chemical make-ups, formation, and characteristics of rocks, students learn that the chemical composition of granite and rhyolite are the same but see that their properties differ. Students compare differences at the microscopic level and learn how different types of rocks are formed, to explain the differences between these two rocks.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, the phenomenon is plants are able to grow without eating like animals eat and don’t appear to be taking in matter for growth and repair. The materials present an explanation of Helmont’s experiments where matter for tree growth does not come from soil. Through online simulations, students engage in experiments to model plant growth under varying conditions and observe changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as plants undergo cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Students determine what factors are essential for plant growth, namely, carbon dioxide, water, light, and mineral salts.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, the phenomenon is that the fossil of a marine animal is found in rock layers of a mountain. During the lesson, students determine the type of rock in which the fossil was found and determine if the fossil is from a marine animal. Students use images of the cross section of Earth’s layers and patterns in the fossil record to determine the relative age of the fossil; they use that evidence to support an explanation of what type of animal it is.

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 they intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. The materials elicit students’ prior knowledge through exploratory questions that follow the presentation of the three phenomena identified throughout the 27 units. Students provide responses in either a whole class setting or small group followed with a class discussion. The materials do not address how student knowledge and experiences will be leveraged as related to these phenomena and do not provide teacher guidance on utilizing the information elicited from the exploratory questions. One of the 27 units has a phenomenon presented during the Engage session, and two units have phenomena presented during Explore sessions. The materials elicit but do not leverage prior knowledge and experiences related to one of the five problems presented across the series, but do not elicit or leverage prior knowledge and experiences for the remaining four problems in the series.

Examples where materials elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena and problems:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Engage, the phenomenon is two rocks, granite and rhyolite, have different characteristics but the same chemical makeup. After watching a video, students first answer recall questions about different characteristics and chemical properties of rocks. In the last slide of Engage, the materials elicit prior knowledge and experiences through an exploratory question that prompts students to answer why rocks with the same chemical makeup can have different properties. Guidance is not provided on leveraging the students’ answers in the following sessions of the 5E learning sequence.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Nutrition, Explore, the phenomenon is plants are able to grow without eating like animals eat and don’t appear to be taking in matter for growth and repair. In the first step of Explore, students read a short text describing the wonderings of a scientist on how plants get food to grow and answer the question: “Where do you think plants get this food from?” The prompt is presented as an exploratory question eliciting students’ prior knowledge and experiences around plant growth, but teachers do not leverage the students’ answers in any remaining portions of the learning sequence.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: History of Earth, Explore, the phenomenon is a fossil of a marine organism is found in a rock layer high up in the mountains. The materials include questions providing opportunities for students to share their prior knowledge. For example, students are prompted with exploratory questions such as how do they think different layers or strata in a mountainside might have formed, and out of a list of fossils, students guess which ones might be older. In the following activities, the materials present answers to the exploratory questions; therefore, the materials do not leverage the prior knowledge elicited earlier in the Engage session.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, Elaborate, the problem is to design a process that can be used to conserve water in a school. The materials introduce students to the problem with a text description and four images of common areas of water usage at a school. The materials ask students questions to elicit their prior knowledge about consequences of abusive water consumption and if anything can be done to minimize the impact. The student dossier begins with students identifying the problem and identifying places in their school where water is used and prioritize where water consumption could be minimized. There are missed opportunities to leverage student knowledge and experiences.

Examples where materials do not elicit or leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Changes in Matter, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a chemical hand warmer to keep humans warm in cold weather. The materials introduce students to pocket hand warmers with a scenario and an image, but do not ask any questions to elicit student prior knowledge about or experiences with hand warmers. The student notebook begins with students stating the objectives and requirements of their designs.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Heat, and Temperature, Elaborate, the problem is to design and create a mug that keeps liquids hot. The materials introduce students to the mug challenge with a text description and image with different colored mugs, but do not ask any questions to elicit student prior knowledge about or experiences with mugs or warm liquid in mugs cooling. The student dossier begins with students stating the objectives and requirements of their designs.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Forces, Elaborate, the problem is to develop a solution to decrease the number of fatalities on a particularly dangerous stretch of road. The materials introduce students to the problem with a text description and image with a curve in the road. The materials ask students questions to activate prior learning of Newton’s Laws, but do not ask any questions to elicit student prior knowledge about or experience with how cars behave on curvy roads or safety features of cars. The student dossier begins with students stating the objectives and requirements of their designs.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: At-a-Distance Forces, Elaborate, the problem is a toy factory needs to move miniature toy cars with a device that uses magnetic forces. The materials introduce students to the problem with a text description and images of toy cars and trucks. The materials provide background information about electromagnets, but do not ask students questions to elicit prior knowledge or experience with electromagnets or whether they’ve seen them on cranes or used to lift cars. The student dossier begins with students stating the objectives and requirements of their designs.

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 for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. In most units in the series, a topic or concept is used to drive learning across multiple lessons in the unit, rather than a phenomenon or problem.

Five of the 27 units present problems, four in Grade 6 and one in Grade 8. None of the problems drive learning across multiple lessons. Problems are presented in the Elaborate sessions and provide summative opportunities for students to apply knowledge learned in prior sessions in the unit.

One of the 27 units in the series presents a phenomenon that drives learning across multiple lessons in the unit. In Grade 7, a phenomenon drives student learning and use of two dimensions across multiple lessons. The remaining two identified phenomena in the series drive learning during a single Explore lesson, but not across multiple lessons. The materials consistently provide explanations at the end of the Engage and/or Explore lessons or throughout the Explain lessons. Opportunities for students to develop their own explanations of phenomena and/or concepts infrequently occur.

Example of a phenomenon that drives student learning but does not engage students with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Minerals and Rocks, Engage, the phenomenon is two rocks, granite and rhyolite, have different characteristics but the same chemical makeup. In the following Explore lesson, students are presented with two videos that show differences in the formation of rhyolite and granite. One demonstrates the effect of heat on crystallization, and the second one models the effects of pressure on minerals using playdoh. Throughout the Explore sessions, students are prompted with questions as they learn how different formations of the same rock material result in distinct characteristics between the rocks (DCI-ESS2.A-M1). Students use these models (SEP-MOD-E6) to answer content questions.

Examples of concepts or topics that drive student learning across multiple lessons rather than phenomena or problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Forces, the concept that force is required to change the motion of an object is used to drive learning. In the Engage session, students watch a video showing different types of motion and how forces interact with objects, including a space probe that continues moving at a constant speed even with dormant thrusters. In the Explore session, students use simulations to test how forces, including friction, impact motion and whether it is necessary to keep applying forces to an object to keep it moving. During the Explain sessions, students learn about different forces, including pressure, and the relationship between forces and motion.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7: Energy and Matter in Ecosystems, the concepts of matter and energy in ecosystems are used to drive learning. In the Engage session, students watch a video that introduces the concept that organisms placed in isolation, even with food, die in an airtight container but survive if algae and microorganisms are present. In the Explore sessions, students learn what resources would be needed to create a biosphere on Mars to grow crops. They use this as a basis to learn how matter is cycled through various organisms in an ecosystem. In the Explain sessions, students then learn about the different components of an ecosystem and track energy flows through food webs and energy pyramids. Lastly, in the Elaborate session, students investigate what happens when one closed ecosystem is placed in the light and another in the dark.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Heredity, the concept that organisms of the same species have different physical characteristics drives learning. In the Engage session, students learn that some biological siblings look alike while some siblings do not through a video depicting how parents, grandparents, and siblings can look alike. During the Explore sessions, students use an online simulation to produce data from the cross-pollination of both pea plants and fruit flies. Students gather data about genotypes and phenotypes passed from parents to first and second generations then predict percentages of the offsprings’ phenotypes and genotypes. During the Explain sessions, students learn about a variety of inheritance mechanisms, including different sex determination systems, sex-linked traits, and genetic disorders.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Evolution, the concept of evolution drives learning. In the Engage session, students watch an introductory video to frame the question, “how can a species give rise to other species?” During the activities in Explore, students use numerous simulators to investigate how environmental conditions like temperature affect the transmission of the trait for fur thickness in a species of shrew. Students gather data and predict the effect of environmental changes on a given trait. They use the information to better understand adaptations and natural selection in organisms. Students use an online simulator that graphs the number of shrews with normal fur and thick fur over 100 generations to demonstrate there are changes in the distribution of this hair type allele in the population. After further investigation with additional selective pressures like temperature and predators, students analyze shrew data and make predictions as they deepen their understanding of adaptations and natural selection. During the Explain sessions, students learn about the evidence of evolution, natural selection, and adaptations.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Planet Water, the topic of water is used to drive learning. In the Engage session, the materials present information on how dynamic water is and how it moves around the Earth. In the Explore sessions, students track the movement of water by identifying all of the places it can be found (sea, air, precipitation, etc.). In the Explain sessions, students learn more about the properties of water, how it changes state and cycles through earth systems, its importance to organisms, and how humans alter the water cycle.

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

Materials are coherent in design, scientifically accurate, and support grade-band endpoints of all three dimensions.

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 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
abc123

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 12/05/2019

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
SmartNGSS - Integrated Science 6th 978-1-947342-56-9 Science Bits 2018
SmartNGSS - Integrated Science 7th 978-1-947342-57-6 Science Bits 2018
SmartNGSS - Integrated Science 8th 978-1-947342-58-3 Science Bits 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.

The publisher has not submitted a response.

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.


The EdReports rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of alignment to college and career ready standards and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum, such as usability and design, as recommended by educators.

Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators (gateway 1) to move to the other gateways. 

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. 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).

Alignment and usability ratings are assigned based on how materials score on a series of criteria and indicators with reviewers providing supporting evidence to determine and substantiate each point awarded.

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, 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.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, 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.

For all content areas, usability ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for effective practices (as outlined in the evaluation tool) for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, differentiated instruction, and effective technology use.

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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