Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS; Criterion 1: Three-Dimensional Learning does not meet expectations. The materials include some three-dimensional learning opportunities and opportunities for student sensemaking with the three dimensions, but not consistently. Opportunities for student sensemaking are present for the CCCs and SEPs, but the materials miss the opportunity to consistently engage students in three-dimensional sensemaking. The task and learning sequence objectives are three dimensional and there is a missed opportunity for the corresponding formative and summative assessments to measure the three dimensions for the objectives. Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS; Criterion 2: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning partially meets expectations. Phenomena and problems are present and connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs. Of the phenomena and problems present, about half are presented to students as directly as possible. The materials consistently elicit student prior knowledge and experience related to the phenomena or problems, but provide few instances to leverage it in subsequent learning opportunities. The materials include phenomena or problems that drive student learning and use of the three dimensions within multiple tasks and within multiple units, but not consistently for either the tasks or units.

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
12
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

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. Criterion 1: Three-Dimensional Learning does not meet expectations. Criterion 2: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning partially meets expectations.

Criterion 1a - 1c

Materials are designed for three-dimensional learning and assessment.
6/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include integration of the three dimensions in at least one learning opportunity per learning sequence, but not consistently across all learning sequences. Additionally, a majority of learning sequences are meaningfully designed for students to engage in sensemaking with the SEPs and CCCs, but there are multiple instances that miss the opportunity to include three-dimensional sensemaking opportunities. The materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the task level but the respective assessments are not consistently three dimensional. The materials provide three-dimensional objectives at the learning sequence level, but the corresponding summative tasks are not consistently designed to measure student achievement of all of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives or their associated elements.

Indicator 1a

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

Indicator 1a.i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning opportunities. 

The materials are organized into four units for each grade level. Each unit consists of a Lift-Off Task, three to five Lesson Tasks (5E lesson sequences) and a Culminating Project. Each Lesson Task is completed over four to five days and assumes a 45 minute class period. Typically, the tasks provide opportunities for three-dimensional integration at the Explore or Explain stage of the 5E learning sequence. Occasionally, integration of all three dimensions is also found in the Elaborate stage of the 5E learning sequence. Nearly all of the tasks provide all three dimensions across the entire learning sequence and approximately 80% of the tasks integrate all three dimensions into at least one learning opportunity within the larger learning sequence. The extent of three-dimensional integration varied across the grades. In Grade 6, 11 of 17 tasks include at least one three-dimensional learning opportunity. In Grade 7, 16 of the 17 tasks include at least one learning opportunity that integrates all three dimensions. In Grade 8, 13 of 16 tasks met this indicator.

Examples of learning sequences that integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Task 5, Explore, students design, build, test, and revise a prototype device that makes it possible to live in a region with extreme temperatures. Students identify the criteria and constraints of what their product needs to do (SEP-AQDP-M8). Students brainstorm ideas for their product using evidence from Task 4 on what is happening at the molecular level during thermal energy transfer and what factors affect temperature change (DCI-PS3.B-M2). Students draw a design for their product including labels tracking the energy flow which shows how energy transfer is being maximized or minimized (CCC-EM-M4). Students build and test a prototype product and record their data.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Task 2, Explain, students determine the effects of environmental conditions on plant growth. Students construct an evidence-based explanation for how weather conditions affect the growth of plants in Oakland, CA (SEP-CEDS-M3). Students use evidence from experiments performed in an earlier learning opportunity to support their claims that plant growth rate can be affected by several environmental factors (DCI-LS1.B-M4, CCC-CE-M3).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 5, Explore, students determine how changes in parts of an ecosystem affect the function of the whole system. Students use a computer simulation to model interactions between organisms in an ecosystem and record the effects of changes made during the simulation (SEP-MOD-M5). Students compare results between each simulation and create an explanation of the results they observe in each one (SEP-CEDS-M2). Students observe how one organism’s population changes with changes to the criteria within the simulation (DCI-LS2.A-M1). Students explain the effects of removing the apex predator from an ecosystem and consider other effects that might occur over time with that change (CCC-CE-M2).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 1, Elaborate, students determine whether the decomposition of a deer is an example of a physical or chemical change. Students study images of a river environment today and the same river environment 200 years ago. Students focus on the deceased deer in the image from 200 years ago that has decomposed and is no longer present in the river image today. Students analyze data about the substances at the beginning of the decomposition reaction and compare it with the products at the end of the decomposition reaction (SEP-DATA-M7). Using patterns identified in previous activities, students identify decomposition as a chemical change. Students conclude that changes at the macroscopic level can involve changes at the microscopic atomic-level and if new substances are formed, a chemical reaction has occurred (CCC-PAT-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M1).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Task 2, Elaborate, students investigate how asteroids with differing masses might impact the Earth. Students plan and conduct an investigation about collisions using a ramp and objects of differing mass and size (SEP-INV-M2). Students analyze and interpret their data in order to describe the relationship between mass and kinetic energy as well as the relationship between speed and kinetic energy (SEP-DATA-M1). Students identify trends in their data that lead them to the conclusion that kinetic energy is proportional to the mass of the object, and kinetic energy grows with the square of its speed (DCI-PS3.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M3).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 3, Explain, students determine the role of gravity in the creation of our Solar System and how gravity keeps the parts of the system in orbit around the Sun. Students use three models to explore how objects move in our Solar System. Students use a computer simulation to observe the formation of the Solar System and the invisible force of gravity pulling the planets towards the Sun and keeping them in orbit (DCI-ESS1.B-M3, SEP-MOD-M5). Students use their bodies and a rope to model how the Sun pulls the planet towards it and causes the planet to orbit around the central mass (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, SEP-MOD-M5). Finally, students use a computer simulation to model how mass affects the gravitational pull of various objects. Students observe how the mass of the Sun impacts the orbit of the Earth as well as how the mass of the Earth affects the Moon. Students use these experiences to explain how mass affects gravitational forces in our Solar System (CCC-SYS-M2, SEP-MOD-M5, and DCI-PS2.B-M2).

Examples of learning sequences that do not integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Task 2: Sense and Respond, students engage in a learning sequence to determine that the human body responds to stimuli by following a neural pathway. While students engage in each of the three dimensions across the entire task, the materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any one learning opportunity within this task. In the Engage section, students conduct an investigation where they try to catch a ruler dropped through their fingers (SEP-INV-M4). In Explore, students use resource cards and a video to gather information about the nervous system and its organization (DCI-LS1.A-M3). In Explain, students explain the cause and effect relationships in the nervous system using the ruler catching activity from the Engage (CCC-CE-M2). In Elaborate, students describe the nervous system pathway using a flowchart, paragraph, or numbered list. In Evaluate, students describe the nervous system pathway using a flowchart, paragraph, or numbered list. This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 1: Heating Up, students engage in a learning sequence to explore why global temperatures have been rising over the past century and predict how this affects the Earth. While students engage in each of the three dimensions across the entire task, the materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any one learning opportunity within this task. In Engage, students practice asking questions they would want to ask in order to find out more about the phenomena of rising global temperatures (SEP-AQDP-M1). In Explore, they continue asking questions about different pieces of evidence to see whether global temperatures are actually rising and if so, the reason for this increase (SEP-AQDP-M2). In Explain, students use the patterns from the Explore data to identify cause and effect relationships of how humans burning fossil fuels can affect an organism's traits, behavior, and population size (DCI-ESS3.D-M1, CCC-PAT-M3). In Elaborate, students discuss how stability can be disturbed either by sudden events such as volcanic eruptions or gradual changes that accumulate over time such as burning of fossil fuels (CCC-SC-M3). In Evaluate, students select an organism to focus on for their culminating project and identify the problem they will solve as well as its criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.A-M1). This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 5: Design a Thermal Device, students engage in a learning sequence to design a device that will heat a pool enough to allow blue catfish to spawn. Students engage with two of the three dimensions in this learning sequence. In the Explore activity, students mix five combinations of chemicals as they conduct investigations to gather evidence that chemical reactions can absorb or release heat (SEP-INV-M4, DCI-PS1.B-M3). Students describe whether heat energy is absorbed or released in each reaction, but they do not clearly track how energy moves through a system at this point. In the Explain activity, students use data from the Explore activities to design solutions to best meet the criteria and constraints (SEP-DATA-M8). In the Explain and Elaborate activities, students construct models of two potential design solutions and work through the design process. Then they further test the chemical reactions to find the best combination of substances to cause the temperature of the water to increase the right amount (SEP-CEDS-M7, DCI-PS1.B-M3). This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to integrate a CCC and provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Task 3: Living in Harmony - Weighing the Consequences, students engage in a learning sequence to build an understanding of biodiversity, and research different global conservation solutions currently in use. While students engage in each of the three dimensions across the entire task, the materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any one learning opportunity within this task. In Engage, students watch a video about biodiversity and individually consider the question, “Why might the survival of ALL plant and animal species in the Andes region matter?” (DCI-LS2.C-M2). In Explore, students research current conservation plans/solutions to combat a selected environmental problem that the Andes region faces (SEP-INFO-M3). In Explain, students create a poster describing the conservation plans/solutions they researched, using the evidence from their research to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each solution (DCI-ETS1.B-M2, SEP-INFO-M5). In Elaborate, students discuss and record how they think each of the solutions they researched can lead to both small and large scale changes (CCC-SC-M2). In Evaluate, students think about how they can combine parts of these solutions to create a stronger proposal for their final project. This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Task 3: Gravity - A Non Contact Force, students engage in a learning sequence to gather evidence of the attractive nature of gravitational interactions and how those interactions depend on the mass of the objects that are interacting. In Engage, students watch a demonstration of a light ball and heavy ball dropped in sand from the same height. In Explore, students research gravity utilizing a teacher provided data set, watching a video and using a computer simulation. Students draw pictures to illustrate their understanding that gravity is an attractive force that is dependent on the mass of an object (DCI-PS2.B-M2, CCC-SYS-M2). In Explain, students complete a KWL chart and watch a video on gravity to draw two conclusions about gravity: how they would define it and how mass affects gravitational force (DCI-PS2.B-M2). In Elaborate, students construct an argument that refutes an argument provided in a scenario in which two friends are arguing about how astronauts on the Moon avoid floating away into space. Students use evidence and scientific reasoning from the previous activities (SEP-ARG-M3). In Evaluate, students apply their knowledge to describe how gravity is affecting the asteroid, Etiam. This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Task 2: Effects of Environmental Change on Biodiversity, students engage in a learning opportunity to explore the effects on organisms caused by environmental change due to human activity. They also explain those changes using knowledge of natural selection. In Engage, students discuss what they already know about the term natural selection. In the Explore, students visit stations to learn about examples of natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1) in which human consumption of natural resources is affecting plants and animals around the world. Students notice that species' extinction has more than one cause (CCC-CE-M3). In Explain, students write a paragraph to explain (SEP-CEDS-M1) the relationship between human-caused changes to the environment and populations of organisms in those environments. Students use the idea that natural selection leads to the predominance of certain traits in a population, and the suppression of others to explain this relationship (DCI-LS4.B-M1). In Elaborate, students use the lens of cause and effect to make a prediction about what happens when an environmental change is too extreme for the population of organisms to adapt. They also watch a video and answer questions to draw conclusions about what they have learned over the course of the task (CCC-CE-M2). This task provides one-dimensional and two-dimensional learning opportunities, but there is a missed opportunity to provide a three-dimensional learning activity within the task.

Indicator 1a.ii

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently support meaningful student sense-making with the three dimensions. Across the series, many of the tasks incorporate all three dimensions but do not necessarily lead to student sense-making with all three dimensions. When students use all three dimensions for sense-making, they typically make sense of the DCIs using the SEPs and use the CCCs to further understand the DCIs or support the SEPs. When three-dimensional sense-making is not present, the tasks most often did not use the CCC for sense-making; the CCC was present to check for understanding or confirm a result, but not to support the students in making sense with another dimension. Opportunities for student sense-making with the three dimensions are not consistent across grade levels: Grade 6 materials include 17 of 17 tasks, Grade 7 materials include 13 of 17 tasks, and Grade 8 materials provide 11 of 16 tasks that support meaningful sense-making with the three dimensions.

Examples where SEPs and CCCs meaningfully support students' sense-making with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Task 1: Forecasting the Weather, students determine the causes of various weather conditions in Oakland, CA. In the Explore activity, students produce and collect data that they use to explain the causes of a variety of weather conditions. Students collect and use data (SEP-INV-M4) to develop an understanding that complex interactions of air masses result in changes in the weather (DCI-ESS2.C-M2). In the Explain activity, students analyze the data collected through the lens of cause and effect as they determine what could cause storms in Oakland during the winter and high temperatures in the summer (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-ESS2.C-M2). Students construct explanations using the information gathered to explain causes of Oakland’s weather conditions.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 1: Heating Up, students determine why global temperatures have been rising over the past century and predict how this temperature rise affects the Earth. In this task, students gather evidence to see whether global temperatures are actually rising, and if so, the reason(s) for the increase. While looking at the data, students ask questions to determine if global temperatures are actually rising and to better understand the data (SEP-AQDP-M2). Students find patterns to identify cause and effect relationships to explain how humans burning fossil fuels can affect temperature on a large scale and thus also affect traits and behavior of organisms and population size (DCI-ESS3.D-M1, CCC-PAT-M3).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 1: Pangea Puzzle, students make sense of the theory that the continents were once together in one supercontinent and have separated over time. Students use the shape of the continents to identify patterns that show how the continents might have once fit together (CCC-PAT-M4). In Explore, students analyze evidence cards that provide data about features seen across continents; these cards help students deepen their understanding of how the continents had once been together and then moved (SEP-DATA-M4, DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Once students have identified the features that support their conclusion, they add their continents to the larger system (CCC-PAT-M4), present their reasoning to the class, and take notes on other students’ presentations to make sense of the system as a whole (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students gain further information in the Explain section as they view a video on Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift and construct an explanation agreeing or disagreeing with his theory.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 1: Types of Changes, students determine whether the decomposition of a deer is an example of a physical or chemical change. In the Explore activity, students are provided two data sets that show the molecular level changes that occur during photosynthesis (data set 1) and when fog rises off water (data set 2). Students analyze and interpret the data, taking note of similarities and differences in the two processes (SEP-DATA-M7). In Explain, students use molecular models to identify the differences between chemical and physical changes. Students analyze the models to make sense of these two types of changes and determine if a chemical reaction has taken place (SEP-DATA-M7, DCI-PS1.B-M1). Next, students revisit the data sets from the Explore section, using identified microscopic patterns to differentiate physical and chemical changes. Students use these patterns to determine if plant growth is a physical or chemical change (CCC-PAT-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M1). In Elaborate, students analyze microscopic data about the substances at the beginning of a decomposition reaction and compare it with the products at the end of a decomposition reaction (SEP-DATA-M7). Using patterns identified in previous activities, students identify decomposition as a chemical change. Students learn that changes at the macroscopic level can involve changes at the microscopic atomic-level; if new substances are formed, a chemical reaction has occurred (CCC-PAT-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M1).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 3: Gravity in the Galaxies, students determine the role of gravity in the creation of our Solar System and how gravity keeps the parts of the system in orbit around the Sun. Students use three models to describe the phenomenon of how objects move in the Solar System (SEP-MOD-M5). As students interact with these models, they notice components of the system and the interactions of those components to gain a deeper understanding of how mass affects an object’s orbit (CCC-SYS-M2). Students take what they learned about gravity and motion from the models and combine their understanding into one explanation about the orbits of the planets in the Solar System as a whole (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M2).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 1: The Fossil Record and Geologic Time Scale, students engage in a learning sequence to determine how to use the fossil record to organize the geologic time scale. Students make sense of the similarities and differences between fossils found in different layers of the Earth using the rock sample resource card (SEP-DATA-M7) and compare those to the geologic time scale (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). Students find examples of species that have remained stable over multiple time periods while others have gradually changed over time. They use these patterns to determine what sections of the geologic time scale in which they think the rock sample belongs (CCC-PAT-M4, CCC-SC-M3).

Examples where SEPs or CCCs meaningfully support students' sense-making with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Task 1: Explosions in Human Population, students engage in a learning sequence to determine why there are spikes in human population growth in the past. Students use evidence from graphs and text in the Explore section and resource cards provided by the teacher to apply scientific reasoning to write a paragraph that explains how the evidence supports (SEP-CEDS-M5) the idea that the availability of natural resources affects human population growth (DCI-LS2.A-M3). The information that accompanies the graphs in the student handout and the information students read about each revolution in the resource cards include examples of cause and effect relationships. Students use these examples as part of their explanation, (CCC-CE-E2) but they are not using cause and effect for their own sense-making.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Task 3: Living in Harmony - Weighing the Consequences, students engage in a learning sequence to build an understanding of biodiversity and research different global conservation solutions currently in use. In this task, students watch a video about biodiversity and individually consider the question, “Why might the survival of all plant and animal species in the Andes region matter?” (DCI-LS2.C-M2). Students research current conservation plans/solutions to combat a selected environmental problem that the Andes region faces (SEP-INFO-M3). Students create a poster describing the conservation plans/solutions they researched, using the evidence from their research and their knowledge about the importance of biodiversity to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each solution (DCI-ETS1.B-M2, DCI-LS2.C-M2, and SEP-INFO-M5). The materials do not support student sense-making with any CCC.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 1: A Sun-Earth-Moon Model, students engage in a learning sequence to model the Sun-Earth-Moon system to explain different phenomena they experience on Earth. In this task, students use various models of the Earth-Moon-and Sun to explore what causes the seasons, cyclic patterns of lunar phases, the Sun’s movement through the sky, changes in the stars in the sky, and eclipses (SEP-MOD-M5). Students then build a physical model of the Earth-Moon-Sun to explain one of the phenomena explored (DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students apply their knowledge to explain why a friend in California should not take a ski trip in New Zealand in December. The materials do not support sense-making with any CCC.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, students engage in a learning sequence to explain magnetic fields. In the Explore activity of this task, students conduct investigations at four stations. The stations include: investigations into attraction and repulsion of magnets, investigating the effect of distance on magnetic force, visualizing patterns of magnetic fields, and creating magnetic fields with electricity and the factors that affect the strength of these electro-magnetic fields At each station, students collect data, make observations, and answer discussion questions. Students answer a series of lab questions to draw conclusions about magnetic forces and their qualities (DCI-PS2.B-M1, SEP-INV-M2). The materials do not provide opportunities to support student sense-making that integrates a CCC with any other dimension.

Examples where SEPs or CCCs miss the opportunity to meaningfully support students' sense-making with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 4: Interactions Between Organisms, students engage in a learning sequence to observe organisms' interactions with their ecosystem to learn about different types of interactions. In Explore, students visit stations with resource cards and describe the way the organism is interacting with the ecosystem they observe on the cards. Students identify patterns in the interactions (CCC-PAT-M4). In Explain, students use the patterns they identified to construct a description of each interaction that explains why students grouped the organisms they way they did (SEP-CEDS-M5, CCC-PAT-M4). Students learn the scientific name to these interactions and match the name provided by the teacher to the description in their manual (DCI-LS2.A-M1). In Elaborate, students use the interactions that they learned in the previous sections (DCI-LS2.A-M1) to answer questions in the proposed scenarios using the cross cutting concept of cause and effect (CCC-CE-M2). The materials do not provide students with support in using an SEP or CCC to make sense of a DCI.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Task 3: Gravity - A Non Contact Force, students engage in a learning sequence to gather evidence of the attractive nature of gravitational interactions and how those interactions depend on the mass of the objects that are interacting. In the Engage section of the task, students watch a demonstration of a light ball and heavy ball dropped in sand from the same height in order to introduce the concept of gravity. In Explore, students read three resources and take notes and draw pictures to gain an understanding that gravity is an attractive force that is dependent on the mass of an object (DCI-PS2.B-M2). In Explain, students complete a KWL chart and watch a video on gravity eventually drawing two conclusions about gravity: how they would define it and how mass affects gravitational force (DCI-PS2.B-M2). In Elaborate, students construct an argument that refutes a presented common misconception using evidence and scientific reasoning from the previous activities (SEP-ARG-M3). Throughout this task, students use the practices only to demonstrate their understanding of the information provided to them in the activities, not for sense-making, and there is no support for student sense-making incorporating a CCC.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives in the form of NGSS performance expectations (PEs) at the task level that build toward the three-dimensional objectives of the unit. While there are instances where the assessments reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives, the materials do not provide formative assessment opportunities that assess the targeted three dimensions consistently within the tasks. Formative assessments that do not meet the indicator failed to assess all three dimensions of the targeted learning objectives. Most often the tasks did not formatively assess the CCC or the targeted SEP. In a few instances, the materials formatively assessed student use of an SEP but not the practice targeted by the stated learning objective.

The teacher materials provide an overview of the PEs for each unit and each task within each unit. Within each unit, multiple PEs are listed and those same PEs are divided among the tasks as the objective(s) for each task. Formative assessments include student responses in the Project Organizer and student work related to specific tasks products, such as paragraphs and models. Additionally, the 3-Dimensional Assessment matrix that is provided in the unit overview and/or a “criteria of your choice” can be used to assess student progress toward the learning objective(s). Guidance for the instructional process is consistently provided in the materials. In some tasks, detailed rubrics are provided; other tasks provide samples of student work to use as an ideal response. Teachers are often guided to use the results to determine what needs to be retaught and to identify trends in student performance to provide feedback and allow students time to make revisions.

Examples of materials that provide assessment tasks that miss the opportunity to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Task 4: Got Cells?, the objective is MS-LS1-1 “Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.” The formative assessment tasks include students critiquing a claim and revisiting the project organizer at the end of the lesson. Students explore microscope images of different specimens, then are asked to compare the images to come to conclusions about what types of things are made up of cells (DCI-LS1.A-M1, SEP-DATA-M4). After reading a text, students critique the claim, “Beehives are living things because I can see with my naked eye that they are made up of wax cells,” to assess if students understand that the phenomenon of living things being made up of biological cells can only be observed at the microscopic, not macroscopic scale (CCC-SPQ-M5). At the end of the lesson, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they research and identify the types of cells that make up the body systems they identified in the previous task (DCI-LS1.A-M1). While the formative assessments assess three dimensions, the SEP targeted in the learning objective (SEP-INV-M2) is not assessed.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 2: It Takes Two, the objective is performance expectation MS-LS1-4, “Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.” To complete this task, students explore examples of animal behaviors and plant structures that affect reproduction by studying resource cards with text and images and collecting evidence in a table. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, students write an argument that supports or refutes the statement that bees and flowering plants rely heavily on one another. Students’ arguments demonstrate their understanding of plant and animal parts needed for reproduction as well as their ability to select evidence that is pertinent to the question (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-LS1.B-M2, and DCI-LS1.B-M3). In the second formative assessment opportunity, students return to their Project Organizer and describe the specialized structures or behaviors of their chosen organism that help it survive or reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M3). While students discuss cause and effect relationships, the CCC element targeted in the learning objective (CCC-CE-M3) is not assessed in either of these formative assessment opportunities.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 1: Types of Changes, the objective is performance expectation MS-PS1-2, “Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.” To complete this task, students explore data sets on the properties of substances before and after an environmental change and use models to help identify environmental changes as physical or chemical. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, students analyze physical and chemical properties of substances at the beginning of the decomposition of a deer (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and compare it with the products at the end of the decomposition to determine if the change is physical or chemical. Students explain that changes at the macroscopic level can involve changes at the microscopic atomic-level, and if new substances are formed, a chemical reaction has occurred (CCC-PAT-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M1). In the second formative assessment opportunity, students draw before and after pictures of anticipated changes in their aquaponics system for their culminating project and use data from the task to explain what type of change it is (DCI-PS1.B-M1). While students analyze data to complete this assessment, they do not analyze and interpret the data to determine similarities and differences in findings. The targeted SEP (SEP-DATA-M7) is not assessed in either of these formative assessment opportunities; instead, students are assessed on SEP-DATA-M4 as they analyze and interpret data to provide evidence of a chemical reaction.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Task 3: Living in Harmony - Weighing the Consequences, the objectives are performance expectation MS-LS2-5, “Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services” and MS-ETS1-2, “Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.” To complete this task, groups of students research current conservation plans/solutions to combat environmental problems that the Andes region faces. Students become experts in at least two plans/solutions that they think applies to a selected problem in the Andes region. This task has one formative assessment opportunity. Students determine the best solutions of those presented or researched during the task. Students combine these solutions with their own proposal to create a stronger overall solution for the environmental problems in the Andes region. Students need to consider how their combined proposal might affect human communities at smaller (local) and larger (global) scales (SEP-ARG-M5, DCI-ETS1.B-M2, and CCC-SC-M2). The targeted DCIs (DCI-LS2.C-M2, DCI-LS4.D-M1) are not assessed in this formative assessment opportunity.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 3: Gravity in the Galaxies, the objectives are the performance expectations: MS-ESS1-2 “Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system” and MS-PS2-4 “Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.” To complete this task, students engage with a computer gravity simulation, and they use physical and computer-based models to describe how objects move in the Solar System. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, after viewing a video on a simulated solar system, students describe the role of gravity in the motions of objects within the Solar System (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students describe the orbits of the planets, what they orbit around and why (DCI-PS2.B-M2, CCC-SYS-M2). Students also describe any factors that can affect these orbits using evidence from their experiences in the Explore section of the task. In the second assessment opportunity, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they draw a potential route for a new telescope on their sketch of the Solar System (SEP-MOD-M5, CCC-SYS-M2). Next students explain why the Solar System is laid out the way it is, including the role of gravity in their explanation (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). Students must use their model and data from the task to explain how gravity might affect the new telescope (DCI-PS2.B-M2). The targeted SEP (SEP-ARG-M3) from the learning objective (MS-PS2-4) is not assessed in either of these formative assessment opportunities.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Task 5: Using Waves to Communicate Information, the objective is MS-PS4-3 “Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.” The formative assessment tasks include students engaging in argument from evidence and revisiting the Project Organizer at the end of the lesson. Students write a recommendation that uses evidence and solid reasoning about which wave, digital or analog, is a more reliable way to communicate information about excess resource consumption to people around the world (DCI-PS4.C-M1, SEP-ARG-M3). At the end of the lesson, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they decide if analog or digital waves are a better way to communicate information to help mitigate effects on Earth, using their knowledge of structure and function to explain why (DCI-PS4.C-M1, CCC-SF-M2). While the formative assessments do assess three dimensions, the SEP targeted in the learning objective (SEP-INFO-M2) is not assessed.

Examples of materials that provide three-dimensional learning objectives, have assessment tasks that reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions, and support the instructional process.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Task 3: Interacting Subsystems, the learning objective is performance expectation MS-LS1-3, “Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.” To complete this task, students carry out an investigation and gather data that serves as evidence of interacting body systems by measuring heart rate and respiratory rate at rest and again after exercise. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first assessment opportunity, students construct an argument supporting or refuting a claim that exercising requires only the respiratory system and circulatory system to work together (DCI-LS1.A-M3, SEP-ARG-M3). In the second assessment opportunity, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they explain how different subsystems of the body work together to do an activity of their choice (DCI-LS1.A-M3, CCC-SYS-M1). To support the instructional process, the teacher instructions provide optional sentence stems for students as a language scaffold as well as a sample student response to their paragraph. Materials also provide a sample model and recommend a gallery walk to check for understanding. After completing the Project Organizer, the teacher instructions direct teachers on feedback strategies and having students revisit and revise their work.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Task 1: Forecasting the Weather, the objective is MS-ESS2-5, “Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.” To complete this task, students collect data from a variety of sources to provide evidence for how the movement and interactions of air masses might cause weather conditions. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, students construct an explanation, using scientific ideas, for what causes Oakland’s storms in winter and high temperatures in the summer (SEP-CEDS-M4, CCC-CE-M2). Students’ explanations for the weather patterns discuss how air masses move, cold and warm fronts, and pressure systems (DCI-ESS2.C-M2). In the second formative assessment opportunity, students return to their Project Organizers and respond to a series of questions about the lake with the algal bloom. Students use what they have learned about air masses and weather fronts (DCI-ESS2.C-M2) to determine what causes the different kinds of weather (CCC-CE-M2) and hypothesize as to the role weather plays in algal blooms, using data from the task (SEP-INV-M4).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 2: Using Available Resources, the objective is performance expectation MS-ESS3-1, “Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.” To complete this task, students model plate tectonics including plate boundary interactions. Students read about oil formation and use their models to understand oil formation. Students complete a flowchart to explain the oil formation process and then identify which type of plate interactions form oil. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first assessment opportunity, students make a claim about the relationship between plate tectonics and oil formation, including evidence from their models and reading and scientific reasoning. Students use that relationship to predict how geologic processes and human activity distribute most resources around the world (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, SEP-CEDS-M3, and CCC-CE-M2). In the second assessment opportunity, students revisit their mapped area from Task 1, in their Project Organizers, and list the natural resources in the area, explain the geoscience processes that caused these resources to be available, and list evidence for why these resources are unevenly distributed (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, CCC-CE-M2). To support the instructional process, the teacher materials provide a sample student response for the CER. Strategies on utilizing formative assessment data to provide feedback to students and inform classroom instruction are also provided.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Task 1: Human Population and Resource Consumption, the objective is performance expectation MS-ESS3-4, “Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.” and MS-ETS1-1, “Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.” To complete this task, students calculate their own carbon footprint and calculate the average per-capita emission of carbon dioxide of a region, given data about the populations of different regions in 2012. Students use their data to shade in a map with a gradient of color that represents low to high rates of consumption (ie. carbon dioxide emissions). There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, students construct an argument to support or refute a mock news story claiming that human overpopulation is the only thing having an impact on Earth and the impact is minor. Students use both evidence and scientific reasoning to refute this claim and use cause and effect thinking as they argue that this impact on Earth has more than one cause (DCI-ESS3.C-M2, SEP-ARG-M3, and CCC-CE-M3). In the second assessment opportunity, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they diagram the problem of human population and resource consumption on a flowchart (SEP-AQDP-M8), and list the criteria and constraints for solving the overconsumption of resources problem (DCI-ETS1.A-M1). To support the instructional process, the teacher materials provide sentence stems for students, a sample student argument response, and optional academic language tools to help students strengthen and clarify their ideas. They also provide strategies on utilizing formative assessment data to provide feedback to students and inform classroom instruction.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Task 3: Waves and Energy, the objective is performance expectation MS-PS4-1, “Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.” To complete this task, students use a computer simulation to relate amplitude to energy in waves, create a model of a wave, compare different amplitudes of waves, and analyze characteristics of sound waves. There are two formative assessment opportunities in this task. In the first opportunity, students use data they previously collected and their knowledge of wave characteristics to interpret four different graphs (SEP-MATH-M2). This formative assessment tests student knowledge of wave characteristics, ability to make comparisons and identify patterns, and knowledge of the relationships between wave amplitude and energy (DCI-PS4.A-M1, CCC-PAT-M4). In the second assessment opportunity, students revisit the Project Organizer in which they draw a model of an ocean wave, including labels, and answer questions about waves and their relationship with energy (DCI-PS4.A-M1).

Indicator 1c

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional. The instructional materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives for learning sequences, however the summative tasks are not consistently designed to measure student achievement of all of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives or their associated elements.

Across all grade levels, each unit presents three-dimensional learning objectives in the form of performance expectations (PEs). The number of PEs targeted in each unit varies. All units consist of four to six 5E tasks which lead to a Culminating Project. The Culminating Project consists of both a group and an individual component. The materials recommend the use of the Culminating Projects as the unit summative assessments for students. Rubrics designed to assess the three dimensions and specific to the criteria of the Individual Culminating Project are provided in both the teacher and student materials.

Examples of units that provide three-dimensional learning objectives; summative tasks measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Nature via Nurture, the learning objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS2-5, MS-LS1-5, and MS-LS3-2. The materials include a Culminating Project as the summative assessment. The project includes a group component in which students create a news story update on their local lake experiencing a toxic algal bloom. The project also includes an individual component in which each student writes a letter to the town mayor explaining the problem and advocating for a potential solution. Students describe the toxic algal bloom problem at the local lake and provide background on the cyanobacteria developing a model (SEP-MOD-M5) that shows how the cyanobacteria reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M1, DCI-LS3.B-M1) and what that means for variation in their species (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-LS3.A-M2). Students include a description of the optimal growing conditions for the toxic cyanobacteria, a background on the relevant history of weather in the region, and an explanation of what likely caused these different weather conditions from year to year (DCI-ESS2.C-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M2, and CCC-CE-M2), supported by data from Task 1 as evidence (SEP-INV-M4). Students also construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) for whether the toxic algal blooms are caused by genetic and/or environmental factors (CCC-CE-M3) using evidence from tasks that supports the explanation for how environmental and genetic factors affect growth of organisms (DCI-LS3.B-M4). The summative assessment tasks measure student understanding of all objectives and associated elements. Across the assessments, all three dimensions are assessed.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: A Balanced Biosphere, the learning objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-ESS2-3, and MS-ESS3-1. The materials include a Culminating Project as the summative assessment. The summative assessment consists of 2 parts. To complete the group project, students create a map or diorama that shows the geography of their arena, the natural resources found, and abiotic factors. Students develop a challenge in which they must locate a specific plant or animal by using information about another plant or animal. In the individual project, students create a brochure or flyer to explain their group project. Students explain how plate motions led to the geographic features in their arena, and they describe the patterns in data from Task 1 that provide evidence for past plate motions (DCI-ESS2.B-M1, SEP-DATA-M4, and CCC-PAT-M2). Students explain how geoscience processes and current human activities affect which resources are available in their arena (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, CCC-CE-M2) using evidence from Task 2 to support their explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3). Students draw a model (SEP-MOD-M5) that shows how matter and energy are cycled within their arena ecosystem, and they explain how they can track the flow of energy through their arena’s ecosystem (DCI-LS2.B-M1, CCC-EM-M4). Students describe how the contestant challenge works, explaining how each plant or animal leads the contestant to the next plant or animal. They utilize and identify at least two different types of organism interactions based on patterns they observed in Task 4 (DCI-LS2.A-M4, SEP-CEDS-M1, and CCC-PAT-M3). Students describe the potential effects on the entire ecosystem if budget constraints result in the removal of one major resource of their arena (CCC-CE-M2), giving examples of populations of organisms that may be affected in order to explain why removing a resource can result in a chain of effects (DCI-LS2.A-M1, DCI-LS2.A-M2, and DCI-LS2.A-M3). Students describe data from Task 5 that allows them to predict this outcome (SEP-DATA-M4). The group and individual Culminating Projects measure student understanding of all objectives and associated elements. Across the assessments, all three dimensions are assessed.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Using Engineering & Technology to Sustain Our World, the learning objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS3-4, MS-LS4-4, MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3, MS-ETS1-1, and MS-ETS1-2. The summative assessment consists of a group project where students create a scientific poster, and an individual project where students write a letter. In the group project, students will choose one of three solutions to research: solar energy, ocean wave energy, or satellite image monitoring. Based on their research, their group will create a scientific poster to present arguments and counterarguments. In the individual project, students write a letter to an environmental non-profit organization, recommending which solution they should put their funding towards and why. Students first define the problem Earth faces, listing the criteria and constraints of solving the problem. Students construct an argument to convince the reader of the importance of the problem. They describe the cause-and-effect relationships at work to harm Earth (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-ESS3.C-M2, and CCC-CE-M2). They also use natural selection to explain and predict why these changes to the environment also affects organisms. They support with evidence and reasoning to describe this relationship between environment and traits (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-LS4.B-M1, and CCC-CE-M3). Students describe the three solutions presented from the group project. For ocean waves energy, they draw and compare at least two mathematical wave models to explain how the characteristics of different ocean waves might affect the energy that can be transferred from the ocean wave to the energy-capture devices (SEP-MATH-M2, DCI-PS4.A-M1, and CCC-EM-M4). For solar energy, they draw a model to explain all the different wave interactions involved in solar radiation in order to explain how light waves from the Sun can be used for energy in solar panel technology (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-PS4.B-M1, DCI-PS4.B-M2, DCI-PS4.B-M3, and CCC-SF-M2). For satellite image monitoring, students make a claim for what type of signals has the best structure to communicate satellite images, combining information from the texts, videos, and pictures in Task 5 to explain why (SEP-INFO-M2, DCI-PS4.C-M1, and CCC-SF-M2). Finally, students evaluate the three solutions and recommend one solution to be funded, explaining how well the solution they chose meets the criteria and constraints of the problem (SEP-ARG-M5, DCI-ETS1.B-M2). The group and individual Culminating Projects measure student understanding of all objectives and associated elements. Across the assessments, all three dimensions are assessed.

Examples of units that provide three-dimensional learning objectives; summative tasks miss the opportunity to fully measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Setting Things in Motion, the learning objectives are the following PEs: MS-PS3-5, MS-LS1-8, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-1, and MS-LS1-2. The summative assessment consists of a Group Project in which students create a video or presentation and an individual project in which students create a brochure. To complete the Group Project, students create a video or presentation demonstrating a self-selected activity and explain the role of the human body in making the motion happen. Students must use information learned from Task 2 to describe the body’s nervous system pathway and the process involved in using the body to move an object (DCI-LS1.D-M1, SEP-INFO-M3). The group explanation must detail how different body systems interact during the activity (DCI-LS1.A-M3, CCC-SYS-M1) and where energy comes from to move the object (DCI-LS1.A-M2). In the individual project, students create a brochure to give more detail on the science involved the human body putting an object in motion. Students present an argument for why the motion of an object can vary. Their argument includes the relationship between kinetic energy and energy transfer and is supported with evidence from the investigations conducted in Task 1 (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-PS3.B-M1, and CCC-EM-M3). Students draw a labeled diagram of the nervous system pathway that causes the object to move and include citation of sources (DCI-LS1.D-M1, SEP-INFO-E4, and CCC-CE-M2). Students construct an argument for how the subsystems of the body interact to make the activity possible, including a description of each subsystems’ function and a diagram showing how they interact (DCI-LS1.A, SEP-ARG-M3, and CCC-SYS-M1). Students explain where the energy used to move the object actually comes from using a model that includes the different parts of the cell responsible for producing cellular energy (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-LS1.A-M2). The model discusses the structures and functions within the cell that are important to this process (DCI-LS1.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M5). The materials assess PE-MS-LS1-1 through the Explore activity in Task 4. In the assessment of PE MS-LS1-1, students observe seven images of living and nonliving objects at the macro and microscopic scale and record observations. Students should see that living organisms have small circular structures (cells) at the microscopic level that cannot be seen at the macroscopic level (DCI-LS1.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M5). This activity is completed in groups and discussed as a class, allowing students opportunities to make changes prior to being collected and assessed. Although the materials label this activity a summative assessment opportunity, because this activity allows students to make changes in their work after a group discussion, this activity is formative rather than summative. In addition, there is no assessment opportunity that assesses student understanding and ability to complete the scientific practice associated with MS-LS1-1 (SEP-INV-M2). The group and individual Culminating Projects measure student understanding of four of the five three-dimensional learning objectives and associated elements.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Mimicking Nature’s Design, the learning objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-ESS2-1, MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-5, MS-PS1-6, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. The materials include a Culminating Project as the summative assessment. The project has a group component in which students design and build a sustainable aquaponics system that mimics the properties of a river environment. The project has an individual component in which each student writes an instruction manual that describes their aquaponics system and explains the science behind how it functions. The models from Task 5 -Explain are also collected as a summative assessment of MS-ETS1-4. In the instruction manual, students draw a diagram of their aquaponics system and label all the living and nonliving parts. Students develop a model (SEP-MOD-M6) to describe the process of cellular respiration that occurs within an animal (DCI-LS1.C-M2, PS3.D-M2) in their aquaponics system, including all matter and energy involved (CCC-EM-M1). Students describe that matter is conserved, specifically within the context of the cellular respiration chemical reaction (PS1.B-M2). Students identify an organism in their system and describe photosynthesis (DCI-LS1.C-M1, DCI-PS3.D-M1) explaining how energy drives the cycling of matter (CCC-EM-M2) and supporting the explanation with evidence from the previously completed tasks (SEP-CEDS-M3). Students model and describe which processes (SEP-MOD-M5) of the rock cycle might occur in the system over time (CCC-SC-M2). They show the cycling of Earth’s materials in the aquaponics system and describe the flow of energy that drives this process (DCI-ESS2.A-M1). Students explain why some rock cycle processes explored in Task 4 do not occur in their aquaponics system by examining each process at different time scales (CCC-SC-M2). Students identify a physical and a chemical change that occurs in their aquaponics system (DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.B-M2) using data from Task 1 (SEP-DATA-M7) to support identifications with an explanation of how macroscopic patterns allow them to determine the microscopic structure for each change (CCC-PAT-M1). Students draw a diagram (SEP-MOD-M7) of the heat-regulation device designed (DCI-PS1.B-M3, CCC-EM-M4) and explain how it will work within the aquaponics system (SEP-CEDS-M7). They describe the design process that led to the final product (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M1, and DCI-ETS1.C-M2). In Task 5, students develop models (SEP-MOD-M7) for iterative testing of a proposed heat-regulation device, describing how they acknowledge constraints and use an exothermic reaction to meet the criteria (DCI-ETS1.C-M2). Students show the redesigns of their heat-regulation device to better meet the criteria, referencing the relevant test data of different devices (SEP-DATA-M4) to explain how they have combined the best characteristics of each device (DCI-ETS1.B-M3). The summative assessment tasks measure student understanding of most elements within the targeted objectives. Task 5 is meant to assess MS-ETS1-4, but the prompts do not specifically assess DCI-ETSB.1-M4. The materials emphasize the SEP of modeling, but the distinction between the SEP and the DCI is not explicitly taught nor assessed.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Adapt or Die?, the learning objectives are the following PEs: MS-ESS1-4, MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, and MS-LS4-6. The summative for this task is the Culminating Project which is divided into two parts: group and individual projects. As a group, students prepare for a Think Tank discussion as a group focusing on the question: “Should we intervene on the behalf of species that are affected by environmental change or allow nature to take its course?” Students provide background on their chosen species explaining the environmental changes that are affecting the species. Students explain scientists' predictions for that species using the scientific ideas of natural selection and adaptation (DCI-LS4.B-M1, DCI-LS4.C-M1). Students research the past changes in species and the results from those changes (DCI-LS4.A-M1). Students develop their argument regarding human intervention and defend their choice (SEP-CEDS-M3). To complete the individual project, students draw a pretend fossil record using scientific concepts to demonstrate how their species may have changed over time (DCI-ESS1.C-M1, DCI-LS4.A-M1, and CCC-SC-M3). In the fossil record, students show the changes in their species due to environmental changes and predict how the species may change in the future. Students write captions that explain how the fossil record shows relative dating of the history of their species (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). Students explain the relationship between environmental change and the trait seen in their species using the idea of natural selection. They explain how the cause and effect relationship helps them to predict what their species may look like in the future (SEP-CEDS-M3, SEP-CEDS-M4, DCI-LS4.B-M1, and DCI-LS4.C-M1). Students compare their chosen species to the simulation in Task 3 and use the results from Task 3 as evidence for their predictions. Students use the evidence from the articles in Task 4 to describe how humans can affect the traits of organisms using multiple technologies (DCI-LS4.B-M2, SEP-CEDS-M4). Students draw a model to describe how scientists can create change in the genes of their chosen species. They explain how those changes change the structure and function of the organism (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-LS3.A-M1, DCI-LS3.B-M2, and CCC-SF-M1). Students then construct their own argument to the question about whether or not humans should intervene on behalf of an endangered species. Students include evidence and scientific reasoning from research, the Think Tank discussion, and a description of the counter-argument (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-LS4.B-M2, and DCI-LS4.C-M1). The DCIs LS4.A-M2 and LS4.A-M3 are not assessed in either portion of the Culminating Project; several SEPs and CCCs associated with the stated learning objectives are also missing.

Criterion 1d - 1i

Materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.
6/10
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include unit-level and task-level phenomena and problems. Students explain phenomena in 22% of the tasks and 17% of the units; they solve problems in 2% of the tasks and 67% of the units. Of the phenomena and problems present, they consistently connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs. Of the phenomena and problems present, about half of them are presented as directly as possible allowing students to have a common entry point. The materials consistently elicit student prior knowledge and experience related to the phenomena or problems present, but only leverage it in few instances. The materials include phenomena or problems that drive student learning and use of the three dimensions within multiple tasks and within multiple units, but not consistently for either the tasks or units.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). When phenomena are present, the materials consistently connect unit-level and task-level phenomena to grade-band appropriate DCIs. Phenomena connect to grade-band DCIs across all the science disciplines and unit-level phenomena build student understanding of grade-band DCIs across multiple tasks (lessons). When problems are present, the materials connect the problems to grade-band DCIs in most instances. In one instance, a problem only connects to grade-band ETS DCIs.

Examples of phenomena and problems that connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs or their elements.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Extreme Living, Culminating Project, the unit-level design challenge is to design a product that will help people live/survive in extreme climates. To better understand the problem, students explore the causes of extreme climates. Students use models of the Sun and Earth system (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) to learn that different parts of Earth (based on latitude) receive differing amounts of sun at different times. In Task 2, students observe an ocean circulation model and an atmospheric circulation model to explain how the movement of water and air also influence a location’s weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1, DCI-ESS2.C-M4). In Task 3, students participate in a kinesthetic model of the water cycle and learn the location of water and how sunlight and gravity drive the waters’ movement (DCI-ESS2.C-M3, DCI-ESS2.C-M1). Students use this knowledge to explain water is a part of the extreme climate creating the need for the device they are designing. In Task 4, students explore the relationships between mass and temperature change or the type of matter and temperature change (DCI-PS3.A-M2). Students read an article in which they learn the differences between temperature, energy, and heat (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students apply this knowledge to determine if their solution needs to help people stay warm or cool and whether this would require increasing/decreasing the kinetic energy of the particles. Throughout Task 4 and 5, students focus on the direction that thermal energy moves. Students investigate thermal energy transfer and learn that energy always transfers from hotter objects to cooler objects (DCI-PS3.B-M3). Students apply all of this science to design a product that minimizes or maximizes energy transfer in order to keep a person warmer or cooler in an extreme climate.Throughout the design phases, students make several revisions and use test results and peer feedback to work towards a better design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1).

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Nature via Nurture, the unit-level phenomenon is that a toxic algal bloom occurred and caused the closure of Lake Temescal (Oakland,CA) to protect humans and other organisms. Students explore evidence that shows how both genetic factors and environmental factors can affect the growth of an organism (DCI-LS1.B-M4). Students learn about sexual and asexual reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M1) and the processes that pass traits from parent to offspring (DCI-LS3.A-M1). Students learn that there is little variation within species during asexual reproduction throughout this process (DCI-LS3.A-M2). Students explain the cause of algal blooms at a local lake by modeling how cyanobacteria reproduce (asexually). The deduce that there is little to no variation in the species. Because there is no variation in the species, students further explain it must be environmental (weather) factors that are affecting the growth of the organisms.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 1: Heating Up, the task-level phenomenon is that the Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1.5 degrees since 1880. Students investigate how human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels have led to the increase in Earth’s average temperature through the release of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere (DCI-ESS3.D-M1). They analyze several graphs that compare changes in several variables over time (temperature and carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon emissions from fossil fuels and volcanic activity). Students discover that human interaction can lead to changes in the environment and in turn, changes to the biosphere (DCI-ESS3.C-M1).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 3: Produce, Reuse, Recycle, the task-level phenomenon is the 1815 eruption of the volcano Mt. Tambora, and scattering tons of ash and debris into the air, blocking some sunlight. In the Explore activity, students model potential ecosystem interactions using organism cards to show the flow of energy and movement of matter. In the Explain, students read an article which provides additional information about the cycle of matter and energy in an ecosystem and provides students with the scientific terminology to understand the roles of consumers producers and decomposers (DCI-LS2.B-M1). Students use this knowledge to explain the lack of sunlight causes plants and animals to die by disrupting the flow of energy and cycling of matter.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Mimicking Nature’s Design, the unit-level design challenge is to design and build a sustainable aquaponics system that mimics the properties of a river environment. To solve this problem, students explore physical changes (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and chemical changes (DCI-PS1.B-M1) and identify these changes in their aquaponic system by describing macroscopic properties of their system. Students investigate the reactants and products of cellular respiration and explain how the organisms in their systems will get the necessities for cellular respiration (DCI-LS1.C-M2) to occur and explain how matter is conserved in the process (DCI-PS3.D-M2). Students investigate and model photosynthesis and explain how their chosen organisms photosynthesize (DCI-LS1.C-M1) and drive the cycling of matter in their aquaponic system. Students learn about the rock cycle (DCI-ESS2.A-M1) and use the information gained to predict how changes in the geosphere might affect their system overtime. Students also construct a thermal device to regulate the temperature of their system and describe how it is able to release heat (DCI-PS1.B-M3) into their system.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Save the Andes!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is humans take resources from natural ecosystems in the Andes, which has a negative impact on the area. To solve the problem, students visit stations utilizing graphs, pictures, and websites to understand the natural geological changes in the area and how the Andes Mountains were formed, and the resources the region provides. Students gain an understanding of how Earth’s systems interact over time to create changes from the microscopic to global scale. They discover this through investigating the formation of the Andes Mountains and the resources found there. Students understand how those interactions have shaped Earth’s surface over time (DCI-ESS2.A-M2). Students then evaluate how human activity has caused disruption to the organisms in the area. Students learn how humans use and need of natural resources has altered the biosphere through the harvesting of those resources in the Andes Mountains (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). The students research solutions that have already been proposed and use those as a foundation for their own proposal of a solution to the problem of negative impacts to the ecosystems due to human use of the area and its natural resources.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Traveling through Space, Culminating Project, the unit-level challenge is to determine the safest route a new telescope should take through space and ways to protect the space telescope on its journey. Students develop a model of the entire Solar System (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), and examine the invisible forces that affect motion of objects within the Solar System. Students use their understanding of gravity (DCI-PS2.B M2) to argue why the telescope needs to stay farther away from some planets but not others. Students use their understanding of the factors that affect the strength of magnetism (DCI-PS2.B-M1) to describe the best ways to strengthen the magnetic field around the telescope. Students use their knowledge about the layout of the Solar System, the role of gravity to design the safest route for the telescope, and their understanding of magnetic fields to help protect the telescope on its journey.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, the task-level phenomenon is five small disc-shaped shiny metal objects defy gravity as they hover and spin around when placed between two metal discs. Students test the factors that affect the strength of the invisible force (DCI-PS2.B-M1) and use iron filings to observe the patterns of invisible fields (DCI-PS2.B-M3). Students use a wire wrapped nail and paper clips to construct their own invisible field (DCI-PS2.B-M1). Students use this understanding to explain that visible fields exist between some objects not in contact with each other. They create forces that cause objects to look like they are moving on their own.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 4: Human Intervention Through Space, the task-level phenomena is tomatoes of the same type grow to very different sizes. Students read two adapted scientific articles and view a short video to understand the process that takes a gene to make a protein to result in a trait (DCI-LS3.A-M1). The article also focuses on mutations and how a change in the gene can cause additional variations (DCI-LS3.B-M2). Students use the information from the article to model the processes of selective breeding and genetic engineering. They focus on how the structure of the gene determines the structure and function of the protein. Students use a Venn diagram to compare the two processes that change genetic information. They notice that selective breeding selects organisms with the desired traits while genetic engineering selects the desired gene itself (DCI-LS4.B-M4). To explain the phenomenon, students draw a flowchart describing how selective breeding or genetic engineering created the larger tomato.

Example of a problem that does not connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs or their elements.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 5: Design a Thermal Device, the task-level problem is a decline in blue catfish spawning in recent years due to the river environment experiencing climate change, where the river water is a few degrees colder than normal. Students design, test, and optimize a device that increases the temperature of a pool of water from 68 degrees to 70-75 degrees. Within the parameters of this problem, students run initial tests, collect data, (DCI-ETS1.B-M1) and share their results with other students to revise their designs and retest (DCI-ETS1.C-M1). Therefore, they miss the opportunity to connect to a life, earth, or physical science DCI.

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. Across the series, students are introduced to unit-level phenomena and problems during the Lift-Off Task. They work on explaining the phenomena and solving the problems throughout subsequent tasks. A small number of tasks (lessons) present task-level phenomena and problems for students to explain or solve. When task-level problems and phenomena are presented, they are found in the Engage or Explore portion of the 5E task.

Phenomena and problems, in all grade levels and in all science disciplines, are presented to students using a variety of methods including teacher demonstrations, images, videos, maps, graphs and data tables, hands-on experiences, and text descriptions. In some cases, presentation of the phenomena and problems provide students with limited information or an opportunity for shared experience which allows students to ask questions or understand the problem. This is done in order to have a common entry point to the phenomenon or problem.

Examples of phenomena and problems that are presented to students as directly as possible.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Setting Things in Motion, the unit-level phenomenon is a person moving their body to make a kickball move. The phenomenon is presented to students as a hands-on activity in which students take turns kicking the kickball and personally experience the phenomenon. This presentation supports students who may not have experience with the phenomenon and allows all students to approach the phenomenon with a common entry point.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Task 4: From Parent to Offspring, the task-level phenomenon is puppies look different from their parents and siblings while bacterial offspring look identical to their parents and to each other. To observe the phenomenon, students view colored photos of dogs and their offspring and colored microscope images of bacteria and their offspring. These images provide students with a common experience and have enough details to allow students to make observations and ask questions. It is not practical to present this phenomenon with a first-hand experience and bring dogs to the classroom or to present and view bacteria in the classroom. The images are a direct presentation of the phenomenon.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 3: Produce, Reuse, Recycle, the task-level phenomenon is the 1815 eruption of the volcano Mt. Tambora, and the scattering tons of ash and debris in the air that blocked some sunlight. The phenomenon is presented to students as a case study where students engage with a textual account of what happened in the aftermath of the 1815 eruption including the fact that the year following the eruption “thousands of plants and animals died, leaving thousands more humans to die without food.” The passage is accompanied by an artist rendition of people looking back at a volcano erupting with a huge cloud of ash and debris. It is not feasible for students to experience the after effects of a volcano eruption. Since this specific phenomenon occurred in 1815, there are no actual images or videos available. The case study, with the artist’s rendition, provides students with a historical account that allows them to engage with the phenomenon in a direct manner.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Mimicking Nature’s Design, the unit-level design challenge is to design and build a sustainable aquaponics system that mimics the properties of a river environment. Students are presented with the challenge through a text description of the Culminating Project, images of a variety of aquaponics systems on slides, and a video that explains “What is an Aquaponics System?” Students also observe images of a river environment that has changed overtime to identify various properties of a river environment. The various resources and detailed project description provide students with the background needed to understand the design challenge and is also presented in a direct manner.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, the task-level phenomenon is five small disc-shaped shiny metal objects defy gravity as they hover and spin around when placed between two metal discs. The students view a video in which they witness someone setting up magnets and then releasing small metal objects into the space between the magnets. The objects float and spin around each other. There are no words, only music to accompany the moving objects. The video provides students with a common experience and shows enough detail to allow students to make observations and begin to ask questions.This is a direct way for students to observe this phenomenon if the school was unable to provide the materials for an in class demonstration.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Traveling Through Space, Culminating Project, the unit-level challenge is to determine the safest route a new telescope should take through space and develop a plan to protect the space telescope on its journey. Students are shown several images taken from the Hubble Space Station, and then they make observations. Students generate questions to learn more about the Solar System. Students are then presented with the problem on the slides and in the student materials which includes background information listing the constraints of a successful solution. The text directs students to create a classroom model of a solar system and a presentation showing the route of the telescope their groups designed. This is a direct presentation of the problem and provides students a common entry point to understand the problem.

Examples of phenomena and problems that are not presented to students as directly as possible.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Task 4: Thermal Energy Transfer, the task-level phenomenon is a cold metal spoon is placed in a pot of boiling water and momentarily the handle of the spoon is very hot. Students view a clipart image of a pot of boiling water and are presented with a text description of the phenomenon. The text, found in the student notebook and on a slide, has students consider placing a cold metal spoon into a boiling pot of water. Students are instructed to think about leaving it in the water for a bit and returning to the spoon to find that it is really hot. This is a missed opportunity to provide a common experience in a direct manner.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: A Warmer World, Culminating Project, the unit-level design challenge is to design a method to monitor and minimize the impact of climate change on a specific organism. The problem is introduced through written text and an infographic of the declining number of bee hives in 1947, 1980, and 2008. A more direct way to introduce students to this problem is to make observations about the behavior of bees and the relationship with the environment. Students are only shown that the bee population is declining and then told to pick a different organism from a list to research. This presentation of the problem results in a missed opportunity to provide students with enough background information to make an informed decision on a species to choose and for students to understand the problem they are solving.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Matters, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is certain regions do not have access to freshwater. Students are asked to design a method to make water more available in their chosen region. The problem is presented as images of the decreasing size of the Aral Sea. Students are also provided with a text description of the problem on a slide and in their student notebook. Students then choose another location (not the Aral Sea area) that does not have access to enough fresh water. There are no examples provided for students who are unfamiliar with locations that meet this criteria. Students are also not provided any examples of ways that water poor regions have accessed water. Students who are unfamiliar with regions of the world are not provided a common entry point to begin choosing their region or to begin designing their solution.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Save the Andes!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is humans take resources from natural ecosystems in the Andes, which has a negative impact on the area. The problem is presented with a video that characterizes the ways in which humans can impact the natural environment. This presents a missed opportunity for a common experience for students to understand the human impact on the specific ecosystems of the Andes Mountains and to provide students with the information they need to begin solving the problem.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 4: Human Intervention Through Space, the task-level phenomena is tomatoes of the same type grow to very different sizes. For this phenomena, students are shown a picture of two different sized tomatoes and are asked the guiding question, “How could humans have intervened to cause the tomatoes to be different?” This presents a missed opportunity for a direct student experience involving the effects of genetic variation in fruits.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Colossal Collisions!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is a very large asteroid, named Etiam, is headed towards Earth and is capable of destroying most life on Earth. The problem is introduced to the students through a written scenario that describes the asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth. The text provides students with background data on Etiam including the shape, mass, speed, and location of the fictional asteroid. The materials also include images of the asteroid belt location relative to the rest of our Solar System and a sample of an asteroid. While a direct observation of the problem is not possible, the images provided do not help students make sense of the data or clearly visualize the problem. While the problem is clearly defined and the criteria for a successful solution is clear, the materials miss the opportunity to provide a common experience and enough data for students to understand this problem if they are unfamiliar with the subject.

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 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. The materials provide multiple tasks across the series that use phenomena or problems to drive student learning using all three dimensions.

Each unit consists of three to five tasks (lessons) that follow the 5E model. Task-level phenomena and problems are most often presented in the Engage or Explore portion of the 5E task. The instructional materials consist of a total of 50 tasks. Of the 50 tasks, 12 present students with phenomena or problems at the beginning of the task. Ten of the 12 tasks that present students with phenomena or problems drive the learning and incorporate key elements of the three dimensions. While the remaining 38 tasks do not present students with a phenomenon or problem that was used to drive the task, many incorporate all three dimensions for students to make sense of topics or answer driving questions.

Examples of phenomena and/or problems driving student learning at the activity level and using key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Task 2: Sense and Respond, the task-level phenomenon is a person is able to catch a ruler as it is dropped. Throughout the task, students gather evidence to understand and explain how the body is able to catch a ruler when it is dropped between a person’s fingers. Students learn about the nervous system pathway and explain why the ruler can be caught when the body has enough time to respond to the ruler dropping. Students experience the phenomenon and use their experiences with the activity to explain how the body is able to react in order to catch the ruler when it is dropped from certain distances. Students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information (SEP-INFO-M3) about the nervous system from a video, information cards, and a simulation to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. Students use this information to explain how the eye detected the ruler being released, sent the nerve signal to the brain which processed the ruler dropping, and sent signals to the hand to close the fingers and catch the ruler (DCI-LS1.D-M1). Students apply this knowledge to explain why a person was not able to catch the ruler when the ruler was dropped with only 7 cm left at the bottom (CCC-CE-M2). Students further explore the nervous system through a knee-jerk reaction and explain why this response happens so fast without a conscious decision (CCC-CE-M2).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 2: Matter Moves You, the task-level phenomenon is a burning candle’s flame is extinguished when a glass jar is placed over the top of it. At the beginning of the task, students use the phenomenon to learn about chemical reactions and why the flame is extinguished when oxygen is cut off from the flame. They later apply that learning the chemical reactions that are needed in nature to perform this task. Students use models in order to understand how a chemical reaction occurs and how matter is rearranged during the reaction. Once they have explored cellular respiration, students return to the flame example and provide an explanation of the phenomenon. At the beginning of the task, students observe the phenomenon and are then provided with the chemical equation for the flame reaction and are asked to explain why the candle flame went out when the jar is placed on top (DCI-PS1.B-M1). Students connect the chemical reaction concept to a river environment that was introduced at the beginning of the unit. In the text, students learn that food needs to be broken down into energy for the animals in the river environment to use (DCI-LS1.C-M2). Students create a model of the cellular respiration reaction with “atom pieces” and a balance. They build the reactants and products using the atom pieces and then place each on the respective sides of the balance and make observations. Students then draw a picture of their model and provide a written explanation of the reaction (SEP-MOD-M6). The balancing of the scale with the atom pieces and the question on energy and matter posted in the reflection portion of the task allows students to think about how matter is conserved during a chemical reaction (CCC-EM-M1).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 4: Human Intervention Through Space, the task-level phenomena is tomatoes of the same type grow to very different sizes. Students use the image of the two different sized tomatoes to consider how the differences could have occurred naturally or how humans could have caused the difference in sizes. They learn about genetic engineering and selective breeding that humans use to influence the genes of an organism in order to explain the phenomenon. Students read two adapted scientific articles (SEP-INFO-M1) and view a short video to understand the process that takes a gene to make a protein to result in a trait (DCI-LS3.A-M1). The article also focuses on mutations and how a change in a gene can cause additional variations (DCI-LS3.B-M2). Students use the information from the article to model the processes of selective breeding and genetic engineering (SEP-MOD-M5) focusing on how the structure of the gene determines the structure and function of the protein (CCC-SF-M1). Students use a Venn diagram to compare the two processes that change genetic information and notice that selective breeding selects organisms with the desired traits while genetic engineering selects the desired gene itself (DCI-LS4.B-M4). To explain the phenomenon, students create a flowchart describing how selective breeding or genetic engineering created the larger tomato.

Examples of a topic or science concept that structures and guides student learning at the activity level and using key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Task 1: Energy in Motion, students are not presented with a phenomenon or problem; instead, student learning in the task is guided by the science concept that changes in kinetic energy create a variety of observable outcomes. Throughout the task, students conduct several investigations and read/annotate an article to gain the scientific vocabulary and knowledge to explain how changes in motion can transfer energy to other objects and transform energy into other forms. These forms could be shown in temperature, sound, and motion. Students rub their hands together to experience kinetic energy transforming into heat. Students conduct investigations to gather evidence (SEP-INV-M4) that when a ball is placed higher on the ramp, more pennies are knocked over. Students observe that by changing the amount of potential energy, the kinetic energy increases (DCI-PS3.B-M1). Students read and annotate an article which emphasizes how energy can take many different forms (CCC-EM-M3) and have observable features. Students construct an argument using data from their investigations and vocabulary from the article (SEP-ARG-M3) to explain the role of energy in their investigations.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 2: It Takes Two, students are not presented with a phenomenon or problem; instead, student learning in the task is guided by the science concept that different animal behaviors and plant structures allow organisms to successfully survive and reproduce. Throughout the task, students gather and record evidence about the animal behaviors and plant structures that help organisms, like bees and flowering plants, to survive and reproduce. Students are told that scientists say that bees and flowering plants heavily rely on each other, so this could be a huge concern. In groups, students visit stations to gather and record evidence about what animal behaviors (DCI-LS1.B-M2) and plant structures help organisms, like bees and flowering plants, to survive and reproduce (CCC-SF-M1). In the Explain section, students write an argument that supports or refutes the statement that scientists say that bees and flowering plants heavily rely on each other. They use evidence from the Explore stations and their own scientific reasoning (SEP-ARG-M3). Students explain that the bright flowers on a plant help attract pollinators, like bees. The bees land on the flowers and collect pollen and transfer it to another plant helping the flower reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M3).

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 1: Pangea Puzzle, students are not presented with a phenomenon or problem; instead, student learning in the task is guided by the science topic of continental drift. Throughout the task, students analyze data to explain how the continents have moved from one large supercontinent into their current locations. Students analyze evidence (SEP-DATA-M4) of fossils, glacial and coal deposits, and mountain ranges on large continent pieces to identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) and predict how the continents have moved over time to their current location (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students use this evidence to construct a CER report either agreeing or disagreeing with Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Task 5: A Chain of Resources, students are not presented with a phenomenon or problem; instead, student learning in the task is guided by a simulation in which students explore how resource availability affects populations of organisms in ecosystems. Throughout the task, students consider what resources organisms need to survive and use a computer simulation to gather data to determine the effects of resource changes on populations. Students begin the task by considering how changing the amount of water in a rainforest ecosystem would create a chain of cause and effect events (CCC-CE-M2). Students continue to explore how resource availability affects populations of organisms as they use a computer ecosystem simulation to collect and analyze data as they test various scenarios (DCI-LS2.A-M2). From the data, students determine that certain populations will increase/decrease when the amount of various resources change (SEP-DATA-M4). Students also see that a change in one population causes changes in other populations as all organisms are dependent on the other living and nonliving factors of an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A.-M1).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, the task-level phenomenon is five small disc-shaped shiny metal objects defy gravity as they hover and spin around when placed between two metal discs. The student learning in the task is not driven by the phenomenon. The task is guided by the topic of magnetism. Throughout the task, students learn about magnetic forces and invisible fields to apply this knowledge to the unit problem. Students make initial predictions about the phenomenon, but they only revisit the phenomenon in the very last Reflection section of the task. This phenomenon is used as a hook and does not drive the learning. Students conduct investigations to gain a basic understanding of magnetic forces and invisible fields. Students observe that magnetic forces can be attractive or repulsive and that their sizes depend on the magnetic strengths involved and the distances between the interacting objects (DCI-PS2.B-M1). Students use this knowledge to plan and conduct additional investigations to determine what factors affect the strength of the magnetic fields, which is information they will need for the unit project. Students generate testable questions, determine which materials to use, collect appropriate data , and construct a hypothesis (SEP-AQDP-M6). Students apply their learning to consider what they need to do (cause) to create a magnetic field (effect) around their telescope (CCC-CE-M2).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 3: Natural Selection, students are not presented with a phenomenon or problem; instead, student learning in the task is guided by the topic of natural selection. Students engage in a simulation of natural selection, generating data they can use to mathematically calculate the percentages of different traits. By identifying trends in the data, they are able to explain how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time, pinpointing the process that is changing species as a result of environmental change. Students participate in a simulation where small pieces of paper represent one species of insects with three variations of a trait (color). These “paper insects” now live in the “paper forest”. Students record the number of each color insect that remains and then calculate the percentage each represents of the total population. Students then include these percentages and trends (SEP-MATH-M2) when they construct an explanation that describes how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time (DCI-LS4.B-M1). Students create a flowchart depicting the probable chain of causes and effects if climate change warms the region shown in an image (CCC-CE-M2).

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 2% (1/50) of the lessons (labeled as tasks in the materials) and 67% (8 /12) of the units. Throughout the materials, 22% (11/49) of the tasks and 17% (2/12) of the units focus on explaining phenomena. Across the series, students are introduced to unit-level problems during the Lift-Off Task and work on solving the problems throughout subsequent tasks. Students gather information to design and support their solutions using a project organizer that is revisited following completion of each task. Students present their solutions to the unit-level problems along with the Culminating Projects at the end of the unit. A small number of tasks present task-level problems for students to solve. Across all three grades, the materials present unit-level problems that require students to apply engineering, physical, earth and space, or life science knowledge. Task-level problems are present only in the Grade 7 materials.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Extreme Living, Culminating Project, the unit-level design challenge is to design a product that will help people live/survive in extreme climates. Throughout the unit, students gather information on how temperature is regulated around the Earth. Students investigate how a water molecule travels through the water cycle and how thermal energy can change within an object. In the final task, students design and test an actual prototype. In the Culminating Project, students design a product that allows people to live within a chosen extreme climate. Students describe the climate of the region that they chose, provide a diagram or physical prototype of their product, and then describe how the product works in terms of temperature, thermal energy transfer, and the kinetic energy of particles.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: A Warmer World, Culminating Project, the unit-level design challenge is to design a method to monitor and minimize the impact of climate change on a specific organism. In Task 1, students define the problem by examining what is happening to global temperatures over time and consider this in the context of their selected organism. In Task 2, students explore the specialized structures and/or behaviors of the selected organism and how these characteristics might help the organism survive and reproduce. This task focuses on nesting, migration, bright flowers, and sex pheromones because these are the characteristics for survival and reproduction most affected by global warming. In Task 3, students revise their criteria and constraints for a successful design solution based on the new information they have learned about their organism. In groups, students create an advocacy video that describes the human impact on the organism and present a potential solution along with pros and cons for the solution. Individually, students compare and evaluate all potential solutions presented by the class.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Matters, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is certain regions do not have access to freshwater. Students work to design a solution that will make water more available in a specific region without straining the natural environment. Students explore how the availability of natural resources like water affects population growth, gather evidence to show how geologic processes create an uneven distribution of natural resources, and explore the molecular structure of water and states of matter. Students explore the molecular structure of water in Task 3 and learn about the different states of matter in Task 4. Students use the information they learn about the molecular structure of water and water’s ability to change states to design a solution to the problem that will provide an area with more freshwater without straining the natural environment. Students’ final solution, that incorporates different states of water to make water more available to the community, will be presented with a group video and an individual digital article that explains the team solution in greater detail.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 5: Design a Thermal Device, the task-level problem is a decline in blue catfish spawning in recent years due to the river environment experiencing climate change, leaving the river water a few degrees colder than normal. Students gather information about hot and cold packs by testing five chemical reactions: sodium bicarbonate and water, potassium chloride and water, sodium bicarbonate and vinegar, sodium bicarbonate and calcium chloride and water, and calcium chloride and water. Students determine which combinations are exothermic and which are endothermic. Students design, test, and optimize a device that increases the temperature of a pool from 68 degrees to 70-75 degrees.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Colossal Collisions!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is a very large asteroid, named Etiam, is headed towards Earth and is capable of destroying most life on Earth. In Task 1, students research evidence of the effects of previous asteroid collisions. In Task 2, students explore Newton’s laws and conduct experiments to understand the relationships between mass, kinetic energy, and speed to determine how Etiam’s large mass would affect Earth. Students begin to examine possible solutions. In Task 3, students look at the role of gravity on Etiam and how gravitational forces affect the trajectory of Etiam. Students use the information and concepts they develop over the unit to decide on the best solution to protect Earth. Students work through several steps of the engineering design process to design multiple models of solutions and test each model. Students use evidence of past asteroid collisions to convince the public that it is important to protect Earth. Students create a video news segment that describes their solution and write a news article detailing the science behind asteroid collisions with Earth.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Traveling through Space, Culminating Project, the unit-level challenge is to determine the safest route a new telescope should take through space and develop a plan to protect the space telescope on its journey. Students watch videos on planetary movement, the Earth’s rotation and orbit around the Sun, and participate in a kinesthetic model of the Moon-Earth-Sun system. By participating in these tasks, they develop an understanding of how the Earth, our Moon, and the Sun interact. Students then create a model of our entire Solar System taking into consideration size and scale. Students examine invisible forces that affect motion of objects within the Solar System. Students experiment with gravity using a computer simulation and conduct an investigation to explore magnetic fields and magnetism. Students use their understanding of gravity to argue why the telescope needs to stay farther away from some planets, but not others. Students develop their understanding of the factors that affect the strength of magnetism to describe the best ways to strengthen the magnetic field around the telescope for protection. Students use their knowledge about the layout of the Solar System, the role of gravity to design the safest route for the telescope, and their understanding of magnetic fields to help protect the telescope on its journey.

Across the series, when a unit-level phenomenon is present, it is presented to students in the Lift-Off Task at the beginning of the unit. Students use a concept map to organize their ideas and questions as they work through the unit and explain the phenomenon. When the unit is driven by a phenomena, the Culminating Project is a place for students to demonstrate a final explanation of the phenomenon or to demonstrate understanding of the unit phenomena by applying the science concepts to a similar scenario.

Across all three grades, the materials present task-level phenomena that require students to apply physical, earth and space, or life science knowledge. Task-level phenomena are most often presented in the Engage or Explore portion of the 5E task.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Setting Things in Motion, the unit-level phenomenon is a person moving their body to make a kickball move. To explain this phenomenon, students explore energy transformation and transfer during collisions in an exploration, and they model components of the nervous system to build an understanding of how the body responds to the environment. Students also conduct an experiment and read an article to explore how body systems work together. Students then look at the microscopic level of cells and investigate the roles of the nucleus, mitochondria, and cell membrane in producing energy for the body to move. Students use the information gathered to explain how the energy from the human body is transferred to the ball causing the ball to move.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Task 2: Climate - Part 2 - Oceans and Atmosphere, the task-level phenomenon is New York City tends to have cooler temperatures than Rome during the winter even though they are the same distance from the equator. Students watch a demonstration of cold and hot water interacting with room temperature water, and a second demonstration of a helium balloon being heated and then cooled. Students read an article called, "How Does Air and Water Move Around Our Planet?" to identify the components of atmospheric and oceanic circulation interactions. To explain the phenomenon, students create a model of oceanic and atmospheric circulation interactions.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Task 1: Explosions in Human Population, the task-level phenomenon is the increase in the human population from 1 billion in the year 1800, to 2.3 billion in 1940, to 7.4 billion in 2016. Students examine data in three different graphs and identify patterns to determine what might be causing explosions in the human population. To explain the phenomenon, students use evidence from the three graphs to construct an explanation that resource availability affects human population growth.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Task 2: Matter Moves You, the task-level phenomenon is a burning candle’s flame is extinguished when a glass jar is placed over top of it. In the Explore and Explain sections of this task, students observe a burning candle. They discuss the chemical reaction that occurs in order for the flame to stay lit. Students watch a demonstration as a glass jar is placed over the candle, and the candle flame is extinguished. Students examine the chemical reaction between methane gas and oxygen gas. Students use their observations with the burning candle and the chemical reaction model to explain why the candle flame goes out after the glass jar covers the candle.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, the task-level phenomenon is five small disc-shaped shiny metal objects defy gravity as they hover and spin around when placed between two metal discs. Students visit four stations during the Explore where they investigate the invisible forces that can allow objects to behave this way without touching each other. Students test the factors that affect the strength of the invisible force and use iron filings to observe the patterns of an invisible field. Students use a wire wrapped nail and paper clips to construct their own invisible field. Students use the evidence gathered to explain that invisible fields exist between some objects not in contact with each other, creating forces that cause objects to look like they are moving on their own. The field causes some force to be exerted on the objects, such as attracting certain objects or repelling certain objects. This explains the phenomenon of objects “floating” or moving on their own.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 4: Human Intervention Through Space, the task-level phenomena is tomatoes of the same type grow to very different sizes. Students read two adapted scientific articles and view a short video to understand the process that takes a gene to make a protein to result in a trait. Students use the information from the article to model the processes of selective breeding and genetic engineering. To explain the phenomenon, students draw a flowchart describing how selective breeding or genetic engineering created the larger tomato.

Indicator 1h

Materials intentionally leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.

The instructional materials elicit and leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience to phenomena and problems within a few instances across the series. Materials consistently elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience to phenomena and problems across the series. Throughout the majority of units and tasks (lessons), student prior knowledge is elicited to connect the phenomenon or problem to prior learning or experiences. Prior knowledge is generally elicited in the Lift-Off Task or in the first section of the Culminating Project organizer by asking students questions about what they already know or remember related to the problem or phenomenon; this is intended to activate their learning prior to subsequent tasks and activities. Within individual tasks, students’ prior knowledge is typically elicited in the Engage portion of the 5E lesson. However, there are missed opportunities for the materials to leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge, and to build on the knowledge and experience students bring from both inside and outside of the classroom.

Examples of materials that elicit and leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience of phenomena and problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Setting Things in Motion, the unit-level phenomenon is a person moving their body to make a kickball move. Students’ prior knowledge and experience with the phenomenon is elicited when students create a class-wide concept map complete with their own questions surrounding the phenomenon. They draft possible answers to each other’s questions using their prior knowledge and experiences with the phenomenon. Students’ knowledge and experiences with the phenomenon are leveraged when students brainstorm a list of activities that involve humans putting an object into motion based on their own experiences. Students then use one of the activities from the list to complete their final project to show their understanding of the phenomenon.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Save the Andes!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is humans take resources from natural ecosystems in the Andes, which has a negative impact on the area. The materials elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience with the problem at the end of the Lift-Off Task. Students are introduced to the problem and asked to use what they saw in the video and their prior knowledge to consider how humans may be impacting the Andes region. Students document their prior knowledge in the first part of their Project Organizer, however the materials do not include procedures for the teacher to make this thinking visible or to have students share their thinking with each other. Students’ prior knowledge of the problem is also elicited in the Engage portion of Task 1 when students are asked to brainstorm some examples of natural changes that can happen to environments on Earth. The materials provide the teacher with a few possible student responses to consider. The teacher has students share out some of their ideas with the class making student thinking visible. In Task 2, students’ prior knowledge or experience with the problem is elicited when students are asked to brainstorm lists of ecosystem services or resources that are provided by nature. This helps students connect personally with the problem being presented and helps build the context for why ecosystems in the Andes should be protected. In this unit, the materials leverage students’ prior experiences in the learning sequence. In Task 2, Elaborate, students are asked to think about how often they use synthetic products made from petroleum. Petroleum is one of the natural resources that is extracted from the Andes, and students have the opportunity to connect their own experiences to determine if they, personally, are part of the problem. This helps students consider possible solutions to the unit-level problem when they are asked to think of alternative ways to make these products without petroleum or potential alternatives to these products altogether.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Task 4: Human Intervention Through Space, the task-level phenomena is tomatoes of the same type grow to very different sizes. The materials elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience of the phenomenon when students work in pairs to predict what could have naturally caused these two tomatoes to be different as well as how humans may have intervened to create this difference. The materials instruct the teacher to have students share-out a few of their ideas. Students’ prior knowledge and experience is leveraged when they return to their predictions in the elaborate section and pick which process or processes they think are responsible for the larger tomato. In the Reflection section, students compare the process they chose in the elaborate section to their original prediction.

Examples of materials that elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience of phenomena and problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Task 4: Thermal Energy Transfer, the task-level phenomenon is a cold metal spoon is placed in a pot of boiling water and momentarily, the handle of the spoon becomes very hot. Students’ prior knowledge or experience of the phenomenon is elicited when students work in pairs to create a hypothesis that explains why the handle of the spoon is hot even though the handle is not submerged in the boiling water. Students then share their ideas with the class. In the Reflection section, students return to their original predictions and are asked to add to them based on what they have learned, but students do not reflect on their own experiences while making sense of the phenomenon, missing the opportunity to leverage prior knowledge of the phenomenon.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Task 1: Heating Up, the task-level phenomenon is that the Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1.5 degrees since 1880. Students’ prior knowledge of this phenomenon is elicited as the students make hypotheses about what may be causing the rising temperatures and why the temperature increase might affect organisms. Students generate and share questions and hypotheses with partners and the whole class, making student thinking visible. Through the sequence of the task, students are given evidence one piece at a time and explain how each piece of evidence helps them understand the phenomenon. Students generate new questions to further their learning. In the Explain portion of the task, students have a chance to use their prior knowledge to consider how the temperature change might affect organisms, but this is not leveraging knowledge or experiences with the phenomenon presented in this task, missing the opportunity to leverage prior knowledge of the phenomenon.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: A Balanced Biosphere, Culminating Project, the unit-level design challenge is to design an arena with a balanced biosphere for a “Hunger Games” type movie that is in the making. Students’ prior knowledge and experience with the design challenge are elicited when they are introduced to the Culminating Project. Students make a list or diagram including the parts of an ecosystem. Students brainstorm questions and answers they have about a well functioning biosphere which they are trying to create in their arena. Students make a list of components that might need to be included in the final project arena in the Lift-Off Task, missing the opportunity to leverage prior knowledge as they design their solutions.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Colossal Collisions!, Culminating Project, the unit-level problem is a very large Asteroid, named Etiam, is headed towards Earth and is capable of destroying most life on Earth. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences with the problem are elicited in the Lift-Off Task. Students use their prior knowledge about collisions to identify possible negative impacts caused by an asteroid collision with the Earth. Students ask questions and form possible answers using their prior knowledge about the phenomenon as they create a class concept map and participate in class discussions around the concept map questions and possible answers. The materials do provide prompts at the end of the task to guide students in reflecting on their initial ideas and to make revisions, missing the opportunity to leverage prior knowledge as they design their solutions.

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Task 4: Invisible Forces, the task-level phenomenon is five small disc-shaped shiny metal objects defy gravity as they hover and spin around when placed between two metal discs. Students' prior knowledge and experiences are elicited when students work in pairs to create a hypothesis explaining why the objects in the video appear to be floating on their own. In the Reflection section, students return to their original predictions and are asked to add to them based on what they have learned, missing the opportunity to leverage prior knowledge of the phenomenon.

Examples of materials that neither elicit nor leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience of phenomena and problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Task 2: Sense and Respond, the task-level phenomenon is people are able to catch a ruler as it is dropped. Students’ prior knowledge or experiences of the phenomenon are not elicited. Instead, students participate in a shared activity where they catch a ruler, and explain the phenomenon by obtaining and synthesizing information from a variety of sources. The materials do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences. Students explain the phenomenon by describing different nervous system pathways using a variety of sources provided by the teacher.

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Nature via Nurture, the unit-level phenomenon is that a toxic algal bloom occurred and caused the closure of Lake Temescal (Oakland,CA) to protect humans and other organisms. Students are introduced to the phenomenon in the initial Lift-Off Task. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences of lake closures due to toxic algal blooms are not elicited. Students generate questions they would ask to get a better understanding of toxic algal blooms but are never asked to consider their own experiences with them. Students answer questions in their Project Organizer that help them keep track of the information from each task that is relevant to the Culminating Project. The questions are all based on content learned in each task. The materials neither elicit nor leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to the phenomenon.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Mimicking Nature’s Design, the unit-level design challenge is to design and build a sustainable aquaponics system that mimics the properties of a river environment. The materials do not elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience of aquaponics environments. The materials introduce students to the Culminating Project with a description of the challenge and a list of the criteria for the aquaponics system. The materials do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences. The materials provide no prompts or opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences as they work to solve the design challenge.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Across the series, nine of 12 modules embed phenomena or problems across multiple tasks (lessons) for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Two of these units are driven by phenomena and seven units present students with problems or design challenges. Three units miss the opportunity to present students with a phenomenon to make sense of or a problem to solve that is used to drive learning. Instead, the units were driven by an essential question or a science concept or topic. All units provided students with opportunities across multiple tasks to engage with all three dimensions.

All four units presented in the Grade 6 materials drive learning and use of the three dimensions. Three of the four units presented in the Grade 7 materials drive learning and use of the three dimensions. The unit that did not meet expectations did not embed a phenomenon or problem across multiple tasks but instead was driven by an essential question. This unit involved the discipline of life science. The Grade 8 instructional materials presented two out of four units that drive learning and use of the three dimensions. The two units that did not meet expectations were driven by an essential question or a science topic. These two units focused on the disciplines of life and earth and space science.

Across the series, when a unit-level phenomenon is present, it is presented to students in the Lift-Off Task at the beginning of the unit. Students use a concept map to organize their ideas and questions as they work through the unit and explain the phenomenon. When the unit is driven by a phenomena, the Culminating Project is a place for students to demonstrate a final explanation of the phenomenon or to demonstrate understanding of the unit phenomena by applying the science concepts to a similar scenario. Similarly, students are introduced to unit-level problems and design challenges during the Lift-Off Task and work on solving the problems throughout subsequent tasks. Students gather information to design and support their solutions using a Project Organizer that is revisited following completion of each task. Students present their solutions to the unit-level problems along with the Culminating Projects at the end of the unit.

Examples of units that use phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple tasks (lessons) and to engage with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Extreme Living, the unit-level design challenge of creating a product that will help people live/survive in extreme climates drives student learning across multiple tasks in the unit. In the Lift-Off Task, students analyze photos of humans living in extreme environments and generate initial ideas about how people might live in these challenging conditions. In Task 1, students explore the Sun-Earth relationship and realize that the Sun does not heat all parts of the Earth equally due to the tilt of the Earth. Students learn that this is a major cause of extreme climates. At the end of Task 1, students use the Project Organizer to research a few regions with extreme climates, define the problem, and identify the criteria and constraints of a successful solution. In Task 2, students’ learn that the uneven heating of the Earth causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation which also contributes to regional climate patterns. Students use information they learn to describe the causes of the extreme climate in their selected region in their Project Organizer. In Task 3, students explore the water cycle in detail and use their Project Organizer to show how the water cycle creates some of the climatic conditions in their chosen region. The first three tasks provide opportunities for students to understand the causes of the extreme climate. Task 4 provides students with the science they need to design a product that will help a person stay warm or cool down. Students learn about thermal energy transfer and use their Project Organizer to describe if their design solution needs to increase or decrease the kinetic energy of particles to achieve the desired results. In the final task of Unit 2 (Task 5), students design and test a prototype device and apply what they have learned about thermal energy to design a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. To successfully solve the problem and explain their design, students are required to apply the scientific principles of temperature, thermal energy transfer, and the kinetic energy of particles (DCI-PS3.A-M3, DCI-PS3.A-M4, and DCI-PS3.B-M3). A brainstorming activity ensures that student’s designs connect to the science concepts learned in Task 4. Students design, construct, and test their design to maximize or minimize thermal energy transfer (SEP-CEDS-M6). Students collect data from their tests and make revisions to their designs as needed. Students present their designs and include a model that shows how thermal energy transfer is either maximized or minimized by tracking the energy flow through the designed system (CCC-EM-M4).

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Nature Via Nurture, the unit-level phenomenon is that a toxic algal bloom has occurred and caused the cluster of Lake Temescal (Oakland,CA) to protect humans and other organisms drives student learning across the tasks. Students engage in a series of tasks to develop an understanding of whether the toxic algal blooms are caused by genetic and/or environmental factors. In the Elaborate phase of Task 1, students add to their understanding of the phenomenon as they analyze how weather can cause algal blooms in that particular region. In the Explain & Elaborate phases of Task 2, students plan and conduct investigations on how environmental factors affect plant growth to explain how heavy rain in the winter and high sun in the summer would contribute to the growth of plants in Lake Temescal. In the Elaborate phase of Task 3, students consider the role of genetics in the growth of the toxic algae. In the Evaluate phase of Task 4, students refer back to the models they worked on in the previous phases of the task to answer how cyanobacteria reproduce, which provides evidence for the claim they need to make about algal blooms being caused by genetics or environmental factors. Over the course of the unit, students engage in elements of all three dimensions as they conduct their own investigations to collect evidence as well as look at existing evidence in order to construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) on whether genetics or environmental conditions affect the growth of an organism (DCI-LS1.B-M4). Once students also learn that cyanobacteria reproduce asexually, they use cause and effect reasoning (CCC-CE-M2) in order to figure out what might be causing the toxic algal blooms in Lake Temescal.

  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Mimicking Nature’s Design, the unit-level design challenge of designing and building a sustainable aquaponics system that mimics the properties of a river environment drives student learning across multiple tasks. Students engage in a series of tasks in order to successfully design and build an aquaponics system. Each task adds a new component to their aquaponics system in order to complete a system that is able to cycle matter and keep energy flowing. In Task 1, students explore physical and chemical changes and identify at least one physical and one chemical change that may occur in the system they build. In Task 2, students investigate the reactants and products of cellular respiration. They must identify an organism in their system that experiences cellular respiration. In Task 3, students investigate photosynthesis, identify or add an organism to their system that experiences photosynthesis. Students also make connections to the organisms they chose in Task 3 to determine how the plant and animal work together to cycle matter and keep energy flowing. Task 4 introduces students to the rock cycle and students consider how this might affect the system. In Task 5, students construct a thermal device to regulate the temperature of their aquaponics system. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. To complete the challenge, students must develop a model (SEP-MOD-M6) of the products and reactants (DCI-PS1.B-M1, CCC-EM-M1) of photosynthesis, (DCI-PS3.D-M1) as well as cellular respiration (DCI-PS3.D-M2) in order to understand how the organisms they choose to place in their aquaponics system are able to cycle matter and keep energy flowing (DCI-LS1.C-M2, CCC-EM-M2). Students must also design, build, and test two possible devices that release thermal energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3) in order to allow the blue catfish in their aquaponics system to spawn, choosing the one that works the best for their final system based on the data they collect (DCI-ETS1.B-M1).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Colossal Collisions, the unit-level problem of a very large asteroid, named Etiam, is headed towards Earth and is capable of destroying most life on Earth drives student learning across multiple tasks. Students engage in a series of lessons in order to design a solution to prevent the impending collision of the asteroid with Earth. In Task 1, students research the effects of previous Earth/asteroid collisions, which they will use as evidence to convince the public that it is important to protect Earth from another collision. In Task 2, students explore Newton’s laws and conduct experiments to understand relationships between mass, kinetic energy, and speed to determine how Etiam’s large mass might affect Earth. Students examine possible solutions to the problem of the asteroid collision with Earth. In Task 3, students look at the role of gravity on Etiam and how gravitational forces affect the trajectory of Etiam. Students use the information they collect from the tasks to design their solution. To solve the problem, students use the information and concepts they develop over the unit to decide on the best solution to protect Earth. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. Students investigate the relationship between mass and kinetic energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1) and mass and gravity (DCI-PS2.B-M2). Using this information, students work through several steps of the engineering design process to design multiple models of solutions and test each model (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, SEP-INV-M1). Students use patterns in the fossil records to determine the effects of past asteroid collisions (DCI-LS4.A-M1, CCC-PAT-M4) and to convince the public that it is important to protect Earth. Students create a video news segment that describes their solution and write a news article detailing the science behind asteroid collisions with Earth.

Examples of units that use driving questions or science topics to structure and guide student learning across multiple tasks and to engage with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: A Balanced Biosphere, the essential question “How have natural processes and human activities created the ecosystems we see today?” guides student learning across multiple tasks. Over the course of five tasks, students examine ecosystems from a macro perspective based on plate motions, explore both the geoscience processes and the human actions that result in an uneven distribution of resources, explore how living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem must interact to create a well-functioning ecosystem, identify patterns in the way organisms interact with each other, and use data from real scenarios that allows them to predict how changing one part of an ecosystem can affect another. Through all of the tasks, students examine various ways that natural processes and human activity have caused changes to create the ecosystems we see today. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. Students analyze various pieces of evidence (SEP-DATA-M4) to decide if they agree or disagree with Wegener’s idea of continental drift (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students explore both the geoscience processes and the human actions that result in an uneven distribution of resources (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). Students create a flow chart and use the cause-and-effect relationship between geoscience processes and geologic features to make predictions about how oil is made around the world (CCC-CE-M2). Students arrange ecosystem resource cards to create a model of an ecosystem (SEP-MOD-M5) that shows interactions and energy and matter flows between components (CCC-EM-M4). Students imagine and draw an ecosystem of their choice showing different ways that organisms interact with their environment (DCI-LS2.A-M4). They visit stations to collect data on real-life examples of interactions between organisms and their environment focusing on identifying patterns in the interactions across different ecosystems (CCC-PAT-M2). Students use a computer simulation to analyze and interpret data (SEP-DATA-M4) on the effects of changing an environmental condition on a population or populations in an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A-M1, DCI-LS2.A-M2).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Adapt or Die?, the essential question “ Why do species change over time and should we intervene?” guides student learning across multiple tasks. Throughout the unit, students look at the evidence that all species have changed over Earth’s history by exploring the fossil record and how scientists have organized Earth’s 4.6 billion-year-old history into the geologic time scale. Students explore two types of evidence that scientists use to infer lines of evolutionary descent. They are anatomical structures and embryos of different organisms. Students engage in a simulation of natural selection, generating data they can use to mathematically calculate the percentages of different traits. By identifying trends in the data, they will be able to explain how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time, pinpointing the process that is changing species as a result of environmental change. Students explore ways in which humans have intervened in these natural processes through selective breeding and genetic engineering. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. In groups, students analyze the rock sample and compare it with the geologic time scale. Students find examples of species that have remained stable over multiple time periods while others have gradually changed over time (CCC-SC-M3). Students use a CER to explain (SEP-CEDS-M3) how the geologic time scale is a model that helps us study Earth’s 4600 million-year-old history (DCI-ESS1.C-M1), which is otherwise too large to visualize (CCC-SPQ-M1). Students visit stations to collect embryological and anatomical evidence on different species. Students identify patterns in data and then use these patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) to infer common ancestry in similarities in embryological and/or anatomical structure (DCI-LS4.A-M3). Students construct an explanation to answer the question: What do similarities and differences in anatomical structures and embryological development tell us about the relationships between organisms? (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students participate in a simulation where survivability of insects with color variations is measured and recorded and used to calculate the percentage each represents of the total population . They include these percentages and trends (SEP-MATH-M2) when they construct an explanation that describes how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time (DCI-LS4.B-M1). Students draw a flowchart depicting the probable chain of causes and effects if climate change warms the region shown in an image (CCC-CE-M2). Students read two adapted scientific articles (SEP-INFO-M1) and view a short video to understand the process that takes a gene to make a protein to result in a trait (DCI-LS3.A-M1). The article also focuses on mutations and how a change in the gene can cause additional variations (DCI-LS3.B-M2). Students use the information from the article to model the processes of selective breeding and genetic engineering (SEP-MOD-M5) focusing on how the structure of the gene determines the structure and function of the protein (CCC-SF-M1). Students use a Venn diagram to compare the two processes that change genetic information and notice that selective breeding selects organisms with the desired traits while genetic engineering selects the desired gene itself (DCI-LS4.B-M4).

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Using Engineering and Technology to Sustain Our World, the research project of lessening the effect of human overpopulation and excess resource consumption guides student learning across multiple tasks. In Task 1, students examine their own carbon footprint and then calculate the per-capita emission of carbon dioxide for different countries around the world. Then they draw conclusions about human consumption of resources and overpopulation. In Task 2, students learn of the effects of human-caused changes to the environment and populations of organisms within those environments. Students discover the characteristics of waves and the energy that waves can contain in Task 3. In Task 4, students investigate the interactions of waves with matter to understand how different types of waves (mechanical vs. electromagnetic) travel from one location to another. For the Culminating Project, students choose one of three solutions to research (solar energy, ocean wave energy, or satellite image monitoring) to create a scientific poster with arguments and counterarguments to their chosen solution. Throughout the unit and across multiple tasks, students engage with all three dimensions. Students present their research and posters to the class at a “Resource Conservation Conference” (SEP-INFO-M5). As a group, students present the problem Earth is facing with overpopulation with an explanation of cause-and-effect relationships involved (CCC-CE-M2). Students also describe their solution in terms of waves and energy (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Individually, students write a letter to a non-profit organization recommending a solution for funding. In the letter, students describe the three solutions from the class and evaluate those solutions to make a recommendation (SEP-ARG-M3).

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

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:
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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

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 3aa - 3z

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

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

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
abc123

Report Published Date: 2021/02/25

Report Edition: 2018

Please note: Reports published beginning in 2021 will be using version 1.5 of our review tools. Version 1 of our review tools can be found here. Learn more about this change.

Science 6-8 Review Tool

The science review criteria identifies the indicators for high-quality instructional materials. The review criteria 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 review criteria evaluates 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 review criteria 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.

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

  • Focus and Coherence - 14 possible points

    • 12-14 points: Meets Expectations

    • 8-11 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 8 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 18 possible points

    • 16-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 11-15 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 11 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 38 possible points

    • 31-38 points: Meets Expectations

    • 23-30 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 23: Does Not Meet Expectations

Math High School

  • Focus and Coherence - 18 possible points

    • 14-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 16 possible points

    • 14-16 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 36 possible points

    • 30-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 22-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 22: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA K-2

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 58 possible points

    • 52-58 points: Meets Expectations

    • 28-51 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 28 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 3-5

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 42 possible points

    • 37-42 points: Meets Expectations

    • 21-36 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 21 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 6-8

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 36 possible points

    • 32-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 18-31 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 18 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


ELA High School

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meets Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

Science Middle School

  • Designed for NGSS - 26 possible points

    • 22-26 points: Meets Expectations

    • 13-21 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 13 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Coherence and Scope - 56 possible points

    • 48-56 points: Meets Expectations

    • 30-47 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 30 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 54 possible points

    • 46-54 points: Meets Expectations

    • 29-45 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 29 points: Does Not Meet Expectations