Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Impact Science Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS; Criterion 1: Three-Dimensional Learning does not meet expectations. The materials include some three-dimensional learning opportunities but it is inconsistent across grades, with nearly all sequences in Grade 7 including at least one three-dimensional learning opportunity and less than half in Grade 8. The materials provide consistent opportunities for student sensemaking with the SEPs and DCIs but infrequent opportunities for three-dimensional sensemaking, given the dearth of opportunities for sensemaking with the CCCs. Learning objectives are present and consistently three dimensional at the lesson and unit level; however, the formative and summative assessments do not consistently measure the three dimensions for their respective objectives. Criterion 2: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning does not meet expectations. There are infrequent opportunities for students to explain phenomena and solve problems. Rather, student learning is frequently guided by a scientific concept, question, investigation, or project. Of the phenomena present, they connect to DCIs in most instances. Of the problems present, they do not connect to DCIs. Only about half of the included phenomena and problems are presented as directly as possible. Further, the materials provide few instances where phenomena or problems drive learning and use of the three dimensions within and across lessons, missing the opportunity to consistently engage students in explaining phenomena or solving problems through the use and development of each of the three dimensions.

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

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

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

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

Usability

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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 Impact Science Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS; Criterion 1: Three-Dimensional Learning does not meet expectations and Criterion 2: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning does not meet expectations.

Criterion 1a - 1c

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

Across the series, nearly two thirds of all learning sequences contain at least one learning opportunity that integrates all three dimensions. Further, this is inconsistent across grades with nearly all sequences in Grade 7 including at least one three-dimensional learning opportunity and less than half in Grade 8. The materials provide consistent opportunities for student sensemaking with the SEPs and DCIs but infrequent opportunities for three-dimensional sensemaking, given the dearth of opportunities for sensemaking with the CCCs. Learning objectives are present and consistently three dimensional at the lesson and unit level; however, the formative and summative assessments do not consistently measure the three dimensions for their 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.

Indicator 1a.i

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

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

The instructional materials for Grades 6-8 are organized around a two-tiered 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate/Extend) instructional model. Each unit is composed of several learning sequences, which are identified as a series of consecutive lessons that connect with one or two components of the 5E model. Additionally, the structure of individual lessons are designed to fit a 5E instructional model. There are eight to nine units per grade and 10-29 lessons per unit. Each lesson is designed to take place over a 45-minute class period. In a few instances, a single lesson is designed to be completed over several class periods. Most individual units within the program are centered around science concepts (e.g., forces and motion). The exception is the first unit of each grade; this is an introductory unit which focuses instruction on building class community, teaching safety procedures, and teaching directly to the SEPs, CCCs, and/or the engineering and design process.

Across the series, nearly two-thirds of all learning sequences contain at least one learning opportunity that integrates all three dimensions. While nearly all of Grade 7 learning sequences integrate the three dimensions, approximately 60% of Grade 6 and fewer than half of Grade 8 learning sequences contain three-dimensional learning opportunities. Within the unit-level 5E model of instruction, the materials present three-dimensional learning opportunities most frequently in lessons aligned with the Explore and Explain components of the model. However, three-dimensional opportunities are included in Elaborate, Evaluate, and Extend learning sequences as well. Learning opportunities that do not integrate all three dimensions are frequently lacking engagement with a crosscutting concept element; in some instances, students do not engage with DCI elements in life, physical, or earth and space science. The Engage components of each unit are often presented as a single lesson of instruction and are not considered for scoring with regards to this indicator.

Examples of student learning sequences that integrate all three dimensions within a learning opportunity (lesson):

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 3: Latitude, students engage in a learning opportunity to investigate the role of latitude on the uneven heating of earth. Students investigate how light aimed at different angles heats a piece of paper, how a heat lamp heats different parts of a globe, and how a world map of climate zones compares to lines of latitude (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Students then construct an explanation based upon gathered evidence for why climate changes with latitude (SEP-CEDS-M3) and then look for patterns in their findings (CCC-PAT-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6, Lesson 18: Cell Analogy, students engage in a learning opportunity to construct a model of how a cell acts as a system by using an analogy to compare the structures and functions of each of the cell parts and how they work together. Students construct a model of a school system to act as an analogy for the cell as a system (CCC-SYS-P2). Students then co-construct a second model comparing the cell to a system of their choice (SEP-MOD-M5) in order to describe the specialized structures with the cell and how they work together as a system (DCI-LS1.A-M2, CCC-SF-E2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Changing Earth, students engage in a learning opportunity to model how water can change earth’s surface. Students arrange a stream table to model how water interacts with land features (SEP-MOD-M3, CCC-SYS-M2) through weathering and erosion (DCI-ESS2.C-M5) and discuss how these interactions can produce changes suddenly or over long periods of time (CCC-SC-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 11: Density Graph, students engage in a learning opportunity to investigate the relationship between mass and volume. Students collect mass and volume measurements of multiple samples of the same substance, construct graphs of collected data (SEP-DATA-M1), and observe patterns that describe the proportional relationship between mass and volume (CCC-PAT-M4, DCI-PS1.A-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5, Lesson 13: Determining Ratios for Project, students engage in a learning opportunity to determine the best ratio of reactants to produce the greatest temperature change. Students investigate several ratios of reactants to measure the relative amount of energy released or stored (SEP-INV-M4, DCI-PS1.B-M3) and to determine optimum proportion of reactants for their chosen chemical reaction (CCC-SPQ-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7, Lesson 15: Diagram of Energy and Nutrients in Your Project, students engage in a learning opportunity to develop a model of the flow of energy and cycling of nutrients through organisms in an ecosystem. Students develop a model to show the relationships between organisms in an ecosystem that has been under investigation throughout the learning sequence (SEP-MOD-M4). Within the model, students describe how energy flows and matter cycles through the ecosystem (CCC-EM-M4, CCC-SYS-M2) with emphasis placed on the roles of photosynthesis and decomposers (DCI-LS2.B-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5, Lesson 3: Intro to Wave Observations, students engage in a learning opportunity to investigate the wavelength and frequency of a wave using a toy spring and a pendulum. Students construct a model of frequency and wavelength from observations made as they manipulate a toy spring and investigate how the length of string and the height of release affect the frequency of a pendulum. Students use graphs constructed from data collected over multiple trials (SEP-INV-M4) to identify the repeating patterns of wavelength and frequency in a simple wave (CCC-PAT-M4, DCI-PS4.A-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6, Lesson 8: Systems and Subsystems, students engage in a learning opportunity to identify the systems and subsystems found in the solar system. Students review the concepts of systems and subsystems and discuss how these ideas relate to bodies in the solar system (CCC-SYS-M1). Students consider the vast distances between bodies as they address the limitations involved in constructing a visual model of the solar system (CCC-SPQ-M1, SEP-MOD-M1). Students discuss the role of gravity on the location and movement of bodies in the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1).

Examples of student learning sequences that do not integrate CCCs within at least one learning opportunity (lesson):

  • In Grade 6, Unit 8: Traits and Survival, Lessons 2-7, students engage in a series of lessons to learn about genetic traits and inheritance. Throughout the learning sequence there are no opportunities that integrate elements of all three dimensions. In Lesson 2, students look at images of different plants and animals and identify traits that help each organism survive and reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M2). In Lesson 3, students look at a list of human traits and identify whether they are genetic, non-genetic, or both (DCI-LS3.A-E1, DCI-LS3.A-E2). In Lesson 4, students investigate the frequency of common traits in humans such as tongue-rolling and hitchhiker’s thumb among members of their class. They then use Punnett squares to model inheritance (SEP-MOD-M5) from parents to offspring (DCI-LS3.A-M2). In Lesson 5, students create a fictional dragon using alleles they choose at random from a bag to demonstrate the concepts of phenotype and genotype and that one version of each gene is inherited from each parent (DCI-LS3.B-M1). In the homework for Lesson 5, students use what they have learned to explain how two dragons with a dominant trait could produce a baby with a recessive trait (SEP-CEDS-M4). In Lesson 6, students are guided through a series of questions that reveal the story of Mendel’s discoveries with pea plants (DCI-LS3.A-M2). They use what they learn to construct an explanation of how two yellow pea plants could produce offspring with green peas (SEP-CEDS-M4). In Lesson 7, students dissect a flower to better understand how plants reproduce (DCI-LS1.B-M3) and create a diagram showing how flowers are pollinated (SEP-MOD-M5). None of the lessons within this sequence integrate a grade-band element of a CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Forces and Motion, Lessons 26-29, students engage in a series of lessons to review Newton’s Laws of Motion, research scientists who studied mechanics, and build a balloon rocket. Throughout the learning sequence there are no opportunities that integrate elements of all three dimensions. In Lesson 26, students create illustrations of Newton’s Laws of Motion to review the behavior of interacting objects and how the motion of an object is determined by the forces acting upon it (SEP-INFO-M5, DCI-PS2.A-M1, and DCI-PS2.A-M2). In Lesson 27, students research a scientist or feat of engineering (from a provided list), relevant discoveries or applications of scientific knowledge, and the relationship to Newton’s Laws of Motion. They report their findings to the class (SEP-INFO-M5). In Lesson 28, students build and launch balloon rockets, then answer questions about the forces acting on and motion of the rockets (DCI-PS2.A-M2). They then create a diagram showing the forces acting on the balloon rockets (SEP-MOD-M6). In Lesson 29, students review concepts from the unit in preparation for the unit assessment (DCI-PS2.A-M2). None of the lessons within this sequence integrate a grade-band element of a CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Waves, Lessons 9-14, students engage in a series of lessons to learn about the properties of sound and light waves. Throughout the learning sequence there are no opportunities that integrate elements of all three dimensions. In Lesson 9, students investigate how sound waves and light waves travel through different mediums (DCI-PS4.A-M2, DCI-PS4.B-M4, and SEP-INV-M4). In Lesson 10, students review material from prior lessons. In Lesson 11, students investigate variables that affect the accuracy of sound transmission (SEP-INV-M1). In Lesson 12, students learn that digital signals are a reliable method to transmit sound (DCI-PS4.C-M1) and practice sending signals to each other. In Lesson 13, students construct explanations based upon prior learning to explain why digitized signals are a more reliable way to transmit information (SEP-CEDS-M4, DCI-PS4.C-M1). In Lesson 14, students read an informational text to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum (SEP-INFO-M1). None of the lessons within this sequence integrate a grade-band element of a CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.

Examples of student learning sequences that do not integrate DCIs in physical, life, or earth and spaces sciences within at least one learning opportunity (lesson):

  • In Grade 6, Unit 7: Body Systems, Lessons 17-18, students engage in a series of lessons to design an organ donation system. Throughout the learning sequence there are no opportunities that integrate elements of all three dimensions. In Lesson 17, students define a problem and create an organ donation system that will help patients who need organs obtain them. Students define the problem and present a solution (SEP-AQDP-M8). In Lesson 18, students research any remaining questions from their initial question list (SEP-INFO-M1). There is a missed opportunity to connect this learning to life science DCIs or their elements.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Lessons 11-12, students engage in a series of lessons to learn about the brain and to design a helmet to prevent concussions. Throughout the learning sequence there are no opportunities that integrate elements of all three dimensions. In Lesson 11, students conduct research on the structure of the brain (SEP-INFO-M1) to learn about the functions of different parts of the brain (CCC-SF-M1). In Lesson 12, students use the data from impact testing and their knowledge of the brain to create a helmet to prevent concussions (CCC-SF-M2). They design, build, test, analyze, redesign, rebuild, and retest their helmet. (SEP-CEDS-M7, SEP-CEDS-M8). There is a missed opportunity to connect this learning to physical science DCIs or their 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. The materials provide opportunities for students to consistently use elements of the science and engineering practices for sensemaking, but provide inconsistent use of elements associated with the crosscutting concepts to make sense with the DCIs and/or SEPs. In instances where two-dimensional sensemaking opportunities are present, they are frequently limited to elements of the SEPs and DCIs.

In multiple learning sequences, all three dimensions are present; however, students do not consistently engage in meaningful sensemaking activities. While CCCs are often present in activities across the series, they are generally used as a tool for students to report on or verify their learning rather than as a lens through which to make sense with the other dimensions.

Examples of student learning opportunities where SEPs and CCCs meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 3: Latitude, students use SEPs and CCCs to discover the role of latitude on a location’s climate. Students make sense of how the sun’s influence on a region’s weather and climate varies with latitude (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) as they use experimental data to identify the cause and effect relationship between latitude and climate as they predict how they sun will influence the climate in various locations around the globe (SEP-DATA-M7, CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Changing Earth, students use SEPs and CCCs to predict how weathering and erosion will change earth’s surface over time. Students make sense of how the movement of water weathers and erodes surface features (DCI-ESS2.C-M5) as they construct a model of a flowing stream to observe the variety of features formed by flowing water (SEP-MOD-M3) to predict how a landscape may change over time (CCC-SC-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 3: Chemistry of Acids and Bases, students use SEPs and CCCs to understand the nature of acidic and basic solutions. Students investigate how an indicator responds to several pure substances (SEP-DATA-M4) to make sense of how the relative pH can be used to identify a substance (DCI-PS1.A-M2); students use patterns in macroscopic observations to identify a substance at the atomic level (CCC-PAT-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 8, Lesson 5: Mice Game, students use SEPs and CCCs to discover how a genotype may change over time in a population. Students make sense of how natural selection in response to environmental conditions can lead to a change in the distribution of traits in a population over time (DCI-LS4.C-M1) as they collect and chart data from multiple generations of mice (SEP-DATA-M4) to develop predictions of how the population may continue to change over time (CCC-CE-M2).

Examples of student learning opportunities where SEPs meaningfully support student sensemaking of the DCI:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 14: The New Improved Solar Cooker, students use SEPs to optimize the transfer of thermal energy in a solar cooker. Students make sense of the transfer of thermal energy in the form of heat from the sun to the food being cooked (DCI-PS3.A-M3) as they analyze the performance of a solar cooker (SEP-DATA-M8) to inform the redesign and construction of an improved device (DCI-ETS1.B-M1). While students interact with an element of a crosscutting concept (CCC-EM-M4) during the learning sequence, students are not using a grade-band element CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Climate, Lessons 7-10, students use SEPs to model how convection currents drive the movement of water in the ocean and the circulation of air in the atmosphere. Students make sense of the role of temperature and concentration-dependent density in atmospheric and oceanic currents as they develop models to predict the behavior of convection currents that influence climate (SEP-MOD-M5). Throughout this learning sequence, students are not developing an understanding of a grade-band element CCC or using a grade-band element CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Electricity and Magnetism, Lessons 2-3, students use SEPs to investigate how magnetism works. Students make sense of attractive and repulsive magnetic forces acting at a distance (DCI-PS2.B-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M3) as they ask questions based upon the observations of iron filings in a magnetic field (SEP-AQDP-M1) and plan and develop investigations (SEP-INV-M1) to answer their questions. Throughout this learning sequence, students are not developing an understanding of a grade-band element CCC or using a grade-band element CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Waves, Lessons 11-13, students use SEPs to investigate the reliability of analog and digital signals. Students make sense of why digitized signals are more reliable than analog signals when encoding and transmitting information (DCI-PS4.C-M1) as they investigate variables that degrade analog signals (SEP-INV-M1) and model the process of transmitting and decoding a digital signal (SEP-MOD-M5). Throughout this learning sequence, students are not developing an understanding of a grade-band element CCC or using a grade-band element CCC to support understanding of a DCI or SEP.

Examples of student learning opportunities where grade-band elements of the three dimensions are not used in sensemaking activities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: Cells, Lessons 15-21, students do not use SEPs or CCCs to develop an analogy of cell parts. Students verify what they know about cell structure as they compare cell parts to components of a school. In a check for understanding, students develop their own analogy and repeat the process. Throughout this learning sequence, students do not engage in any sensemaking activities with any grade-band elements of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Properties of Matter, Lessons 14-17, students use an SEP as they investigate buoyancy. Students design and construct a boat that can carry mass and still remain afloat. Students collect data to determine the amount of mass their boat can hold without sinking (SEP-DATA-M8). The project detailed in Lesson 15 was identified by the publisher as optional and was not considered for scoring. Throughout this learning sequence, students do not engage in any sensemaking activities with any grade-band elements of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Waves: Lesson 15, students do not use SEPs or CCCs to design a device or art display that uses both light and sound. Students work in groups to create an original design, improve an old device, or create an abstract art project that incorporates light and sound. Throughout this learning sequence, students do not engage in any sensemaking activities with any grade-band elements of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9: Human Impacts, Lesson 10, students do not use SEPs or CCCs to develop a plan to reduce their carbon or water footprint. Students use a previously conducted analysis of their carbon and water footprints to select one or more actions to take to reduce their usage of these resources. They record the frequency with which they utilize these actions over one week and calculate the reduction of their carbon and/or water footprints (DCI-ESS3.C-P1). Throughout this learning sequence, students do not engage in any sensemaking activities with any grade-band elements of the three dimensions.

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 the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Few lessons include formative assessment tasks designed to reveal student knowledge and use of all three dimensions or to support targeted three-dimensional learning objectives. Support for the instructional process in response to student performance on formative assessment tasks is rarely present.

In most instances, targeted learning objectives are three dimensional; however, formative assessment tasks are frequently limited to revealing student knowledge and use of one or two dimensions. Opportunities to elicit evidence for three-dimensional learning, when present, are most often found in Grade 7 materials. In nearly every instance, lessons within the program are designed to present formative assessment opportunities for each student through a lesson opener and an exit ticket. Within each lesson, the teacher materials include multiple "Ask" questions that drive whole group discussions; there is a missed opportunity to provide guidance for teachers to collect information on individual student thinking or to use these for formative assessment purposes.

Teacher guidance is generally given to provide correct student responses but does not provide direction for how teachers can support the instructional process based upon student responses. The instructional materials indicate specific teacher guidance through color-coded text boxes and font color. General teacher directions are presented in black outlined text boxes and in bold black font while possible student responses to teacher questions are in red. Suggested modifications for emerging bilingual and learning disabled students are additionally provided. When the materials include information about prior content knowledge and connections to previous units or identify common misconceptions they are embedded in the text of the lesson.

Examples of lessons with a three-dimensional objective that elicits knowledge for three-dimensional learning; no or incomplete instructional guidance is provided:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 16: The Mystery of the Grand Canyon - Part 2, the learning objective is, “Students re-engage with data to revise or create new explanations about how the Grand Canyon formed and changed over time.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are asked to observe an image of the Grand Canyon, make predictions about how it was formed, and then explain two processes that led to the formation of the canyon. The exit card in this lesson supports three-dimensional understanding of concepts. Students are asked to “Pick two of the following processes, and describe how they contributed to the formation of the Grand Canyon.” Processes include: weathering and erosion, sedimentation, rock formation, volcanoes, and plate tectonics. This question addresses the elements described in the lesson objective (DCI-ESS2.A-M1, SEP-CEDS-M4, and CCC-SC-M3). For both of the formative assessments, the materials provide correct answers for the teacher’s benefit, but in neither case do the materials provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5, Lesson 12: Choosing Reactants for Project, the learning objective is, “Students analyze data from a variety of chemical reactions in order to maximize the thermal energy absorption or emission for their design project.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are asked about the reactants and products of a burning candle and to draw a model of the flow of energy when melting a piece of ice in your hand. The opener for this lesson does not address any elements of the three dimensions. While the exit card is three dimensional, it does not address the SEP element identified in the lesson objective as students are asked to, “Draw a model of the ice cube in your hand, and add arrows to show the direction of flow of thermal energy.” Rather, this question assesses two of the three elements in the lesson objective (CCC-EM-M4, DCI-PS3.A-M3) but assesses SEP-MOD-M6 instead of SEP-DATA-M4. Students do not have an opportunity to analyze or interpret data in the exit card. The materials do not provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 8, Lesson 5: Mice Game, the learning objective is, “Students act as predators searching for mice on different colored backgrounds and construct an explanation for why certain colors of mice are more beneficial and thus inherited by offspring (because of the fact that they blend in with the cloth).” This objective is three-dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are asked to answer a question about a mouse’s camouflage and state which mice survived better during the game. This task assesses the same elements addressed in the lesson objective (SEP-CEDS-M4, DCI-LS2.C-M1, and CCC-CE-M2). While the exit card for this lesson does not address any elements of the three dimensions, the opener is three dimensional. The materials do not provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.

An example of a lesson with a three-dimensional objective that does not elicit knowledge for three-dimensional learning; instructional guidance is provided:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 2: Exploring with Magnets, the lesson-level objective is, “Students use a variety of materials to explore the structure and behavior of dipole magnetic fields, and practice constructing initial explanations and asking scientific questions about magnetic phenomena.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include an opener question in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. The opener question presents students with a demo (or optional image) of iron filings on a piece of paper over a dipole magnet and directs students to “Write down at least 3 detailed observations of the iron filings in the projected demo. Describe any patterns you see.” This question assesses student understanding that images can be used to identify patterns in data (CCC-PAT-M4). The exit card instructs students to “Turn in your questions that you want to investigate tomorrow. (Turn in a 1st choice and 2nd choice question.)” This presents an opportunity to assess students' ability to ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom with available resources, based on observations (SEP-AQDP-M6). The materials provide guidance for using student responses to modify instruction. For the opener, sample student responses and directions for calling attention to descriptions of the pattern are provided. For the exit card, instructions are provided for giving feedback to students’ investigation questions, approving student questions, and gathering materials needed for students to conduct their investigations in the next lesson. Neither item assesses for student learning associated with a grade-band DCI.

Examples of lessons with a three-dimensional objective that do not elicit knowledge for three-dimensional learning; no or incomplete instructional guidance is provided:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 5: Proximity to Water, the lesson-level objective is, “Students analyze temperature and precipitation data to recognize patterns that demonstrate the cause and effect relationship between proximity to water and climate.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. The opener begins with students analyzing graphs of hourly temperature and monthly precipitation in Los Angeles and Death Valley, California (SEP-DATA-M1). Students then answer the question, “What do you think accounts for the differences?” Student responses address how weather and climate are influenced by proximity to the ocean (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). The formative assessments do not address the crosscutting concepts of patterns or cause and effect, which are cited in the objective. The materials provide sample student answers to the opener and exit card questions. They also direct the teacher to review “precipitation” if needed after debriefing the opener. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using responses to the exit card question to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 8, Lesson 8: The Fruit-Flower Cycle, the lesson-level objective is, “Students will discuss the structure and function of flower and fruit parts and make arguments based on evidence about how these structures aid in the successful reproduction of plants.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. The opener asks students, “What happens to the flower after successful pollination?” The exit ticket asks students the question, “Describe what happens to a flower after it is successfully pollinated. What does it make and how does this help the flower reproduce?” Student answers reflect understanding of how plant reproduction can depend upon specialized features for reproduction and animal behavior (DCI-LS1.B-M3). The formative assessments do not address the crosscutting concept of cause and effect or the science and engineering practice of argumentation from evidence, which are cited in the objective. The materials provide sample student answers to the opener and exit questions such as, “Answers will vary; most students won’t know that fertilized eggs turn into seeds; the flower disappears and part of the flower swells to become the fruit.” However, no guidance to teachers is provided for using the answers to the questions to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 11: Density Graph, the lesson-level objective is, “Students analyze the relationship between mass and volume (density) and discover a pattern: density is a property of matter, because it does not change regardless of the amount of the substance.” This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. The opener questions do not assess any elements of the standards. The opener questions ask, “If I cut a silver ring in half, how will its mass be affected? How will its volume be affected? Is it still silver?” The exit card question also does not address any elements of the standards, but revisits concepts from the opener, “Would the density of a block of gold change if we melted it and made it into a crown?” These formative assessments do not address the DCIs, SEPs, or CCCs cited in the objective. The materials provide clarifying information for the teacher about potential student responses and the purpose of the opener questions. The materials state, “Students will probably recognize that the mass would be half as much, and the volume would be half as much, but it would still be silver. This question is the beginning of getting students to realize that mass and volume are not properties of matter. You can change them. Today they will be introduced to the idea of density, which is a property of matter. You can change mass and you can change volume, but you can’t change density.” However, no guidance is provided for how to use student responses to support the instructional process. For the exit card, the materials provide the correct answer for the teacher’s benefit, but do not provide guidance for using the students responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 8, Lesson 1: Plastics Pollution, the objective is, “Students will ask questions to obtain and evaluate information on the issue of plastic pollution and its causes, and begin to think about how they might solve it so as to lessen the impact humans have on the environment." This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. The opener asks what students use each day that contain plastic and do not contain plastic but these questions do not assess any dimensions in the objective. The exit ticket asks students what the biggest challenge to solving the plastic pollution problem is and asks what other questions they have regarding this problem. The second question assesses students’ ability to ask questions in order to refine or clarify an explanation (SEP-AQDP-M4). For the opener questions, the materials provide correct answers for the teacher’s benefit, but in neither case do the materials provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Gravity, Mass, and Air Resistance, the objective is, “Students will carry out an investigation to determine what variables affect an object as it falls and collect data to determine the influence of different variables on the speed of the fall." This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are asked whether a feather or marble will fall faster and why. For the exit card, students are asked two questions. The first question asks if two objects are the same shape but different masses, which will fall faster. The second question asks students to explain why a sheet of paper will fall more slowly than a book. The concept of air resistance is not included in any middle school standard and none of the grade level dimensions in the goal are assessed. For both of the formative assessments, the materials provide correct answers for the teacher’s benefit, but in neither case do the materials provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 9, Lesson 5: Grid Island, the objective is, “Students will use and analyze a model of resources that may dwindle with increasing populations and current consumption patterns that negatively impact the environment." This objective is three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are provided a definition of scarcity and are asked to explain if it affects how people make choices. The opener question does not assess any of the dimensions in the objective. In the exit card, students are assessed for learning of two dimensions as they are asked to identify a challenge for earth’s growing population (DCI-ESS3.C-M2) and use a cause and effect relationship to predict phenomena (CCC-CE-M2). For both of the formative assessments, the materials provide correct answers for the teacher’s benefit, but in neither case do the materials provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.

Examples of lessons without a three-dimensional objective that do not elicit knowledge for three-dimensional learning; no or incomplete instructional guidance is provided:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 7, Lesson 17, Design an Organ Donation System, the lesson-level objective is, “Students define and delimit the problem of organ donation, and design a system that ensures that patients who need transplants can get them.” This objective is two dimensional because it does not contain a content DCI. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson. This lesson does not include an exit card. The opener does not align to the objective for the lesson. Rather, the opener provides a review of previous material by asking students to “name two systems in the body” and “name two systems that are not in the body.” The materials provide sample student answers to the opener questions such as, “Students might remember Lesson 1, in which they explored the concept of systems. They might name some of the objects they discussed that day, like a bike or a stapler.” However, no guidance to teachers is provided for using student responses to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Lesson 12: Polymers - Cornstarch, the objective is, “Students investigate a very large type of molecule—polymers—through models, reading, and investigating with their senses.” The objective is not three dimensional. The formative assessments include several opener questions in the Engage portion of the lesson and an exit card question in the Evaluate section. In the opener, students are asked how large they think molecules are. They are instructed to name the smallest and largest molecules they can think of. This question assesses if students understand that molecules can be as small as two atoms or as large as thousands of atoms (DCI-PS1.A-M1). In the Exit Card, students are asked, “What is a polymer and how big are molecules?” This question also assesses if students understand that molecules can be very long chains of atoms (DCI-PS1.A-M1). For both of the formative assessments, the materials provide correct answers for the teacher’s benefit, but in neither case do the materials provide guidance for using student responses to support the instructional process.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives for learning sequences, but no summative assessment tasks are three dimensional.

The materials present two summative assessment opportunities within each learning sequence, an interim and a summative assessment. Additionally, a performance assessment is typically included as the last lesson of the unit, where students complete a unit project. Assessment tasks are generally presented as multiple choice and open-ended questions. Tasks frequently ask students to interact with graphic displays of information via diagrams, models, or graphs.

Across the series, units consistently use the NGSS performance expectations (PEs) as their three-dimensional objectives. However, assessment tasks are generally limited to assessment of DCIs and SEPs, and rarely assess components of the CCCs. There are no instances in which all three elements contained in the targeted PEs are assessed. Additionally, many units include engineering, technology, and application of science (ETS) PEs as objectives. When these are assessed, it is typically through the performance assessment. Assessments often assess SEP elements that differ from the SEP elements of the targeted three-dimensional objectives for the unit. At least one unit assesses DCI elements which are outside the middle school grade band and the stated objective.

Examples of units with three-dimensional learning objectives but do not assess student learning of all three dimensions within the learning objective:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Thermal Energy, the objectives are three dimensional and include three targeted performance expectations: MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5, and four ETS PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. The summative assessments for this unit include an Interim Assessment with three questions, a final Summative Assessment with 13 questions, and an engineering project in Lesson 14 that serves as a performance assessment. The Interim Assessment has two multiple choice questions and one open-ended question. All three questions relate to a model of a solar cooker. The final Summative Assessment has seven multiple choice questions, one question in which students complete and explain a model, four open-ended questions, and one question in which students select the best option for a roof and then support their answer with evidence. The last three questions on the Summative Assessment are the same questions that are posed in the Interim Assessment. Not all dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed. Overall, the questions assess student understanding of four relevant DCIs for the unit (DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS3.A-M4, DCI-PS3.B-M3, and DCI-PS3.B-M2) but are missing DCI-PS3.B-M1. They assess only two (SEP-CEDS-M4, SEP-ARG-M5) of the seven SEPs elements in the objectives, missing five (SEP-INV-M1, SEP-ARG-M3, SEP-AQDP-M8, SEP-DATA-M4, and SEP-MOD-M7). They do not assess either of the two CCCs (CCC-EM-M4, CCC-SPQ-M3) linked to the unit objectives. The Interim Assessment does not assess any of the listed PEs. None of the questions are three-dimensional. Five of the questions are two dimensional, six are one dimensional, and two are not associated with any of the dimensions. The engineering project in Lesson 14 partially assesses the ETS PEs. While students engage in multiple SEPs connected to the engineering design process, several elements associated with the targeted PEs are not assessed: SEP-AQDP-M8, SEP-DATA-M7, and SEP-MOD-M7. Additionally, while students engage in components of the ETS DCIs as they build and test their design, there are missed opportunities to specifically assess student understanding of the ETS DCIs.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Weather, the objectives are three dimensional and include two targeted performance expectations: MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-5, and one ETS PE: MS-ETS1-1. The summative assessments for this unit include an Interim Assessment with two questions, a final Summative Assessment with five multi-component questions, and a summative research project in Lesson 16. In the Interim Assessment, students answer two open-ended questions about two experimental designs. In the final Summative Assessment, students create a model, evaluate the accuracy of four statements, explain how three weather instruments function, and answer an open-ended question. Few of the dimensions of the performance expectations listed for this module are assessed. While two DCIs are assessed in the Summative Assessment (DCI-ESS2.C-M1, DCI-ESS2.C-M3), the other DCIs associated with the stated objectives are not covered (DCI-ESS2.C-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M2), nor is the ETS DCI assessed (ETS1.A-M1). Although a few SEPs are assessed in the interim and summative assessments, none of the SEPs or CCCs associated with the stated objectives are assessed (CCC-EM-M2, CCC-CE-M2, SEP-INV-M4, and SEP-AQDP-M8). None of the questions asked are three dimensional. Two questions are two dimensional and seven are one dimensional. The summative research project in Lesson 16 does not assess MS-ETS1-1 or the associated SEP (SEP-AQDP-M8); students research an extreme weather event and answer six questions, but no design solution is required.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: Cells, the objectives include three targeted performance expectations: MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, and MS-LS3-2 and one ETS PE: MS-ETS1-1, which are three dimensional. The summative assessments for this unit include a design project in Lessons 3 and 4, an Interim Assessment with two questions, and a final Summative Assessment with five multi-component questions. The design project in Lessons 3 and 4 partially assesses the ETS PE (MS-ETS1-1). While students engage in some of the components of the ETS DCI as they build and test their magnifying device, there are missed opportunities for students to fully engage in the associated SEP (SEP-AQDP-M8) because students are given the problem and are eventually provided with the project constraints. The Interim Assessment has two open-ended questions about a proposed investigation about cells. The final Summative Assessment has seven open-ended questions about plant and animal cells and one question in which students complete a graphic organizer based on a diagram of cells. There are 11 dimensions associated with the three performance expectations for this unit. The assessments assess all the listed DCIs (DCI-LS1.A-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M2, and DCI-LS1.A-M3) but do not assess the targeted engineering DCI (DCI-ETS1.A-M1). None of the SEPs associated with the targeted objectives are assessed (SEP-INV-M2, SEP-MOD-M5, SEP-ARG-M3, and SEP-AQDP-M8). There are three CCCs associated with the objectives, but none are assessed in either of the assessments (CCC-SPQ-M5, CCC-SF-M1, and CCC-SYS-M1). One CCC, in the last question of the final Summative Assessment, is assessed. Of the ten questions asked on both assessments, five are two-dimensional, four are one dimensional, and one does not assess any element of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Earth Systems, the objectives include four targeted performance expectations: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3, and MS-ESS3-2, and four ETS PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4, which are three dimensional. Assessments for this unit include an Interim Assessment with two questions, a final Summative Assessment with five multi-component questions, and an engineering project in Lesson 18. The Interim Assessment has two questions in which students use a graphic to explain components of the rock cycle. The Summative Assessment has multiple open-ended questions and a multiple choice question. Several questions require students to interact with a graphic in the form of an image or map. There are 22 dimensions associated with the PEs listed as the objectives for this unit. Overall, the questions on the Interim and Summative assessment assess students’ understanding of five out of the six relevant DCIs for the unit (DCI-ESS2.A-M1, DCI-ESS2.A-M2, DCI-ESS2.C-M5, DCI-ESS2.B-M1, and DCI-ESS1.C-M2), but do not assess DCI-ESS3.B-M1, ETS1.A-M1, ETS1.B-M2, ETS1.B-M4, or ETS1.C-M2. The materials assess only one (SEP-CEDS-M3) of the eight SEPs in the objectives, missing SEP-MOD-M5, SEP-DATA-M4, SEP-DATA-M7, SEP-AQDP-M8, SEP-ARG-M3, SEP-DATA-M3, and SEP-MOD-M7, but include two other grade-level SEPs. The two summative assessments do not assess any of the CCCs (CCC-SC-M2, CCC-SPQ-M1, CCC-PAT-M2, or CCC-PAT-M4). None of the questions asked are three dimensional, seven questions are two dimensional, and the remainder assess a single dimension. The engineering project in Lesson 18 partially assesses the ETS PEs. Students engage in multiple SEPs connected to the engineering design process; however, two elements associated with the targeted PEs are not assessed: SEP-AQDP-M8 and SEP-ARG-M5. Additionally, while students engage in components of the ETS DCIs as they build and test their design, there are missed opportunities to specifically assess student understanding of the ETS DCIs.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Physical and Chemical Changes, the objectives include three targeted performance expectations: MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-5, and MS-PS1-6, and four ETS PEs: MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4, which are three dimensional. The Interim Assessment contains two multi-component items which include a multiple choice and several open-ended questions. The Summative Assessment contains ten questions. One question is multiple choice and nine questions are open ended. There is also an engineering design project in Lessons 10-15. The Interim Assessment and Summative Assessment both assess two DCI elements of the performance expectations identified as objectives for the unit: DCI-PS1.B-M1 and DCI-PS1.B-M2. No SEP or CCC elements of the identified performance expectations are assessed in either assessment. One question on the interim assessment and one question on the summative assessment are two dimensional but assess SEP elements that are not part of the targeted performance expectations. Eight questions are one dimensional and assess a DCI element only. Four questions do not assess any elements of the identified performance expectations. The engineering project in Lessons 10-15 partially assesses the ETS PEs. While students engage in multiple SEPs connected to the engineering design process, two elements associated with the targeted PEs are not assessed: SEP-ARG-M5 and SEP-MOD-M7. Additionally, while students engage in components of the ETS DCIs as they build and test their design, there are missed opportunities to specifically assess student understanding of the ETS DCIs.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Electricity and Magnetism, the objectives include the targeted performance expectations MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-5, and MS-PS3-2, and one ETS PE: MS-ETS1-1, which are three dimensional. Assessments include an interim assessment, a summative assessment, and an engineering project in Lessons 13-15. The Interim Assessment includes two multiple choice questions, two open-ended questions, and an assessment task in which students construct a model. The Summative assessment has five parts with a total of 10 questions. One question is multiple choice, five questions involve making drawings, and the rest are open ended. The interim assessment assesses the DCI element (DCI-PS2.A-M2). The SEP (SEP-INV-M2) and the CCC (CCC-CE-M2) are not assessed. One question covers no elements of the dimensions and the remainder of the questions only assess the DCI associated with the PE. The Summative Assessment assesses an element of the targeted ETS PE (DCI-ETS1.A-M1) and two DCIs (DCI-PS2.B-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M2) related to the targeted PEs. Two DCIs (DCI-PS3.A-M2, DCI-PS3.C-M1) are not assessed in any of the questions. None of the SEPs (SEP-AQDP-M6, SEP-INV-M2, SEP-MOD-M6, and SEP-AQDP-M8) or CCCs (CCC-SYS-M2, CCC-CE-M2) associated with the targeted PEs are assessed in any of the questions. None of the questions assess more than one element. The engineering project in Lessons 13-15 does not assess any elements of the targeted performance expectations for the unit. While students engage in portions of the engineering design process, none of the DCIs (DCI-ETS1.A-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M2, DCI-PS3.A-M2, and DCI-PS3.C-M1), SEPs (SEP-AQDP-M6, SEP-INV-M2, SEP-MOD-M6, and SEP-AQDP-M8) or CCCs (CCC-SYS-M2, CCC-CE-M2) associated with the targeted PEs are assessed in any portion of the project.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Waves, the objectives include the three targeted performance expectations: MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, and MS-PS4-3, which are three dimensional. The Interim Assessment contains two items with two questions per item. Item one contains two open-ended questions. Item two contains one multiple-response question and one open-ended question. The Summative Assessment contains 12 questions total which are organized into five items. Six questions are multiple response/matching and six questions are open ended. There is also a design project in Lesson 15 which serves as a performance assessment. The Interim Assessment assesses three DCI elements of the performance expectations identified as objectives for the unit: PS4.A-M1, PS4.B-M1, and PS4.B-M4. For example, DCI-PS4.B-M1 is assessed by giving students a list of properties of waves and asking, “Select all the properties that light waves and sound waves have in common.” The Summative Assessment assesses four DCI elements of the performance expectations identified as objectives for the unit: DCI-PS4.A-M2, DCI-PS4.B-M1, DCI-PS4.B-M3, and DCI-PS4.C-M1. For example, DCI-PS4.C-M1 is assessed by asking students, “What are the advantages of analog versus digital waves? Use the wave representations in Part B to explain your answer.” No SEP or CCC elements of the identified performance expectations are assessed in either assessment. Five questions do not assess any DCI elements of the identified performance expectations. Seven questions are one-dimensional and assess a DCI element only. The engineering project in Lesson 15 does not assess any of the listed PE for this unit. Students work in groups to create an original design, improve an old device, or create an abstract art project that incorporates light and sound. Although students are engaged in components of the ETS DCIs as they build and test their design, these are not included in the lesson objectives.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 6: Earth’s Place in the Universe, the objectives include the four targeted performance expectations MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, and MS-PS2-4. Assessments include an interim assessment and an end of unit assessment. The Interim Assessment has three open-ended questions. The Summative Assessment has five parts consisting of a total of nine questions. One question involves completing a chart and the others are all open ended. While the learning objectives are three dimensional, there are no assessment tasks that assess all of the elements from the dimensions. The interim assessment covers the SEP (SEP-MOD-M5) and the two DCIs (DCI-ESS1.A-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M2) but not the CCC (CCC-PAT-M3) associated with the PE. Each question assesses an element of a DCI and SEP, but only one of the questions covers the SEP associated with the PE. Tasks presented in the Summative Assessment assess most of the DCIs (DCI-ESS1.A-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M2, DCI-ESS1.B-M1, and DCI-PS2.B-M2) for the targeted PEs. Two of the SEPs (SEP-MOD-M5, SEP-DATA-M7) associated with the PEs are assessed in the questions. But there are several DCIs (DCI-ESS1.A-M2, DCI-ESS1.B-M3) and an SEP (SEP-ARG-M3) that are not assessed in any of the questions. None of the questions assess any element of the CCCs associated with the PEs. Of the nine questions, three are two dimensional and none are three dimensional.

Criterion 1d - 1i

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

There are infrequent opportunities for students to explain phenomena and solve problems, with each present in 16/378 lessons. Of the phenomena present, in most instances they connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science. When problems are present, they miss the opportunity to connect. When phenomena and problems are present, they are presented as directly as possible to students about 50% of the time. There are few instances for elicitation of students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena or problems and no instances where the elicited information is then leveraged. The materials provide few instances where phenomena or problems drive learning and use of the three dimensions within and across lessons, missing the opportunity to consistently engage students in explaining phenomena or solving problems through the use and development of each of the three dimensions.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). When present in the materials, phenomena are connected to grade-band DCIs in most instances. Problems presented in the series are not consistently linked to grade-band DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science. Rather, problems are frequently connected only to elements of the ETS DCIs and do not require students to engage in disciplinary content as they develop solutions. In some instances, students engage in SEPs only and do not engage to build understanding of the ETS DCIs.

Examples of problems and phenomena that connect to elements of grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 3: What is Heat?, the phenomenon is that a balloon attached to the mouth of a glass container inflates as the container is submerged in warm water. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of the characteristics and movement of particles in a sample of gas (DCI-PS1.A-M3, DCI-PS1.A-M4) and how those particles respond to changes in temperature.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 1: California Climates, the phenomenon is that the state of California has sixteen distinct climate zones. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of the influence of sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things on a region’s weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5, Lesson 13: Reducing Carbon Footprint, the challenge is to design a program for students to reduce their personal carbon emissions. Students use their understanding of the negative effects of the human consumption of natural resources on earth’s systems and that solutions can be improved through modifications indicated by test results (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, DCI-ETS1.B-M1), as they develop plans to reduce the class’s carbon footprint.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 17: Pangaea, the phenomenon is that the continents of South America and Africa appear like they fit together and the remains of tropical plants have been found in Antarctica. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of the significance of rock and fossil maps as evidence that earth’s plates have moved, collided, and spread apart over time (DCI-ESS2.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 1: The Case of the Floating Fish, the phenomenon is that a fish in a fish tank has mysteriously died. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of physical and chemical properties including solubility, pH, and melting and boiling points (DCI-PS1.A-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7, Lesson 16: Design an Ecosystem, the challenge is to design an ecosystem that has enough components to survive indefinitely. Students utilize their understanding of the cycling of matter and flow of energy through the constituent parts of an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.B-M1) as they design and model a sustainable isolated ecosystem.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Lesson 1: Impacts in Sports, the challenge is to protect a person from receiving a concussion while playing soccer. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of the transfer of energy that occurs as one object exerts a force on another object (DCI-PS3.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 1: What is Magnetism?, the phenomenon is that a compass will always point in the same direction, unless a magnet is brought near it. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of magnetic fields as forces that act at a distance (DCI-PS2.B-M3).

Examples of problems and phenomena that do not connect to elements of grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 6, Lesson 3: Design a Device, the challenge is to build a device that will magnify an object. To address this challenge, students work in pairs to design and build a magnifying device from provided materials. Students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 7, Lesson 3: Joints, the phenomenon is different joints in the human body move in different ways and some joints do not move. Within the instructional sequence, the phenomenon is used to help students build understanding of the functions performed through the interaction of specialized structures within the human body (DCI-LS1.A-E1). In order to explain this phenomenon, students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate life science DCI or associated element.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Lesson 8: Engineering Challenge, the challenge is to build the tallest free-standing tower. To address this challenge, students use specified criteria and constraints to design, compare, redesign, and build the tallest tower (DCI-ETS1.A-M1, DCI-ETS1.B-M2). Students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 18: Earthquake Design Challenge, the challenge is to design a two-story, 18 centimeter tall building that can support a 100 gram weight that will withstand an earthquake that lasts for 10 seconds. To address this challenge, students design, build, test, and redesign a model of a building. Additionally, they determine the best location for the building based on cost of land, views, proximity to transportation, recreation, and commerce. Students also consider types of soil and proximity to fault lines as a way to reduce the impact of natural hazards on the building (DCI-ESS3.B-E1). Students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 14: Floating Boats, the challenge is to design a vessel that will hold the most cargo without sinking. To solve this challenge, students apply the steps of the Engineering Design Cycle to design a model vessel that will hold the greatest number of pennies while remaining afloat. Students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 8: Space Capsule Design, the challenge is to design a space capsule that will protect a stick figure when dropped from a defined height. To address this challenge, students design, build, and test a device that will protect a model astronaut. Students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Motion and Forces, Lessons 16-18, the challenge is to design a machine that will consistently apply two different forces to a ball causing it to travel at least one meter. To address this challenge, students design, model, and evaluate their force applying devices against given criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). While students do not engage with any grade-band appropriate DCI element in life, physical, or earth and space science when solving this challenge, they use their design to investigate the relationships among force, mass, and acceleration (DCI-PS2.A-M2) in Lessons 19-20.

Indicator 1e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible. When present in the materials, most phenomena and problems are introduced within the Engage or Explore sections of a lesson and are presented through a class discussion. Additional activities used to introduce phenomena and problems include diagrams, pictures, reading passages, data sets, graphs, maps, teacher demonstrations, and hands-on activities. In several instances, where images are provided to introduce phenomena and problems, the materials include additional guidance for teachers to seek out video resources in order to provide a more direct experience for students, but would vary based on individual teacher selection.

Throughout the materials, when phenomena and problems are present, they are presented as directly as possible approximately half of the time. These instances provide students with access to phenomena and problems through opportunities for common experiences and entry points from which to begin to build understanding. When not presented as directly as possible, phenomena and problems are frequently introduced through teacher talk or student discussion of a question. In these instances, students are not provided the opportunity to access material though a shared experience or point of entry. Across the series, phenomena and problems are not consistently presented in a manner that provides all students with an experience that is as direct as possible.

Examples of phenomena and problems that are presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Lesson 6: Condensation Challenge, the phenomenon is water droplets form on the outside of a glass of ice water. The phenomenon is presented to students through the direct observation of a glass of ice water and a glass of room temperature water; students observe first hand the collection of water droplets on the glass of ice water and not the room temperature water. In a whole class discussion, students question the origin of the water droplets on the glass. This phenomenon provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5, Lesson 2: Extreme Weather Events, the phenomenon is that the occurrence of extreme weather events have increased over the past several decades. After a discussion about climate and student experiences with extreme weather, the phenomenon is presented to students through multiple data sets of extreme historical weather events. Students examine the data to identify patterns in the frequency of these events. This phenomenon provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 17: Pangaea, the phenomenon is that the continents of South America and Africa appear like they fit together and that the remains of tropical plants have been found in Antarctica. The phenomenon is presented to students through maps and images of fossils. Students engage in partner talk to discuss the implications of their observations. This phenomenon provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 3: Chemistry of Acids and Bases, the phenomenon is the color of cabbage juice changes when placed in different solutions. The phenomenon is presented to students through a teacher demonstration where cabbage juice is mixed with several substances. This is followed by a whole class discussion exploring students’ initial ideas about why the cabbage juice changed color. This phenomenon provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Lesson 11: Crystals and Engineering Project, the problem is that a toy company wants to sell a crystal growing set and they need students to design it. The problem is presented to students through an image of a crystal and a class discussion of how students think crystals might form, a brief scenario describing their role as chemical engineers, and a hands on laboratory exercise where students learn to grow ammonium aluminum sulfate crystals. This problem provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 1: What is Magnetism?, the phenomenon is that a compass will always point in the same direction unless a magnet is brought near it. After students share what they know about compasses in a whole class discussion, the phenomenon is presented to students with a hands on activity in which students investigate the behavior of a compass needle as the compass is oriented in various directions and then as a magnet is brought near. This phenomenon provides all students with a shared experience or point of entry and is presented as directly as possible.

Examples of phenomena and problems that are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 2: Extreme Climates, the phenomenon is the geographical locations of extreme climates are located in similar locations throughout the world. Students are shown a political world map and engage in a discussion of where they think the world’s most extreme climates can be found. Students then interact with an online map that contains clickable icons and data about various locations around the world. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon regardless of issues of scale and geographical access.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Lesson 8: Engineering Challenge, the challenge is to build the tallest tower with a given set of materials. After a discussion of what it might take to build the tallest tower in the world, the challenge, including a list of constraints, is orally presented by the teacher. A more direct experience is possible to help students develop a contextual background to address this challenge.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 5, Lesson 2: Candle Lab, the phenomenon is a lit candle has a burning wick and liquid wax dripping down its sides. This phenomenon is presented to students through an image of a burning candle and a brief class discussion about what students think is happening to the candle as it burns. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining student safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6, Lesson 1: Mars Mission, the challenge is to design a habitat that could be used on Mars. The challenge is introduced to students through an image of a mission landing on Mars and a whole class discussion and brainstorm about what would be needed to live on Mars. A more direct experience is possible to help students develop a contextual background to address this challenge, regardless of issues of scale and geographical access.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Lesson 1: Impacts in Sports, the challenge is to protect a person from receiving a concussion while playing soccer. The challenge is introduced to students through a discussion about a series of pictures that feature sports-related collisions. A more direct experience is possible to help students develop a contextual background to solve this problem in greater detail while still maintaining student safety.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7, Lesson 2: Detective Work, the phenomenon is that a jewel thief’s boots are covered in layers of mud. The phenomena is presented to students through a drawing of the layers of mud found on a jewel thief’s boot, a line drawing of a map, and a scripted description orally presented by the teacher. A more direct experience is possible to help students develop a contextual background and experience and observe this phenomenon.

Indicator 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. The materials provide few lessons where phenomena or problems drive student learning using key elements of all three dimensions. When present, these lessons are primarily found in the Grade 6 materials.

Across the series, a lesson-level phenomenon or problem does not drive student learning in most lessons. Rather, student learning is frequently guided by a scientific concept, question, investigation, or project. These lessons engage students in elements of all three dimensions about half the time, leading to missed opportunities for students to engage with elements of the CCCs.

Examples of lessons where phenomena or problems do not drive student learning and students do not engage with elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Lesson 7: Phase Changes, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on changes in physical states. Students review what they already know about the phase changes of water and observe and learn about the phase changes of carbon dioxide. Students learn that different types of matter exist as either solids, liquids, or gases and their phase is dependent upon temperature (DCI-PS1.A-P1). This lesson does not engage students with a crosscutting concept or a science and engineering practice.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 8, Lesson 4: Can You Roll Your Tongue?, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on the relationship between phenotypes and chromosomes. Students learn about the relationship between chromosomes and phenotypes as they read about specific traits, allele pairs, and Punnett squares. Students learn that observed patterns of inherited genes can be used to identify an offspring’s possible expression of a trait (CCC-PAT-M3, DCI-LS3.A-M2). This lesson does not engage students with a science and engineering practice.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 6: Comparing Solids, Liquids and Gases, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on the differences between solids, liquids, and gases. Students engage in an online simulation to explore different states of matter. Students construct a model (SEP-MOD-M6) to describe the distance between and kinetic energy of molecules, comparing each state of matter and what happens as samples of matter change phase (DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS1.A-M6). This lesson does not engage students with a crosscutting concept.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7, Lesson 13, Flow of Matter in an Ecosystem, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on the movement of nutrients through food webs. Students engage in an activity to describe the movement of nutrients through a food web. Within this instructional opportunity, students describe how matter flows through a food web from producers to consumers to decomposers (CCC-SYS-M2, DCI-LS2.B-M1). This lesson does not engage students with a science and engineering practice.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Lesson 6: Inventions, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon. Rather, learning focuses on inventions and the relationship between science and technology. Students read and answer questions about several inventors and their inventions and the impact of these inventions on society. This lesson is not associated with any disciplinary core idea and students do not engage with a crosscutting concept or a science or engineering practice.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 11: Graphs, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on graphing. Students evaluate multiple graphs as they identify required components of graphs and learn how to read different components of graphs. Within the lesson, students engage with an SEP as they practice constructing graphs to represent motion (SEP-DATA-M1). This instructional opportunity is not associated with any disciplinary core idea and students do not engage with a crosscutting concept.

Examples of lessons where phenomena or problems do not drive student learning but students engage with elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 4: Climate Elevation, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on the relationship between elevation and climate. Students analyze a data set that reports temperature readings at various elevations up the slope of a mountain. Students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they interpret patterns observed in graphical data (CCC-PAT-M3, SEP-DATA-M1) to demonstrate the effect of elevation on climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 7, Lesson 16: Response to Stimuli, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on answering the question, “Which of your senses do you think is the fastest?” Students engage in several activities to test their reaction speed to different stimuli. Students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they compare and model how various sensory systems send information to the brain (CCC-SYS-M1, SEP-MOD-M6) and how different sense receptors respond to different inputs, resulting in differences in behavior (DCI-LS1.D-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Lesson 9: Drawing Compounds, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on drawing different chemical compounds. Students review how to diagram hydrogen and carbon atoms prior to developing models of molecular bonding. Students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they model (SEP-MOD-M6) atomic structures to visualize the relative arrangement of electrons between different types of bonded atoms (CCC-SF-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6, Lesson 12: Investigation: Snails, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on determining if snails engage in cellular respiration. Students review observations of the effects of plant-based cellular respiration on the pH of a water sample prior to predicting the effects of a snail on the pH of a similar sample of water. Students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they develop predictions about the effect of cellular respiration on pH and whether they can determine if cellular respiration takes place in snails (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-PS3.D-M2), and propose additional questions to investigate (SEP-AQDP-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 8, Lesson 6: Where in the World?, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on mapping resources around the world. Students compare the distribution of different types of earth’s resources around the world. Students engage in elements of all three dimensions as they use maps showing the locations of resources around the world (CCC-PAT-M4) to describe the uneven distribution of earth’s resources and propose evidence-based explanations for the role of geologic processes in resource distribution (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, SEP-CEDS-M4).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 2: Exploring With Magnets, students do not engage with a lesson-level phenomenon or problem. Rather, learning focuses on describing magnetic fields. Students observe how iron filings respond when placed on a piece of paper that has a bar magnet placed beneath the paper. Students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they analyze and interpret observations (SEP-DATA-M7) of patterns in the behavior of the iron filings (CCC-PAT-M1) to build understanding that magnetic forces act at a distance in the form of a field that extend through space (DCI-PS2.B-M3).

Examples of lessons where phenomena or problems drive student learning and students do not engage with elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 16: Design a Force Machine, students are presented with the challenge of creating a machine that will roll a ball across a flat surface from the application of two forces. This problem drives learning as student brainstorm constraints, diagram their proposed device, and create a materials list for their design. Students share their designs as a class, compare and contrast their design with other designs, and revise their designs based upon this comparison. Within this lesson, students construct a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints (SEP-CEDS-M7). This problem is not associated with any content specific grade-band appropriate DCI in life, physical, or earth and space science, or associated element and students do not use a crosscutting concept to complete the design process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 1: What is Magnetism?, students investigate the phenomenon that a compass always points in the same direction, unless a magnet is brought near it. This phenomenon drives learning as students observe the behavior of a compass with regard to the various spatial arrangements of bar magnets and observe how a series of compasses arranged in a circle respond to a bar magnet placed inside the arrangement. Students analyze and interpret their observations (SEP-DATA-M4) of the force applied on the compasses by the bar magnet (DCI-PS2.B-M3) to explain the concept of magnetism (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students do not use a crosscutting concept to explain this phenomenon.

Examples of lessons where phenomena or problems drive student learning and students engage with elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Motion and Temperature, students investigate the phenomenon that the rate that tea disperses through samples of water changes at different temperatures. This phenomenon drives learning as students observe how the tea moves through beakers of water at different temperatures and draw a model to show how the movement of tea and water particles changes as temperature changes. Students develop and use a model (SEP-MOD-M5) to show how the movement of a substance observed at the macroscopic level can be used to describe the relative average internal kinetic energy of the particles in that substance (CCC-PAT-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M3, and DCI-PS3.A-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 3: What is Heat?, students investigate the phenomenon that a balloon attached to the mouth of a glass container inflates as the container is submerged in warm water. This phenomenon drives learning as students observe and model how the volume of a balloon responds when submerged in different temperatures of water. As a class, students discuss what happens to the speed of the air molecules as thermal energy is added and how that is contributing to the size of the balloon. Students discuss and predict what will happen when a small amount of water is added to the balloon/bottle system before submerging the bottle in hot water. Students develop and use a model (SEP-MOD-M5) to identify how changes to the total thermal energy of a system proportionally affect (CCC-CE-M2) the movement of particles in the system (DCI-PS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 7, Lesson 3: Joints, students investigate the phenomenon of how different joints in the human body move or, in some cases, do not move. This phenomenon drives learning as students observe and operate several different mechanical joints, discuss how the structure of each joint relates to the joint’s function, and describe how the shapes of bones allow them to fit together and move with ease. Students develop a model to describe (SEP-MOD-M5) how the structure of a joint can infer how the joint will function (CCC-SF-H2) within a larger system (DCI-LS1.A-E3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Lesson 11: Crystals and Engineering Project, students are presented with the problem that a toy company wants to sell a crystal growing set and they need students to design it. This problem drives learning as students investigate characteristics of and methods for growing crystals and identify optimal crystal growing conditions. Students investigate the solid structures produced when crystals are grown to produce data (SEP-INV-M2) used to visualize the repeating submicroscopic subunits unique to crystalline structures (DCI-PS1.A-M5, CCC-SF-M1).

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 4% (16/378) of the lessons, spanning across 48% (12/25) of the units. Throughout the series, students explain phenomena in 4% (16/378) of the lessons, spanning across 40% (10/25) of the units.

Across the series, when problems are present they are generally at the lesson level and frequently provide students with opportunities to make sense of engineering and technology applications and/or to use SEPs specific to the design process. Lesson-level problems are typically completed over one to two lessons. Of the 25 units in the series, three present unit-level problems that drive instruction across multiple lessons. When present, unit-level problems are presented within the first lesson of the unit.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 12: The Ice Pop Challenge, the challenge is to design a container that will keep an ice pop (or ice cubes) frozen. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of the transfer of thermal energy (acquired through previous instructional experiences) to identify materials that are good insulators. To solve this problem, students design, build, and test a container that is able to prevent the transfer of thermal energy.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5, Lesson 13: Reducing Carbon Footprint, the challenge is to design a program for students to reduce their personal carbon emissions. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of carbon footprints to evaluate their current practices. To solve this problem, students design, implement, and evaluate a program to reduce their contributions to the production of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Lesson 8: Engineering Challenge, the problem is to build the tallest free-standing tower. During the course of instruction, students obtain information from an article on structural engineering and evaluate other students’ solutions to improve upon their design solution. To solve this problem, students design, construct, and redesign a tower with a limited set of materials.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 18: Earthquake Design Challenge, the problem is to design a two-story, 18 centimeter tall building that can support a 100 gram weight that will withstand an earthquake that lasts for 10 seconds. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of geologic mapping, fault lines, and how different rock and soil types react to earthquakes to identify the safest location to build their structure. To solve this problem, students design, construct, test, and redesign their structure and construct an explanation to justify their design choices.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 14: Floating Boats, the challenge is to design a vessel that will hold the most mass without sinking. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of mass, volume, and density to predict how many pennies their design will support. To solve this challenge, students design, construct, test, and redesign an aluminum foil boat that can hold the maximum number of pennies and remain afloat.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7, Lesson 18: Conservation Biology (Part 2), the problem is to develop a plan to restore the ecosystem of an abandoned lot. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of the interdependent relationships within a healthy ecosystem to determine which change to the ecosystem would be the most beneficial. To solve this problem, students develop a plan to restore their ecosystem, receive and respond to critical feedback, modify, and then communicate their plans via a classroom presentation.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 8: Space Capsule Design, the problem is to design a space capsule that will protect a stick figure when dropped from a defined height. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of objects in motion and develop an initial understanding of Newton’s third law of motion to design and build a capsule with the constraints of limited materials, maximum capsule size, and predetermined drop height. To solve this problem, students test, redesign, and construct a capsule based upon their analysis of the relative impact experienced by their “astronaut.”
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Lesson 16: Design a Force Machine, the problem is to create a machine that will roll a ball across a flat surface from the application of two forces. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of the design process to engage in an iterative process of testing and refinement as they develop an optimal solution. To solve this problem, students test, redesign, and construct a machine based upon their analysis that uses two separate forces to roll a ball at least one meter across a flat surface.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Lesson 1: Impacts in Sports, the challenge is to protect a person from receiving a concussion while playing various sports. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of forces, motion, and energy transfer to design and construct a helmet that will protect a melon from a force applied from impact. To solve this problem, students test, redesign, and retest a helmet that protects the wearer from the force of impact experienced during a sports related collision.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lessons 13-15: Circuit Project: Design, Build, and Present and Evaluate, the problem is to design a home electrical system. During the instructional sequence, students use their understanding of energy transformations through electrical circuits as they design a system to supply a home with electricity. To solve this problem, students design, receive, and address critical feedback and construct a model of and present a home electrical system that uses a single power source, one circuit with a minimum of three components and one switch.

Across the series, phenomena are generally presented at the lesson-level and span one to two lessons. Of the 25 units in the series, two contain unit-level phenomena; each of these are presented within the first lesson of a module and drive instruction over multiple lessons. Both unit-level and lesson-level phenomena within the series address a variety of disciplinary content.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Motion and Temperature, the phenomenon is the rate that tea disperses through samples of water changes at different temperatures. Within the instructional sequence, students collect information about the relationship between kinetic and thermal energy. To explain this phenomenon, students construct a model to describe the motion of particles as a function of temperature.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 3: What is Heat?, the phenomenon is a balloon attached to the mouth of a glass container inflates as the container is submerged in warm water. Within the instructional sequence, students investigate how different temperatures of water and the addition of water to the beaker change the volume of the balloon. To explain this phenomenon, students construct and revise a model of molecular motion that demonstrates the relationship between thermal and kinetic energy.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 1: California Climates, the phenomenon is the state of California has sixteen distinct climate zones. Within the instructional sequence, students evaluate each climate zone and summarize the zone’s characteristics, identify patterns, and ask questions. To explain this phenomenon, students construct evidence-based arguments that describe what factors have the largest impact on any given climate zone.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 7, Lesson 3: Joints, the phenomenon is different joints in the human body move in different ways and some joints do not move. Within the instructional sequence, students investigate the structures of multiple mechanical joints, model mechanical joint movement, and relate the movements of the mechanical joints to moving parts of the human body. To explain this phenomenon, students describe how the structural shapes of bones allow them to fit and move together.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Lesson 17: Pangaea, the phenomenon is that the continents of South America and Africa appear like they fit together and the remains of tropical plants have been found in Antarctica. Within the instructional sequence, students examine the shapes of the continents, rock and fossil records, and a map of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. To explain this phenomenon, students construct a map, supported by their observations, of how they think the continents were organized long ago.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 1: The Case of the Floating Fish, the phenomenon is that a fish in a fish tank has mysteriously died. Over the course of multiple lessons, students make observations and ask questions about the fish’s environment, investigate solutions and properties of acids and bases, and identify characteristics of matter. To explain this phenomenon, students construct an evidence-based claim of how the fish died.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 3: Chemistry of Acids and Bases, the phenomenon is the color of cabbage juice changes when placed in different solutions. Within the instructional sequence, students investigate the effect of different solutions on the color of cabbage juice and the interactions that occur between identified acids and bases. To explain this phenomenon, students use observed characteristics of acids and bases to predict what will happen to a piece of chalk left in an acid solution overnight.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 1: What is Magnetism?, the phenomenon is that a compass will always point in the same direction, unless a magnet is brought near it. Within the instructional sequence, students investigate the effect of bar magnets on a compass and observe a demonstration of the effect of a magnetic field on a series of compasses. To explain this phenomenon, students construct an evidence-based explanation of magnetism.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7, Lesson 2: Detective Work, the phenomenon is that a jewel thief’s boots are covered in layers of mud. Within the instructional sequence, students compare the different materials stuck to the bottom of the jewel thief’s boots to a map of the area surrounding the crime scene. To explain this phenomenon, students propose the location of the missing jewels using evidence from the scenario to support their answers.

Indicator 1h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Across the series, the materials provide few opportunities to elicit and no opportunities to leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena and problems.

When present, opportunities to elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences occur during the lesson opener within the Engage section of an instructional sequence. Instructional guidance within the materials generally includes one or more scripted questions relating to a phenomenon or problem and suggestions for how to engage students in discussions (e.g., calling on students to share or having students turn and talk with a neighbor). In a few instances, directions are provided to guide the teacher to draw out additional student thinking about the phenomenon or problem. However, there are no instances where the materials provide teachers with support to address students’ ideas, incorporate students’ prior knowledge, or to leverage students’ experiences with a phenomenon and/or problem.

In most cases, rather than elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience related to the phenomenon or problem, the materials engage students in discussions about content knowledge related to elements of the DCIs. In these cases, the materials do not provide instructional guidance to teachers to address students’ alternate conceptions. In several instances, the materials do not elicit any information from students related to phenomena or problems. Rather, they directly engage students in the learning activities associated with the lesson.

Examples of lessons that neither elicit nor leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences of phenomena and/or problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 2: Motion and Temperature, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—the rate that tea disperses through samples of water changes at different temperatures—are not elicited. Rather, content knowledge related to the DCI is elicited through a discussion of vocabulary terms. The materials do not provide instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses and students’ prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during subsequent learning opportunities.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Lesson 3: What is Heat?, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—a balloon attached to the mouth of a glass container inflates as the container is submerged in warm water—are not elicited. Rather, student content knowledge related to the DCI is elicited through discussion of student observations of the teacher demonstration of the phenomenon. The materials do not provide instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses and students’ prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during subsequent learning opportunities.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 14: Floating Boats, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the problem—to design a vessel that will hold the most cargo without sinking—are not elicited. Rather, students build off learning from prior lessons as they discuss why some objects are able to float. The materials do not provide instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses and students’ prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during subsequent learning opportunities.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Lesson 11: Crystals and Engineering Project, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the problem—to engineer a toy crystal growing set for a toy company to sell—are not elicited. Rather, content related to the DCI is elicited through discussion about how crystals form, which is content learned from earlier learning opportunities. The materials do not provide instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses and students’ prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during subsequent learning opportunities.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 7, Lesson 16: Design an Ecosystem, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the challenge—to design an ecosystem that has enough components to survive indefinitely—are not elicited. Rather, content related to the problem is introduced through a reading passage about a failed biosphere project. Students summarize ideas from the passage. The materials do not provide instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses and students’ prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during subsequent learning opportunities.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7, Lesson 2: Detective Work, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—a jewel thief’s boots are covered in layers of mud—are not elicited. Rather, content related to the phenomenon is introduced through an image of a full laundry basket. Students observe the image and respond to a question about whether old clothing is at the top or bottom and if there could be any exceptions. Within this lesson, the materials do not provide any opportunities for the teacher to elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences.

Examples of lessons that elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and/or experiences of phenomena and/or problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Lesson 1: California Climates, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—the state of California has sixteen distinct climate zones—is elicited through a whole class discussion about the places students have visited or heard about in the state of California. Students then compare the places identified in California to their current location. As the lesson progresses, students do not return to these initial ideas nor do the lesson materials provide instructional guidance for teachers to leverage student responses.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5, Lesson 2: Extreme Weather Events, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—the occurrence of extreme weather events have increased over the past several decades—are elicited through a whole class discussion about students’ personal experiences with extreme or unusual weather. As the lesson progresses, students do not return to these initial ideas nor do the lesson materials provide instructional guidance for teachers to leverage student responses.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Lesson 1: The Case of the Floating Fish, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the phenomenon—a fish in a fish tank has mysteriously died—are elicited through a whole class discussion about student ideas about crime scenes. After observing a mysterious substance near the scene, students reference materials they might find around their own houses as they discuss and give examples of properties that can be used to tell substances apart. As the lesson progresses, students do not return to these initial ideas nor do the lesson materials provide instructional guidance for teachers to leverage student responses.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Lesson 1: Impacts in Sports, students’ prior knowledge and experiences of the problem—how to protect a person from receiving a concussion while playing various sports—are elicited through a whole class brainstorm of the types of collisions that can happen in sports. As the lesson progresses, students do not return to these initial ideas nor do the lesson materials provide instructional guidance for teachers to leverage student responses.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Lesson 1: What is Magnetism?, students’ prior knowledge of the phenomenon—a compass will always point in the same direction unless a magnet is brought near it—are elicited through a whole class discussion about compasses and how they work. After students observe the needle of a compass point in the same direction as that compass is rotated, they brainstorm ideas that may explain this phenomenon. As the lesson progresses, students do not return to these initial ideas nor do the lesson materials provide instructional guidance for teachers to leverage student responses.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. In most instances, lessons within each identified learning sequence are organized by a common theme, scientific concept, or focus question, rather than student learning driven by a phenomenon or problem.

Across the series, the materials include a few instances where a problem drives student learning across multiple lessons. In these instances, students typically are engaged with all three dimensions as they work to solve the design challenge.

Examples of instructional units that do not use phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Weather (Lessons 1-16), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, students build understanding of the scientific concept of weather. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they conduct investigations to collect evidence (SEP-INV-M4) to explain the complex relationships between multiple variables (CCC-CE-M3) that affect the changes and movement of water in the atmosphere (DCI-ESS2.C-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 5: Climate Change (Lessons 1-13), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, students build understanding of the scientific concept of climate change. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they analyze sets of data for patterns and causal relationships (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M3) for evidence of factors that affect climate change (DCI-ESS3.D-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 6: Cells (Lessons 1-25), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, students build understanding of the scientific concept of the characteristics of living things. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they observe similarities between different types of cells (CCC-PAT-P1), learn how cells specialize (DCI-LS1.A-M2), and identify the connection between cell structure and the function of specialized cells (CCC-SF-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Introduction (Lessons 1-11), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, student learning is driven by the engineering design process and the development of the classroom community. Throughout the learning sequence students engage with an element of a science and engineering practice as they design, evaluate, and redesign a solution for a challenge to build the tallest tower from limited materials (SEP-CEDS-M8). This instructional sequence does not engage students with a crosscutting concept or a disciplinary core idea.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Elements and Compounds (Lessons 1-14), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, student learning is driven by the focus question, “What is everything made of?” Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they explore the properties of different elements (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and identify patterns in the locations of elements on the periodic table (CCC-PAT-E3) to construct model to predict how two atoms will bond (SEP-MOD-M6).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 6: Respiration and Photosynthesis, students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, students build understanding of the scientific concepts of cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Throughout the instructional sequence students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to observe the effect of various exercises on the rate of cellular respiration (CCC-CE-M1, DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 5: Waves (Lessons 1-15), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, student learning is driven by the scientific concept of waves. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of disciplinary core ideas as they learn about the properties, energy, and movement of both sound and light waves and how they each travel through various mediums (DCI-PS4.A-M1, DCI-PS4.A-M2, DCI-PS4.B-M1, DCI-PS4.B-M2, and DCI-PS4.B-M3). Students use graphs constructed from data collected over multiple trials (SEP-INV-M4) to identify the repeating patterns of wavelength and frequency in a simple wave (CCC-PAT-M4, DCI-PS4.A-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 7: Geologic Time Scale (Lessons 1-13), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, student learning is driven by the scientific concept of geologic time. Throughout the unit, students engage with elements of a disciplinary core idea as they learn that analysis of the geologic and fossil record can provide information to support relative dating (CCC-SPQ-P1) of geologic events (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). This instructional sequence does not engage students with a science and engineering practice.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 8: Evolution (Lessons 1-17), students do not engage with a phenomenon or problem that drives learning across multiple lessons. Rather, students build understanding of the scientific concepts of evolution. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage with elements of all three dimensions as they build understanding of how organisms are grouped by traits and those traits impact the fitness of organisms (CCC-PAT-E3, DCI-LS2.A-M1, and DCI-LS2.A-M3) and study how organism inherit traits and construct explanations of how some traits become more dominant in a population (DCI-LS3.A-M2, DCI-LS3.B-M1, and SEP-CEDS-M4).

Examples of instructional units where problems drive instruction across multiple lessons and engage students in all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 5: Physical and Chemical Changes (Lessons 10-15), the challenge, to design a hot/cold pack that can be integrated into an article of clothing, drives student learning across multiple lessons. Within this lesson sequence, students define criteria and constraints, investigate endothermic and exothermic reactions, and design and evaluate solutions. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage in elements of all three dimensions as they use their understanding of thermal energy as a component of chemical reactions (DCI-PS1.A-M3, DCI-PS3.A-M4) to design, construct, test and optimize (SEP-CEDS-M6, SEP-CEDS-M8) the flow of thermal energy out of/in to a hot/cold pack (CCC-EM-M4).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy (Lessons 1, 8-9, 11-12), the challenge, to protect a person from receiving a concussion while playing various sports, drives student learning across multiple lessons. Within this lesson sequence, students learn how collisions can lead to head injury, investigate materials that can reduce energy transferred during an impact, and design, build, and evaluate a helmet to protect an athlete from a concussion. Throughout the instructional sequence, students engage in elements of all three dimensions as they use their understanding of kinetic and potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2) to plan an investigation to provide evidence (SEP-INV-M1, SEP-INV-M2) to support the design of a structure that reduces the risk of concussion while playing sports (CCC-SF-M2).

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

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

Criterion 2a - 2g

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 3aa - 3z

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

Indicator 3aa

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

Indicator 3ab

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

Indicator 3ac

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

Indicator 3ad

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

Indicator 3z

Materials integrate digital technology and interactive tools (data collection tools, simulations, modeling), when appropriate, in ways that support student engagement in the three dimensions of science.
N/A
abc123

Report Published Date: 2021/02/25

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
IS CA Integrated—Grade 6 Teacher and Student Materials – Digital License – 1 year 9781643020068
IS CA Integrated—Grade 7 Teacher and Student Materials – Digital License – 1 year 9781643020075
IS CA Integrated—Grade 8 Teacher and Student Materials – Digital License – 1 year 9781643020082

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

Science 6-8 Review Tool

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

For science, our review criteria evaluates materials based on:

  • Three-Dimensional Learning

  • Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning

  • Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions

  • Design to Facilitate Teacher Learning

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Math K-8

  • Focus and Coherence - 14 possible points

    • 12-14 points: Meets Expectations

    • 8-11 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 8 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 18 possible points

    • 16-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 11-15 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 11 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 38 possible points

    • 31-38 points: Meets Expectations

    • 23-30 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 23: Does Not Meet Expectations

Math High School

  • Focus and Coherence - 18 possible points

    • 14-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 16 possible points

    • 14-16 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 36 possible points

    • 30-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 22-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 22: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA K-2

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 58 possible points

    • 52-58 points: Meets Expectations

    • 28-51 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 28 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

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

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 3-5

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 42 possible points

    • 37-42 points: Meets Expectations

    • 21-36 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 21 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

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

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 6-8

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 36 possible points

    • 32-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 18-31 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 18 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

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

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


ELA High School

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meets Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

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

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

Science Middle School

  • Designed for NGSS - 26 possible points

    • 22-26 points: Meets Expectations

    • 13-21 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 13 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Coherence and Scope - 56 possible points

    • 48-56 points: Meets Expectations

    • 30-47 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 30 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 54 possible points

    • 46-54 points: Meets Expectations

    • 29-45 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 29 points: Does Not Meet Expectations