Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for School Specialty Inc. / Delta Education FOSS Next Generation Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
8
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for School Specialty Inc. / Delta Education FOSS Next Generation Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

Criterion 1a - 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for School Specialty Inc. / Delta Education FOSS Next Generation Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include many instances for students to use the three dimensions but in multiple cases the SEPs and/or CCCs present are from below grade-band expectations. Materials provide few three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level building toward the three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence. While the materials include three-dimensional objectives (NGSS Performance Expectations) at the module level, the corresponding summative assessments consistently miss SEP and/or CCC elements from the respective objectives. 

Indicator 1a

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

Indicator 1a.i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning opportunities. The materials integrate all three dimensions in student learning opportunities, although there are multiple instances where the SEPs and CCCs are below the 6-8 grade-band expectations. 

The materials are organized around Courses or Modules; Grades 6 and 7 are comprised of three modules each and Grade 8 is comprised of five modules. Each module contains three to ten Investigations. Each Investigation is further divided into two to four parts. Nearly all of the investigations include three dimensions with at least one part within an Investigation integrating a DCI, SEP, and CCC. One exception occurs in Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, where Investigation 1 is not connected to a DCI, but does include SEPs and CCCs.

In addition to the 11 printed books, the instructional materials also have a separate online module called Variables and Design, a “4-week course designed for grades 5-8, most typically used to start a middle school student’s science education at the beginning of grade 6 or in STEM elective courses.” Because this module is elective, it was not evaluated as part of this review.

Examples where the instructional materials include all three dimensions and integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, Investigation 3: The Nervous System, Part 1, The Sense of Touch, students engage in a sequence of activities to determine why human fingertips are more sensitive than knuckles. Students explore the sense of touch in their fingertips and knuckles and learn about various sensory mechanoreceptors in the skin through an annotated reading. Students collect data on receptive fields on the skin, compare models, and use evidence from their data collection to argue which model is more accurate (SEP-CEDS-M5) in order to make sense of how the body gathers and synthesizes sensory information (DCI-LS1.D-M1) and how certain structures are more sensitive than others due to the density of receptor cells (CCC-SF-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 10, Meteorology, Part 1, Weather Maps, students interpret temperature, precipitation, wind, and pressure data located on provided weather maps (SEP-DATA-M2). Students explore an online interactive about weather fronts and pressure to learn how to interpret symbols and shapes on the maps and deepen their understanding of concepts related to weather (such as high and low pressure and warm and cold fronts). Next, students look for patterns and relationships (CCC-PAT-M4) on the map to determine weather conditions for Socorro, NM. Students collect evidence to support their weather report (SEP-CEDS-M4). These activities help students integrate their learning from this unit to support their understanding of the complexities of weather prediction (DCI-ESS2.C-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Module: Human System Interactions, Investigation 2: Supporting Cells, Part 1, Food and Oxygen, students engage in a learning sequence to answer the question, “How do cells in the human body get the resources they need?” Students create an initial model to explain how muscle cells in a leg obtain the resources they need (SEP-MOD-M5). Students take their pulse rate and observe their breathing before and after running in place to gather more information for their models. Students watch a video on the circulatory and respiratory system to learn how oxygen is obtained from the environment by the structures in the respiratory system and passed to the blood by structures in the circulatory system. Students revise their models (SEP-MOD-M5) to account for the interactions between the respiratory and circulatory system in the delivery of oxygen to muscle cells (CCC-SYS-M1). These activities support students to build understanding of the concept that in multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 5, Part 2, Salol Crystals, students engage in a sequence of activities associated with igneous rocks to gather information about how the crystals in igneous rocks form. Students observe a set of rocks (basalt, granite, and obsidian) and learn that the presence of crystals in rocks is one possible indicator they are looking at an igneous rock. Using phenyl salicylate (Salol) in closed bottles, students simulate the melting and cooling of igneous rocks to visualize crystal formation (SEP-MOD-M5). Then, students design an experiment to test the effects of cooling rate on crystal formation (SEP-INV-M1) to determine whether the igneous rocks studied are formed by intrusive or extrusive processes (CCC-CE-M2). These activities help students develop the idea that the cycling of earth’s materials causes specific physical changes to rocks (DCI-ESS2.A-MI). 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Populations and Ecosystems, Investigation 3, Part 2, Mono Lake Food Web, using cards representing the organisms living in the Mono Lake ecosystem, students model the feeding relationships between organisms and their food (SEP-MOD-M3) by creating food chains and food webs (DCI-LS2.B-M1). Students draw arrows to show the flow of energy through the food web (CCC-EM-M4). Students reorder the organism cards to include the trophic levels found within the Mono Lake ecosystem after participating in a class discussion about the different roles organisms play within their ecosystem (CCC-SYS-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 4, Part 1, Gas Expansion/Contraction, students investigate what happens when a sample of air is heated or cooled. Students are presented with various materials to use while they explore until they find the best way to demonstrate this, recording their findings with an illustration and written explanation (SEP-INV-M2). Students share findings, identifying how different temperatures (cause) affect the behavior of the gas (CCC-CE-M2). The teacher explains new vocabulary including expansion, contraction, and kinetic energy and students apply these new terms to the appropriate places in their models. This helps students understand how changing temperatures and pressure affect the particles found in air (DCI-PS1.A-M6).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Gravity and Kinetic Energy, Investigation 1, Part 3, Acceleration, students observe a ball dropping and learn it is because of gravitational forces pulling it toward earth’s center (DCI-PS2.B-E3). Students complete a detailed analysis of the ball’s motion using video analysis software (SEP-MATH-M1). From analysis of the position and time data, students discuss patterns to determine the ball is not falling at a constant speed, but accelerating (CCC-PAT-M2). They calculate the rate and compare it to the acceleration of gravity on earth (DCI-PS2.A-H1).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 1, Part 1, Pulse Rate, students measure and record their pulse rate under four different conditions (SEP-INV-M4), calculate their heart beat per minute from their data, and convert to frequency (beats per second). Students then compare the repeated pattern (CCC-PAT-M2) of their heart beat to a wave with a specific frequency (DCI-PS4.A-M1). 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 1: Make Waves, Part 2, students engage in a series of activities to help them understand the basic properties of wavelength, frequency, and amplitude of waves, as well as learning the difference between longitudinal and transverse waves. Students use springs to make compression and transverse waves, looking for patterns (CCC-PAT-M2) common to each type of wave. Students use their observations to connect vocabulary with definitions by constructing annotated wave diagrams (SEP-CEDS-M2). Students also calculate the speed of a standing wave using wavelength and frequency. These activities help them to understand the concept of waves and their properties (DCI-PS4.A-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 6: Beyond the Moon, students engage in a sequence of activities to construct a model of what is in our solar system, gather information from categorizing cards of data, then return to revise their model. Students draw a diagram of what they think the solar system looks like. Students then engage in a learning sequence to learn more about the objects in outer space and their scaled properties. Students analyze data from a set of cards, including various pieces of data and pictures on each card, about different objects found in space to support their understanding of our solar system and beyond (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). Students sort the cards into different categories of information to compare the similarities and differences among the objects in the galaxy in terms of scale, size, and other properties (CCC-SPQ-M1). Student groups compare their categories of information and groupings. The teacher guides students in sorting the cards by location and distance: objects inside our solar system, in our Milky Way galaxy, and outer galaxy. The teacher explains the difference between Astronomical Units and Light Years and which ones are used to measure different objects in the galaxy. Students return to their diagram after reading and sorting the cards, then revise their model of the solar system (SEP-MOD-P3).

An example where the instructional materials do not include all three dimensions or integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 1, What is Life?, students engage in a series of investigations to learn about the characteristics and requirements that are common to all living organisms. In Part 1, students observe and record an unknown material that is placed in water. Students then work in groups to sort pictures of objects into living and nonliving categories, defining the characteristics that qualify objects as living. Additionally, students observe samples from mini habitats. In Part 2, groups of students observe five vials of unidentified materials. Each group receives one environment, but there are three different environments across the class. Students observe what happens over several days. They identify changes in the vials, noting differences and - after being told the liquids within each environment - use the information to explain what caused the changes they observed (CCC-CE-E1). Students are prompted to ask questions (SEP-AQDP-M1) that would help them gather evidence to determine whether the unknown material (camphor in water) they initially observed was living or nonliving (SEP-CEDS-M4). While this investigation helped students develop an understanding of the characteristics of life, it did not align to any DCI elements.

Indicator 1a.ii

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. A typical investigation contains two to four parts; in most investigations at least one part integrates all three dimensions in student learning opportunities and uses at least two dimensions to help students make sense of the concepts being presented. When all three dimensions are not used for sensemaking, the materials primarily use the SEPs, and less frequently the CCCs, to make sense of the DCIs. 

Across the materials, there are instances when the SEP of modeling came after learning as a check for understanding, not as a tool for helping students make sense of the DCI. In other Investigations, students use SEPs and CCCs during the investigation but the teacher guides a class discussion with questions and/or direct instruction, instead of students doing the sensemaking. In a few lessons, one of the dimensions or its associated element is below grade-band expectations. 

Examples where the materials support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Human System Interactions, Investigation 1, Part 2, students engage in a learning sequence to help them make sense of how human organ systems interact by diagnosing a patient’s illness. Students learn more about the patient’s symptoms and their causes by reading about a specific human organ system and any interactions it may have with other organ systems (SEP-INFO-M1). This helps students recognize how different human body systems interact with each other in a healthy individual (DCI-LS1.A-M3). Students use this information to explain how the system they researched interacts with the other systems. They gain additional information during  a gallery walk of the different organ systems presented by their classmates. Students use information from the gallery walk to make further connections between the different systems of the human body (CCC-SYS-M1). Students use these connections between systems to make sense of how the organ systems will be affected based on the symptoms the patient has. Students are provided with more information on the suspected diseases and incorporate this new understanding in order to make a claim about which disease they think is causing the patient's symptoms (SEP-ARG-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, students engage in a series of activities with stalks of rootless celery to learn that plants are multicellular organisms made of interacting subsystems. They learn that groups of cells work together to form tissues and organs (xylem, phloem, and stomata) that are specialized for particular functions, in this case, the transpiration of water throughout the stalk of celery (DCI-LS1.A-M3). Students design an investigation to find out what happens to water when a stalk of rootless celery sits in a vial of water overnight. They collect data on the mass of the celery stalk and the amount of water in the vial, then analyze and interpret the data to provide evidence to explain the results (SEP-DATA-M4). To consider where the water might have gone, students then observe red food coloring flowing through the vascular system of the celery stalk, turning the leaves and veins red. Students are prompted to remove the xylem and observe stomata in the plant leaves to determine how they work together (CCC-SYS-M1) to move water within the celery plant. They set up a plastic bag to capture water as it exits a plant. They use this information to explain how water travels through a plant and explain where the water went overnight.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 3, Convection, Part 2, students explore the effect of temperature on density of water by making layers of water without using added compounds (SEP-INV-M2). They use this experience to relate convection in liquids as a mechanism for energy transfer (CCC-EM-M2) as they observe the interaction of colored water of different temperatures and determine warm water rises and cold water descends. These activities help students explain how differences in density, due to variations of temperature, help to drive convection in the atmosphere and ocean (DCI-ESS2.C-M4).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 1, Substances, Part 2, students engage in a learning sequence to identify the substances in a mystery mixture. Students build an understanding of matter and its properties and how those can change when combined with other substances as they try to identify the two components of the mystery mixture. Students are introduced to nine other dry, white substances in addition to the mystery mixture. They make observations about the chemicals presented, including looking for patterns in the names and chemical formulas (e.g., all carbonates have CO3 in their formula) and their physical properties. Students design their own investigations (SEP-INV-M2) to determine the chemical and physical properties of the nine unknown substances. They make observations, gather data, read to gather more information about the other white powder substances, and use patterns from their experimental data (CCC-PAT-M3) based on the effect of the reaction. As students make sense of the patterns in their data, they use their own evidence to make a claim about which substances constituted the mystery mixture based on the physical and chemical properties of the starting and ending materials (DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 8, Phase Change, Part 1, students participate in a series of activities where they design an investigation to collect, analyze, and interpret data about the melting temperature of three different substances. Students create their own procedure to find the melting temperature of three different substances (SEP-INV-M1). Groups collect and analyze data, then engage in a class discussion about how the energy from the hot water is transferred into the molecules of margarine. Students create a model (SEP-MOD-M6) to show what happens to the particles as a substance changes state (melting) (DCI-PS1.A-M6) when heat energy is added to the system as an input (CCC-SYS-M2). Students further analyze different groups’ models and provide constructive feedback.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Electromagnetic Force, Investigation 4, Energy Transfer, Part 1, students engage in a learning sequence to investigate how motors transfer energy. Students dissect a motor and observe parts to identify the function of each structure inside the motor. They find three coils of wire that are electromagnets, a commutator that turns power to the electromagnets off and on, and permanent magnets (CCC-SF-M2, CCC-SYS-M2). Using these initial observations, they test different variables to see what each part does and then construct a model to show how a motor uses electrical energy and magnetism to exert a force that spins a shaft to create motion (SEP-MOD-M6, CCC-EM-M4, DCI-PS3.C-M1). 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Gravity and Kinetic Energy, Investigation 2, Force of Gravity, Part 1, students engage in a series of activities to help them understand the relationship between mass and gravity. Students use spring scales to explore the mass of marbles and in relation to their weight ( DCI-PS2.B-M2). Students are given data (Weight in Various Locations) where they compare mass and weight on different planets, looking for patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) to show a relationship between mass, weight, and gravity. Students follow a guided activity to collect data (SEP-INV-M2), which they interpret (SEP-DATA-M7) with regards to mass and weight. Students read and discuss a section of their text book about a ride in an elevator to help them make sense of this relationship.

Examples where the materials are designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, Part 2, students follow instructions to build an air pressure indicator using a syringe, tubing, and a clamp. Students use the apparatus to record three observations and three inferences they have. Students write cause and effect statements to record their observations (CCC-CE-M2). They use this apparatus and a computer simulation to collect data to serve as evidence (SEP-INV-M2) for constructing and explaining a particle model (SEP-CEDS-M2) to predict and explain the compression, expansion, and pressure of air particles within the syringe apparatus and computer simulation (DCI-PS1.A-M4). Throughout this Investigation, many teacher prompts lead students to the correct answers and limit student opportunities for sensemaking. Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 8, Insects, Part 1, students are presented with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and asked, “How do the structures and behaviors of the roaches enable life’s functions?” After a few minutes of observation, students generate a list of questions about the cockroaches they can investigate in class (SEP-AQDP-M6). Students make three drawings in their notebook, each with a different view (front, side, back) and label the cockroach structures listed in the student notebook directions. Students are shown drawings of antenna and mouthpart structures and circle the ones they think the cockroaches have. They place food near the cockroaches and write down what function they think the structures have based on their observations of the cockroach's behavior towards the food (CCC-SF-M2). They read an article explaining why hissing cockroaches hiss and other behavior strategies insects have (DCI-LS1.A-E1). Throughout this Investigation, teacher prompts often lead students to the correct answers and information provided in the text limits student opportunities for sensemaking. Students do not use the SEPs to make sense of or with the CCC or DCI as students develop an understanding of hissing cockroach structures or behaviors.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 7, Mountains and Metamorphic Rocks, Part 1, students engage in a series of lessons to learn about metamorphic rock and mountain formation. Students use foam plate models to simulate interactions at plate boundaries resulting from earth’s tectonic plates moving in different directions (SEP-MOD-M5). Students locate different boundary types on a map before viewing a plate-interaction animation (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students are led in a class discussion to help them understand why fossils of animals that once lived in a tropical sea are found in the rock layers of the Grand Canyon. Student read “Earth’s Dynamic Systems” (CCC-SYS-M1). Throughout this Investigation, teacher prompts often lead students to the correct answers and information provided in the text limits student opportunities for sensemaking. Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI as students develop an understanding of mountain formation.

Examples where the materials do not use all three dimensions to support student sensemaking or where the teacher is doing the sensemaking:

  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 7, Solutions, Part 1, students engage in a learning sequence to determine the difference between melting and dissolving. Students consider the differences between melting and dissolving, then participate in a guided activity to observe candy melting and dissolving. The students share their observations and their initial thoughts about the differences between melting and dissolving. Then the teacher gives students the definitions. After receiving the definitions, students create a particle diagram to explain the processes of both melting and dissolving (SEP-MOD-M5). Student groups share models and the teacher asks students to explain what’s happening at the particle level (DCI-PS1.A-M6). Students share out what they can explain at this point. The teacher explains what is happening regarding the particles, heat, and kinetic energy in each process. Throughout this Investigation, teacher prompts often lead students to the correct answers. Teacher explanations are provided prior to students developing their models; students are not constructing their own understanding. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 2, Wave Energy, Part 3, students engage in a learning sequence to construct a recording studio (using a shoebox) providing insulation from sound waves. Students use a decibel meter sensor to measure the sound insulation value (SEP-MATH-M5) of their shoebox recording studio. Students can design the studio through trial and error, and do not need to understand physical science DCIs or elements related to sound waves. Towards the end of the activity, students compare class results and apply prior learning of sound waves as they discuss how different insulation materials and configurations resulted in sound waves being reflected or absorbed.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Materials provide few three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level building toward the three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence. 

The objectives for each module are found in the Assessment for the NGSS section and include bundles of three-dimensional performance expectations (PEs). Within each module, objectives are provided at the start of each investigation as Content and Practices statements. The Content objectives are typically one-dimensional. The Content statements provide objectives related to content students will learn during the investigation and typically indicate student learning connected to one or more DCIs. An example of a Content objective is: “Every cell has structures that enable it to carry out life’s functions.” The Practices objectives provide descriptions of student actions during the investigation and may connect to one or more SEPs. These objectives are primarily two-dimensional and in a few instances they are three-dimensional. Most often, the objectives incorporate SEP and DCI elements, but rarely include crosscutting concepts. A typical example of a Practices objective is: “Explain how experimental results provide evidence that air has mass.”

The Guiding the Investigation section for each part of each investigation includes objectives for each session within each part. These typically describe actions students will do throughout each session. Some of these objectives are procedural, “Review vocabulary; answer the focus questions”. The majority of objectives are one dimensional and relate to content learning, “Discuss sedimentary environments and compare them to ancient environments” or include practices, “Test force between magnets at various distances”. These objectives rarely incorporate crosscutting concepts or connect all three dimensions. 

Throughout the materials, most investigations have assessment tasks designed to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions. The tasks are generally designed to support the targeted learning objectives. Additionally, many of the formative assessment tasks incorporate tasks for purposes of supporting the instructional process. However, the targeted learning objectives for the investigations are not three dimensional. 

Each module in the series begins with an Entry-Level Survey. These assessments are meant to elicit students’ prior knowledge of content. The survey is typically four pages long and is mostly comprised of open-ended questions. Teachers are directed to look at them for diagnostic purposes, but not to assign grades. They are intended to be used to “determine what students already know and what they need to learn,” so the teacher can plan what lessons need more time. Entry-Level Survey guidance is provided in “Coding Guides” and are only available on FOSSweb. The coding guides provide the answer sheets and item descriptions identifying dimensions of learning required to respond to all benchmark assessments for each course. Headings such as, “What students might say based on prior knowledge”, “How this item can inform instruction”, and “Contributes to [lists NGSS Performance Expectations codes]” give the initial appearance that the formative assessment process provides feedback on student learning of the associated three-dimensional objectives (PEs) for the module. However, the coding guides for the Entry-Level Survey questions only provide feedback for student performance on the DCIs associated with the PEs and do not assess or provide feedback on the SEP or CCC elements within the connected PE. 

At the end of every one to two investigations are I-Check Benchmarks, these can be used as summative or formative assessments. As noted in the materials, the I-Checks are “more powerful when used for formative assessment” and were evaluated as formative assessments. Investigation I-Checks contain item descriptions beginning with, “This item provided evidence that students…” and then describes the intended dimension for each item. Each item contains a code for the NGSS performance expectations the item contributes to at the module level and often connects to a Content objective for the investigation. While each dimension in the PE is color coded in the language of the I-Check key, the CCC is often shown in parenthesis but is not explicitly assessed in the I-Check. For each question in the I-Check, there are suggestions for next steps for how to review/reteach that concept (usually the DCI and seldomly the SEP) if students struggle with that question.

Student notebooks are a major component of formative assessment in the program. Science notebook masters are provided with question prompts for students to answer. Notebook entry assessment progress points are designed into the materials with guidance for teachers about what to look for. Additional embedded formative assessment tasks occur in each lesson while students are engaged in doing a science practice or group activity, They consist of a prepared review sheet or a more informal task where the teacher visits groups to ask questions about their understanding of the concepts and ability to explain it in terms of a CCC. The program provides examples of student responses and observations for the teacher in “What to Look for”, which helps identify the DCI and sometimes the CCC and SEP. These do not provide next-step suggestions with how to support the learning of the SEP or CCC if students have misconceptions or need additional support. 


Examples of investigations without three-dimensional learning objectives at the investigation level; assessment tasks are designed to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions, but do not support three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 3, The Cell, the investigation includes four one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective focusing on two DCIs (DCI-LS1.A-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M2). An example of a one-dimensional Content objective is, “Some organisms can become dormant to survive in an unsuitable environment.” The two-dimensional Content objective is, “Every cell has structures that enable it to carry out life’s functions.” Additionally, the investigation includes three Practices objectives: “Use a microscope to observe and compare the structure of cells in multicellular and single-celled organisms”, “Describe differences between living cells that are organisms and living cells that are part of multicellular organisms”, and “Refine the working definition of life to include the cell.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. In Part 2, students observe Elodea cells with a microscope, making sketches reflecting accurate cell size, shape, and components (DCI-LS1.A-M1). Students fill out their notebook worksheet, comparing paramecia to the Elodea they observed in Part 1 of the investigation (DCI-LS1.A-M1). Students estimate the length of a paramecium (CCC-SPQ-M5, SEP-MATH-M4) and compare to the size of Elodea cells. The teacher circulates from group to group to assess if students are all looking at the same thing. Students are given an assessment progress sheet to respond to questions regarding if paramecia are living or not. Students are introduced to the idea of single-celled organisms and write a description of differences between a single-celled organism and a cell that is part of a multicellular organism.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems, Investigation 2, Supporting Cells, the investigation includes three one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective connecting to two DCIs (DCI-PS3.D-M2, DCI-LS1.A-M3). An example of a one-dimensional content objective is, “The respiratory system supplies oxygen and the digestive system supplies energy (food) to the cells in the body.” The two-dimensional content objective is, “The human body is a system of interacting subsystems.” The investigation also includes two, two-dimensional Practices objectives: “Develop models to describe how food molecules are rearranged by chemical reactions forming new molecules to provide usable energy for cells” and “Construct explanations about organ systems interactions at different scales.” While the objectives for this investigation build toward three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. Focus questions in students’ notebooks begin and end the lesson. A response sheet assesses student understanding about the structure and functions (CCC-SF-M1) of the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems, their interactions (CCC-SYS-M1) and their ability to use the information to construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3). In Part 2, the embedded assessment gauges students’ ability to construct, revise, and use a model (SEP-MOD-M5) as they gain more information from videos and articles to explain how food, oxygen, and energy move through the human body (SEP-CEDS-M2, DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 6 Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 6, Air Flow, the investigation includes four one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective connecting to six DCIs (DCIs: PS1.A-M3, PS3.A-M1,PS3.A-M4, ESS2.C-M2, ESS2.C-M3, ESS2.C-M1). An example of a one-dimensional content objective is, “Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of particles of a substance.” The two-dimensional Content objective is, “Local winds blow in predictable patterns determined by local differential heating.” There are also two Practices objectives: “Describe how the atmosphere is heated” and “Explain how differential heating of Earth by the Sun creates local winds and contributes to global winds.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. Students read about conduction as energy transfer between particles as a result of contact. They apply information from the reading assignment to discuss energy transfer in the atmosphere. Students summarize their thinking in a written response to the focus question, “How does the atmosphere heat up?”  Students discuss results from previous activities (from Investigations 1-5) before watching two animations; a land breeze and a sea breeze. Students analyze and explain the energy transfers producing the winds and work in groups to make diagrams explaining their reasoning (SEP-MOD-M5, CCC-EM-M2). In Part 3, a globe is used to develop a model of global wind patterns (SEP-MOD-M5) before a discussion where students give and receive feedback about their models (SEP-ARG-M2, CCC-SYS-M3). The teacher provides guidance to check for understanding as students progress through the investigation at checkpoints known as “Assess progress: notebook entry” points. The third “What to Look For” suggests the teacher look for student responses such as  “Air masses in the Northern Hemisphere tend to move south due to Earth’s large convection cells" and does not provide additional guidance. Investigation 6 culminates with an I-Check for Investigations 5-6. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Populations and Ecosystems, Investigation 2, Sorting Out Life, the investigation provides five one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective connecting to DCI-LS2.A-M1. An example of a one-dimensional content objective is, “Biotic factors are living factors in an ecosystem; abiotic factors are nonliving factors.” The example of the two-dimensional objective is, “An ecosystem is a system of interacting organisms and nonliving factors in a specific area.” The investigation also includes two Practices objectives, one of which is one-dimensional and the other is two-dimensional; “Analyze and categorize cards, using evidence to determine which represents individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystem”, and “Identify biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem” (DCI-LS2.A-M1). While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. Students are introduced to basic vocabulary used in ecological studies by participating in a card-sorting activity where they analyze and categorize pictures to help them understand the subsystems found within an ecosystem (CCC-SYS-M1). In the I-Check, found at the end of the lesson, question 1 assesses whether students can evaluate information to determine how the parts of an ecosystem interact (DCI-LS2.A-M2) and what scale determines the size of an ecosystem (CCC-SYS-M1). Students then watch a video of Jane Goodall's experience studying chimpanzees and make comparisons between their milkweed bug study and Jane Goodall’s study. In the “Assess Progress” notebook entry for this section, only content knowledge is assessed. In the last part of the investigation, students research different ecosystems focusing on the defining characteristics. Students briefly share what they found from their research with the class. The investigation objectives provided are mostly content-based. The I-Check assessment for this investigation focuses on knowing the key vocabulary, types of ecosystems and what they provide, and being able to determine if a study is a controlled experiment or observational study. While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives (NGSS performance expectations) of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs and CCCs are often prescriptive.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 4, Kinetic Energy, the investigation provides four one-dimensional Content objectives connected to four DCIs (DCI-PS1.A-M3, DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.B-M1). An example is, “Kinetic Energy is energy of motion.” The materials also provide three one-dimensional Practices objectives: “Carry out an investigation to heat and cool gas, liquid, and solid matter to observe expansion and contraction”, “Develop a model of kinetic energy at the particle level”, and “Construct an explanation of how a thermometer works.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. This lesson checks for students’ understanding as they progress through the activities and provides teachers guidance at checkpoints known as “Assess progress: performance assessment” points. Students work with plastic bottles to find out what happens to air when it is heated and cooled (SEP-MOD-M2). They make a water thermometer to observe the contraction and expansion of liquid water, and observe a brass sphere-and-ring to investigate solid expansion and contraction. The first “What to Look For” suggests that “Students design a demonstration to show gas expanding when heated and contracting when cooled” (SEP-INV-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M4, CCC-EM-M2). The second part provides guidance about questions to ask students in a discussion about expansion and contraction of water in a syringe. The third “What to Look For” refers to a notebook entry about the expansion and contraction of the brass ball and ring.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 1, Make Waves, the investigation provides three one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective related to one DCI (DCI-PS4.A-M1). An example of a one-dimensional Content objective is, “Key features of waves are crests, troughs, and nodes.” The example of the two-dimensional objective is, “If you know the frequency and wavelength, you can calculate the speed of the wave.” The materials also include three one- or two-dimensional Practices objectives, “Collect frequency data from multiple sources”, “Create and describe longitudinal and transverse waves”, and “Apply computational thinking when diagramming a wave, measuring its properties, and calculating speed.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. Students measure their pulse under different circumstances to investigate frequency (DCI-PS4.A-M1). This lesson first checks for students’ understanding as they progress through the investigations through notebook entries and provides teachers with guidance about “What to Look For” such as, “Students determine that the pulse count for 15 seconds must be multiplied by four to find the pulse rate in beats per minute.” In the second part of the lesson, students make longitudinal and transverse waves out of springs to investigate wavelength and amplitude. Then they make a diagram of a standing wave in their notebook and label the parts of the wave. The “Assess progress: performance assessment” supports instruction by providing guidance for the teacher about “What to Look For” to identify that “Students use precision in creating standing waves that can be reliably measured, and make adjustments to their techniques if data is not clear” (SEP-INV-M1, CCC-PAT-M2).

Examples of investigations without three-dimensional learning objectives at the investigation level; assessment tasks do not reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions or support three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 2, The Microscope, the investigation provides four Content objectives that are not related to any DCIs. An example of one of the objectives is, “A microscope’s optical power is the product of the magnification of the eyepiece and the objective lens.” There are also three Practices objectives, of which two are two-dimensional. The two-dimensional objectives are, “Use computational thinking to estimate the size of objects based on field of view” and “Draw scale representations of images seen through a microscope.” The remaining Practice objective is not related to any SEP or CCC, “Demonstrate the proper use of a microscope.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. In Part 1 of the investigation, students watch a video to learn about how to carry a microscope. They take notes on how to care for the microscope which include labeling its parts. Students make a wet mount of a color photo and view it under the microscope. Students also make observations of the letter E under the microscope and draw what they see (SEP-INV-M2). Students are asked to respond to the focus question in their notebook, “How do objects appear when they are viewed under the microscope?” In Part 2 of the investigation, students are asked how they can estimate the size of objects by looking at them under a microscope (SEP-MATH-M4). The teacher guides students to measure the diameter of the field of view. Students complete an online activity called “Virtual Microscope” to confirm their results. Students practice estimating the size of objects using Amoeba proteus specimens and recording their results on a notebook sheet. Students also complete a response sheet to assess their progress. The content assessed in this sheet (magnification) is related to one of the Content objectives that is not aligned to a DCI. In Part 3, students use the microscopes to find evidence that brine shrimp are living organisms. The teacher conducts a performance assessment while the students are working and are provided bulleted “look fors” to use for assessment. One example is, “Students accurately estimate the size of brine shrimp” (SEP-MATH-M4). The others are not related to any of the dimensions. For example, “Students make detailed drawings of what they observe.” While students are assessed on the three Practices objectives, none the DCIs and CCCs specified for this module are included in the investigation, nor are they assessed.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, the materials provide three one-dimensional Content objectives connected to one DCI (DCI-ESS2.D-M1), focusing primarily on definitions. One example is, “Air is matter; it occupies space, has mass, and can be compressed.” The investigation also includes three two-dimensional Practices objectives, “Collect data on atmospheric conditions such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity”, “Use a particle model to compare a gas at standard pressure and gas under increased pressure”, and “Explain how experimental results provide evidence that air has mass.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives (NGSS performance expectations) of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and CCCs are not reflected in the Content or Practices objectives. Students watch video segments of severe weather, generate questions based on the video and ensuing discussion, view local weather reports, and collect basic weather data for their community. Students work with syringes and flexible tubes to discover how air takes up space and is compressible. Students study the earth’s atmosphere using diagrams, photos from space, and reading informational text. The notebook entry assessment progress point for this investigation is not at grade-level (DCI-ESS2.D-P1). The assessment item coding guides depict that items were written to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, but the descriptions are sometimes vague. One example, Item 3 on Investigation 1 I-Check, “This item provides evidence that students describe why we record daily weather conditions through the lens of crosscutting concepts (Contributes to MS-ESS2-5).” This presumes that a crosscutting concept lens is applied, but there are no explicit instructions to do so. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 10, Limiting Factors, the investigation provides three one-dimensional Content objectives and one two-dimensional Content objective. One example of the one-dimensional objective is, “Atoms are neither created nor destroyed during a chemical reaction, only rearranged; matter is conserved” and connects to (DCI-PS1.B-M2). The example of the two-dimensional Content objective is, “The quantities of reactants available at the start of a reaction determine the quantities of products.” The investigation also includes three Practices objectives, “Collect data by measuring the volume of gas produced in a reaction to develop explanations about the concentration of reactants”, “Use a model of the concept of limiting factor in chemical reactions”, and “Communicate key points from the entire course.” The first two of these are two-dimensional and the third does not align to any dimension. While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. In Part 1, students devise a plan for using the citric acid reaction, focusing first on the citric acid reactant, to answer the focus question, “What is a limiting factor in a chemical reaction?” After a class discussion, the teacher tells students what steps to take (SEP-INV-M4 ). The teacher completes a demonstration experiment to find out how much gas is produced when the baking soda is doubled. The teacher asks the class several questions about the results of the demonstration. In the notebook assessment at the end of the lesson, questions 1-3 assess whether students can explain the possible outcomes of four situations involving reactions with limiting factors. Students do not use the concept of conservation of matter, the disciplinary core idea related to this lesson, to answer any of the questions. Therefore DCI-PS1.B-M2 is not assessed. In Part 2, students review their notebook entries for the entire module to answer the focus question, “What have I learned about chemical interactions?” Students look for five key points and cite evidence from their work in class supporting each key point. They do not use any of the SEP-INFO elements. A spokesperson for the group presents their list of key ideas and evidence to the class. The teacher keeps track of key points on the board using the Chemical Reactions Key Points Master. This master contains bulleted statements which are DCI-focused only (DCI-PS1.A, DCI-PS1.B, DCI-PS3.A, DCI-PS3.B). For example one bullet point listed, “Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space.” The SEPs and CCCs from this course are not part of the key points list and students are not assessed on these dimensions. In this investigation, student understanding of the focus DCI and CCCs is not assessed.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 7, The Solar System, the investigation provides five one-dimensional Content objectives. A typical example is, ”The temperature on a planet depends on two major variables: distance from Sun and nature of the planet’s atmosphere.” There are three Practices objectives, “Design and construct scale models of the solar system”, “Compare the temperatures and atmospheres of the planets”, and “Analyze photographic images to search for evidence of the presence of water on planets and satellites.” While the objectives for this investigation build towards three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. In the first part of the investigation, students review scale, then calculate the scaled proportions of size and distance of two or three of the planets (SEP-MATH-M4). The teacher works with groups to formatively assess who is progressing and who needs additional help. The teaching note walks the class through the math if students are struggling. Next, students share their data with the class and use this data to construct models of the solar system in groups. The teacher observes the groups’ models to assess progress and review samples of students’ Notebook Entry addressing the focus question, “Where are the planets in the solar system?” The program provides key points in the “What to Look Fors” to check if students achieved understanding about how patterns in the solar system can be explained with models (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). The Embedded Assessment Notes include what to do if there are any misconceptions or alternative concepts present. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 4,  Communication Waves, the investigation provides five one-dimensional Content objectives related to one DCI (DCI-PS4.C-M1). An example is, ”Many modern communication devices use digitized signals (sent as waves) as a reliable way to encode and transmit information.” There are also two two-dimensional Practices objectives, “Transmit data through optical fibers to test design constraints” and “Analyze graphical displays of carrier waves, sound waves, and modulated waves to understand their relationships and describe their properties.” While the objectives for this investigation build toward three-dimensional objectives for the module, they do not represent three-dimensional learning targets for the investigation. In the first part of the investigation students determine how far a fiber optic cable can bend and maintain total internal reflection (SEP-INV-M5). Students update their notebooks with any information they learned and answer the focus question, “What are some design constraints in fiber-optic communications?” Next, students discuss modern communication technology and learn about carrier waves through diagrams, lecture, discussion, and reading. In the last part of the investigation, students view images at various resolutions to learn understand the more pixels you have, the higher the resolution of a digital picture. The materials provide “What to Look Fors” to help the teacher determine whether students achieved understanding of concepts related to communication waves. The five items on Investigation 4 I-Check assess whether students understand the content in the investigation (DCI-PS4.C-M1), but do not assess student understanding of the cross-cutting concepts mentioned on the assessment map. Four items are one-dimensional and one item is two-dimensional. There are no questions assessing any grade-level SEPs.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives for the module in the form of performance expectations (PEs), but summative tasks measure student achievement of only some learning objectives (PEs) or their associated elements and few summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional in design. Although most of the assessments measure student achievement of the DCIs within the module objectives (listed PEs), every summative test was missing one or more of the SEPs and/or CCCs within the targeted PEs.

In the Assessment section of every module, the materials identify three forms of summative assessments: End-of-Module, I-Checks, and Portfolios. Portfolio entries were not evaluated as summative assessments since different assignments could be selected by students to include. Also noted in the materials, the I-Checks are “more powerful when used for formative assessment”. In a few instances, the I-Checks appeared more summative in nature and were considered summative assessments. However, in most cases, the I-Checks were considered as formative assessments. The End-of-Module Benchmark Assessments were evaluated as summative assessments.

The End-of-Module Benchmark Assessments consist of multi-component questions with a combination of multiple-choice, true/false (yes/no), and open-ended questions. They range in length from 14-56 parts. Few of the summative tasks are three-dimensional in design. There is at least one three-dimensional question on each of the End-of-Module assessments, with some assessments having as many as six three-dimensional questions. The number of two-dimensional questions ranged from 1-25. Many of the summative questions were one-dimensional, frequently focused on assessing the DCIs.

Examples of summative assessment tasks that do not measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives; few summative tasks are three-dimensional in design:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of ten multi-component questions comprised of 17 parts; five parts are multiple-choice questions, two parts require sequencing a list from least to most complex, five parts are true/false (yes/no) questions, and five parts are open-ended questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-7; MS-LS1-8). Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: LS3.A, LS3.B, LS4.A, LS4.B, LS4.C, ESS1.C). The summative assessment for this module does not assess the following SEPs associated with the targeted PEs: SEP-AQDP, SEP-INV, and SEP-CEDS. It also does not assess the following CCCs associated with the targeted PEs: CCC-SPQ and CCC-SYS. While the end-of-module test assessed three dimensions, not all questions were three-dimensional. One of 17 parts was three-dimensional, one was two-dimensional and fifteen parts were one-dimensional as they assessed individual DCIs or PEs. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of the four performance expectations, identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather & Water, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 18 multi-component questions which contain 53 parts; 14 parts are open-ended, five parts are multiple-choice, five parts are matching, and 29 are true/false (yes/no) questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-5, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-2, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ESS3-5, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2). Two of the bundled PEs (PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4) are not assessed on the end-of-module benchmark assessment, but one (PE-MS-ETS1-3) is assessed in the Investigation 5 engineering project. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: ESS1.B, ESS2.C, ESS2.D, ESS3.B, ESS3.C, ESS3.D, PS1.A, PS3.A, PS3.B, ETS1.A, ETS1.B), SEPs, and CCCs but not all of the elements. The summative assessment for this module does not assess the SEPs elements associated with these PEs: MS-ETS1.C, SEP-DATA-M7, SEP-MOD-M7. These are assessed when including the investigation level I-Checks as summative assessments, rather than formative assessments. While the end-of-module test assessed all three dimensions, not all questions were three-dimensional. Most questions and parts were one- or two-dimensional with only one part fully-three dimensional. Twenty-five parts were two-dimensional and twenty-nine were one-dimensional. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of 14 of the 16 performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of nineteen items, three which are multi-component questions, for a total of 29 total questions. Six items are open-ended, 12 parts are multiple-choice, five parts are true/false (yes/no) questions, and one item is listing levels of organization from a word bank. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS2-5, MS-LS3-2). Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: LS1.A, LS1.B, LS1.C, LS2.C, LS3.A, LS3.B). The summative assessment for this module does not assess the following SEPs associated with the PEs identified as objectives: SEP-AQDP, SEP-MOD, SEP-INV, SEP-DATA, and SEP-MATH. It also does not assess the following CCCs, associated with the targeted PEs: CCC-PAT, CCC-SPQ, CCC-SYS, CCC-EM, and CCC-SC. One End-of-Module test item showed evidence of three-dimensions, 11 were two-dimensional, and six items one-dimensional (DCIs). This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement in relation to the nine performance expectations identified as objectives in the module. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of twelve multi-component questions for a total of 35 parts; eight parts are open-ended, ten parts are multiple-choice, and 17 are true/false (yes/no) questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-PS1-1, MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-3, MS-PS1-4, MS-PS1-5, MS-PS1-6, MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5). Four of the PEs identified as objectives (PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2,MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4) are not assessed by the end-of-module test. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCI-PS2.A, DCI-PS2.B), SEPs, and CCCs, but not all of the elements. Seven elements are not addressed on the summative posttest (DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.B-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M3, SEP-INFO-M3, SEP-CEDS-M7, CCC-SF-M2, and CCC-EM-M4). These elements are assessed when including the investigation level I-Checks as summative assessments rather than formative assessments. While the end-of-module test assessed all three dimensions, only six of the 12 questions were three-dimensional. Of the remaining six questions, four were two-dimensional and two were one-dimensional. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement in relation to nine of the module’s thirteen performance expectations identified as objectives in the module. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Populations and Ecosystems, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 15 questions, of which seven are multi-component for a total of 20 parts; eight questions are multiple-choice, one is matching, seven are open-ended, three are true/false (yes/no) questions, and one is constructing a food web model. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5, MS-PS3-4 (listed as foundational), MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4). Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of six of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: ESS2.C, ESS2.D, ESS3.B, PS1.A, PS3.A, PS3.A ). One DCI (DCI-ESS1.B) is not assessed even though the related PE is listed as an objective addressed in this course. Two DCIs (DCI-ESS3.C and DCI-ESS3.D) are assessed in the performance assessments in Investigation 8, but not in the post-test. Not all of the SEPs (SEP-AQDP, SEP-MOD, SEP-INV, SEP-DATA, SEP-MATH, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO) and CCCs (CCC-PAT, CCC-CE, CCC-SPQ, CCC-EM, CCC-SYS, CCC-SF, CCC-SC) associated with the PEs identified as objectives are fully assessed. While the end-of-module test included all three dimensions, only one question (Q5) required students to use all three dimensions to respond. The remaining questions were only two-dimensional because the questions were related to an SEP or CCC but the use of the SEP or CCC was not required to answer the question. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of ten performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of ten questions, five of which are multi-component for a total of 16 parts. Seven are multiple-choice (four of which contain an image or graph to analyze first), one is a model diagram of the rock cycle, five are constructed response, and three are true/false (yes/no) questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed, (PEs: MS-ESS1-4, MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3, MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-2, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ESS3-5, MS-LS4-1). Overall, the questions address students’ understanding of six of the PEs identified as objectives. Four PEs were identified as objectives that were not assessed in the post-test (PEs: MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ESS3-5, MS-LS4-1). Five of the eight SEPs (SEP-MOD, SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO)  associated with these PEs are assessed within the post-test questions. Three SEPs are not assessed in the posttest but are included within the PEs identified as objectives for this module (SEP-AQDP, SEP-INV, SEP-MATH). Three questions were two-dimensional for SEP and DCI alignment, while six items were one-dimensional to only the DCI. Seven questions showed potential for three-dimensional assessment, but in each of these seven questions the CCCs (CCC-PAT, CCC-CE, CCC-EM, CCC-SYS, CCC-SC) were only connected or underlying to the question, and students were not required to use the CCC to answer the question. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of ten performance expectations identified as objectives in the module. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 15 multi-component questions containing 56 parts; eight parts are open-ended, five parts are multiple-choice, 23 parts are matching, and 20 are true/false (yes/no) questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed, (PEs: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, PE-MS-ESS2-2, PE-MS-PS4-2). One of the PEs identified as an objective (PE-MS-ESS3-4) is not assessed on the end of module benchmark assessment. This PE is assessed when including the investigation level I-Checks as summative assessments rather than formative assessments. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: ESS1.A, ESS1.B, ESS1.C, ESS2.A, ESS2.C, ESS3.A, ESS3.D, PS2.B, PS4.B), and some of the SEPs and CCCs, but not all of the elements. Three elements are not assessed on the summative posttest (DCI-ESS3.C, SEP-ARG-M3, CCC-CE-M2), but are assessed if investigation level I-Checks are included as summative assessments rather than formative assessments. Six questions on the end-of-module assessment showed evidence of three-dimensional alignment, six were two-dimensional, and two were one-dimensional. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of five of the six performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Gravity and Kinetic Energy, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 14 items, four of which are multi-component questions for a total count of 23 parts; six parts are open-ended and 17 parts are multiple-choice questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-ESS1-2, PE-MS-PS2-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-1, MS-PS3-2, MS-PS3-5). Four ETS PEs identified as objectives for the module (PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4) are not adequately assessed in the End-of-Module benchmark assessment, but are assessed in Investigation 4. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: PS2.A, PS2.B, PS3.A, PS3.B, PS3.C, ESS1.B), with the exception of three (DCI-ETS1.A, ETS1.B, ETS1.C). Two SEPs were evident in five items on the End-of-Module post-test (SEP-DATA and SEP-CEDS); six SEPs aligned to PEs identified as objectives were missing. Five of seven CCCs were evident in six items; two CCCs aligned to the PEs (CCC-SF and CCC-SC) were not evident in assessment items. Five items assessed all three dimensions, and eight items were one-dimensional. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of eight of the twelve performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of fourteen multi-component questions containing 50 parts; eight parts are open-ended, four parts are multiple-choice, 29 are true/false (yes/no) questions, six parts are related to a word bank, and three parts are mathematical problems to be solved with wave equations. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-PS4-3). One ETS PE identified as an objective for this module (PE-MS-ETS1-1) is not assessed on the end of module benchmark assessment. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCI-PS4.A, DCI-PS4.B, DCI-PS4.C). In the summative assessment, there is one three-dimensional question for each PE, but not all elements within the targeted PEs are assessed. Two elements are not assessed on the summative post-test (DCI-PS4.2-M2 and CCC-SF-M2). While the end-of-module test assessed all three dimensions with one item per PE, five of the eight items identified by the program as three-dimensional required only two-dimensional skills of students. The assessment contained three three-dimensional items, eight two-dimensional items, and three one-dimensional items. This end-of-module test partially assesses students’ achievement of three of the four performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Heredity and Adaptation, End-of-Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 11 multi-component questions for a total of 18 parts; ten parts are multiple-choice questions, two parts order a list from least to most complex, two parts are true/false (yes/no) questions, and four parts are open-ended questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs:MS-LS3-1, MS-LS3-2, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS1-4). Not all of the SEPs and CCCs associated with the PEs identified as objectives are assessed. Overall, the questions assess student understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: LS3.A, LS3.B, LS4.A, LS4.B, LS4.C, ESS1.C). The summative assessment for this module does not assess three SEPs associated with the targeted PEs (SEP-AQDP, SEP-INV, SEP-CEDS) or two CCCs associated with the targeted PEs (CCC-SPQ and CCC-SYS). While the end-of-module test assessed all three dimensions, not all questions were three-dimensional. Two of the 11 questions were three-dimensional, six were two-dimensional, and three were one-dimensional. The end-of-module test partially assesses student achievement of the nine performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Electromagnetic Force, End-of Module Benchmark Assessment, the summative assessment consists of 14 questions; six are multiple-choice questions, two are fill-in-the-blanks, one is a yes/no question, and five are open-ended questions. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed (PEs: MS-PS2-2, MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-2, MS-PS3-5, MS-LS4-4, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ETS1-2). Three PEs (PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4) are not assessed in the posttest. Not all of the SEPs and CCCs associated with the PEs identified as objectives are assessed. Overall, the questions assess students’ understanding of most of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCIs: PS2.A, PS2.B, PS3.A, PS3.B, PS3.C, ESS3.A, ESSC.3, ETS1.B). The summative assessment for this module does not assess two DCIs associated with the targeted PEs (ETS1.A and ETS1.C). Five SEPs associated with the targeted PEs are not assessed (SEP-AQDP, SEP-MOD, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO). Four CCCs (CCC-SPQ, CCC-SYS, CCC-SF, CCC-SC) associated with the PEs identified as objectives are also not assessed. While the end-of-module test assessed all three dimensions, not all questions were three-dimensional. One of the 14 questions was three-dimensional, three were two-dimensional, and eight were one-dimensional. Two questions were not aligned to any dimension. The end-of-module test partially assesses student achievement of three of the four performance expectations identified as objectives in the module.

Criterion 1d - 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for School Specialty Inc. / Delta Education FOSS Next Generation Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include ten phenomena that consistently connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs. The phenomena found are consistently presented to students as directly as possible, often through first-hand observations. Phenomena do not consistently drive learning and use of the three dimensions within lessons or activities, with few instances found (7 of 74 investigations and an additional 5 instances where the phenomena drives learning for a portion of the investigation).  The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 3% of the lessons, and explain phenomena in 14% of the lessons. The materials do not leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to the phenomena and problems present. While the materials include few instances of phenomena that drive student learning across multiple parts of an investigation, they do not include phenomena or problems that drive learning across multiple investigations.

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). Each investigation has a topic of focus, and each part is organized around a Focus Question. In most cases, the Focus Question centers around developing student understanding of at least one DCI or topic in science that is appropriate to grades 6-8. The ten phenomena identified in the materials consistently connect to grade-band DCIs. While the number of phenomena and problems in the series was limited, phenomena connected to grade-band DCIs in all grades and content areas, and problems were connected to physical science DCIs only. 

Examples of phenomena that connect to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, the phenomenon is a rootless stalk of celery is placed in water and a day later the water level in the container has decreased. Students plan and carry out an investigation to determine what happened to the water. Over the course of the investigation, students learn how the cells in a plant vascular system obtains and transports water used in photosynthesis and cell respiration (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, Part 2, the phenomenon is air can be compressed in a syringe. Students push and pull two connected syringes to observe the behavior of the air particles within the system. This phenomenon helps students understand atoms in a gas are widely spaced except when the pressure is increased (DCI-PS1.A-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 2, Air Pressure and Wind, Part 1, the phenomenon is when a pressure indicator apparatus is placed in a sealed jar and the jar is squeezed, the water level in the pressure indicator apparatus changes. Students use this apparatus and an online activity to explain how pressure affects the density of air (DCI-PS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 1, Earth is Rock, the phenomenon is the walls of the Grand Canyon appear to contain horizontal stripes. Students use information about how limestone, sandstone, and shale form to explain how the Grand Canyon formed with the different layers causing the striped appearance in the canyon walls. Students use the different types of rock in the rock strata as a way to interpret geologic time scale in the Grand Canyon (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 6, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Part 1, the phenomenon is volcanoes and earthquakes occur in predictable patterns around the earth. Students map earthquakes and volcano locations to analyze patterns about these natural hazards. Students consider what earthquakes and volcano locations have in common and the geological forces that may be causing these events (DCI-ESS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 9, What is Earth’s Story?, the phenomenon is different types of rocks are found at different sites throughout the Grand Canyon. As students take a virtual field trip through the Grand Canyon, they explain different geologic features seen in the Grand Canyon. Students collect information about earth’s history and processes, including weathering, erosion, deposition, and plate movements causing uplift, to describe when and how the different types of rocks formed (DCI-ESS1.C-M1, DCI-ESS2.C-M5).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 3, Light Waves, Part 2, the phenomenon is light often appears white, but can be separated into different colors. Students use spectroscopes to investigate the spectra from different light sources and use different colored filters to compare the different visible colors. They record the corresponding wavelengths of light displayed in the spectroscope. This phenomenon is used to help students understand how different wavelengths of light are perceived as different colors and (in Part 3) light shining on an object is reflected or absorbed, which determines the color we see (DCI-PS4.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 4, Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. Students use globes and a lamp to model how sunlight on various positions of the moon creates moon phases. Students explain the observed changes in the shape of the moon each month to the pattern of sunlight and position of the moon’s orbit (DCI-ESS1.A-M1).

Examples of problems that connect to grade-band DCIs present in the materials:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 5, Conduction, Part 2, students are presented with a challenge to insulate a model of a home to reduce energy transfer between a hot and cold environment. Prior to designing their model, students discuss energy transfer through conduction, convection, and radiation and where each of these types of energy transfers might occur in a house. Students test ways to insulate a vial of hot water placed in a container of cold water to model insulating a home and reduce energy transfer (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students compare class data and discuss how interactions at the particle level affect energy transfer between two substances and the impact on temperature. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 6, Thermos Engineering, students are presented with the problem of designing a container to keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. Students explore insulating materials, their properties, and how they reduce energy transfer. Students compare class data and discuss how interactions at the particle level affect energy transfer between two substances and the impact on temperature. Students use the class data and their discussion about particle interactions and the density of the materials, (DCI-PS3.A-M3) to modify their thermos design and learn in order to design the best thermos with the materials present, a solution needs to be tested and modified on the basis of the test results in order to improve it (DCI-ETS1.B-M1).

Indicator 1e

Phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible.
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 presented to students as directly as possible. The ten phenomena that were identified in the materials were consistently presented to students as directly as possible, often through first-hand observations. When that was not possible or practical, the phenomena were presented through videos, images, or other media.

Examples of phenomena that were presented to students as directly as possible are:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, the phenomenon is a rootless stalk of celery is placed in water and a day later the water level in the container has decreased. Students observe this phenomenon first-hand through a classroom demonstration.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, Part 2, the phenomenon air can be compressed in a syringe is presented to students first-hand. Students are provided with a syringe and flexible tubing and investigate to see what happens as they push and pull on the plunger.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, Investigation 1, Systems Connections, students are presented with the phenomenon of a woman recently developing a fever, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, and severe headaches. Students watch a case-study video of a doctor interviewing the patient about symptoms of her mystery disease. Students view this phenomenon through a video presentation, since it is not practical to interview a patient with this specific disease in person. In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 1, Earth is Rock, the phenomenon is the walls of the Grand Canyon appear to contain horizontal stripes. This is presented to students through several media: pictures, posters, a video of a flyover, and rocks samples from the Grand Canyon, since a field trip to the area is not practical for most classrooms. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth’s History, Investigation 6, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Part 1, the phenomenon is volcanoes and earthquakes occur in predictable patterns around the earth. Because of the large geographic scale, students are presented with this phenomenon by examining maps and data. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 9, What is Earth’s Story?, the phenomenon is different types of rocks are found at different sites throughout the Grand Canyon. Students take a virtual field trip through the Grand Canyon to observe different geologic features seen in the Grand Canyon, since a field trip to the area is not practical for most classrooms. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 3, Light Waves, Part 2, the phenomenon is light often appears white but can be separated into different colors. A sidebar directs the teacher to project or show an image of a rainbow and students use a spectroscope to observe this phenomenon first hand.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 4, Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. During Investigation 1, Part 3, students observed and log daily observations of the moon for a month. Students observe this phenomenon through first-hand observations.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 5, Craters, students are presented with the phenomenon that there are craters on the moon. Students are presented with this phenomenon through images of the moon, since a telescope to provide the level of detail in the images is not practical for most classrooms.

The two problems/design challenges identified in the materials were presented to students through text read by the teacher and accompanied by images and scenarios in the Student eBook. While the presentation of these materials provide students with the problem or design challenge, the materials do not provide a direct experience for all students to develop a common understanding of the problem or challenge.

Examples of problems that were presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 5,  Conduction, Parts 2 and 3, students are presented with a challenge to insulate a model of a home to reduce energy transfer between a hot and cold environment. Students are presented with this challenge in the Student eBook with a statement, “insulation helps keep homes comfortable, no matter what the weather is like outside.” Students also see an image of a person adding fiberglass batting insulation to an attic. The teacher introduces this problem by asking students, “What happens if a home is poorly insulated?” before the teacher tells students that their challenge “will be to insulate a model of a home.” 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 6, Thermos Engineering, students are presented with the challenge of designing a container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. Students are presented with this challenge in the Student eBook with the scenario of sitting down with a cup of hot cocoa when the phone rings and then the cocoa being cool by the time the call ends. Students also see an image of a thermos. The teacher reads the problem, “A drink-container company wants to design a new container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cool. They have the shell (the outer and inner walls), but they want to know how to most effectively reduce the transfer of energy between the surrounding atmosphere and the liquid within the container.” 

Indicator 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons (investigations) or activities (parts of investigations) using key elements of all three dimensions. 

Of the 74 investigations in the series, phenomena or problems drive learning across seven investigations, and these engaged students in learning all three dimensions. In an additional five investigations, a phenomenon or problem drives learning within a single part of the investigation, but not across the entire investigation. 

In the majority of the investigations in the series, a topic of focus was identified, and each part was organized around a Focus Question related to components of that topic. The Focus Question is primarily centered around developing student understanding of a core idea or topic in science, as opposed to making sense of a phenomenon. While multiple instances of these investigations incorporate illustrative examples of natural phenomena, the phenomena were not positioned for students to build and use the three dimensions to figure them out. These investigations do engage students with key elements of all three dimensions, but are not driven by phenomena or problems.

Examples of individual lessons or activities that are driven by phenomena or problems using key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, students are presented with the phenomenon when a cut piece of rootless celery is placed in a vial of water, the water seems to disappear over time. In Part 1, students collect data about water volume and celery mass during an investigation (SEP-INV-M4) to use as evidence to answer the question about where the water went. Students analyze the results (SEP-DATA-M4) to determine if the water was absorbed into the celery. Students conduct another investigation using water with red food coloring to visualize how water moves into the celery stalk (SEP-INV-M4). In Part 2, students figure out what is causing the water amounts to differ among groups by examining the number of leaves on different groups’ celery (CCC-PAT-M3). Students notice that both the stalks and the leaves look red after adding the food color to the water. Students observe xylem, phloem, and stomata and then conclude that water moved through the stem to the leaves (DCI-LS1.A-M3). Students observe stomata in images of tradescantia leaves and place bags over a branch of a plant growing outdoors to determine if water can exit leaves through stomata. In Part 3, students use this information and the pattern they noticed in Part 1 - that the more leaves a celery stalk has, the more water was lost to transpiration - to construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) for what happened to the water in the glass with the celery.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 6, Thermos Engineering, students are presented with the challenge of designing a container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. Before designing their thermos, students determine whether energy transfers between a cup of hot water and cold water through a hands-on investigation and a simulation. Students discuss how the change in temperature of the water is a result of the transfer of thermal energy between the two cups (DCI-PS3.A-M3). The term insulation is introduced along with the problem of reducing energy transfer in the thermos. Students brainstorm materials to use as an insulator for their thermos, construct, design, and test whether their insulating materials were effective for reducing energy transfer, and collect class data on all materials (SEP-INV-M2, SEP-CEDS-M2). Students analyze class data for evidence of the best insulators and the teacher guides a student discussion toward other properties of the materials (CCC-SF-M2) and how interactions at the particle level affect energy transfer between two substances and the impact on temperature (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students use the class data, their discussion about particle interactions, and the density of the materials to modify their thermos design (SEP-CEDS-M7, DCI-ETS1.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 4, Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. Students analyze their moon log data collected during Investigation 1, Part 3 (SEP-DATA-M4), notice the shape of the moon changes over the course of a month, and realize the pattern then repeats (CCC-PAT-M4). Students look at moonrise data and compare it to sunrise data to determine the moon is moving around the Earth. The teacher provides students with materials to develop a model matching the pattern they have in their moon log (SEP-MOD-M5, CCC-SYS-M2). While developing and using their models, students find that half of the moon is always in the light of the sun and the other half is in its own shadow due to the position of its orbit (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). This investigation helps students make sense of the phenomenon and construct an explanation as to the reason the moon appears to be changing shapes is because of how much light/shadow we see from our point of view on the earth (SEP-CEDS-M4).

Examples of lessons or activities that are not driven by a phenomenon or problem but incorporate elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 4, Radiation, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “How does weather differ between locations?” Students review the collected weather data from their local area and one other city to come up with questions that would help determine differences between the two locations (SEP-AQDP-M5, SEP-AQDP-M6). Students analyze and interpret six climate graphs, which show the average temperature, rainfall, elevation, latitude, and longitude (SEP-DATA-E2) from three cities in the Great Plains and three cities on the West Coast to determine the effect of latitude (and angle of the sun) on weather and climate in these six cities (SEP-DATA.M7, CCC-PAT-M3; CCC-CE-M2). Students confirm that latitude has the greatest effect on the weather and climate patterns for these six cities (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). 
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 9, Climate over Time, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “How have climates changed over time?” Students look for patterns in rates of change (CCC-PAT-M2) and analyze and interpret data to provide evidence to support the claim, climate has changed in four cities in the United States from 1930 to 2010 (SEP-DATA-M4). Students use a simulation to identify effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as other greenhouse gases and connect it to increases in earth’s average temperature. Students read news articles to identify evidence that human activities serve as major factors in the current rise in earth’s mean surface temperature (DCI-ESS3.D-M1). 
  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 4, Domains, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “Which of these am I most like: bacteria, bread mold, or archaea?” Students discuss questions they need to ask in order to gather information to respond to the question. Students select four surfaces to test and inoculate an agar plate and a slice of bread (SEP-INV-M4). While the samples are incubating, students engage in a card sorting activity and view an online animation to learn about the size of items on the cards (CCC-SPQ-M1). Students organize the cards according to the size of the items. Students taste foods made with bacteria and fungi, read about bacteria, fungi, and archaea to learn they are living organisms made of cells (DCI-LS1.A-M1), learn the history of the biological system of classification, and engage in a discussion to answer the original question by comparing information from the reading, class charts, and their prior notes. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Populations and Ecosystems, Investigation 3, Mono Lake, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “What are the different biotic and abiotic components of the Mono Lake ecosystem?” Students watch a video about the Mono Lake ecosystem explaining the unique features and history of the lake. Students ask and answer questions (SEP-AQDP-M1) as they view the video and read about the lake ecosystem. As students investigate the different interactions between organisms, they develop and use models of the feeding relationships in Mono Lake (SEP-MOD-M5) to create food chains and food webs. Students reorganize their models as information is presented about the trophic levels and the flow of energy in the ecosystem (CCC-SYS-M2). This example of an ecosystem drives the learning across all four parts of this investigation as students develop an understanding of how organisms are dependent on their interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors in their environment (DCI-LS2.A-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions: Investigation 8, Phase Change, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “What happens at the particle level when a substance melts?” Students plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to determine whether margarine, sucrose, and wax melt at different temperatures, understand the changes of state that occur with variations in temperature (DCI-PS1.A-M6), and observe phase changes by determining the melting and freezing points of different substances. Students develop a model at the particle level to explain how the transfer of energy drives the motion of matter (CCC-EM-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 9, Part 2: Limewater Reaction, this part of the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “What happens at the particle level during a chemical reaction?” Following a class review of the difference between dissolving and melting, students are asked to reflect back to Part 1 and how they learned to identify whether a chemical reaction occurred. This part focuses on identifying the presence of bubbles as evidence of a reaction. Students observe air being pumped into limewater and then their exhaled breath. Students observe only their exhaled breath causes a color change in the limewater, indicating a chemical reaction between the limewater and carbon dioxide in their breath (CCC-CE-M2). Atom tiles are used to model the chemical reaction at the atomic level (SEP-MOD-M6) to show how the atoms rearranged during the chemical reaction. These activities help students make sense of how substances react chemically in characteristic ways (DCI-PS1.B-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Electromagnetic Force, Investigation 4, Energy Transfer, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “How does an electric motor work?” Students dissect the motor to get a better view of the component parts. Students identify the parts and record their initial ideas about the function of each part (CCC-SF-M2) before testing each part to test their ideas and learn that electromagnetic force is being used to make the motor spin (DCI-PS3.C-M1). Students compare the working motor to a dissected motor to figure out how energy is transferred in the system (CCC-EM-M4). They construct a model to explain how a motor works to create electricity (SEP-MOD-M6, SEP-CEDS-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 1, Make Waves, the investigation is driven by a topic and students are asked the question, “What is frequency?” Students engage in a series of activities to help them understand that waves have certain characteristics that can be measured. In Part 1, students work as a class to determine the best method for collecting data under four different conditions, what data to observe and record, and how to calculate their heartbeats per minute and convert to the frequency of beat/sec (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-PS4.A-M1). In Part 2 of the investigation, students use a large spring to observe and record similarities and differences of compression, transverse, and standing waves (DCI-PS4.A-E2). They also use the observed features of the spring to learn the associated vocabulary.

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 3% (2/74) of the investigations compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving engineering or design problems. Throughout the materials, 14% (10/74) of the investigations present a phenomenon requiring students collect evidence to explain.

Across the series, six of the eleven modules have notations in the scope and sequence indicating engineering content. These include one module in Grade 6, two modules in Grade 7, and three modules in Grade 8. While these activities exposed students to engineering content, two were designed in a way that allows for students to solve problems or engineering challenges. One was in Grade 6, Weather and Water and the other was in Grade 7, Chemical Interactions. Both of these design challenges provide students with opportunities to create and test a design solution applying their understanding of science content. In both cases, these challenges centered around solving problems related to decreasing energy transfer. 

Examples of problems or design challenges in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 5, Conduction, Part 2, students are presented with a challenge to insulate a model of a home to reduce energy transfer between a hot and cold environment. Students test ways to insulate a vial of hot water placed in a container of cold water to model insulating a home. Students test ways to insulate a vial of hot water placed in a container of cold water to model insulating a home and reduce energy transfer (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students compare class data and discuss how interactions at the particle level affect energy transfer between two substances and the impact on temperature. In Part 3, students expand their designs to decrease energy transfer between the model home and the environment.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 6, Thermos Engineering, students are presented with the challenge of designing a container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. Students review energy transfer using an online simulator then work in groups to brainstorm how and what they will test to make a thermos. Students test how different insulating materials reduce energy transfer. Students compare class data and discuss how interactions at the particle level affect energy transfer between two substances and the impact on temperature. Students then use the class data, their discussion about particle interactions, and the density of the materials to modify their thermos design.

Each module in the series is comprised of three to ten investigations with each including a topic of focus. Each investigation typically contains one to four parts and each part is organized around a Focus Question. In most cases, the Focus Question centers around developing student understanding of a core idea or topic in science, which is often illustrated with a natural phenomenon. However, most of the investigations in the series are not designed in a way allowing for students to make sense of phenomena.

When investigations are designed for students to make sense of observed phenomena, the phenomenon is introduced to students in Part 1 of the investigation slightly more than half of the time; otherwise the phenomenon is introduced to students in subsequent parts of the investigation. Across the series, phenomena were identified in ten investigations. All three modules in Grade 6 had at least one investigation with an identified phenomenon. In Grade 7, only the Earth History module contained investigations with identified phenomena. In Grade 8, only the Waves and Planetary Science modules contained investigations with identified phenomena.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, the phenomenon is a rootless stalk of celery is placed in water and a day later the water level in the container has decreased. Students discuss what happened to the water and then develop a plan to find out where the water went. Students carry out the plan and then discuss the results. Students use the results to explain what happened to the water.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, Part 2, the phenomenon is air can be compressed in a syringe. Students push and pull two connected syringes to observe the behavior of the air particles within the system. Students develop a model to explain how particles in a gas are widely spaced, but get closer together when gas in the syringe is compressed resulting in increased pressure within the syringe. They use their model to explain how moving the plunger of one syringe affects the other syringe.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 2, Air Pressure and Wind, Part 1, the phenomenon is when a pressure indicator apparatus is placed in a sealed jar and the jar is squeezed, the water level in the pressure indicator apparatus changes. Students learn how pressure affects the density of air and then use this understanding to explain what caused the water level to change in the apparatus.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, Investigation 1, Systems Connections, the phenomenon is a woman recently developed fever, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, and severe headaches. Students watch a case-study video of a doctor interviewing the patient about symptoms of her mystery disease. The patient’s disease is the platform from which students ask questions and research how organ systems interact with other organ systems to support life processes. Students use information about the symptoms and organs impacted to diagnose the mystery disease.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 1, Earth is Rock, the phenomenon is the walls of the Grand Canyon appear to contain horizontal stripes. Students use information about how limestone, sandstone, and shale form to explain how the Grand Canyon formed with the different layers causing the striped appearance in the canyon walls. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth’s History, Investigation 6, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Part 1, the phenomenon is volcanoes and earthquakes occur in predictable patterns around the earth. Students plot different volcanoes around the world. After receiving earthquake data, students see many earthquakes and volcanoes occur in the same locations. Students compare maps and data and conclude that many earthquakes and volcanoes occur in linear zones. In Part 3, students learn about plate boundaries and the geological forces moving earth’s plates and use the information to explain the pattern of earthquake and volcano locations. 
  • In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 9, What is Earth’s Story?, the phenomenon is different types of rocks are found at different sites throughout the Grand Canyon. Students take a virtual field trip through the Grand Canyon to observe different geologic features seen in the Grand Canyon. Students collect information about earth’s history and processes, including weathering, erosion, deposition, and plate movements causing uplift, to describe when and how the different types of rocks formed.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 3, Light Waves, Part 2, the phenomenon is light often appears white, but can be separated into different colors. Students investigate the spectra from different light sources to explain how different wavelengths of light are perceived as different colors and explain how the different colors we see are determined by how light is reflected or absorbed by the object.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 4, Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. During Investigation 1 Part 3, students observed and logged daily observations of the moon for a month. Students use their moon log to identify patterns in the phases. To explain these patterns, students use globes and a lamp to model how the differences in position between the earth, moon, and sun result in sunlight hitting the moon in various positions around the earth, and result in the moon phases.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 5, Craters, students are presented with the phenomenon there are craters on the moon. Students learn about arguments made by two different scientists in the 1960s about the cause of the craters; volcanoes or impacts. Students collect evidence using a simulated lunar surface and meteoroid to model impact crater formation, then collect data to determine the effect of speed and mass of meteoroid on crater features (diameter, depth, or ray length). Students read an additional article about shocked quartz and how it supports impacts as the source of craters. Students use evidence from the text and their investigations to support a claim that craters are caused by impacts.

Indicator 1h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. 

At the start of each module, students complete an Entry-Level Survey that elicits students prior knowledge of the core ideas within the module and includes selected and constructed response questions. Throughout the materials, students are frequently asked questions about what they know about science topics, concepts, or vocabulary or to anticipate what will happen during or as a result of an investigation. These questions consistently provide opportunities for students to share their ideas in their notebooks, with partners or small groups, and with the whole class. However; the materials rarely ask students about the reasoning for their answers or to relate to their prior experiences outside of the classroom, and miss opportunities to connect students’ prior knowledge and experiences to phenomena or problems. 

Only twelve investigations in the series engage students in sensemaking of phenomena or solving design problems, thereby providing limited opportunities across the series to elicit student prior knowledge or experiences related to a specific phenomenon or problem. When the materials do elicit students’ prior knowledge or experience related to phenomena, the materials provide little guidance for teachers to use this information beyond looking for misconceptions. There are missed opportunities for the materials to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences.

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

  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, Investigation 1, Systems Connections, the phenomenon is a woman recently developed fever, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, and severe headaches. Prior to watching a case-study video of a doctor interviewing the patient about symptoms of her mystery disease, students are asked to think of a time they were sick and asked to describe the symptoms and diagnosis. This elicits prior knowledge and experience to help them better understand the context of the video presenting the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Waves, Investigation 3, Light Waves, Part 2, the phenomenon is that light often appears white, but can be separated into different colors. Students are directed to share what they know about rainbows with a partner and come up with questions they have about them. A sidebar directs the teacher to project or show an image of a rainbow and the materials provide sample questions to help the teacher help guide the discussion. One example is, “Do you know how rainbows form?” This partner and whole class discussion elicits students’ prior knowledge about rainbows. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, Investigation 1, Earth as a System, Part 3, the phenomenon is the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. To elicit student prior knowledge and experiences, students are asked, “When do you see the Moon?”, “Can you see the Moon during the day?”, and ”What color and shape is the Moon?” After sharing their ideas in small groups, students share their ideas with the whole class. These questions are asked prior to collecting data for their moon logs and prior to Investigation 4 where students make sense of the phenomenon the moon appears to change shape over the course of a month. 

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

  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, Investigation 5, Plants: The Vascular System, the phenomenon presented is a rootless stalk of celery is placed in water and a day later the water level in the container has decreased. Student ideas are elicited when they are asked the focus question, “What happened to the water?” Students record their ideas in their notebooks then discuss in small groups prior to a full class discussion. The materials provide no prompts for teachers during the small group or whole group discussions eliciting student reasoning for their answer or connect their answer to personal prior knowledge or experiences. 
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 1, What is Weather?, Part 2, the phenomenon is air can be compressed in a syringe. At the start of this activity, students are asked the focus question, “What is air?” and are provided time to record their answers in their notebooks. Prior to providing syringes for students to experience this phenomenon, students are asked the question, “What happens to the air in the syringe when you push and pull on the plunger?” Students are then provided with a syringe and flexible tubing and investigate to see what happens as they push and pull on the plunger. The materials provide no prompts for teachers to elicit student reasoning for their answer or connect their answer to their prior knowledge or experiences. 
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 2, Air Pressure and Wind, students are presented with the phenomenon when a pressure indicator apparatus is placed in a sealed jar and the jar is squeezed, the water level in the pressure indicator changes. At the start of this module, students complete an Entry-Level Survey which provides six true/false statements about properties of air. At the start of this investigation, students are asked to recall where they might have heard the term pressure applied to weather and then asked the focus question, “How does pressure affect air?” Students are then shown the apparatus and asked to answer, “What do you think will happen to the water in the clear tube when I squeeze the jar?” They record their answers in their notebooks. The materials provide no prompts for teachers to elicit student reasoning for their answer or connect their answer to personal prior knowledge or experiences. 
  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, Investigation 5, Conduction, Part 2, students are presented with a challenge to insulate a model of a home to reduce energy transfer between a hot and cold environment. Prior to starting the challenge, the teacher is directed to ask the class, “Where have you heard of insulation before?” Students discuss their answers with a partner and the teacher is directed to call on a few volunteers to share. Then the teacher is directed to tell the class that “every home has an outside wall and an inside wall” and to ask students, “What is between the walls?” While these questions could elicit prior knowledge from students who contribute to the discussion, they are not structured to elicit or leverage prior knowledge from all students in the classroom. 
  • In Grade 7,  Module: Chemical Interactions, Investigation 6, Thermos Engineering, students are presented with the challenge of designing a container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. Prior to introducing the design challenge, the teacher is instructed to ask, “What are some of the things you use in your everyday life that keep hot things hot and cold things cold?” Through a sidebar note, the teacher is instructed to focus on insulation and then follow up with the question, “Where have you heard of insulation before?” While these questions could elicit prior knowledge from students who contribute to the discussion, they are not structured to elicit or leverage prior knowledge from all students in the classroom. 

In Grade 7, Module: Earth History, Investigation 1, Earth is Rock, the phenomenon is the walls of the Grand Canyon appear to contain horizontal stripes. After introducing students to this phenomenon with posters and a video of a flyover, students are asked the Focus Question, “Why do there appear to be stripes on the walls of the Grand Canyon?” Students record their answers in their notebooks and then engage in a class discussion. The materials provide no prompts for teachers to elicit student reasoning for their answer or connect their answer to personal prior knowledge or experiences visiting the Grand Canyon.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. While the materials provide a limited number of phenomena that drive student learning across multiple parts of an investigation, they do not include phenomena or problems that drive learning across multiple investigations. Each module or course is organized around a large topic or concept, comprised of multiple investigations building towards student understanding of the topic or concept for the module. While students engage in the three dimensions and develop an understanding of the larger concept or topic, they have limited opportunities to use and build knowledge of the three dimensions in the context of making sense of a phenomenon or solving a problem. When they do, that occurs within a single investigation. 

Examples of modules across the series that do not use phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple investigations:

  • In Grade 6, Module: Weather and Water, students engage in a series of ten investigations to answer the guiding question, “What makes weather happen?” In Investigation 1, students engage in discussions about their local weather, learn that air can be compressed, and view the earth from space to observe and describe complex atmospheric weather patterns. While one part of this investigation is driven by a phenomenon, the phenomenon does not drive learning across the entire investigation or across multiple investigations. In subsequent investigations, students build deeper understanding of air pressure and wind, convection, radiation, and conduction. Students also explore global wind circulation, atmospheric moisture, and ocean circulation to track the movement of water in the atmosphere and oceans, and climate data to aid in interpreting and predicting weather. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge weather, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Human Systems Interactions, students engage in a series of three investigations to answer the guiding question, “How do humans live, grow and respond to their environment?” Investigation 1 is driven by a phenomenon a woman recently developed fever, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, and severe headaches. After being presented with a patient’s symptoms, students collect information about organ systems and their interactions to support a diagnosis of the mystery disease. This phenomenon is not revisited or used to drive learning in the subsequent investigations in this module. In Investigation 2, students learn more detail about cells in the body as they relate to transfer of food and oxygen, and then using those components during aerobic cellular respiration. In Investigation 3, students learn more detail about the nervous system and how it is sends and receives messages used by the senses and how it is involved in learning and memory. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about human systems and their interactions, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 6, Module: Diversity of Life, students engage in a series of nine investigations to answer the guiding question, “How do you know that something is living?” Most of the investigations are driven by a concept and question and not a phenomenon or problem. In Investigation 1, students conduct an investigation to determine whether an unknown material is living. In the subsequent eight investigations students engage in activities such as using microscopes to observe microorganisms and make bacteria cell cultures and bread molds. Investigation 5 is driven by the phenomenon a rootless stalk of celery is placed in water and a day later the water level in the container has decreased. This phenomenon contributes to the understanding of cells and tissues and how that contributes to the life of an organism. This phenomenon is not revisited or used to drive learning in any of the subsequent investigations in this module. In the remaining investigations, students determine how the environmental factor of salinity affects plant germination and growth. They dissect flowers to investigate plant reproduction, and conduct a bioblitz to look at local biodiversity. Finally, students explore if viruses are living and answer the focus question using what they have learned by participating in the investigations. Although students continue to refine their ideas about living and nonliving things across the investigations, this learning is driven by the larger concept. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about characteristics of living organisms, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Populations and Ecosystems, students engage in a series of nine investigations to develop an understanding of the driving question, “How do organisms, matter, and energy interact in an ecosystem?” No phenomenon or problem drives learning across multiple investigations or within a single investigation. Investigation 1 and Investigation 7 both use classroom populations of milkweed bugs to develop an understanding of factors needed for this insect to survive and reproduce, and how the availability of those factors impacts population sizes. Investigations 2-4 focus on developing understanding of ecosystems, their components, and interactions within ecosystems. Investigations 5-6 focus on understanding how energy and matter interact within ecosystems. Investigations 8-9 focus on developing student understanding of human impact on ecosystems and strategies for mitigating the impact. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about interactions between organisms, energy, and matter, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Module: Chemical Interactions, students engage in a series of ten investigations to answer the guiding question, “How does matter interact?” Most of the investigations are driven by a concept and question and not a phenomenon or problem. Investigations 1-3 focus on developing student understanding of substances and their properties, elements and their properties, and the particulate nature of matter. Investigations 4-6 focus on understanding energy among particles, energy transfer, and factors impacting energy transfer. Investigation 6 is driven by the challenge of designing a container that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. This design challenge is not revisited or used to drive learning in the subsequent investigations in this module. Investigations 7-10 focus on developing student understanding of particles in solution, phase changes, chemical reactions and factors impacting chemical reactions. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about chemical interactions, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Planetary Science, students engage in a series of nine investigations to develop an understanding of the driving question, “What is my cosmic address?” Seven of the investigations are driven by a concept and question, and two investigations are driven by a phenomenon; neither of these phenomena drive learning across multiple investigations. Investigation 1 develops student understanding of earth as a system. The last part of this investigation provides an opportunity for students to collect first-hand observations about the shape of the moon that will be used as the phenomenon in Activity 4. Investigation 2 develops understanding of the relationship between the earth and the sun, including the causes of day and night, seasons, and day length. Investigations 3-5 collectively develop student knowledge and understanding of the moon. In Investigation 4 students use the moon log data they collected at the end of Investigation 1 to observe the phenomenon that the shape of the moon changes over the course of a month and the pattern then repeats. To make sense of this phenomenon, students develop a model matching the pattern they have in their moon log. In Investigation 5, students observe the phenomenon there are craters on the moon. Students collect evidence to figure out that impacts are the cause of these craters. The remaining investigations in this module support students in building knowledge of the history and details of the solar system. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about the earth’s place in the universe, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations. 
  • In Grade 8, Module: Heredity and Adaptation, students engage in a series of three investigations to develop an understanding of the driving question, “How can we explain the diversity of life that exists on Earth?” No phenomenon or problem drives learning across multiple investigations or within a single investigation. Investigation 1 focuses on developing student understanding of the fossil record, how it can be used to understand past life on earth, and how it has changed over time. Investigations 2 and 3 focus on developing an understanding of the core ideas of heredity and natural selection. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about the diversity of life on earth, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.
  • In Grade 8, Module: Gravity and Kinetic Energy, students engage in a series of four investigations to develop an understanding of the driving question, “How can we explain the motion of objects?” No phenomenon or problem drives learning across multiple investigations or within a single investigation. Students engage in four investigations to develop an understanding of forces and motion and how energy is transferred and conserved in collisions. Students test the effect of mass and height of a falling ball, describe the relationship between stopping time in a collision and force applied, and apply the concept that energy transfers between objects in a collision. While the driving question helps provide context for the unit and developing knowledge about forces and motion, students are not using it to make sense of a phenomenon across multiple investigations.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

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

Criterion 2a - 2g

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

Indicator 2a

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

Indicator 2a.i

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

Indicator 2a.ii

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

Indicator 2b

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

Indicator 2c

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

Indicator 2d

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

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

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

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

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

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

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

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3d

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

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

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

Indicator 3d

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

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

Materials are designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students.
N/A

Indicator 3f

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

Indicator 3g

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

Indicator 3h

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

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

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

Indicator 3k

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

Criterion 3l - 3s

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

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Indicator 3o

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

Indicator 3p

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

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Indicator 3s

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

Criterion 3t - 3y

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

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3v

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

Indicator 3w

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

Indicator 3x

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

Indicator 3y

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

Criterion 3z - 3ad

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

Indicator 3z

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

Indicator 3aa

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

Indicator 3ab

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

Indicator 3ac

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

Indicator 3ad

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A
abc123

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 12/10/2019

Report Edition: 2019

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Gravity and Kinetic Energy 978-1-62571-185-4 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Waves 978-1-62571-187-8 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Human Systems Interactions 978-1-62571-189-2 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Heredity and Adaptation 978-1-62571-190-8 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Planetary Science 978-1-62571-791-7 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Earth History 978-1-62571-792-4 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Weather and Water 978-1-62571-793-1 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Diversity of Life 978-1-62571-794-8 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Populations and Ecosystems 978-1-62571-795-5 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Chemical Interactions 978-1-62571-796-2 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019
Waves Kit w/o SRB 978-1-64011-215-5 School Specialty, Inc./Delta Education 2019

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

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Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

Science 6-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For science, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

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

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


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

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

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?

Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. 

In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

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

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

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

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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