Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for McGraw-Hill Education Inspire 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 do not consistently include three-dimensional learning opportunities and opportunities for student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Learning objectives are present at the lesson level and module level but are only consistently three dimensional at the lesson level; 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. While multiple problems are present, they are not consistently connected to DCIs or presented to students as directly as possible. Phenomena are not present in the program. Content focused questions consistently provide context for the student learning at the lesson and module level and the stage for one- or two-dimensional learning, presenting a missed opportunity to drive learning and use of the three dimensions to figure out phenomena and/or solve problems within and across lessons.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
3
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for McGraw-Hill Education Inspire 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.
2/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for McGraw-Hill Education Inspire Science Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include few instances for students to use the three dimensions and across the series, students typically engage in learning opportunities that are two-dimensional. Few opportunities for student sensemaking with the three dimensions are present. However, there are frequent opportunities in lessons for two-dimensional sensemaking, with SEPs used to meaningfully support student sensemaking with DCIs. The materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level, but the formative assessment tasks neither consistently reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions related to the respective objectives nor consistently provide guidance to support the instructional process. The materials provide objectives for the larger learning sequence (module), but are not consistently three dimensional. The materials include summative assessments within and across the larger learning sequence that in some instances measure the three dimensions, but do not consistently assess the dimensions of the respective objectives in the learning sequence.

Indicator 1a

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

Indicator 1a.i

Materials consistently integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities.
0/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) into student learning opportunities.

Throughout the series, few lessons include all three dimensions and the materials do not consistently integrate SEPs, DCIs, and CCCs into student learning. Full lesson sequences frequently include SEPs and DCIs; integration of CCCs and their elements occurs less frequently. In multiple lessons, students engage with DCIs, SEPs, or CCCs from below the middle school grade band.

Examples of a learning opportunity within a learning sequence that integrate all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, Lesson 4, Lab: Massing Around, students use different amounts of water to investigate the thermal energy relationship: as mass increases, temperature change decreases. Students graph the temperature of different amounts of water and identify patterns in the relationship between mass and temperature. Throughout the learning sequence, students use graphical displays to identify relationships (SEP-DATA-E1). Students also identify the inverse relationship (CCC-PAT-M4) between thermal energy transfer and temperature change as the mass of a sample increases (DCI-PS3.B-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 4, Investigation: On the Rise, students analyze a line graph showing how atmospheric carbon dioxide levels changed over the past 400,000 years and compare those patterns of change to changes since 1950 (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students compare the graph to two additional graphs that show changes in human-produced carbon dioxide emissions and changes in global greenhouse gas concentrations (CO2, CH4, and N2O) since 1850. Students also identify patterns in data (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students then compare a graph showing changes in global temperature since 1850 to their previous data sets and identify patterns across all of the graphs (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students then use the data to support a claim that the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are major causal factors in the rise in earth’s mean surface temperature, resulting in global warming (DCI-ESS3.D-M1, CCC-CE-M1).

Examples of learning sequences that include all three dimensions but do not integrate all three dimensions within a single learning opportunity:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 2: Body Systems, Lesson 2: Body Systems, students participate in activities to observe three types of muscle cells and use the characteristics to infer any of their functions. None of the learning opportunities within this lesson integrate all three dimensions. Students read about muscles and explain how the muscular system helps the body move (DCI-LS1.A-M3), and then read about joints and ligaments to understand the skeletal system. Students observe different types of muscle cells, record their observations on a provided data table, and then list the characteristics that are different among the observed cells (SEP-DATA-P1). Students use these observations to infer the functions of the different muscle cells (DCI-LS1.A-M2). Students also observe images of plant structures and infer the function of these structures (DCI-LS1.A-E1). After reading about roots, students identify a local plant, determine the type of root it has, and write about how the plant’s root system benefits the whole plant (DCI-LS1.A-E1). While students discuss the muscular and skeletal systems in the context of the DCI (DCI-LS1.A-M1), there is a missed opportunity to connect this learning to elements of the CCC systems and system models. Similarly, while students determine the function of plant parts (DCI-LS1.A-E1), there is a missed opportunity to connect this learning to elements of the CCC structure and function.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science, Lesson 1: Synthetic Technology, students learn how synthetic materials are made. Students explore the structure and properties of natural and synthetic materials and how these relate to their function. None of the learning opportunities within this lesson integrate all three dimensions. Students watch a video about synthetic technology then think about materials that make a structure. Students observe five samples of materials and record their observations on a provided data table. Students identify similarities and differences among the properties. Students identify a sample based on its properties, describe what the materials could be used for, and explain why it would be well suited for that use (DCI-PS1.A-P2, CCC-SF-P1). Students create a classification system for natural and synthetic materials based on their properties and then make slime (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.B-E1). Students also show how limestone reacts to become calcium oxide (SEP-MOD-E3, DCI-PS1.B-M1).

Examples of learning sequences that do not include all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 1: Cells and Life, Lesson 1: Exploring Life, students determine the characteristics of a living thing. Students observe four slides under a microscope and record their observations (SEP-DATA-P1) and complete an investigation to magnify objects using simple materials (SEP-INV-P2). Students research one of the characteristics of life and complete a graphic organizer (SEP-INFO-P3). Throughout the lesson, students read about cells to learn that all living things are made up of cells (DCI-LS1.A-M1). Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organs, Lesson 1: Inheritance, students participate in activities to understand inheritance. Students observe the physical traits of unattached and attached earlobes, curved and straight thumbs, and thumb position when interlacing fingers. Students use their observations to answer a question about what determines the types of traits a person has. Students read about Mendel’s experiments of pea plants and then conduct an investigation to calculate the ratio of Mendelian hybrid crosses of pea plants. After the investigation, students read about the expression of traits and about chromosomes affecting traits (DCI-LS3.B-M1). Students then select one trait card from each of three beetle trait bags and draw a picture of a beetle resulting from their selected trait cards. Students add information about their beetle phenotypes to a class chart and answer questions about the data. Students read about ratios and Punnett squares and then complete a Punnett square for a hybrid cross (DCI-LS3.B-M1, SEP-MOD-M5). During another investigation, students complete a Punnett square (DCI-LS3.B-M1, SEP-MOD-M5) to answer questions about the results of crossing a dominant purebred fruit fly with a recessive purebred fruit fly. Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, Lesson 1: Properties of Matter, students gather information about ways to identify substances based on different properties of matter. Students record observed properties of various objects, create a data table to organize their observations, and compare similarities and differences among their observations (SEP-INV-P4). After reading about mass and volume, students draw the atomic-level view of the observed objects. Students measure mass and volume of the two objects (SEP-INV-P4) and make comparisons. Students then read about density and complete a lab about chemical properties. In the lab, students speculate what certain substances will do under various conditions and then expose the substances to these conditions. Students record this data and identify similarities and differences. In the final activity, students identify an unknown substance based on its reactions with other substances (DCI-PS1.A-M2). Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 1: Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Lesson 1: Natural Resources, students determine how people use resources from earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. None of the learning opportunities within this investigation integrate all three dimensions. Students observe common objects and conduct research (SEP-INFO-P3) to determine the natural resources (ENG-INFLU-P1) used to make a specific object. Throughout the lesson, students read about how energy and fuels used by humans are derived from natural sources, how they impact the environment, and how some resources are renewable over time and others are not (DCI-ESS3.A-E1). Students then collect data on the number of times they use water throughout the day (SEP-DATA-P3) and create a circle graph based on the percentages of different types of use (SEP-DATA-E1). Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 2: Dynamic Ecosystems, Lesson 1: Resources in Ecosystems, students participate in activities to understand ecosystems. Students read about the levels of organization in an environment. Students list the living and nonliving things in their local ecosystem and then record how these living and nonliving things interact (DCI-LS2.A-M1). They model the exponential growth of a population (SEP-MOD-E4) using gummy fish. Students read about limiting factors and their effect on the population, observe a picture of limiting factors affecting a population, and answer a question about a limiting factor for the human population (DCI-LS2.A-M2). Students then read about population size and carrying capacity. While students develop an understanding of DCIs that focus on interactions within ecosystems, students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 2: Mechanical Energy, Lesson 4: Electromagnetism, students explore the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Students build a device with a current flowing through it to test the effect the current has on a nearby compass. Students then read about charges, magnetic fields, and electromagnets (DCI-PS2.B-M3). They participate in a lab that challenges them to use an electromagnet to pick up the maximum number of paperclips while keeping the mass of the electromagnet below the mass of the paperclips (SEP-INV-M2). Students read about electromagnets and motors and then follow instructions to build a motor. Students use a hand generator to determine how the speed of rotation affects the number of paperclips picked up (DCI-PS2.B-M1). Students also use an electromagnet to demonstrate that coils of wire with electric current passing through them behave like a magnet. Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3, Lesson 3: Simple Circuits, students determine how a simple circuit functions. Students produce light by closing a circuit and record observations when lighting one and then two light bulbs (SEP-DATA-P1). They develop an investigation to measure how voltage affects an electric current (SEP-INV-P2, SEP-INV-E4) and then use collected data to find relationships between voltage and current (SEP-DATA-P3, DCI-PS2.B-E2). Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Module 2: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Lesson 3: Eclipses, students learn about solar and lunar eclipses. Students read about shadows and then move an object closer to or farther from a light source, observing the shadows projected onto the wall from the object. Students read about the umbra, the penumbra, and a solar eclipse (DCI-ESS1.B-M2) and then model a solar eclipse using foam balls (DCI-ESS1.B-M2, SEP-MOD-E4). After the lab, students read about solar and lunar eclipses, watch a video about eclipses, and then answer two questions about eclipses. Students finish the lesson by reading about rare eclipses and answering two additional questions (DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students do not engage with any CCC elements in this lesson.

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. Across the series, the materials do not consistently engage students in the use of SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions.

The materials provide frequent opportunities to engage students in the use of SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions. Frequently, sensemaking occurs as the SEP is used to deepen understanding of the DCI. This occurs during investigations and laboratory activities and/or during the Explain section of a lesson when students use evidence from their observations and from provided text to apply their learning to a new context and support a claim.

There are few instances where students use CCCs for student sensemaking; instead, students engage with CCCs that are associated with the DCI or SEP, missing the opportunity to purposefully build understanding of the CCC or use the CCC to increase sensemaking. Further, there are multiple instances in which students engage with elements of DCIs, SEPs, and/or CCCs below the middle school grade band.

Example of a learning opportunity within a learning sequence where SEPs and CCCs meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 4, Investigation: On the Rise, students analyze a line graph showing how atmospheric carbon dioxide levels changed over the past 400,000 years and compare those patterns of change to changes since 1950 (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students compare that graph to two additional graphs that show changes in human-produced carbon dioxide emissions and global greenhouse gas concentrations (CO2, CH4, and N2O) since 1850. Students identify patterns in data (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students then compare a graph showing changes in global temperature since 1850 to their previous data sets and identify patterns across all of the graphs (CCC-PAT-M4, SEP-DATA-M1). Students then use this data to support a claim that the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are major causal factors in the rise in earth’s mean surface temperature, resulting in global warming (DCI-ESS3.D-M1, CCC-CE-M1).

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

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organisms, Lesson 2: Types of Reproduction, students learn how multicellular organisms reproduce. Students observe vegetative reproduction in two different plants and then read about asexual reproduction and how it occurs (DCI-LS1.B-M1). Students then observe photographs showing budding in hydra and read about this form of asexual reproduction. Students then learn that organisms with two parents reproduce sexually, with each parent contributing half of the offspring’s chromosomes. Students then read text that compares advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction. To make sense of when one type of reproduction may be advantageous over the other (DCI-LS1.B-M1), students use information in the text to support a claim about which species in an aquarium—sexually reproducing fish or asexually reproducing sponges—would likely survive a fatal disease (SEP-INFO-P3, SEP-CEDS-E2). After reading information about cloning, students research advantages and disadvantages of cloning to save endangered species and present their research to the class.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 3: Weather and Climate, Lesson 3: Weather Patterns, students collect weather data then use it as the basis to make predictions. Students record temperature, pressure, humidity, wind, and precipitation data for one week and then graph daily pressure and temperature data. Students compare three related data pairs to predict the weather for the next three days (SEP-DATA-E1) and then evaluate the accuracy of their predictions. Finally they reflect on the results of this prediction to explain why weather can only be predicted probabilistically (DCI-ESS2.D-M2). While students use patterns in the data to see relationships (SEP-DATA-E1) between weather variables, students do not articulate how graphs are used to identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) as they make sense of the data.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 1: Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Lesson 3: Depletion of Resources, students use a simulation to model how extracting minerals affects their distribution and supply (SEP-MOD-E6) and then examine a data table showing worldwide production rates and total reserves for common mineral resources. Students then model the challenges involved in restoring the land after mining it (SEP-MOD-E6). Students use these models to make sense of how human activities in mining impact coal distribution, the environmental impacts of mining, and how restoration efforts can help protect resources and environments (DCI-ESS3.C-E1). Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI as they develop an understanding of the impacts of mineral extraction.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Maintaining Biodiversity, students learn about threats to biodiversity and identify strategies that can help maintain biodiversity (DCI-LS4.D-E1). Students are given a scenario related to threats to biodiversity of an ecosystem, read about threats to biodiversity in a primary source (SEP-INFO-M1), and then create a piece of art from recyclables. Students then compare and evaluate solutions for maintaining and protecting biodiversity in different types of ecosystems. In a subsequent investigation, students research possible solutions to threats to the biodiversity of an ecosystem and then fill out a table and rank the solutions that they found. To make sense of how biodiversity can be maintained (DCI-LS4.D-E1), students use information from prior activities and provided text to support a claim about which solution would maintain owl populations in the Pacific Northwest (SEP-ARG-P7).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Module 2: Natural Selection and Adaptations, Lesson 1: How Traits Change, students make sense of the molecular nature of genetic material and how mutations occur. They read about how DNA is located in the chromosomes of cells (DCI-LS3.A-M1) and then create a physical model to examine the structure of DNA (SEP-MOD-M5). Students read about DNA replication and mRNA transcription from DNA. Students model how mistakes in messages can occur (SEP-MOD-E3) by playing a game of “telephone” to represent different ways mutation in DNA can occur (DCI-LS3.B-M2). To further make sense of the impact of mutations, students learn that mutations can be classified as positive, negative, or neutral, and can lead to different genetic disorders (DCI-LS3.B-M2). Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI as they develop an understanding of the relationship between DNA and mutations.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3: Electromagnetic Forces, Lesson 2: Electric Forces, students make sense of how electric charges attract and repel objects and the factors that affect the strength of an electric field. Students observe two types of electric charge and the forces between them (SEP-INV-E3) before reading about the two types of electric charge. Students then conduct an investigation to confirm that the strength of an electric field depends on the amount of charge and the distance from a charged object (DCI-PS2.B-E2, SEP-INV-E3) by mapping voltage rings around oppositely charged particles. Students read additional information and explore a PhET interactive investigation to build understanding of electric field strengths (DCI-PS2.B-E2). Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI as they develop an understanding of the relationship between electric charges and strengths of electric fields.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 2: Light, Lesson 3: Reflection and Lenses, students investigate how light refracts through materials. Students investigate refraction of light between air and water by observing a coin in a beaker of water (SEP-INV-P4) and showing where the path of light bends. Students then draw a diagram to convey their understanding of how the light refracted (SEP-MOD-M5). Students then read text that provides information explaining how light refracts and about the index of refraction of different materials (DCI-PS4.B-M2). Students observe how convex and concave lenses impact images and then read text explaining how these lenses work. Students draw a diagram to convey their understanding of how a lens at the end of a telescope would collect light (SEP-MOD-M5). Students use the SEPs to communicate how they have made sense of their observations and the information presented in the text. Students do not use the CCCs to make sense of or with the SEP or DCI as they develop an understanding of the relationship between light, refraction, and lenses.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Module 3: Exploring the Universe, Lesson 2: The Solar System, students make sense of the size of the solar system. Students view photographs of Jupiter and Saturn that were taken with a telescope on Earth and compare them to photographs taken with a telescope in space. The materials provide information about why scale models are important (CCC-SPQ-M1). Students calculate the size needed to make a scale model of three planets based on the calculations provided for earth, make a clay ball that represents the scaled diameter of each planet, and compare planet sizes. Students then make a scale model of the solar system, determining the appropriate scale based on the amount of space they have available, and compare their scale model to those of others in the class (SEP-MOD-P3). Students draw scale models of the moons of the outer planets, rank them according to size, and research the moons. As students learn about the different planets and their moons within the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), they develop an understanding of how scale models can be used to study very large and distant systems. While students engage in various SEPs during this lesson, the DCI and CCC are used for sensemaking about the scale of the solar system.

Examples of learning sequence where students do not engage in meaningful sensemaking with multiple dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 2: Body Systems, Lesson 1: Levels of Organization, students learn about the relationship between cells, tissues, and organs. Students read about how cells are organized in the body and work together to create tissues. Students then learn about cell differentiation in the human body then observe slides or images of different types of human cells. Students record the name for each type and function of each cell, as well as the larger body system the cell is part of (DCI-LS1.A-M1). Students then read how cells are organized into tissues in animals and plants and identify how human epithelial tissue and plant dermal tissue provide protection. Students read about the organization of organs, identify how different organs work together to perform different functions (DCI-LS1.A-M1), and then learn how organisms are composed of cells, tissues, organs, and organs systems. Within this lesson, students also research bone marrow transplants, which diseases they can treat, and information about the National Marrow Donor Program. Students also take a look at organ donation and prepare to interview someone in their family about organ donation. Students do not use an SEP or CCC to make sense of the DCI in this lesson.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards, Lesson 2: Volcano Risks, students learn about the connection between tectonic plates and volcanoes. Students examine world maps showing volcano distribution in relation to plate boundaries (SEP-DATA-M2) and then read text to learn more about where volcanoes appear. Students read about damage caused by volcanoes. They then identify and assess volcanic hazards for areas on Mt. Rainier using provided data to map where mudflow, lava and pyroclastic flow, and falling ash will likely be a hazard (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). Students use this map to forecast the likelihood of a volcano and predict which area would be the safest choice for a bike shop (CCC-PAT-E3). Students compare their map with a classmate and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a bike shop close to the volcano. Then students calculate the time it would take for a mudflow to reach two cities in Washington. While students engage with an SEP and CCC during this lesson, these are implicit within the DCI that “mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces, can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events.”

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.

All lesson objectives are three dimensional and are developed from multiple performance expectations in that lesson. There are three to four opportunities for formative assessment in each lesson found in the sections labeled Science Probes, Claim Evidence Reasoning, Three Dimensional Thinking prompts, and in labs that contain Analyze and Conclude sections. The formative assessment opportunities do not consistently assess the full three dimensions of the lesson objective. The assessments frequently measure student understanding of the objectives’ DCIs, with SEPs and CCCs assessed less consistently. When all three dimensions are assessed, one or more SEP and/or CCC elements are often below the grade-band expectation or do not match the objective.

During the lab activities, students are frequently provided with potential solutions to problems and detailed instructions for investigations. While students are provided opportunities to consider concepts and brainstorm ideas to solve problems and design solutions, the answers are frequently located in the Student Edition in close proximity to the problem. This detailed information in the materials results in missed opportunities for students to develop their own investigations or design their own solutions.

The materials do not support the instructional process and do not provide teacher guidance for modifying instruction based upon student responses or understanding.

Examples of lessons with three-dimensional objectives, in which the formative assessment tasks assess student knowledge of the dimensions in the learning objective, but the materials do not provide guidance to support the instructional process:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 3: Impact on the Atmosphere, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore the impact of human activities on the atmosphere. They will construct explanations to enhance their understanding of how humans cause and can minimize air pollution.” The Science Probe checks for understanding of air pollution (DCI-ESS3.C-M1) by having students explain which of three statements about air pollution they agree with the most. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students support a claim about how solutions are important for earth’s atmosphere (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, SEP-CEDS-M4). The Three Dimensional Thinking assessment asks students to summarize cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M1) between human activities and natural events, and the environmental impact on the atmosphere (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). In the Analyze and Conclude questions, students recall the pH of their rainwater and decide if their neighborhood experiences acid precipitation. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 2: Dynamic Ecosystems, Lesson 3: Changing Ecosystems, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore the dynamic nature of ecosystems, focusing on both natural changes and human disruptions. They will evaluate how and argue that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations within the ecosystem.” The Science Probe checks for understanding that all animals depend on plants (DCI-LS2.C-M1) by having students explain which of the four statements best describes what happens to animals in an area if the plants in the area die. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students make a claim about how fire affects an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.C-M1). The Three Dimensional Thinking questions asks students to construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-E2) of how changes (CCC-SC-M2) can affect populations of organisms in a lake ecosystem while looking at a picture showing aquatic succession (DCI-LS2.C-M1). During the lab, students analyze how natural events affect the quality of water resources and conclude that when water has too much sediment, populations may be negatively impacted (DCI-LS2.C-M1). Students were not assessed on the crosscutting concept (CCC-SC-M2) covered in the objective. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.

Examples of lessons with three-dimensional objectives; the formative assessment tasks do not assess student knowledge of all dimensions in the learning objective and materials do not provide guidance to support the instructional process:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 1: Cells and Life, Lesson 2: Cell Structure and Function, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will describe the function of a cell as a whole and explore ways parts of cells contribute to the function. They will develop and use models to enhance their understanding of these concepts.” The Science Probe checks for understanding by having students identify reasons why the cell is called the basic unit of life (DCI-LS1.A-M1). The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students reason with the content of a video about how the different parts of a cell work together (DCI-LS1.A-M2, SEP-CEDS-E3). In the Three Dimensional Thinking questions, students create a graphic organizer that explains how the various structures/organelles help a cell function as a whole (CCC-SF-E2), develop analogies to understand the structure and function of the nucleus, and infer a cell’s function based on its shape (CCC-SF-E2, SEP-MOD-E3). In the Analyze and Conclude questions in the lab, students compare the shapes of an elodea cell and a cheek cell. Student understanding of SEP and CCC elements is assessed below grade band. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organisms, Lesson 3: Reproduction and Growth of Animals, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore how animals engage in characteristic behaviors, which often involve gathering and responding to sensory stimuli, to increase the odds of sexual reproduction and the survival of their young. Students will also explain how environmental and genetic factors affect the growth of an animal.” The Science Probe checks for understanding by having students select the principle that the growth of an organism is influenced by genetic and environmental factors (DCI-LS1.B-M4). The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students explain a video about birds dancing. The Three Dimensional Thinking question consists of two questions: one requires students recognize that fanning feathers is part of a courtship ritual (DCI-LS1.B-M1) and the other question requires students to identify an environmental factor that would affect a hamster's growth. After an engineering lab, students reflect on how they met the criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) of the project where they were asked to build a bird nest and how they could improve their nest and which group had the best nest. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 3: Weather and Climate, Lesson 4: Climates of Earth, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore climate and the factors that determine regional climates. They will develop and use models to enhance their understanding of how factors including unequal heating by the Sun, latitude, altitude, and patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation determine regional climates.” The Science Probe checks for understanding of maps as models (SEP-MOD-M5) by showing a picture of a map and asking students to explain whether they agree with the student who says maps are types of models or the student who says maps are not models. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students construct explanations about different climates around the world (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). There are three Three Dimensional Thinking questions. The first asks, “What is the relationship between weather patterns and climate?” (DCI-ESS2.D-M1, CCC-PAT-P1). In the second, students use a diagram (SEP-MOD-M5) that shows how mountains affect climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) to answer a question about the components, the inputs, and the outputs of that system (CCC-SYS-M2) and describe why rain shadows do not form on both sides of the mountain. In the third, students identify a climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) using a map (SEP-MOD-M5) depicting a modified version of Koppen’s climate classification system. Student understanding of the CCC of patterns is assessed below grade band. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, Lesson 2: Property Changes in Chemical Reactions, the objective is “Students will explore how substances react chemically in characteristic ways. They will develop and use models to show how the atoms that make up the original substances are regrouped into different molecules and how the total number of each type of atom is conserved, which explains the conservation of matter.” The Science Probe checks for understanding of what happens to atoms during a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M2) by having students explain which of the four statements best describes what happens during a chemical reaction when two different substances form a new substance. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students reason with a video about how two liquids can combine to become a solid (DCI-PS1.B-M1). In the Analyze and Conclude questions of the first lab, students describe the changes that they think occur as two substances undergo a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.B-M1). The second lab’s Analyze and Conclude questions have students examine data that show that mass does not change during a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M2) and sketch a model (SEP-MOD-M6) showing the particles in the substances before and after the substances were combined (DCI-PS1.B-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M2). Student understanding of the CCC that matter is conserved (CCC-EM-M1) is not assessed. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 1: Dynamic Earth, Lesson 5: The Cycling of Earth’s Materials, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore the processes of melting, crystallization, weathering, deformation, and sedimentation, which act together to form minerals and rocks through the cycling of Earth’s Materials. They will use and develop models to describe the stability and change of these geoscience processes.” The Science Probe checks for understanding by having students determine if they think a rock is a mineral, mixture, or large solid object and explain why they think that. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students explain the video showing lava dripping down and then waves crashing over the lava to cool it down. There are six Three Dimensional Thinking questions. Five of them address how a specific type of energy is related to a given type of rock formation. Students are then asked to develop a model that could describe why deposition occurs (SEP-MOD-M5). In the Analyze and Conclude questions, students describe rock samples that they examined, identify ways that they are similar or different (SEP-DATA-M7), make a claim stating whether all rocks form in the same way, and then support their claim. This formative assessment does not assess all DCIs or CCCs in the lesson objective. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 1: Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Lesson 2: Distribution of Resources, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will analyze and interpret maps and other data to recognize patterns in the distribution of resources. Students will discover that Earth’s resources, including minerals, soil, fossil fuels, and groundwater, are distributed unevenly around the planet.” The Science Probe checks for understanding by having students identify where they think various natural resources are found on earth. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students use an interactive map to determine where various natural resources are found across the globe (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). There are three Three Dimensional Thinking questions: discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having mineral resources concentrated in one place, describe how soil is formed based upon readings that students just completed, and create a graphic organizer that explains (SEP-CEDS-M4) how geologic processes create an uneven distribution of resources in the earth (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). Student understanding of any CCC is not assessed. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Module 3: Evidence of Evolution, Lesson 1: Fossil Evidence of Evolution, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore fossil evidence of evolution. They will recognize how fossils form, what fossils can tell us about time, and how fossils show change over time. They will analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record to enhance their understanding of these concepts.” The Science Probe checks for understanding by having students choose an idea about fossils that most accurately represents their current ideas and explain why they agree with that idea. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students support a claim whether a fossil offers evidence for evolution (DCI-LS4.A-M2). There is one Three Dimensional Thinking question in this lesson in which students identify that horses have gotten larger and taller over time (CCC-PAT-P2). In the Analyze and Conclude questions, students answer why they think scientists would identify an older species as an ancestral form of a present-day species. They are also asked how fossils at various stages provide evidence for biological change over time (DCI-LS4.A-M2). Student understanding of the CCC of patterns is assessed below grade band. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 2: Mechanical Energy, Lesson 2: Potential Energy, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore how the potential energy of an object is affected by distance from Earth and mass. They will develop and use models and analyze systems and system models to compare the potential energy of different objects.” The Science Probe checks for understanding of potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2) by having students choose one of the four ideas that tell about the energy of a ball sitting on a table and then to explain their thinking. The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students support a claim about the potential energy of an object (DCI-PS3.A-M2). In the Three Dimensional Thinking question, students sketch models of the rubber band nickel systems from the previous lab and indicate the changing level of potential energy in the sketch of the models (SEP-MOD-M6, DCI-PS3.A-M2). In the Analyze and Conclude questions, students analyze data and conclude that increasing the distance the rubber band was stretched increases the energy it contains (DCI-PS3.A-M2). Students also analyze data to conclude that the higher an object, the more potential energy it has (DCI-PS3.A-M2). Student understanding of any CCC is not assessed. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 3: Information Technologies, Lesson 1: Communicating with Signals, the three-dimensional learning objective is “Students will explore different ways that information can be encoded and transmitted, while obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information about the role of science in developing and using information technologies.” The Science Probe checks for understanding of information being encoded in a variety of ways (DCI-PS4.C-M1). The CER organizer provides sentence starters that help students support a claim about how signals are transmitted (DCI-PS4.C-M1). In the Three Dimensional Thinking assessment, students construct an argument for why lighthouses use light instead of sound for sending signals to boats. Student understanding of any CCC is not assessed. The materials do not provide guidance to teachers for using formative assessment data to support the instructional process.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.

The modules across the series of materials do not consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives. Module summative assessments are occasionally three dimensional, but do not consistently assess the dimensions of the targeted objective. There are four types of summative assessments in each module: Three Dimensional Thinking, Lesson Check, Module Test, and STEM Module Project. Three Dimensional Thinking assessments contain one to three multiple choice items found at the end of each lesson; all of these assess DCIs. Lesson Checks are found in the digital teacher resources and assess content knowledge. These typically include multiple choice, true/false, or fill-in-the-blank questions. Additionally, there are one to three constructed-response items. In many instances, answers from selected-response items can be used to answer the constructed-response questions that follow. Lesson Checks and Module Tests typically assess DCIs and SEPs. The assessed SEP elements are consistently from below the middle school grade band. STEM Module Projects are introduced at the start of each unit and students revisit them after completing each lesson. These culminate at the end of modules with a variety of performance tasks that require students to use content knowledge to solve problems, build models, and construct arguments. SEP elements assessed in these projects are often from below grade band. Student understanding of CCCs is not explicitly assessed. Instead, the CCC elements are implicitly assessed as they are embedded within the DCI.

Example of a module that does not have three-dimensional objectives; the summative assessment task(s) do not assess student knowledge of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Module 3: Evidence of Evolution, the module learning objective “Students will consider how whale bones show evidence of evolution and what other types of evidence for evolution exist” is not three dimensional. There are two lessons in this module with a total of four multiple-choice Three Dimensional Thinking questions that assess methods of dating fossils (DCI-ESS1.C-M1) and common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A-M2). The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of fossils and evolution (DCI-LS4.A-M2) and common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A-M2); one item is a constructed-response question. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items. These items assess student understanding of fossil evidence of anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms (DCI-LS4.A-M2) and evidence that supports a claim of common ancestry (SEP-ARG-P3). For the STEM Module Project, students prepare an exhibit for a museum about a modern organism and its relationships to both fossilized and other modern organisms. To make their exhibit, students incorporate information from the fossil record, consider anatomical similarities (DCI-LS4.A-M2), and construct an explanation using the scientific ideas that they have researched (SEP-CEDS-M4). None of the assessment types assess student understanding of grade-band CCC elements.

Examples of modules that have three-dimensional objectives; the summative assessment task(s) do not assess student knowledge of all three dimensions in the targeted learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organisms, the module learning objective is “Students learn about the reproduction and growth of organisms, and model the reproduction of an organism, including factors that affect its successful reproduction and growth.” Each lesson in the module has two multiple-choice Three Dimensional Thinking questions that assess vocabulary and content knowledge related to reproduction of animals (DCI-LS1.B-M1) or plants (DCI-LS1.B-M4). The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of reproduction of animals (DCI-LS1.B-M1) or plants (DCI-LS1.B-M4); one or two of the items for each lesson are constructed-response questions. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items that assess student understanding of characteristics of animals and plants (DCI-LS3.A-E1, DCI-LS3.A-E2, DCI-LS3.B-M3). Additionally, students respond to prompts about the validity of a model of sexual reproduction (SEP-ARG-E4), and use provided data to explain how environmental and genetic factors affect the growth of plants (SEP-CEDS-P1). For the STEM Module Project, students create a game that accounts for the factors that affect successful reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M1). None of the assessment types assess student understanding of grade-band CCC elements.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, the module learning objective is “Students will explore how human activities impact Earth’s land, water, atmosphere, and climate.” There are four lessons in this module with a total of seven Three Dimensional Thinking questions, which are multiple-choice and assess content knowledge taught in the lesson about the impact humans have on the earth (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of human impacts on water (DCI-ESS3.C-M1), the atmosphere (DCI-ESS3.C-M1), and climate (DCI-ESS3.C-M1); two or three of the items are constructed-response questions. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items that assess student understanding of human impact on the environment and minimizing that impact (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). Additionally, students identify data from a graph to support a claim about global CO2 levels and future temperatures (SEP-DATA-E2). For the STEM Module Project, students design a plan for a shopping mall. Students consider environmental impacts and develop solutions for monitoring and minimizing the environmental impacts (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). None of the assessment types assess student understanding of grade-band CCC elements.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 1: Classification and States of Matter, the module learning objective is “Students will explore how the temperature, pressure, and structure at the molecular level affect a substance’s properties.” There are four lessons in the module with a total of six Three Dimensional Thinking questions that assess content knowledge taught in the lesson about properties of a substance (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M4, and DCI-PS3.A-M4). The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of states of matter (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M4), changes in temperature (DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS1.A-M6, DCI-PS3.A-M4), changes in pressure (DCI-PS1.A-M6), and molecular structure (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M5). In each lesson, up to three of the items are constructed-response questions. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items that assess student understanding of classification and states of matter (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS1.A-M6, DCI-PS3.A-M4). For the STEM Module Project, students model particles that make up an aluminum bike frame, the water in a bottle, and the air in the tire by drawing them on three different diagrams: a bicyclist on a beach, a bicyclist in colder temperatures, and a bicyclist at a higher elevation (SEP-MOD-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M4, DCI-PS1.A-M6, DCI-PS3.A-M4). While SEP elements are assessed, the materials do not assess any SEP elements within the module objective. Additionally, none of the assessment types assess student understanding of grade-band CCC elements.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science, the module learning objective is “Students will investigate the properties of materials, how they are made, and the impact their production and use have on the people and the environment.” There are two lessons in this module with a total of four multiple-choice Three Dimensional Thinking questions. Students interpret a bar graph and data table to answer material selection questions. The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of properties of substances (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and human impact caused by byproducts of synthetic materials. There is one constructed-response item. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items that assess student understanding of natural and synthetic materials, their properties, and reactions (DCI-PS1.B-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2). No items in this test assess a grade-band SEP or CCC element in the module objectives. For the STEM Module Project, students research current technologies for storm shelters then design and test a shelter of their own. They design structures based on properties of the materials that would work for the purpose of a shelter (CCC-SF-M2). Students identify criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.A-M1) of the problem and create a model of a shelter and evaluate the design. Students then make a claim about how well researched technologies solve given problems (SEP-ARG-E6) While the assessment is three dimensional, it does not evaluate the dimensions found in the module objective.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 2: Mechanical Energy, the module learning objective is “Students will investigate kinetic and potential energy and how they are transferred.” There are three lessons in this module, with a total of six multiple-choice Three Dimensional Thinking questions. These questions assess content knowledge of kinetic and potential energy and the transfer of energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M1, and DCI-PS3.C-M1). The Lesson Checks for each lesson in this module primarily include selected-response items that assess vocabulary and content knowledge of kinetic energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1) and potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2). In each lesson, up to three of the items are constructed-response questions. The Module Test includes a variety of constructed- and selected-response items that assess student understanding of types of energy and energy transfer (DCI-PS3.B-M1). No items in this test assess a grade-band SEP or CCC element in the module objectives. For the STEM Module Project, students research three vertical-drop rides, develop a model of a vertical-drop ride (SEP-MOD-M5), and construct an argument (SEP-ARG-E4) about whether energy can be transferred to power a generator for an amusement park (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M1, DCI-PS3.C-M1). The dimensions assessed in this project do not match the module objective.

In addition to module-level assessments, a Unit Test is provided as a summative assessment for each unit. In the Teacher Edition, the Performance Expectations at a Glance section lists all the performance expectations students are expected to perform during the unit; each PE might be associated with a single module or multiple modules in the unit. The number of PEs associated with each unit varies, ranging from two to ten PEs in each unit. The unit tests include discrete selected-response questions and performance tasks with extended responses. In Grade 6, none of the four unit tests are designed to assess all of the targeted PEs in the unit. In Grade 7, two of the four unit tests are designed to assess all of the targeted PEs in the unit. In Grade 8, three of the four unit tests are designed to assess all of the targeted PEs in the unit. Additionally, five of the 16 unit tests are designed to partially assess one or more targeted PE.

Examples of units that have three-dimensional objectives (PEs); the summative assessment task(s) do not assess student knowledge of all three dimensions in the targeted learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Energy in the Atmosphere, the PEs targeted in the unit include: MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-PS3-5, MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-5, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. The Unit Test Scope provides a table showing each of the nine assessment items and which PE, SEP, CCC, and/or DCI each item intends to assess. None of the nine items are intended to assess PEs MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, or MS-ETS1-4. Item 2 is the only item intended to assess MS-PS3-5; the table indicates that this is intended to be a two-dimensional assessment, without assessing SEP-ARG-M3 associated with this PE. Item 4 is the only item intended to assess MS-PS3-4; the table indicates that this is intended to be a two-dimensional assessment, without assessing CCC-SPQ-M3 associated with this PE. None of the other items on the Unit Test assess the missing SEP or CCC elements.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Interactions Within Ecosystems, the PEs targeted in the unit include: MS-LS1-6, MS-LS1-7, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, and MS-ETS1-3. The Unit Test Scope provides a table showing each of the nine assessment items and which PE, SEP, CCC, and/or DCI each item intends to assess. None of the nine items are intended to assess PE MS-ETS1-2. Items 4 and 9 are intended to assess MS-LS1-7; the table indicates that each of these items are intended to be a two-dimensional assessment, without assessing SEP-MOD-M6 associated with this PE. None of the other items on the Unit Test assess this missing SEP element.
  • In Grade 8: Unit 1: Change Over Time , the PEs targeted in this unit include: MS-ESS1-4, MS-LS3-1, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-3, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-5, and MS-LS4-6. The Unit Test Scope provides a table showing each of the 18 assessment items and which PE, SEP, CCC, and/or DCI each item intends to assess. Item 4 is the only item intended to assess MS-LS3-1; the table indicates that this item is intended to be a two-dimensional assessment, without assessing SEP-MOD-M5 associated with this PE. No other items on this Unit Test assess SEP-MOD-M5: Item 9 is the only item intended to assess MS-LS4-6; the table indicates that this item is intended to be a two-dimensional assessment, without assessing SEP-MATH-M2 associated with this PE. None of the other items on the Unit Test assess these missing SEP elements.

Criterion 1d - 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for McGraw-Hill Education Inspire Science Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include phenomena in 0% of modules and problems in 39% of modules. Of the problems present, there are multiple instances in which they elicit student prior knowledge. Of the problems present, they do not consistently require students to use or apply grade-band appropriate DCIs and do not consistently present problems as directly as possible. Content focused essential questions consistently provide context for learning in lessons, with few opportunities for students to use all three dimensions in the context of making sense of a phenomenon or solving a problem. The materials provide multiple opportunities to elicit student prior knowledge and/or experience related to the problems present and two instances where the student prior knowledge is leveraged. The materials include big idea questions focused on content and topic ideas at the module level that context student learning across multiple lessons rather than phenomena or problems driving learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons.

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 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade band disciplinary core ideas. Of the 11 problems presented in the series, five are connected to a grade-band appropriate DCI. No phenomena are present in the materials. Across the series, problems are generally presented at the beginning of each module, within the STEM Module Project Launch. In multiple instances, problems often build towards primary or elementary grade-band DCIs and do not meet grade-band expectations. While the middle school ETS DCIs are incorporated into STEM Module Project Engineering Challenges, the inclusion of physical science, life science, and earth and space science is inconsistent.

Examples of problems that are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Cookin' with the Sun, the problem is that an engineering company’s clients are going on a data collection trip and will need to cook in an area where no open flames are permitted. Throughout the module, students use their understanding of how energy is transferred from hotter regions to colder areas (DCI-ETS1.C-M1), technologies that use solar energy, and the iterative design process to design, build, and test a device that maximizes thermal energy. As a class, students collaborate to develop constraints and criteria for success.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Warm it up!, the challenge is to determine the best concentration of chemicals to use in hand warmers. Throughout the module, students determine the best concentration of a reactant to maximize the energy change of a chemical reaction by using their understanding of the physical and chemical properties of substances found in commercial heat packs and how they combine in a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M1) to release energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Good "greef"! The corals are dying!, the problem is coral reefs are dying in the Mesoamerican Reef. Throughout the module, students use what they learn about the effects of disruptions to ecosystems and the resulting loss of biodiversity on ecosystem services which humans rely on, as they design an artificial reef to create a design. Students answer questions about and relate the design of the artificial reef to biodiversity and its meaning and importance (DCI-LS2.C-M1). Students are also asked to identify what ecosystem services humans receive from coral reefs (DCI-LS4.D-M1) and how their design might fulfill some of those same services.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Crash Course, the challenge is for students to design a solution to protect drivers and reduce damage if a vehicle were to hit a bridge support. Throughout the module, students learn about forces and motion to design a solution while considering the mass and speed of the vehicles that travel the road and the forces affecting it (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students precisely define the criteria and constraints of the solution they will build (DCI-ETS1.A-M1) as they analyze data collected by the class and compare solutions based on the results of their performance against the defined criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 2: Light, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Optical Illusions, the challenge is for students to design a new type of optical illusion. Throughout the module, students use their understanding of electromagnetic radiation to design a new type of optical illusion. Students design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1) their optical illusions using ideas that combine reflection, refraction, transmission, and absorption of light waves (DCI-PS4.B-M1, DCI-PS4.B-M2). They evaluate their illusion using the given constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) then make revisions to improve their design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1).

Examples of problems that are not connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 1: Impact on Land, the challenge is to design a landfill model and measure the leachate that goes out of the landfill. Students use their understanding of systematic processes for evaluating solutions that address constraints (DCI-ETS.B-M2) as they design, test, and redesign a landfill that releases the least amount of leachate. The DCIs presented in the text cover engineering, technology, and the application of science. To solve this problem, students do not apply understanding of any grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science or their elements.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Who’s moving in next door?, students take on the role of environmental consultant. The challenge is to design plans for monitoring and minimizing the environmental impacts of a shopping mall and then submit those plans to a community committee. Students use their understanding of how humans cause changes to earth's land, water, air, and climate, and solutions that have been developed to monitor and minimize the environmental impact of these changes (DCI-ESS3.C-E1) as they develop a plan for a shopping mall that minimizes impacts to land and water resources. The earth science DCI element needed to solve this problem is below grade band.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards: STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Slippery Slopes, students assume the role of a consulting team hired by a group of citizens in Southern California. The challenge is to inform people who live in areas prone to natural hazards about how to protect their homes. Throughout the module, students learn about geologic forces that cause earthquakes and indicators that signal the eruption of volcanoes (DCI-ESS3.B-M1) and factors that cause severe weather using historic and geologic data sets and available research tools. Students describe and organize the data sets to determine the landslide risk from earthquakes, volcanoes, and severe weather in Southern California and review existing technologies to help prevent landslides. However, students do not need to apply understanding of this DCI to develop, test, and analyze a physical model to solve the problem of protecting a house from a landslide.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science: Properties and Changes: STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Take Cover, the challenge is for students to develop economical shelters that have a low environmental impact that can be used after a natural disaster. This challenge builds toward students using systematic processes to evaluate how well solutions meet the criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). Students are asked to test their design and list ways to modify the design to improve it (DCI-ETS1.B-M1). To solve this problem, students do not apply understanding of any grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science or their elements.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3: Electromagnetic Forces, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: The Great Metal Pick-Up Machine, the challenge is for students to build a crane capable of picking up metal toy cars. This challenge builds toward students testing their solution of the problem and modifying it based on the test results to improve it (DCI-ETS1.B-M1). To solve this problem, students do not apply understanding of any grade-band appropriate DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science, or their elements.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 1: Introduction to Waves, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Don't Make Waves, the challenge is for students to protect a shoreline from damage caused by waves. Students use their understanding of how an increase to the amplitude of ocean waves will increase beach damage (DCI-PS4.A-E2) as they consider possible solutions to preserve a shoreline (DCI-ETS1.A-E1). The physical science DCI element needed to solve this challenge is below grade band.

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 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible. Across the series, the materials present 11 problems. In a few instances, problems are presented as directly as possible.

Problems in the instructional materials are presented in the STEM Module Project Launch section located at the beginning of learning modules. In most instances, problems are presented to students using written descriptions and photographs without further student engagement in demonstrations or other first-hand observations. This is a missed opportunity for the materials to provide a direct or common entry point for all students to be introduced to the problem or design challenge. There are no phenomena in the series.

Example of problems presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, the problem of designing a landfill model that minimizes the release of contaminated leachate is presented to students through direct observations of leachate produced from a teacher-simulated landfill. These materials present students with a first-hand experience to engage with the problem.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science: Properties and Changes, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Take Cover, the challenge for students to develop economical emergency shelters that have a low environmental impact is presented to students through a photograph showing a tent. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of the features of the tent and materials used to make tents. The image shows students one type of economical shelter to provide an entry point into solving the design challenge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3, Electromagnetic Forces, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: The Great Metal Pick-Up Machine, the challenge to build a crane capable of picking up metal toy cars is presented to students through a photograph showing a crane using a magnet to pick up large metals. Students think of questions about the factors that might affect the strength of the magnetic force and share their questions with their group. This introduction provides a visual image to help students understand what they are designing.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 2: Light, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Optical Illusions, the challenge of designing a new type of optical illusion is presented to students through a photograph showing an optical illusion involving two frogs: one real and one not. Students brainstorm illusions that they have seen. The image provides an entry point into understanding that optical illusions trick the mind into perceiving something different from reality.

Examples of problems not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Cookin' with the Sun, the challenge of designing a cooking device without an open flame is presented to students through a reading passage and an image of the sun shining on a bridge with water below it. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of different sources of energy in the image and objects that may be transferring energy. Students unfamiliar with solar ovens are not provided an entry point or direct understanding of this problem.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Who’s moving in next door?, the challenge of designing plans for monitoring and minimizing environmental impacts of a shopping mall is presented to students through a photograph of a meadow with mountains in the background. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of the engineering design process and how changing the landscape might impact land, water, and atmosphere in the area. The photograph does not provide students with a visual entry point or direct understanding of this project.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Warm it up!, the challenge of determining the best concentration of chemicals to use in hand warmers is introduced to students through a photograph of an emergency preparedness pack containing a variety of supplies. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of hand warmers and how they work. The image does not provide students who are unfamiliar with chemical hand warmers an entry point into this problem and may cause them to focus on developing solutions related to the objects in the image.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards: STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Slippery Slopes, the problem of informing people who live in areas prone to natural hazards about how to protect their homes is presented to students with a photograph showing a row of houses on the edge of a cliff and a brief reading. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of earthquakes and landslides and what data would be needed to solve the problem. The image does not directly provide students with an entry point to understanding the damage that natural disasters could cause to the houses.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Good "greef"! The corals are dying!, the problem of coral reefs dying in the Mesoamerican Reef is presented to students through a photograph showing a part of a coral reef. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion of artificial reefs, how students would evaluate designs for artificial reefs, the importance of biodiversity, and how reefs impact biodiversity. This photograph does not provide students with a visual understanding of how a living reef differs from a dying reef as they work to solve the problem.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Crash Course, the challenge to design a solution to protect drivers and reduce damage if a vehicle were to hit a bridge support is presented to students through a photograph showing a safety barrier and guided discussion about bridge supports. This is followed by a teacher-led discussion about car crashes students have seen in a movie, what the car hit, and what happened. While the image provides an example of one type of safety barrier, it does not provide students who may be unfamiliar with bridge supports an understanding of the materials used for the support or the type of damage that could be caused if a vehicle hit it.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 1: Introduction to Waves, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Don't Make Waves, the challenge of protecting a shoreline from damage caused by waves is introduced to students with a photograph of an ocean scene with buildings and people on shore. There is a description of large waves from storms that cause damage to the shoreline and discussion of videos of extreme weather. Students are then encouraged to brainstorm different types of waves and the damage that they might cause. While this image includes a breakwater barrier, students who are unfamiliar with this may not understand what it is in the image or how it works; this image does not provide students with a direct entry point to solving the challenge of preventing waves from causing shoreline damage.

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. Across the series, the materials present 11 problems that are introduced as a STEM Module Project Engineering Launch at the beginning of a module. Students connect their learning from each lesson to the project. While this provides opportunities for students to apply learning from the lessons, the project does not drive the learning within the lessons. Generally, when three-dimensional learning is present, it occurs independently of the presented module-level problem, and instead is related to building understanding of a big idea in science or a scientific concept.

Lessons are generally centered around an essential question presented at the beginning of each lesson; there are no examples of lessons driven by a phenomenon or problem in the series. While the materials provide illustrative examples and opportunities for students to observe, these are consistently accompanied by explanations of the content and are not used to drive student learning and use of the three dimensions. Lessons consistently engage students with a DCI and in multiple instances with an SEP that supports student understanding of the essential question. Some lessons engage students with all three dimensions as they work toward answering the essential question. In several instances, there are missed opportunities for students to engage with grade-band appropriate SEPs, CCCs, or DCIs.

Examples where individual lessons or activities are not driven by phenomena and/or problems, but the lesson engages students with all three dimensions:

Examples where individual lessons or activities are not driven by phenomena and/or problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 1: Cells and Life, Lesson 2: Cell Structure and Function, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “What are the parts of cells and their functions, and how do the parts contribute to the function of the cell as a whole?” Through lab activities, investigations, and readings, students learn about the special structures responsible for particular functions in cells, particularly the cell membrane (DCI-LS1.A-M2). Students observe elodea cells and human cheek cells under a microscope to learn about the similarities and differences of plant and animal cells (SEP-DATA-E1, DCI-LS1.A-M2). Students place birdseed on wire mesh on the top of a beaker to demonstrate how the cell membrane allows small particles to enter but blocks larger particles. Students watch a demonstration showing how the size of a cell can affect material transport within the cell and then fill in the missing numbers of a data table to show surface area and volume ratios (SEP-DATA-E1, DCI-LS1.A-M2). Through reading about the cell membrane, cytoplasm, the cell wall, ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, vacuoles, the Golgi Apparatus, mitochondria, chloroplasts, and nucleus, students learn that different structures in cells have different functions (DCI-LS1.A-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organisms, Lesson 2: Types of Reproduction, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How do multicellular organisms reproduce?” Throughout the lesson, students explore the essential question by learning how an organism can make more organisms. Students learn how different organisms reproduce asexually or sexually and about the advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction. Students use colored beads to simulate sexual reproduction and demonstrate how two parents both contribute to the genetic information of their offspring (DCI-LS3.B-M1). Students read about hydra and sea stars to learn about asexual reproduction and how regeneration and vegetative reproduction are forms of asexual reproduction, resulting in organisms that are genetically identical to their parent (DCI-LS1.B-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 2: The Water Cycle, Lesson 2: Water on Earth’s Surface, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How does water cycle on Earth’s surface?” Throughout the lesson, students learn about water on Earth (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). In a lab activity, students put a dry sponge in water for two-second intervals until the sponge gets saturated and water drips out; this demonstrates that saturation and gravity cause precipitation (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). Students record how long it takes rain to become groundwater while observing a stream table demonstration (SEP-INV-M4). They learn about the interaction between surface water and groundwater (DCI-ESS2.C-M1) and use a simulation of how glaciers form and flow. To learn about the water cycle, students read about why some clouds rain, where the rain goes, and where the water from rain is stored (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). Within the instructional sequence, students investigate (SEP-INV-M4) the collection of groundwater and downhill flow of water as part of the water cycle (DCI-ESS2.C-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 1: Impact on Land, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How can humans minimize their impact on land?” Throughout the lesson, students explore the impacts of human activities on the land and the measures to mitigate them. Students observe fruit and vegetable waste decomposing in plastic bags to learn that leachate is produced. Students then design a model landfill capable of reducing the amount of leachate produced (SEP-CEDS-M7). Students read about urbanization, hazardous waste disposal, and recycling to learn positive and negative actions humans can take to minimize negative impacts on land (DCI-ESS3.C-E1). Students investigate rainfall runoff to identify the effect of urbanization and agricultural activities on water flow (CCC-CE-M2). To answer the essential question, students construct explanations and use cause and effect relationships to determine how human activities affect the land and learn about the measures that communities implement to protect it.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 1: Classification and States of Matter, Lesson 3: Changes in Pressure, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “What effect does changing pressure have on substances?” Throughout the lesson, students observe the effect of pressure on the volume of a gas by placing books on a syringe. Students use the syringe and different volumes of air to investigate how the amount of a gas is related to its pressure (DCI-PS1.A-M6) while recording and graphing their data (SEP-DATA-M4). Students then identify patterns in the data (CCC-PAT-M4). To answer the essential question, students interpret data to identify patterns in pressure and then describe and predict the changes of state that occur with variations in pressure.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, Lesson 1: Properties of Matter, the focus of student learning is the essential question “How can you use properties to identify a substance?” Throughout the lesson, students learn about specific properties and changes of substances. They analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances—before and after the substances interact—to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred (DCI-PS1.B-M3). Students create their own data tables to record data and analyze their data to identify similarities and differences (SEP-DATA-M7). Students compare the mass and volume of different objects in several activities.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards, Lesson 1: Earthquakes, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “Why are some areas more prone to earthquakes than others?” Students examine patterns of data for earthquakes, interpret maps of volcano patterns, and tornado frequency to learn that mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces, can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). Students investigate seismograph data and analyze and interpret the data to determine the relationship between earthquake energy and the Richter magnitude scale (SEP-DATA-M4). Students use a modified Mercalli scale to investigate how the damage of an earthquake varies by location and create patterns of the earthquake damage to determine its epicenter (CCC-PAT-M4). To answer the essential question, students use evidence from historical geographic data to identify patterns and explain how geologic forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science, Lesson 2: Synthetic Materials and Societal Impacts, the focus of student learning is the essential question “What are the impacts on society and the environment of producing and using synthetic materials?” Throughout the lesson, students learn about the production, use, and impact of synthetic materials. They read text, watch a video, and then answer questions related to how synthetic materials come from natural resources. Students use evidence from information they read (SEP-INFO-E1) to make and support a claim about how synthetic materials impact society (DCI-ESS3.C-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 2: Dynamic Ecosystems, Lesson 3: Changing Ecosystems, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How do natural and human disruptions to physical and biological components of ecosystems result in shifts in populations?” Throughout the lesson, students learn about how an ecosystem may change over time, how succession might affect a local ecosystem, and consider how natural disruptions might affect populations. Students explore the effects of sediment runoff by using different settings on the nozzle of a spray bottle to spray a sandcastle (SEP-MOD-E6, DCI-ESS2.A-E2). Students read about resource extraction, pollution, and invasive species to learn about disruptions in ecosystems (DCI-LS2.C-M1, CCC-SC-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3: Electromagnetic Forces, Lesson 4: Electromagnetism, the focus of student learning is the essential question “What is the relationship between electricity and magnetism?” Throughout the lesson, students investigate electromagnetism and how magnetic fields can be used to generate electric current. Students use magnetic wire and compasses to map the magnetic field around a current-carrying wire. From this, students learn that magnetic forces can be attractive. They also learn that the force depends on the magnitudes of the charges, currents, or magnetic strengths involved and on the distances between the interacting objects (DCI-PS2.B-M1). Students read about magnets being attractive and repulsive (DCI-PS2.B-M1) and how magnetic fields can be made (DCI-PS2.B-M3). Students also read about electric motors (SEP-INFO-P3) and then follow a procedure to build one.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Module 2: Natural Selection and Adaptations, Lesson 1: How Traits Change, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How do changes to genetic material alter proteins and, thereby, traits?” Throughout the lesson, students learn that genes are located in the chromosomes of cells, with each chromosome pair containing two variants of each of many distinct genes. Students build a model DNA molecule (SEP-MOD-M5) and predict what would happen if a mistake was made in creating a nucleotide. Students read about asthma and eye color to learn how mutations can affect the phenotype of an organism and use a code-reading activity to see how changes in proteins affect the structure of DNA (DCI-LS3.A-M1, CCC-SF-M1). To answer the essential question, students use a model to visualize genes and mutations that result in changes to proteins, which can affect the structures and functions of the organism and thereby change traits.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, Lesson 1: Position and Motion, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “What determines an object’s motion?” Throughout the lesson, students learn how to describe the position and motion of an object by analyzing graphs and data about the change in the motion of an object over time (DCI-PS2.A-M3). Students construct a distance-time line graph from a data set and analyze the results of the graph in terms of the distance traveled, the amount of time passed, and what could have happened during each hour of time that passed (SEP-DATA-M1). Students use the example of speed while running in a race to learn the average speed equation, which is a proportional relationship among different types of quantities (CCC-SPQ-M3). To answer the essential question, students analyze data sets to identify proportional relationships and choose reference frames in order to share information with other people.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 1: Introduction to Waves, Lesson 1: Wave Properties, the focus of student learning is the essential question “How do the properties of waves correspond with observations of waves?” Throughout the lesson, students move a spring toy in various ways to create waves and then draw the resulting motion. Students read about the properties of a wave to learn that a simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude (DCI-PS4.A-M1, SEP-INFO-P3). They read about various applications of waves, involving sound, water, and cochlear implants.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 3: Information Technologies, Lesson 1: Communicating with Signals, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How do people communicate?” Throughout the lesson, students explore the essential question by learning how signals can be used for communication, how they can be sent, and how signals can be interrupted. Students send messages using a signal and then interpret the messages sent from a partner. In a subsequent activity, students use a flashlight to communicate with each other using Morse Code (SEP-CEDS-P2). Students work in groups to play the telephone game to model how a signal can become disrupted by the time it reaches everyone in the class as their shared message is passed from student to student (SEP-MOD-E1, DCI-PS4.C-P1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Module 1: Earth and Human Activity, Lesson 1: Human Population Growth, the focus of student learning is the essential question, “How does a growing human population affect consumption of resources?” Throughout the lesson, students explore human population changes over time, factors that affect human population growth, human use of resources, and the effects of increased resource consumption (DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Students use graphs to analyze data, comparing rates of human population growth over time, to predict how age groups affect population growth, and to compare population growth rates in different countries (CCC-CE-M2). Students model exponential population growth (SEP-MOD-M7) and determine population growth and resource availability to predict how both are affected when carrying capacity is reached (DCI-ESS3.C-M2, SEP-MATH-M4). To answer the essential question, students use a model to generate data about cause and effect relationships to predict negative impacts on earth as human populations and per capita consumption of natural resources increase.

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 39% (11/28) of the modules compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 0% (0/28) of the modules focus on explaining phenomena. The materials are organized into units, modules, and lessons. Each grade has four units. The 12 units are composed of 28 modules. Modules are comprise two to four lessons, for a total of 86 lessons.

Across the series, problems are typically presented at the beginning of each module and are called STEM Module Project Engineering Challenges. Students apply knowledge gained from the lessons throughout each module to solve problems. In one instance, a problem is presented at the lesson level. Problems are dispersed through the grade levels and content domains.

Across the series, sections labeled Encounter the Phenomenon provide an introduction at the beginning of each module and each lesson. While these are enhanced by short videos in the digital resources, they provide illustrative examples of science content and are used to introduce a scientific concept or topic, rather than a phenomenon that drives student learning. Lesson-level activities provide a graphic organizer tool labeled CER for students to record observations throughout the lesson. Module-level activities are resumed at the end of the module.

The program has been designed to start each of the 28 modules with a series of opener activities: a module opener activity followed by a module project launch and a prior knowledge assessment. The 5E lessons follow the module opener series. The engage phase is a lesson phenomenon, the explore/explain phase is a series of activities that provide an assortment of experiences for students to build upon their current understandings and gather evidence for a module organizer, and the elaborate phases are assorted reading activities. For the evaluate phase, students revisit and revise their module opener activities. Modules conclude with a module wrap-up where students use their new knowledge to answer their own questions and plan their projects from the module opener.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Cookin' with the Sun, the problem is that an engineering company’s clients are going on a data-collection trip and will need to cook in an area where no open flames are permitted. Students assume the role of designers at an engineering company to solve this problem. Throughout the module, students review and compare existing technologies that use solar energy to heat food and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each method. To solve the problem, students design, sketch, construct, and test a device that will heat a pot of water without an open flame.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 1: Impact on Land, the challenge is to design a landfill model and measure the leachate that goes out of the landfill. Throughout the instructional sequence, students research EPA guidelines and build a model to meet the guidelines. Students compare their models with other designs, and make iterations based upon the observed design decisions made by their peers. Students design, construct, and test a landfill for optimal environmental safety. They add waste materials and water to simulate rain. Students observe the path the water takes and collect the leachate produced by their landfills. Class landfill designs are compared and students analyze which design best decreases the amount of leachate. Students create and test a new design based on these new insights.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Who’s moving in next door?, students take on the role of environmental consultant. The challenge is to design plans for monitoring and minimizing environmental impacts of a shopping mall and then submit those plans to a community committee. Throughout the module, students learn about how humans cause changes to earth's land, water, air, and climate and research solutions that have been developed to monitor and minimize environmental impact. Students sketch a plan of a shopping mall with their chosen solutions incorporated into the design of the development. The plan is evaluated by classmates according to meeting criteria and constraints and use of technology.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Warm it up!, the challenge is to determine the best concentration of chemicals to use in hand warmers. Throughout the module, students investigate the physical and chemical properties of substances and how they react chemically in order to learn about endothermic and exothermic reactions and determine the best concentration of a reactant to maximize the energy change of a chemical reaction. Students then identify the criteria and constraints and conduct research on hand warmers. Students decide which chemical reaction to use for hand warmers. Students perform tests to evaluate the effectiveness of each concentration of the reactants in their hand warmer. Students evaluate each group’s design and then each group modifies their design taking potential energy, release, thermal energy, and constant volume into consideration.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Slippery Slopes, students assume the role of a consulting team hired by a group of citizens in Southern California. The challenge is to inform people who live in areas prone to natural hazards about how to protect their homes. Throughout the module, students learn about the geologic forces that cause earthquakes, indicators that signal the eruption of volcanoes, and factors that cause severe weather using historic and geologic data sets and available research tools. Students then identify technologies engineers have developed to minimize the effects of landslides induced by natural hazards to determine the landslide risk from earthquakes in Southern California. They build and test models with an aluminum pan, sand, water, and toy houses and then revise and retest these models before making a 30-second public service announcement that informs the public about ways to predict and mitigate the effects of landslides.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Take Cover, the challenge is for students to develop economical shelters that have a low environmental impact that can be used after a natural disaster. Throughout the module, students explore the structure and properties of materials and how synthetic products are made. Students research technologies and build models to assess how well existing shelters meet the criteria of their challenge. Students then design, test, and evaluate how well the shelters are designed to withstand a wind storm, an earthquake, a heavy rainstorm, and extreme temperature based on the research and evaluation of current technologies.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Good "greef"! The corals are dying!, the problem is coral reefs are dying in the Mesoamerican Reef. Throughout the module, students learn about the importance of biodiversity, threats to biodiversity, and strategies to maintain it. They conduct labs, analyze data, research different ecosystem services, investigate the movement of an air pollutant, and research solutions for maintaining and protecting biodiversity in different types of ecosystems. Students then design an artificial reef in the Yucatan Peninsula to help maintain biodiversity in the region based on criteria. They make a prototype of the reef, test it, record results, and evaluate their solution. Students present on the importance of coral reefs to biodiversity and ecosystems services and on evidence of how their design solution performed.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Crash Course, the challenge is for students to design a solution to protect drivers and reduce damage if a vehicle were to hit a bridge support. Throughout the module, students learn Newton’s second and third laws of motion by reviewing existing technology used to reduce the damage of vehicles hitting road structures, by conducting research and through lab activities, and comparing and contrasting their strengths and weaknesses. Students design, sketch, and build technology, design a solution while also testing its effectiveness, and ultimately, analyze the effectiveness of their technology.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3: Electromagnetic Forces, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: The Great Metal Pick-Up Machine, the challenge is for students to build a crane capable of picking up metal toy cars. Throughout the module, students learn how magnetic fields interact, how electric charges attract and repel objects, how a simple circuit functions, and the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Students use their knowledge to build and test a crane that will lift a toy car and to optimize the crane based on data analysis. Students identify how to plan their design and then build models and design a test to collect data. They analyze data and develop a model that illustrates how the crane design uses electromagnetism to pick up a toy car.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 1: Introduction to Waves, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Don't Make Waves, the challenge is for students to protect a shoreline from damage caused by waves. Throughout the module, students learn about waves and how water waves cause damage. Students use a ripple tank to model how water waves interact with matter, and observe water wave properties and behavior by using sponges and snap-together blocks that model barriers made of different types of matter and placed in different formations. Students learn how the properties of waves correspond with observations of waves, and how mechanical waves are reflected, absorbed, and transmitted through various materials. Students research technologies that are used to reduce the damage of waves hitting the shore, and identify how each researched technology reduces damage from waves along with the societal and environmental impact of each technology, then use this to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each technology. Students create a short presentation explaining how an increase in wave amplitude would affect beach damage, and how their model protects the shoreline from waves.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 2: Light, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Optical Illusions, the challenge is for students to design a new type of optical illusion. Throughout the module, students learn how light can be reflected, absorbed, transmitted, reflected from various surfaces through concave and convex lenses, and how colors interact. They use their knowledge to build and design models, and brainstorm, design, and test an optical illusion. They present their illusion explaining the type of wave, materials, interactions, and the source and path of light.

Indicator 1h

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

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

The materials elicit and leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience in two of the problems across the grade band. This occurs as students use their prior knowledge and experiences related to the design challenge to identify criteria and constraints, then leverage this prior knowledge when completing their designs.

In multiple instances, the materials elicit students’ prior knowledge or experiences related to the problem or design challenge. In many of these instances, students discuss their prior experiences and answer questions related to the design challenge; however, there often is no guidance provided to direct teachers how to leverage that knowledge or experience to deepen understanding and connect students to the design challenge once ideas have been elicited.

In some instances, the Teacher Edition provides discussion prompts for students and time to address students’ misconceptions, but the prompts are not directly connected to student knowledge and experiences related to the design challenge or problem that students are asked to solve. Rather, the materials elicit students’ prior knowledge of the topic or learning from previous lessons within the module.

Examples that elicit and leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to problems:

  • In Grade 7, Unit 1, Module 2: Matter: Properties and Changes, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Warm it up!, the challenge is to determine the best concentration of chemicals to use in hand warmers. The Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to ask students whether they have used chemical hand warmers and their experience with starting it and how long it lasted. Students discuss common uses of heat packs to help them identify criteria and constraints for their designs. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences with chemical hand warmers are leveraged as they identify criteria (needs to be warm but not hot enough to cause burns) and constraints (not dangerous or poisonous, or not too expensive) and work on their design.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3, Module 2: Materials Science STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Take Cover, the challenge is for students to develop economical shelters that have a low environmental impact that can be used after a natural disaster. The Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to ask students about conditions in which the shelter might be used, functions of the shelter, and materials suitable for the shelter. Prior to starting their design, students brainstorm features of the tent, who needs the solution, and what needs must be met as they determine the criteria and constraints of their design. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences with tents and temporary shelters are leveraged as they identify the criteria (portability, ease of setting up, cost, durability, waterproof, etc.) and constraints (cost, type and weight of materials, size, etc.) and work on their design.

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

  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 2: Natural Hazards: STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Slippery Slopes, students assume the role of a consulting team hired by a group of citizens in Southern California. The challenge is to inform people who live in areas prone to natural hazards about how to protect their homes. The Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to ask students about whether they have ever experienced landslides or earthquakes, or if they have seen them in movies. The materials do not include any strategies or activities to leverage students’ experiences or prior knowledge as they complete the design challenge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Crash Course, the challenge is to design a solution to protect drivers and reduce damage if a vehicle were to hit a bridge support. At the launch of the module, students discuss car crashes they have seen in movies then think about how the safety barrier in a picture protects drivers and the bridge support. The materials provide no instructional guidance for teachers to leverage students’ responses, or connect the responses to prior knowledge or experiences of car crashes, or measures to protect drivers and passengers.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 3, Electromagnetic Forces, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: The Great Metal Pick-Up Machine, the challenge is to build a crane capable of picking up metal toy cars. The materials elicit students’ prior knowledge of magnetism and experiences of when they have used magnets; students share their ideas of magnets and their interactions. The materials provide no instructional guidance for teacher processing or leveraging students’ responses. or connecting the responses to the challenge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 1: Introduction to Waves, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Don't Make Waves, the challenge is for students to protect a shoreline from damage caused by waves. To elicit prior knowledge of waves, students are asked to recall and share with a partner a time when they made waves, how they made the waves, and how they were able to change the wave. The materials provide no instructional guidance for teacher processing of students’ responses or connecting the responses to prior knowledge or experiences. At the launch of the module, the Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to encourage students to brainstorm about shoreline damage caused by waves, describing the interaction of ocean waves and shorelines and why people want to protect these from damage. The Student Edition instructs students to think about a time when they have made or changed waves then discuss with a partner.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3, Module 2: Light, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Optical Illusions, the challenge is for students to design a new type of optical illusion. At the launch of the module, the Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to ask students to think about different optical illusions that they have seen and what made it a good illusion. Additionally, the materials direct the teacher to make a distinction between drawings that look like something different based on the angle compared to images that are perceived but not really there. The materials do not include any strategies to leverage students’ experiences or prior knowledge of light interactions and optical illusions as they complete their designs.

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

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Cookin' with the Sun, the problem is that an engineering company’s clients are going on a data collection trip and will need to cook in an area where no open flames are permitted. Students assume the role of designers at an engineering company to solve this problem. The materials elicit student prior knowledge about energy and energy transfer at the launch of the module and ask students why the constraint of no flames is important. The materials do not elicit students’ experiences or prior knowledge of solar ovens or how to use the sun to cook food. There are missed opportunities to leverage student knowledge and experiences related to solving this problem.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Lesson 1: Impact on Land, the challenge is to design a landfill model and measure the leachate that goes out of the landfill. Students preview an image of a landfill and its accompanying paragraph then discuss a landfill’s potential effect on soil and groundwater. The materials do not include any strategies or activities to elicit or leverage students’ experiences or prior knowledge of landfills or groundwater contaminated by landfills.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4, Module 1: Human Impact on the Environment, STEM Module Project Engineering Challenge: Who’s moving in next door?, students take the role of environmental consultant. The challenge is to design plans for monitoring and minimizing the environmental impacts of a shopping mall and then submit those plans to a community committee. Students brainstorm how land, water, and atmosphere of the area may be impacted and prompts in the Teacher Edition encourage students to think about the work that a developer does. Students discuss what they know about the engineering design process. The materials do not include any strategies or activities to elicit or leverage students’ experiences or prior knowledge about whether students have seen new development of shopping malls or other large commercial buildings, or the environmental impacts of developing land for commercial use.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, STEM Module Project Launch Engineering Challenge: Good "greef"! The corals are dying!, the problem is coral reefs are dying in the Mesoamerican Reef. Students brainstorm the importance of biodiversity, how an artificial reef can maintain biodiversity, and how to evaluate designs for an artificial reef. However, students’ prior knowledge and experience with coral reefs is not elicited prior to this discussion. The materials do not include any strategies or activities to elicit or leverage students’ experiences or prior knowledge of designing a reef to help maintain biodiversity.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.

Across the materials there are no instances in which problems and/or phenomena drive instruction across multiple lessons. Every module contains a section titled STEM Module Project Launch that includes science challenges or engineering challenges. Instructional sequences that begin with science challenges include observations of discrepant events and videos. When instructional sequences begin with an engineering challenge, they do not include phenomena or problems that drive learning across multiple investigations. A Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Organizer accompanies the sequence and is used to gather information acquired in the lesson.

Each module is organized around a big idea question which is connected to a DCI. Students participate in activities and assignments that include the three dimensions and develop an understanding of the larger concept or topic, but the materials provide limited opportunities for students to use and build knowledge of the three dimensions in the context of making sense of a phenomenon or solving a problem.

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

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1, Module 1: Cells and Life, instruction is centered around the big idea questions, “What are the characteristics of living things?” and “How do the parts of a cell work together in order to function?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about differences between living and non-living things and why particles are transported across cell membranes. Students conduct investigations (SEP-INV-M2) to work toward understanding the difference between organisms and nonliving things (DCI-LS1.A-M1) and cell structure (DCI.LS1.A-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2, Module 1: Reproduction of Organisms, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “How do living things reproduce and which factors affect their growth?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn how traits are passed from one generation to the next, how multicellular organisms reproduce, how genetic and environmental factors affect reproduction and growth in animals, and how plants reproduce and grow. Students model the possible genotypes and phenotypes using Punnett Squares (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-LS3.A-E1). They learn that some organisms reproduce asexually and learn about plant seed dispersal (DCI-LS1.B-M1, DCI-LS1.A-E1). Students also research how different types of birds build nests to protect eggs and then identify criteria and constraints to create a nest.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3, Module 1: Energy and Matter, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “What happens to matter when its energy level changes?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about temperature, states of matter, heat flow, and materials properties by conducting investigations and labs outlined in the materials. Students create a model of molecular motion that represents the speed of the particles in an object (SEP-MOD-M2, DCI-PS3.A-E1). Students then use energy flow diagrams to track energy changes and transfer (CCC-EM-M4, DCI-PS3.B-M3, and DCI-PS3.B-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2, Module 1: Dynamic Earth, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “How do geoscience processes shape and change Earth’s surface over time?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about continental drift, plate tectonics, geoscience processes, and matter and energy cycles on earth. Students identify patterns of mountain ranges and discuss evidence of tectonic plate movement (DCI-ESS2.B-M1, DCI-ESS2.B-H2, CCC-PAT-M2), and support an explanation that fossils provide evidence of past plate movement (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students then use this new learning to explain chemical and physical changes caused by volcanoes and earthquakes (DCI-ESS2.B-E1, DCI-ESS2.A-M2, DCI-ESS2.A-M1).
  • In Grade 7 Unit 4, Module 3: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “Why is biodiversity important, and how can it be protected?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about the importance of biodiversity and protecting biodiversity (DCI-LS2.C-M2, DCI-LS4.D-M1) by looking at data and calculating numbers related to biodiversity of a given area (SEP-MATH-P3). Students then research solutions to the loss of biodiversity (DCI-LS4.D-H2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1, Module 3: Evidence of Evolution, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “What evidence supports that living things evolve over time?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about the types of evidence that support living things evolving over time (DCI-LS4.A-M1, DCI-LS4.A-M2). Students make a replica of a fossil, observe images of rock layers containing fossils, and then create a comic strip to show ancestral and present-day forms of a chosen species. Students view images of homologous structures and compare the patterns of bone shape and location across five different vertebrates (CCC-PAT-M4). Students research vestigial structures and use a graph to observe the amount of amino acids in different organisms and humans (DCI-LS4.A-H1, SEP-DATA-E1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2, Module 1: Forces and Motion, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “What determines an object’s motion?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about forces and motion, Newton’s Third Law of Motion, and the attractive nature of gravitational force (DCI-PS2.A-M1, DCI-PS2.B-M2). Students design an experiment to track the motion of an object, plotting distance moved and time elapsed (SEP-INV-M2, SEP-MATH-E2). Students then use simulations that demonstrate how force affects motion, the gravitational force between objects, and the effect of friction on the sliding motion of an object. Students investigate Newton’s Third Law by pulling on spring scales and colliding tennis balls (SEP-INV-E4).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4, Module 1: Earth and Human Activity, instruction is centered around the big idea question, “How does human population growth and increases in per capita consumption of natural resources affect Earth’s systems?,” rather than a phenomenon or problem. Throughout the instructional sequence, students learn about increases in human population growth and its effect on resource consumption, and how resource consumption affects the environment (DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Students use data sets to predict the effect of human growth on resources and the environment (SEP-CEDS-M2, CCC-CE-M2). They research and describe two existing technologies for monitoring and minimizing human impact on the environment.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

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

Criterion 2a - 2g

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

Indicator 2a

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

Indicator 2a.i

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

Indicator 2a.ii

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

Indicator 2b

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

Indicator 2c

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

Indicator 2d

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

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

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

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

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

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

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

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3d

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

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

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

Indicator 3d

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

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

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

Indicator 3f

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

Indicator 3g

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

Indicator 3h

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

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

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

Indicator 3k

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

Criterion 3l - 3s

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

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Indicator 3o

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

Indicator 3p

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

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Indicator 3s

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

Criterion 3t - 3y

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

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3v

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

Indicator 3w

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

Indicator 3x

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

Indicator 3y

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

Criterion 3z - 3ad

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

Indicator 3z

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

Indicator 3aa

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

Indicator 3ab

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

Indicator 3ac

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

Indicator 3ad

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

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 11/10/2020

Report Edition: 2020

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Inspire Science Integrated G7 Online Estudent Edition 9780076717385 2020
Inspire Science G6 Online Estudent Edition 9780076786893 2020
Inspire Science G6 Teacher Edition Unit 1 9780076871865 2020
Inspire Science G6 Teacher Edition Unit 2 9780076871872 2020
Inspire Science G6 Teacher Edition Unit 3 9780076871889 2020
Inspire Science G6 Teacher Edition Unit 4 9780076873234 2020
Inspire Science G6 Student Edition Unit 1 9780076873302 2020
Inspire Science G6 Student Edition Unit 2 9780076873333 2020
Inspire Science G6 Student Edition Unit 3 9780076873340 2020
Inspire Science G6 Student Edition Unit 4 9780076873357 2020
Inspire Science G6 Complete Student Bundle 9780076874491 2020
Inspire Science G7 Student Edition Unit 1 9780076874538 2020
Inspire Science G7 Student Edition Unit 2 9780076874545 2020
Inspire Science G7 Student Edition Unit 3 9780076874576 2020
Inspire Science G7 Student Edition Unit 4 9780076874583 2020
Inspire Science G7 Teacher Edition Unit 1 9780076874767 2020
Inspire Science G7 Teacher Edition Unit 2 9780076874774 2020
Inspire Science G7 Teacher Edition Unit 3 9780076874804 2020
Inspire Science G7 Teacher Edition Unit 4 9780076874811 2020
Inspire Science G8 Student Edition Unit 1 9780076874897 2020
Inspire Science G8 Student Edition Unit 2 9780076874903 2020
Inspire Science G8 Student Edition Unit 3 9780076874934 2020
Inspire Science G8 Estudent Edition 9780076875269 2020
Inspire Science G8 Teacher Edition Unit 1 9780076875306 2020
Inspire Science G8 Teacher Edition Unit 2 9780076875313 2020
Inspire Science G8 Student Edition Unit 4 9780076875320 2020
Inspire Science G8 Teacher Edition Unit 3 9780076875337 2020
Inspire Science G7 Complete Student Bundle 9780076875429 2020
Inspire Science G8 Complete Student Bundle 9780076875498 2020
Inspire Science G8 Teacher Edition Unit 4 978076875344 2020

About Publishers Responses

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

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

Please note: Reports published after 2021 will be using version 2 of our review tools. Learn more.

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

Science 6-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For science, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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