Alignment: Overall Summary

​The instructional materials reviewed for SEPUP/Lab-Aids Issues and Science Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials incorporate and integrate the three dimensions and incorporate three-dimensional objectives and corresponding three-dimensional assessments for and of student learning. The materials incorporate few instances of phenomena and problems, with phenomena that always connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs, multiple instances of problems not connecting to life, physical, or earth and space DCIs, phenomena and problems presented as directly as possible, and phenomena and problems that inconsistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions across units but not at the lesson or activity level. The materials do not elicit and leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems. In Gateway 2, the instructional materials do not ensure students are aware of how the dimensions connect from unit to unit. The materials incorporate a suggested sequence for the series and a few student tasks related to explaining phenomena or solving problems that increase in sophistication. The materials incorporate scientifically accurate use of the three dimensions. The materials include all components and related elements of the DCIs for physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The materials include all SEPs and include all elements for three of the eight practices. The materials include all CCCs and nearly all elements for the CCCs, except for one element from Stability and Change, as well as one missing and one partially addressed element in Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. The materials incorporate multiple instances of nature of science connections to SEPs and CCCs and engineering connections to CCCs.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
20
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

0
29
48
56
46
48-56
Meets Expectations
30-47
Partially Meets Expectations
0-29
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

|

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

Partially Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for SEPUP/Lab-Aids Issues and Science Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Gateway 1, that students engage with three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning. The materials fully meet expectations for Gateway 1, Criterion 1: that the materials are designed for three-dimensional learning and assessment. The materials do not meet expectations for Gateway 1, Criterion 2: that the materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.

Criterion 1a - 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for SEPUP/Lab-Aids Issues and Science Grades 6-8 fully meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include integration of the three dimensions in at least one learning opportunity per learning sequence and nearly all learning sequences are meaningfully designed for sensemaking with the three dimensions. The materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the activity level that build towards the performance expectations for the larger unit. Additionally, the activities incorporate sequences of formative assessment that build toward three dimensions and are structured and supported to assist teachers in the instructional process. The units also include three-dimensional objectives in the form of performance expectations and include corresponding assessments in a combination of Analysis questions that assess each targeted performance expectation and also include an item bank that supports assessment of the performance expectations but does not consistently address all three dimensions.

Indicator 1a

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

Indicator 1a.i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) into student learning opportunities. The materials are organized into 17 units, with each unit comprised of 9-18 activities. Additionally, the Phenomena, Driving Questions, and Storyline section of the Teacher Edition outlines which activities in each unit are bundled together into a learning sequence centered around a driving question. 

Across the series, each learning sequence consists of one or more learning opportunities (activities). Each learning sequence includes three dimensions and integrates SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in at least one activity within the learning sequence. 

Examples of learning sequences that include the three dimensions and integrate the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities:

  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 3: Data Transects, students determine why certain species are more common than others, and why some species become more common over time. Students use models of transects from two locations in a restored prairie ecosystem to determine patterns and relationships that exist between organisms. They collect and analyze data (SEP-DATA-M4) using transect cards on four environmental components within the two locations to detect patterns in populations (CCC-PAT-M3). Students then discuss the results of the restoration efforts and answer questions to identify factors or relationships (DCI-LS2.C-M1) that caused the patterns and changes in the locations.
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 9: Population Growth, students determine how different species in the same ecosystem interact with each other and the physical environment. Students conduct a laboratory investigation (SEP-INV-M2) using Paramecium caudatum to explore how the availability of food affects the growth of a population (CCC-EM-M4). Students use a microscope to observe wet mount slides of  organisms. Students predict how populations of paramecium will differ with varying amounts of food (DCI-LS2.A-M3), they observe two different populations of Paramecium, and record their observations. Analysis questions relate to the transfer of energy in the ecosystem, the effects of the availability of food as observed during the lab (SEP-DATA-M4), and predictions of how the population will change with the provided amounts of food over time. 
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 2: Evidence of Chemical Change, students determine what causes something to fizz, change color, or change temperature when you mix substances. Students conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to observe five combinations of chemicals to determine if there is evidence (CCC-PAT-M1) that a chemical change has occurred. Students record the evidence and compare substances (SEP-DATA-M7), before and after the investigation, to identify the signs that a chemical reaction has taken place (DCI-PS1.B-M1). 
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 12: Recovering Copper, students determine how chemical reactions can be used to clean up waste. Students test three metals to determine which can best reclaim copper from waste (CCC-EM-M1). Each metal is placed in a solution and observed for evidence of a chemical reaction, then tested for the presence of copper in the remaining solution (DCI-PS1.B-M1). Data is analyzed to identify which metal (SEP-DATA-M7) manufacturing companies should use to reclaim copper and the trade-offs of using that metal (SEP-ARG-M3). 
  • In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 7: A Year Viewed From Space, students determine why the sun’s path through the sky changes over the year, and how that change relates to seasons. Students use a computer simulation to model Earth’s orbit around the sun to explain why we have seasons (SEP-CEDS-M3). Students make observations of the position of the Earth and sun from two locations, and record data to compare changes in daylight and temperature at four different times of the year, as well as, the distance between the Earth and sun (CCC-PAT-M3). Students answer questions, using their data as evidence, to explain the relationship between the motion and distance between the earth, sun, and seasons (DCI-ESS1.B-M2).
  • In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 13: Identifying Planets, students identify objects in our universe and their distances from the sun. Students read transmission information from four spacecrafts (CCC-SPQ-M1) and compare it with descriptions of the planets (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). They list the evidence from each transmission that helped them decide from which planet each transmission originated (SEP-DATA-M7). Students write their own transmission from a planet not used, compare properties of dwarf planet Pluto with the other planets, and use their knowledge to reflect upon how the work of engineers supported the Mars Exploration Rover mission to Mars.
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 6: Mapping Locations of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, students explain why earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and their related hazards do not happen everywhere on Earth. Students access and collect data from a data visualization program. They analyze and interpret similarities and differences in data (SEP-DATA-M4, SEP-DATA-M7) to identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) in the distribution of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the world. Students add data to a world map, which acts as the first step in understanding that the Earth’s surface is broken into plates (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). 
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 5: Artificial Heart Valve, students experience how engineering can be used to improve the lives of people living with medical conditions. Students read background information about the heart and its role in the body (DCI-LS1.A-M3) and problems that can occur when structures within the heart fail (CCC-SF-M1). They then follow specific design criteria and constraints to develop a model (SEP-MOD-M5) that serves as a prototype for a heart valve. Students then test and refine their prototypes, ultimately presenting it to the class for critiques (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.B-M2). 
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 3: Gravitational Transporter, students determine how to design a moon transporter vehicle that utilizes changes in energy caused by gravity. Students create a system model (CCC-SYS-M2) to collect and analyze data (SEP-DATA-M7) to determine the impact of release height and the mass of a cart on the kinetic energy transfer during a collision (DCI-PS3.A-M2, DCI-PS2.B-M2). Students optimize their solutions through a process of testing and redesigning (DCI-ETS1.A-M1, DCI-ETS1.B-M1) to eventually control the amount of gravitational potential energy in their system to achieve the best results with their transporter.
  • In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 10: Gas Exchange, students understand how the respiratory system is used to regulate gases in the blood. Students conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) providing evidence of carbon dioxide in exhaled breath to develop understanding that specialized body systems function (DCI-LS1.A-M3, CCC-SF-M1) with the respiratory system (DCI-PS3.D-M2) during gas exchange.  
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activity 8: What’s in a State?, students explore how particles of substances (matter) interact when matter changes phases due to change in temperature. Students use syringes to investigate and explain how the behavior of particles causes the observable properties (CCC-CE-M2) of solids, liquids, and gases (DCI-PS1.A-M4). This activity includes use of a computer simulation to model (SEP-MOD-M5, SEP-MOD-M6) what happens to particles as they change state. 
  • In Unit: Earth Resources, Activity 8: Groundwater Formation, students engage in an activity to understand how groundwater moves and how aquifers form. Students explore the porosity of materials (CCC-SF-M2) as they collect data and develop models (SEP-DATA-M4, SEP-MOD-M5) for how groundwater is filtered and then extracted from aquifers. This activity helps students develop an understanding of the geological processes and how the process distributes the resources humans depend upon (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). 

Indicator 1a.ii

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. The materials are designed for SEPs and CCCs to support sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences. The Teacher Edition provides support to help teachers introduce the CCCs to the students and provide opportunities for students to use the CCCs to make sense of the DCIs. Occasionally, a CCC is found only in an assessment question at the end of an activity, or is not explicitly addressed in the student resource but is present through teacher facilitation. However, within the bundled activities within a learning sequence, students use one or more CCC to make sense of the concept or phenomenon. 

In some units, the Teacher Resource provides a much heavier emphasis on the teacher, rather than the students, using the CCC to make sense of the DCI. This is mostly found in units that are meant to precede other units. For example, in Chemistry of Materials there are several times that the Teacher Resource prompts the teacher to introduce certain CCCs and explain how they are used to make sense within the activity. This is meant to provide the teacher with support as they introduce students to the different CCCs and is not present as often in later units such as Chemical Reactions. The intent is for Chemistry of Materials to come first as more of an introduction and Chemical Reactions second. 

Examples where SEPs and CCCs meaningfully support students' sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Unit: Energy, Activity 1: Home Energy Use, students determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students evaluate relative energy efficiency of home features and provide evidence by comparing data (SEP-DATA-M4) from the energy features for two homes in different locations. Then students suggest which home consumes less energy as they build knowledge about how energy can be measured and tracked through a designed system (CCC-EM-M4). Students work toward understanding that a system of objects may also contain stored energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2) when they are asked to consider how the climate and weather influence the energy use in the two homes.
  • In Unit: Energy, Activity 10: Energy Transfer Challenge, students determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students build knowledge regarding the concept of heat flow (DCI-PS3.B-M3) when they engage in a design cycle to melt the most ice in a given amount of time and to prevent it from melting in a given amount of time. As they track energy flow through different insulation materials (CCC-EM-M4), they design a control to provide evidence that their design is effective (DCI-ETS1.B-M1). Students consider and redesign to take into account the insulation properties of the materials and energy transfers within their design (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students communicate how the effectiveness of design materials makes a difference in energy efficiency (SEP-CEDS-M7). 
  • In Unit: Energy, Activity 14: Hot Bulbs, students determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students track the transfer of energy (CCC-EM-M4) as they determine the efficiency of light bulbs. Students determine and compare the amount of energy needed to change the temperature (DCI-PS3.B-M2) of water using an incandescent and LED light bulb. They use the change in the temperature of water to calculate the efficiency of the light bulbs, and determine the energy “wasted” in producing thermal energy (SEP-INV-M5). 
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 1: The Full Course, students build knowledge of how humans have changed the way species look or behave. They learn how natural selection leads to certain traits in a population becoming more predominant than others (DCI-LS4.B-M1) by using a simulation to model (SEP-MOD-M5) antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Using colored disks to represent level of antibiotic resistance, students roll a die to determine whether or not the person has taken their antibiotic. Students graph their result, analyze their collected data (SEP-DATA-M7), share their results, and look for patterns (CCC-PAT-M3). Following a class discussion, students use their data to support an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M2) for how bacteria can differ and what happens to the bacterial population after exposure to antibiotics. 
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 15: Bacteria and Bugs: Evolution of Resistance, students build understanding of how humans have changed the way species look or behave. Students read about four types of organisms that have developed resistance to chemical control methods (SEP-INFO-M1) and identify a cause and effect relationship between human activity and the evolution of resistance (CCC-CE-M2). They then use this to apply principles of natural selection to explain bacterial antibiotic resistance as they make sense of how humans influence evolution through natural selection (DCI-LS4.B-M1).
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 3: Data Transects, students determine why certain species are more common than others and why some species become more common over time. Students make sense of the dominant presence of certain species of plants over others through reading transect cards and recording data from sampling points as they look for patterns (SEP-DATA-M4) in the populations of living things and nonliving things in each ecosystem (CCC-PAT-M3). They apply their understanding of patterns to develop an understanding of how the components of an ecosystem affect the presence of specific populations within an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 9: Population Growth, students determine how different species in the same ecosystem interact with each other and the physical environment. Students make sense of the role of the availability of food on the survival of an organism in its environment by using a microscope to observe and compare (SEP-INV-M2) two populations of Paramecium in two different environments with varying amounts of food. Students use their observations to predict whether the population in each environment will continue to grow (CCC-EM-M4). They apply their observations to develop an understanding of how the presence of resources affects the survival of a population (DCI-LS2.A-M3). 
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 2: Evidence of Chemical Change, students determine what causes something to fizz, change color, or change temperature when you mix substances. Students make sense of evidence of a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M1) by mixing chemicals and recording their observations (SEP-DATA-M7) of the changes that occurred after each set of reactions (CCC-PAT-M1).
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 12: Recovering Copper, students determine how chemical reactions can be used to clean up waste. Students make sense of the process used to remove copper from waste products by comparing which of three metals is most effective in removing copper from a used solution of copper chloride in a previous activity (CCC-EM-M1). Students then use their evidence to prepare a recommendation for the use of the metal that was most effective (SEP-ARG-M3). Students apply their understanding of chemical reactions to develop an understanding of how metals can be recovered from waste solutions (DCI-PS1.B-M1).
  • In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 7: A Year Viewed From Space, students determine why the sun’s path through the sky changes over the year, and how that change relates to seasons. Students make sense of the movements of the Earth and sun through using a computer simulation to compare (CCC-PAT-M3) the position of the Earth and amount of daylight hours in two locations at four different times of the year (SEP-CEDS-M3). Students apply their understanding of Sun-Earth motions and positions to develop an understanding of why we have seasons (DCI-ESS1.B-M2).

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Objectives are described within the NGSS Connections section of the Teacher Edition and correlated to the performance expectations (PEs) in the NGSS Correlations Section. In many activities, these build towards a PE but many individual activities are not designed to fully assess the PE until later in the unit. Within the Student Book a Guiding Question is provided and is written in student-friendly language to help students focus on the purpose or objective of the activity.

Near the end of each activity, an Analysis section provides questions assessing student understanding of the guiding question and usually assesses all three dimensions. The analysis questions usually build in complexity, starting with one-dimensional questions and build to three-dimensional questions assessing how students incorporate the three dimensions to demonstrate learning. Teachers are provided sample answers to all responses and the Teacher Resource provides exemplar responses to some analysis questions and includes guidance for the teacher on using the analysis questions to assess each of the three dimensions. The questions are color-coded to show which dimension(s) are being assessed in each question and relate back to the specific components of the three dimensions within the objectives. The Teacher Resource also provides suggestions for discussion facilitation and questioning provides the teacher with quick formative assessment data as students complete the activities. Guidance is provided aiding the teacher in making instructional changes as a result of the data. 

The Revisit the Guiding Question section is at the end of each activity within the Teacher Edition. This section prompts the teacher to have students reflect on the guiding question and check whether there needs to be any discussion before moving on. A similar section is found at the end of the PE progression, where the teacher is reminded to revisit the Driving Question.

Examples where the materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives,  have assessment tasks that reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions, and  incorporate tasks for purposes of supporting the instructional process:

  • In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 3: What’s Happening Inside?, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “How do organs in the human body interact to perform a specific function?” Students group organs and structures into systems based on their functions, then compare their initial ideas to information about human body systems and learn about the function of systems in the body. After reading Body System cards, revisions are made to initial groups. Students read Organ Function Cards and record information on the assigned student sheet. Students work in groups to classify Organ Cards or Structure Cards into systems. They record their classifications and discuss and record the function of each system in their notebooks. As groupings are discussed, students pay attention to similarities and differences between other groups in the class. After receiving Body System Cards students compare the actual placement of organs with their groupings and make revisions, if necessary, recording changes in notebooks. Students receive Function Cards and match the cards with the organ being described (SEP-CEDS-M3). The three sets of cards are used to complete a sheet assessing student knowledge of body organs and organ systems. Analysis questions also assess student understanding of structure/function of organ systems and the interrelationships between systems (CCC-SF-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M3). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 3: Data Transects, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “What patterns do you detect in the two environments, and how might the information in these patterns be useful to scientists?” Students learn about transects as a way to collect data in ecosystems, then analyze and interpret transect data while looking for patterns and evidence regarding interaction between biotic/abiotic components of ecosystems and requirements of species’ habitat. Teachers facilitate discussions to check student understanding during the planning of investigations and when students share their data analysis. Students use a model of ecologist generated transect data of biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.C-M1) while engaging in the practice of analyzing and interpreting data (SEP-DATA-M4) and identify patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) within the components of an ecosystem. Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.  
  •  In Unit: Ecology, Activity 5: A Suitable Habitat, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “How do the habitat requirements of individual organisms determine where a species will be found in nature?” Students explore species’ habitat requirements by observing how individuals respond to different physical components in the environment. The materials provide several points throughout the activity where the teacher is prompted to facilitate a discussion. In one question, the teacher asks about the best way to measure blackworm response to stimuli. The materials provide possible student responses and suggested teacher feedback including suggestions for addressing student misconceptions or misunderstandings. Of the five questions in the Analysis section, four assess all three dimensions. In question 2, students create an argument regarding what type of environment blackworms should live in (SEP-ARG-M3) and explain the relationship  between changing the features in the blackworm environment and the blackworm’s survival (CCC-CE-M2, CCC-SC-M2). The arguments include specific examples from the investigation to demonstrate an understanding of how organisms interact with living and nonliving factors within their environment (DCI-LS2.A-M1). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Energy, Activity 4: Shake the Shot, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “How can kinetic energy of motion be transformed into another kind of kinetic energy: thermal energy?” Students explore energy transformation and transfer through an investigation. Students measure the temperature of metal pellets as evidence of energy transformation from kinetic to thermal. The teacher is prompted to facilitate a discussion about experimental design and controlling variables. Of the four questions in the Analysis section, questions 3 and 4 assess all three dimensions. In question 3, students analyze and interpret their experimental data (SEP-DATA-M4) to explain the causal pattern (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-CE-M2) in their data regarding energy transformation and energy transfer (DCI-PS3.B-M1, DCI-PS3.B-M2). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 8: Static Electricity, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “What are the effects of static electricity?” Students ask questions and investigate how static charge causes attraction and repulsion in objects. Then students rub materials together to generate static electricity. Students explore static electricity and model the distribution of charges during a simulation. The lesson checks for students preconceptions by using an Anticipation Guide allowing students to explore their initial ideas related to fields and interactions, then students can revise their ideas after completion of the activities in the lesson. Students explore static electricity by performing tasks, recording observations about cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M2), and engaging in discussion with peers. This is followed by conducting a web-based simulation demonstrating the distribution of positive and negative particles on three objects. Students manipulate the location of the objects and observe how particles change location in relation to the location of the object. They review observations from their static electricity explorations, identify evidence that supports the idea that electrical forces attract and repel, and ask questions (SEP-AQDP-M6) about the cause of the strength of forces between positive and negative particles (DCI-PS2.B-M1). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 8: Force, Mass, and Acceleration, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “What is the mathematical relationship between force, acceleration, and mass?” Students build on prior activities to explore acceleration as a changing rate of speed, and consider mathematical relationships between force, acceleration, and mass. Students find the equation relating force, mass, and acceleration by analyzing provided data. From their calculations, they learn that a larger force results in a larger change of motion, and a greater force is needed to change the motion of a larger object. Students construct an explanation for what will happen to both a stationary object and a moving object if forces are balanced. This activity checks for students’ skill in constructing an explanation about the relationship between motion and forces. Students review acceleration and create their own motion graphs to show changes in motion. Students perform an experiment to investigate the relationship between distance, speed, and acceleration. Students then graph the results and determine an equation that relates force, acceleration, and mass (SEP-MATH-M4). They use this equation to determine missing values in a chart of given values of effect of force on acceleration of blocks with different masses (CCC-SPQ-M3). In their analysis they construct an explanation to a friend about how a moving object continues its motion (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-PS2.A-M2). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 8: Beneath Earth’s Surface, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “What is beneath Earth’s surface?” Students identify natural hazards caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, use models to understand what happens during a volcanic eruption, identify patterns that are observed when locations of earthquakes and volcanoes are observed, and explain the use of GPS to understand Earth’s surface. In order to build an understanding of how Earth’s surface is broken into lithospheric plates that move, students read a passage and use the Listen, Stop, and Write strategy. Students then use the information from the passage to create a scaled drawing of the Earth’s interior. Students use the information in the passage and their recorded main ideas to answer analysis questions and construct a scaled drawing of the Earth’s interior (CCC-SF-M1) and surface (SEP-DATA-M1), then decide the best depth to store nuclear waste (DCI-ESS2.A-M1). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 2: Climate Types and Distribution Patterns, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “Does the distribution of climates show any regional or global patterns?” Students examine climate graphs for three different regions and use the graphs to identify each region's climate in terms of the relationship between temperature and latitude (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Then they use a map of the locations of 50-million-year-old fossil plants that are frost intolerant and compare it with the climate map used previously in the activity. Students discuss the cause and effect of climate change on the changing plant types (CCC-CE-M2). Finally, they analyze evidence from the activities to be able to discuss how climate has changed over time and prepare an argument using evidence of climate change (SEP-ARG-M3). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 7: Ocean Temperatures, the three dimensional learning objective is found in the Teacher Edition in the NGSS Connections and NGSS Correlations section; in the Student Book it is presented as the guiding question, “How do ocean temperatures vary over Earth’s surface?” Students explore ocean temperatures around the world and identify patterns in water temperature at different latitudes (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-PAT-M4) and the relationship between ocean circulation and its effect on climate. The materials provide several points throughout the activity where the teacher is prompted to facilitate a discussion. In one question, the teacher asks about the relationship between latitude and climate. The materials provide possible student responses and suggested teacher feedback including suggestions for addressing student misconceptions or misunderstandings and prompts to ask about previous activities to visit to support the discussion. Of the four questions in the Analysis section, question 4 assesses all three dimensions as students develop an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) to address which range of latitudes would they expect most hurricanes to form. To support their explanation, students analyze the information (SEP-DATA-M7) about patterns in ocean temperature (DCI-ESS2.C-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M1, CCC-PAT-M3). Student understanding of the objectives is assessed through group discussions, individual answers to the analysis questions, and by revisiting the guiding question at the end of the lesson.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.

Each unit provides three-dimensional learning objectives in the form of performance expectations (PEs). The number of targeted objectives (PEs) varies by unit. Each unit is organized into Activities (lessons); near the end of each activity is an Analysis section that serves as an assessment for the Activity. The PEs for the unit are assessed through specific questions within the Analysis sections and are embedded throughout the unit. The Analysis questions, identified as summative PE assessments, are color coded with three dots (orange, blue, and green). The Teacher Edition also provides a sample response. Not every analysis question assesses all three dimensions; some questions assess only one or two dimensions but across the unit, all three dimensions are assessed. The Teacher Edition for each unit contains an Assessment Blueprint indicating the activity and Analysis question that assesses each targeted PE. 

Examples where the objectives are three-dimensional and the summative assessment tasks assess the three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Unit: Geological Processes, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3, MS-ESS3-1, and MS-ESS3-2. All five PEs are assessed through the analysis questions identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 17, analysis question 4 assesses PE-MS-ESS3-1: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes. In this activity students connect previous knowledge from a groundwater and aquifers activity (DCI-ESS2.C-M1, DCI-ESS3.A-M1) to a modeled aquifer game scenario in which students are provided real aquifer data from the United States. Students use this model to analyze and interpret the data as they construct explanations (SEP-MOD-M5, SEP-DATA-M4, SEP-CEDS-M3) using graphs they create based on the given data. Students construct their explanations after identifying patterns and cause and effect relationships (CCC-PAT-M2, CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-PAT-M4, CCC-CE-M2). Analysis question 4 then asks students to construct a response to a friend who claims that “we don’t need to consider the location of aquifers when choosing a site to store nuclear waste.”
  • In Unit: Ecology, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, and MS-LS2-5. All five PEs are assessed through the analysis questions or activities identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 14, analysis questions 1 and 2 assess PE-MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. Analysis questions 1-2 check for student understanding that disruptions to part of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in populations (DCI-LS2.C-M1), and how various factors contribute to the stability or change in an ecosystem and impact other parts of the ecosystem (CCC-SC-M2). Students use evidence from the lesson and a provided data table to support a claim about the ecosystem (SEP-ARG-M3).
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS1-1, MS-PS1-3, and MS-PS1-4. All three PEs are assessed through the analysis questions identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 10, analysis question 3 assesses PE-MS-PS1-4: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed. Students develop a model (SEP-MOD-M5) showing water molecules in all three states, and including particle motion and interactions in each state. The model also includes the cause-and-effect relationship (CCC-CE-M2) between changes of thermal energy on particle movement and state changes (DCI-PS3.A-M3).
  • In Unit: Earth’s Resources, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS1-4, MS-ESS3-1, and MS-ESS3-4. All three PEs are assessed through the analysis questions identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 14, analysis question 3 assesses PE-MS-ESS3-1: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes. Students use maps of specific locations to construct a scientific explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) to explain how the uneven resource distribution of groundwater, minerals, and petroleum is a result of past geological processes and present human action (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ETS1-1, and MS-ETS1-2. All five PEs are assessed through the analysis questions and activities identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 14, analysis question 5 assesses PE-MS-ESS2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales. Students use the real-world example of the Mississippi River to create an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) how geological processes have changed land surface features (DCI-ESS2.A-M2, DCI-ESS.C-M5) over long and short periods of time, how they have occurred in the past and will continue in the future, and can be observed in a model. Students use evidence in their explanation for past, present, and future to incorporate time scales (CCC-SPQ-M1) and to demonstrate gradual changes versus sudden changes (CCC-SC-M3).
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS2-5, MS-PS3-2, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. All eight PEs are assessed through the analysis questions and activities identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 7, analysis question 4 assesses PE-MS-PS2-4: Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects. Students create an argument based on evidence to support or refute the claim (SEP-ARG-M3) that gravity can cause objects to repel one another (DCI-PS2.B-M2). Students also draw a model of a gravitational and magnetic system to show the magnitude and direction of forces (CCC-SYS-M2) to demonstrate forces acting on objects from the data table provided. The drawing also serves as evidence for their argument. 
  • In Unit: Reproduction, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS1-4, MS-LS1-5, MS-LS3-1, and MS-LS3-2. All four PEs are assessed through the analysis questions identified in the Assessment Blueprint. The PE MS-LS1-4 is assessed in Activities 10 and 11. For example, in Activity 10, analysis question 1 assesses PE-MS-LS1-4: Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.  Students incorporate all three dimensions within this analysis question and are asked to create an evidence-based argument from the investigation (SEP-ARG-M3) within the activity. Their argument must explain how that specific trait increases the probability (CCC-CE-M3) of an organism successfully reproducing (DCI-LS1.B-M2). 
  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-6, and MS-LS1-7. All four PEs are assessed through the analysis questions and activities identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 11, analysis question 4 assesses PE-MS-LS1-7: Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism. Students draw a diagram or model to show what happens to food that they eat (SEP-MOD-M6), including what happens to the protein and carbohydrate when each enters the digestive system (CCC-EM-M4). Students model what happens to a hamburger and the bun as it moves through the digestive system into cells in order to show the movement of matter and the releasing of energy stored in food (DCI-LS1.C-M2).
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS2-5, MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-5, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. All five PEs are assessed through the analysis questions and activities identified in the Assessment Blueprint. For example, in Activity 13, the procedure assesses PE-MS-ESS2-5: Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions. Students familiarize themselves with weather symbols before working in pairs to analyze and interpret weather maps and prepare weather reports summarizing the information from the weather maps (SEP-INV-M4, CCC-CE-M2). Groups prepare a weather report to present to the class. This is followed by summarizing eight days of weather information from weather maps for Cleveland, Ohio and forecasting the weather to come (DCI-ESS2.C-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M2). Students explain how they used the information from the weather maps to create their forecast and how confident they are about the accuracy of their forecast (SEP-ARG-M3).

Within the Teacher Resource section is an Assessment section containing an item bank of questions that are arranged as Standard Tests for each unit. Items in this assessment bank are mostly one-dimensional questions focusing on demonstrating evidence of an increase in student content knowledge; these may or may not directly assess elements of a DCI in that unit. The item bank for a unit may include a few questions assessing two dimensions, and may also include one or more items assessing all three dimensions. While items within the bank for a unit assess elements of the PEs, they do not fully assess all objectives for the unit.

Examples of items in the assessment item bank that assess parts of the performance expectations for the unit:

  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Teacher Resource: Assessment, the item bank contains 40 questions of which 30 are one-dimensional questions. Most of the one-dimensional questions focus on a DCI or associated element. Of the remaining 10 questions, all are two-dimensional and connect a DCI with an SEP or a DCI with a CCC. No questions in the item bank for this unit are three-dimensional. 
  • In Unit, Fields and Interactions, Teacher Resource: Assessment, the item bank contains 38 questions of which 21 are one-dimensional. Most of the one-dimensional questions focus on a DCI. Of the remaining questions, eight assess two dimensions, five questions assess content outside of the DCIs, and four questions assess all three dimensions. For example, Item 29 asks students to “imagine two magnets with north poles facing each other. They are 10 cm apart. Explain how you can increase the magnetic potential energy of the system.” The item assesses magnetic energy and requires students to construct an explanation regarding a specific system of two magnets.
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Teacher Resource: Assessment, the item bank contains 28 questions of which 21 are one-dimensional. Two items assess all three dimensions. In one item, the summative task requires students to use a graph of temperature over time of a substance as it is heated to its boiling point. Students are to develop a model (SEP-MOD-M6) that shows particle movement and interactions between particles at various points depicted in the graph. They are to explain what is happening with the particles at another point (DCI-PS1.A-M4) and then explain the effect of increasing thermal energy at a few points along the graph as thermal energy is increasing (CCC-CE-M2 and DCI-PS3.A-M3). In another item students explain (SEP-CEDS-M4) the relationships among a monomer, a polymer, and a cross-linked polymer by providing a model (SEP-MOD-M5) illustrating their explanation including labeled examples of atoms, bonds, a monomer, a polymer, a cross-linked polymer, and a molecule and the properties of each as they relate to their function (CCC-SF-M2) and how they are related to each other (DCI-PS1.A-M1).
  • In Unit: Earth’s Resources, Teacher Resource: Assessment, the item bank contains 30 questions, of which nine are one-dimensional multiple choice questions that assess DCIs. Two items assess all three dimensions. In one item, students must construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3) for how patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) of layering and fossil observed in rock strata can be used to determine the order that rock strata formed. Students articulate this evidence to explain Earth’s history (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). In another item, students use a map showing locations of copper, oil, and water resources to explain using evidence (SEP-CEDS-M3) of how the uneven distribution of groundwater, copper, and oil are a result of past geological processes and present human action (DCI ESS3.A-M1, CCC-CE-M2).

Criterion 1d - 1i

Materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.
4/10
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for SEPUP/Lab-Aids Issues and Science Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include phenomena in 11% of the activities and problems in 11% of activities. Of those phenomena and problems, the phenomena consistently connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs, but the problems have multiple instances of connecting to ETS DCIs and do not provide opportunities for students to develop or apply life, physical, earth and space DCIs. Of the phenomena and problems present, they consistently are presented to students as directly as possible. Few instances of phenomena or problems driving learning and use of the three dimensions were found within the activities, as science concepts or topics are the primary focus of the learning at the activity level. The materials do not elicit or leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to the phenomena and problems present except for a few instances where the elicitation is performed to connect prior learning. The materials have multiple units that incorporate phenomena or problems to drive learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple activities.

Indicator 1d

Phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). Phenomena and problems are found across the materials in life science, physical science, and earth and space science units. The materials frequently connect both phenomena and problems to grade-band appropriate DCIs both at the unit level and at the activity level, but not consistently. The materials contained multiple examples of problems that were connected to an Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science (ETS) DCI, but students did not develop or apply science knowledge in life, physical, or earth and space science DCIs as they solved these problems. 

Examples of phenomena and problems connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 8: Chemical Batteries, the challenge is to improve the design of a chemical battery. Before beginning their design, students are provided information about how to build a battery, how the battery releases chemical energy, and what observations should be made to indicate a chemical change and energy transformation (DCI-PS1.B-M3). Students are then asked to modify the design to improve the battery so it can turn a motor as fast as possible and last at least five minutes. Students test and evaluate their designs (ETS1.B-M2).
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 1-5: Exploring Materials, the challenge is to determine the best material for a new single-use drink container (aluminum, glass, or plastic). Students are introduced to the idea that scientists and engineers must consider different materials to use for a specific purpose. Students discuss the advantages and disadvantages of several different materials that can be used for a drink container. They analyze data before developing questions about the problem. Students discuss evidence and trade-offs and consider the physical and chemical properties of the materials (DCI-PS1.A-M2). 
  • In Unit: Earth’s Resources, Activity 14: The Rockford Range Decision, the problem is that a town is deciding which resource to mine, and needs to balance the community’s need for natural resources with conservation of the environment. Students determine the benefits and trade-offs of mining different materials in the fictitious town of Rockford. As students analyze the positive and negative effects of mining different resources and the impact on the environment, they learn how humans rely on earth’s resources and how human consumption of those resources can negatively impact the environment (DCI-ESS3.A-M1, DCI-ESS3.C-M2).
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 1: The Miracle Fish?, the phenomenon is that the Nile perch introduced by the government has impacted Lake Victoria. Students research different cases of introduced species to evaluate human activities involved and the effects on these ecosystems. Students evaluate data of a population in its native ecosystem (DCI-LS2.C-M1) to determine how the population size changes over time. 
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 5: Mutations, the phenomenon is that the Hemoglobin S mutation causing sickle cell can be viewed as positive for survival or negative. Students are presented with the alleles and phenotypic expression along with maps showing the distribution of Hemoglobin S and malaria transmission zones. Students identify how the sickle cell mutation (single allele) can result in increased survival or resistance to sickle cell anemia and how the distribution of individuals carrying the gene are resistant to malaria (DCI-LS3.A-M1, DCI-LS3.A-M2, DCI-LS3.B-M2, DCI-LS4.B-M1, DCI-LS4.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 3: Gravitational Transporter, the problem is astronauts need to move supplies between areas of different elevations with limited electricity and no combustion engine. Students are challenged to design a transport system using only gravitational force to move an object from the higher elevation to the lower elevation. As students work on their designs, they investigate how energy is transferred, and how a system of objects may contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions (DCI-PS3.A-M2). 
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 15: Designing a Car and Driver Safety System, the challenge is for students to design a car and driver safety system to alert drivers to changes in various factors so they can stop their vehicles at a safe distance from the car ahead of them. Students use what they learned in prior activities about mass, speed, force, and stopping distance (DCI-PS2.A-M2) to create a model of a driver safety system and then share their model with the class.
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 18: Evaluating Site Risk, the problem is that the United States needs to decide where they should build a long-term nuclear waste storage facility. To solve this problem students evaluate historic landslide and earthquake maps of the United States (DCI-ESS3.C-M1), as well as, maps of nuclear reactor sites and population density as they consider four potential sites and recommend which would be the best location to store nuclear waste. 
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 6: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, the problem is a dead zone is present in the Gulf of Mexico. Students use an anticipation to assess what they know about dead zones before and after the reading. They gather information about the causes and effects of dead zones as well as a look at what can be done about them. This builds towards understanding of how human activities can damage natural habitats and negatively impact the biosphere (DCI-ESS3.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 17: People, Weather and Climate, students are presented with the phenomenon that increasing the size of the human population in Sunbeam City impacts the city’s weather, climate, and water supply. Each group of students serves as a team of scientists, where each student in the group role plays as an atmospheric scientist, hydrologist, meteorologist or climatologist. Students analyze provided data sets related to their respective fields to determine the impacts of population growth on the city’s weather, climate, or water supply (DCI-ESS3.D-M1).

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

  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 1: Save Fred, the problem is to save Fred (a gummy worm) from his capsized boat (plastic cup). To solve this problem, students must work with the criteria and constraints of placing a life preserver (candy ring) on Fred’s body without causing any damage and by touching only four paper clips. Students document their process. Students in the class exchange processes to see if they can replicate it. Students then discuss the different approaches the class had to solving the problem (DCI-ETS1.A-E1).  
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 4: Artificial Bone Model, the problem is to design a prototype of an artificial bone that is strong yet light. Students watch a teacher demonstration on how to test the strength of their prototype, then brainstorm different ways to build the prototype. Students select ideas from their brainstorm list to design, test, and evaluate. Students select the design with the highest strength-to-mass ratio to modify and test, incorporating elements from other designs as appropriate (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M1). Students do not need understanding of any grade-band DCIs in life, physical, or earth and space science to solve this problem.
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 5: Artificial Heart Valve, the problem is to design a functioning prototype of an artificial heart valve. Students design, test, and evaluate two prototypes of artificial heart valves. They compare designs and select the best features from different prototypes to inform their redesign process (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M1). While students need a basic understanding of how a heart valve works, they do not need to understand grade-band elements of life science DCIs to solve this problem.
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 9: Get a Grip, students are challenged to design a mechanical grabber that can pick up and move small objects. Students design, test, and evaluate prototypes that meet specified criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M1). Students then optimize their designs for one of two provided options: picking up plastic eggs quickly or picking up as much weight as possible. At the end of the activity, students reflect on their designs and how it could be used in a real-world application. While students need a basic understanding of how a hand works and that it is a specialist body part used to grasp objects (DCI-LS1.A-P1), they do not need to understand grade-band elements of life science DCIs to solve this problem.
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut!, the problem is that a fictional astronaut is stranded in a gyrosphere on the moon. Students are challenged to build a device that will roll the gyrosphere to the moon base and rescue the stranded astronaut. Students build and test a model representing rescuing a stranded astronaut in a gyrosphere (DCI-ETS1.B-M4). Students do not need to understand grade-band elements of physical science DCIs to solve this problem.
  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 15: Disease Detectives, the problem is to identify which infectious agent caused the disease outbreak in a series of patients.  Students analyze data from five different patients looking at symptoms, incubation time, presence at Duck Lake, and other information. Students are also provided with images of two different pathogens and compare to the pathogen isolated from the patients. They use this information to determine which disease has caused the symptoms in the patients. Students relate the location to the source of the disease outbreak and everyone who came in contact with the water at the location became ill with specific symptoms. The pathogens students consider as the cause of disease are a virus, bacteria, and protist, and a reflection question asks students, “How does understanding cells help scientists study and treat infectious diseases?” This problem does not require students to understand that living things are made of cells or any of the other elements associated with DCI-LS1.A.

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 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Within the materials, unit-level phenomena and/or problems are generally presented in activities near a unit’s opening, while lesson-level phenomena and problems are presented in activities at punctuated points throughout each unit. Most phenomena and problems are presented to students through some combination of teacher demonstration, hands-on experience, image, video, maps, data, and/or discussion. These modes provide students with entry points or experiences to engage with the phenomenon or problem. 

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

  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 8: Chemical Batteries, the challenge is to improve the design of a chemical battery. Students are shown pictures of different batteries and then follow instructions to build a chemical battery, providing shared background information about how the different parts of the battery interact. Students are then asked to modify the design to improve the battery so it can turn a motor as fast as possible and last at least five minutes. Students test and evaluate their designs.
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 10: Developing a Prototype, the challenge is to develop a prototype for a hand warmer. Students observe a demonstration of a hand warmer in a plastic bag and are then asked, “Why might this not be the best hand warmer design?” The demonstration and discussion questions provide students with a shared experience about hand warmers before they are asked to modify and improve the design. Students design, test, and evaluate their designs, then compare characteristics of other designs as they brainstorm future improvements.
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 6: Ups and Downs, the phenomenon that the zebra mussel population varies over time is presented to students through a data table showing population densities in two different time periods. Students graph the data, and then compare the graphs to identify the phenomenon. Students look at additional data as they work to figure out what accounted for the change in the population between the two time periods. 
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 14: Effects of an Introduced Species, the phenomenon is that introduced zebra mussels affect populations of other organisms in the Hudson River ecosystem. The phenomenon is presented through two videos and a reading passage on how data was collected in the ecosystem. Students investigate different biotic and abiotic factors to determine whether that factor remained stable or changed as a result of the introduced zebra mussels.  
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 5: Mutations, the phenomenon is that the Hemoglobin S mutation that causes sickle cell can be viewed as positive for survival or negative. Students are presented with the alleles and phenotypic expression along with maps showing the distribution of Hemoglobin S and malaria transmission zones. Students identify how the sickle cell mutation (single allele) can result in increased survival or resistance to sickle cell anemia, and how the distribution of individuals carrying the gene are resistant to malaria.
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 6: Mutations and Evolution, the phenomenon is that sickle cell frequency varies across the world based on changes in the environment. The phenomenon is initially presented with a map in Activity 5, showing the frequency and distribution of the Hemoglobin S mutation. In this activity, students use a computer simulation to observe how the chance of getting malaria and quality of health care impacts the percentage of genotype and malaria frequency over multiple generations. Students then determine how changes in the environment affect the frequency of sickle cell traits in populations. 
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut!, the problem is a fictional astronaut is stranded in a gyrosphere on the moon. This problem is introduced to students by first asking them about problems they have solved in real life and then introducing the scenario of the astronaut. There is an illustration to accompany the scenario showing an astronaut in a gyrosphere. The illustration provides context for students who may not know what a gyrosphere looks like or why a solution that involves rolling would be viable. Students are challenged to build a device that will roll the gyrosphere to the moon base and rescue the stranded astronaut. Students list ideas they want to test and record their process as they build and test a model that represents rescuing a stranded astronaut in a gyrosphere. 
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 15: Designing a Car and Driver Safety System, the challenge is for students to design a car and driver safety system to alert drivers to changes in various factors so they can stop their vehicles at a safe distance from the car ahead of them. At the start of the unit, students are introduced to the problem that car and driver safety is important with an image of two test cars crashing and then focused on various activities throughout the unit to apply what they were learning to car safety. Students use what they learned in prior activities about mass, speed, force, and stopping distance to create a model of a driver safety system then share their model with the class.
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 1: Storing Nuclear Waste, the problem is presented as a challenge to find the best location to build a nuclear waste storage facility. The materials provide a picture of a nuclear power plant and maps showing the locations of nuclear plants and population density. They also provide background text about nuclear waste. 
  • Unit: Waves, Activity 14: Blocking Out Ultraviolet, the phenomenon is that sunscreen looks like other types of lotion, but lotion allows more ultraviolet light to pass through. Students observe this phenomenon first hand in Part A of the activity, where they compare whether sunscreen and lotion will block ultraviolet light from reaching a test strip.

Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
0/2
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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.  

Each unit consists of up to 16 Activities (lessons). The Phenomena, Driving Questions, and Storyline section of the Teacher Edition show how the different activities are organized around Driving Questions and the unit storyline. Multiple activities typically link to a Driving Question in the storyline and the associated content learning to address the associated performance expectation (PE); this typically ranges from two to six activities in the activity sequence, and these may be consecutive activities or distributed across the unit.  

A phenomenon or problem may drive learning within a single activity in the sequence, but the remaining activities in the sequence are driven by science content learning of a larger topic related to the phenomenon or problem. In some cases, these provide a reflection question at the end of the activity to help students apply their learning to the phenomenon or problem, but in other activities, there is no reference to the phenomenon or problem within the activity. As a result, phenomena and problems do not drive learning across the majority of the activities in the program. Instead, science concepts or topics primarily drive the learning in the activities in each sequence, including activities where students read explanatory information about the science concept.

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

  • In Unit: Waves, Activity 14: Blocking Out Ultraviolet, the phenomenon is that sunscreen looks like other types of lotion, but lotion allows more ultraviolet light to pass through. Students observe this phenomenon first hand in Part A of the activity, where they compare whether sunscreen and lotion will block ultraviolet light from reaching a test strip. Students design an investigation, determine variables and controls, establish the number of trials, and decide what data to record (SEP-INV-M1) to test whether sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet light by absorbing or reflecting the light (DCI-PS4.B-M1). Students discuss the ingredients in lotion and sunscreen and how the function and use of each substance is determined by its chemical composition and properties (CCC-SF-M2).
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 6: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, the problem is there is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Students obtain information from an article and then model how the Gulf of Mexico dead zones are formed and the impacts they have on the local environment. Students watch a video showing how fertilizer can impact fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Students analyze information from the reading, the video, a diagram (SEP-INFO-M2), and model (SEP-MOD-M6, CCC-SPQ-M1) the formation of dead zones due to human impacts (CCC-CE-M2) in another part of the ecosystem. Students look at the trade-offs of human use of fertilizer and whether or not the negative impacts of human activities on natural habitats (DCI-ESS3.C-M1) can be reversed; students provide two strategies that can help mitigate the problem of dead zones. However, there is a missed opportunity for this problem to drive the learning of the five other activities (Activities 1-5) in this sequence associated with the Driving Question.

Evidence of a problem driving student learning at the activity level, but does not use key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 15: Disease Detectives, students are presented with the problem to identify which infectious agent caused the disease outbreak in a series of patients. Students analyze data from five different patients, looking at symptoms, incubation time, presence at Duck Lake, and other information (SEP-DATA-M4). Students are also provided with images of two different pathogens, which they compare to the pathogen isolated from the patients. They use this information to determine which pathogen has caused the symptoms in the patients and determine the origin of the pathogen (CCC-CE-M2). Students then provide recommendations for stopping the spread of the disease and identify trade-offs associated with their recommendations (SEP-CEDS-M4). This problem does not require students to understand that living things are made of cells or any of the other elements associated with DCI-LS1.A. 

Examples where phenomena and/or problems do not drive individual lessons or activities:

  • In Unit: Energy, Activities 2-4, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. While Activity 2 asks students to determine if objects are more likely to break if they are dropped from higher elevations, the activities aren’t driven by figuring this out. In Activity 2, students examine the relationship of energy transformations between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy, but there is a missed opportunity to connect to the concept of breaking when dropped from increased heights. Activities 3 and 4 focus on developing understanding of thermal energy, which also does not help students draw a conclusion about how height influences the likelihood of an object breaking.
  • In Unit: Waves, Activities 1-4, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. Instead, the four activities in this sequence are used to build knowledge about the range of sound intensities humans can hear. In Activity 1, students identify the range of human hearing. In Activity 2, students explore audiograms and frequency of sound waves. In Activity 3, students explore the properties of sounds and the structure of the ear. In Activity 4, students analyze different levels of sound that contribute to hearing loss.
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activities 2, 7-9, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. Instead, the four activities help students understand that matter and energy interactions drive the water cycle. Activity 2 verifies water is the “universal solvent”. In Activity 7, students follow instructions to create a river model. They add increasing amounts of rain to determine the amount of erosion. Students then design a solution reducing erosion in their model. In Activity 8, students engage in a card sorting game to simulate sources and sinks, forms and transfer processes, and movement of contaminants in the water cycle. In Activity 9, students read about human impacts on Earth’s water.
  • In Unit: Forces and Motion, Activities 2-5, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. Instead, the four activities in this sequence allow students to verify some car accidents cause more damage than others. In activity 2, students measure and graph the speed of a moving object. Activity 3 verifies the relationship between an object’s speed and the amount of kinetic energy. Activity 4 investigates and examines the pattern of the effect of mass on an object’s kinetic energy and Activity 5 examines the mathematical relationship between the kinetic energy and speed of an object and between the kinetic energy and mass of an object.
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 11-13, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. Instead, the three activities in this sequence build knowledge about the structure and properties, advantages and disadvantages, and negative and positive impacts of plastics on society. The three activities in this sequence connect to the science concept of properties of synthetic materials and the impact of these materials on society. In the first activity in the sequence, students make a polymer and compare its physical and chemical properties. The following activity involves the use of paperclips to model monomers, polymers, and cross-linked polymers. Finally, the last activity involves reading about the impact of four types of plastics heavily used in society and then analyzing the impact of the use of plastics.

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 11% (28 out of 253) of the activities compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials 11% (28 out of 253) of the activities focus on explaining phenomena.

Across the series, unit-level problems are typically introduced during the first activity of the unit, where students are presented background information or scenarios, and then revisited during the last activity of the unit where additional detail or requirements are provided. Throughout the unit, students learn information about the science topics or natural events, then reflect on how that information will help them solve the problem during the last activity. Additionally, some units also contain problems in other activities within the unit that may connect to the unit-level problem.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 9: Get a Grip, students are challenged to design a mechanical grabber that can pick up and move small objects. Students design, test, and evaluate prototypes meeting specified criteria and constraints. Students then optimize their designs for one of two provided options: picking up plastic eggs quickly or picking up as much weight as possible. At the end of the activity, students reflect on their designs and how it could be used in a real-world application.
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 12: Recovering Copper, the problem is that manufacturing processes can produce chemical waste. Students learn that the reaction used to produce a circuit board produces manufacturing waste. Students are challenged to find the best metal to help them recover copper metal from a waste solution they collected when producing a circuit board. Students use various metal solutions to replace the copper in solution and recover the copper metal. They look for evidence of chemical change and observe patterns in the precipitate. Students apply results as evidence to explain which metal is best to recover the copper.
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 1-5, the challenge is to determine which material is best for making a single-use drink container. Throughout this learning sequence, students determine how a material’s properties can affect how humans use them. Students compare properties of aluminum, glass, and plastic to determine which material is best for making a single-use drink container. 
  • In Unit: Earth’s Resources, Activity 14: The Rockford Range Decision, the problem is a town is deciding which resource to mine and needs to balance the community’s need for natural resources with conservation of the environment. Students determine benefits and tradeoffs of mining different materials in the fictitious town of Rockford. As students analyze the positive and negative effects of mining different resources and the impact on the environment, they learn how humans rely on Earth’s resources and how human consumption of those resources can negatively impact the environment.
  • In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 3: Gravitational Transporter, the problem is astronauts need to move supplies between areas of different elevations with limited electricity and no combustion engine. Students are challenged to design a transport system using only gravitational force to move an object from the higher elevation to the lower elevation. As students work on their designs, they investigate how energy is transferred, how a system of objects may contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. In Activity 6, students revisit this problem to investigate how magnets can be used in the transport system design. In Activity 8, students revisit this problem to determine if static electricity (electrostatic forces) could be used in their transporter design. In Activity 11, students further investigate how an electric field can be used for their transporter design. In Activity 15, students evaluate and refine their designs. 
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 15: Designing a Car and Driver Safety System, the challenge is for students to design a car and driver safety system to alert drivers to changes in various factors so they can stop their vehicles at a safe distance from the car ahead of them. Students use what they learned in prior activities about mass, speed, force, and stopping distance to create a model of a driver safety system and then share their model with the class.
  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 15: Disease Detectives, the problem is to identify which infectious agent caused the disease outbreak in a series of patients. Students analyze data from five different patients, looking at symptoms, incubation time, presence at Duck Lake, and other information. Students are also provided with images of two different pathogens, which they compare to the pathogen isolated from the patients. They use this information to determine which pathogen has caused the symptoms in the patients and the origin of the pathogen. Students then provide recommendations for stopping the spread of the disease and identify trade-offs associated with their recommendations. 
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 18: Evaluating Site Risk, the problem is the United States needs to decide where they should build a long-term nuclear waste storage facility. To solve this problem, students evaluate historic landslide and earthquake maps of the United States, as well as, maps of nuclear reactor sites and population density as they evaluate four potential sites and recommend which would be the best location to store nuclear waste.
  • In Unit: Land, Water and Human Interactions, the unit-level challenge is to decide where to build a new school in the fictional city of Boomtown to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Students engage in a series of lessons allowing them to observe how humans can negatively impact the environment, including land and water. Students develop multiple models to show the results of humans changing the land as they evaluate human impacts associated with constructing buildings in different environments. Then students look at sites that are being considered for the new school and discuss possible human impacts and tradeoffs. Throughout the unit, students relate their activities to the unit problem of where to build the school in Boomtown. Students develop and test an erosion-mitigation structure and present their structure to the class. Students evaluate other structures based on the design criteria and constraints.
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 7: Cutting Canyons and Building Deltas, the problem is moving water can cause erosion. Students are challenged to design a structure to reduce river erosion. Students investigate how water on a stream table can move sediment and can change the land. Students apply what they learned from their stream table model to develop prototypes to mitigate erosion. 

Across the series, phenomena are typically introduced outside of the first or last activity of the unit. The phenomena are often connected to the problem for the unit and students must work collaboratively to investigate and explain the phenomena in order to develop student understandings that will help them solve the problem during the last activity. In some cases, the materials are designed for students to collect evidence to explain a phenomenon within a single activity; in other instances, students collect evidence across multiple activities.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Unit: Force and Motion, the phenomenon is some vehicles and driving behaviors decrease the chances and/or reduce the effects of car crashes. Students engage in a series of lessons allowing them to collect and analyze data about what makes vehicles safer, as well as, how driving behaviors impact the likelihood of a collision. 
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 6: Ups and Downs, the phenomenon the zebra mussel population varies over time is presented to students through a data table showing population densities in two different time periods. Students graph the data and compare the graphs to identify the phenomenon. Students look at additional data as they work to figure out what accounted for the change in the population between the two time periods. 
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 14: Effects of an Introduced Species, the phenomenon is introduced zebra mussels affect populations of other organisms in the Hudson River ecosystem. Students watch two videos and read a passage on how data was collected in the ecosystem. Students investigate different biotic and abiotic factors to determine whether factors remained stable or changed as a result of the introduced zebra mussels.  
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 5: Mutations, the phenomenon is the Hemoglobin S mutation that causes sickle cell can be viewed as positive for survival or negative. Students are presented with the alleles and phenotypic expression along with maps showing the distribution of Hemoglobin S and malaria transmission zones. Students identify how the sickle cell mutation (single allele) can result in increased survival or resistance to sickle cell anemia, and how the distribution of individuals carrying the gene are resistant to malaria.
  • In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 11: Plant-Animal Interactions, the phenomenon is butterflies and hummingbirds visit different flowers. The phenomenon is presented as an observation by Joe, along with a picture of different flowers. Students are provided information cards and pictures of four different plants and four different animals to learn about different structures and reproductive traits. Students use the information in the cards as evidence to support an argument for determining which plants butterflies and hummingbirds visit.  
  • In Unit: Waves, Activity 14: Blocking Out Ultraviolet, the phenomenon is sunscreen looks like other types of lotion, but lotion allows more ultraviolet light to pass through. Students observe this phenomenon first hand in Part A of the activity, where they compare whether sunscreen and lotion will block ultraviolet light from reaching a test strip. Students then design an experiment to determine whether sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet light by absorbing or reflecting the light. Students conduct their experiment and discuss whether or not the results actually help them determine the actual results of using sunscreen on skin.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 17, People, Weather, and Climate, students are presented with the phenomenon of increasing the size of the human population in Sunbeam City impacts the city’s weather, climate, and water supply. Each group of students serves as a team of scientists, where each student in the group role plays as an atmospheric scientist, hydrologist, meteorologist, or climatologist. Students analyze provided data sets related to their respective fields to determine the impacts of population growth on the city’s weather, climate, or water supply.

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 does not meet expectations that they intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.

Each unit begins with a brief scenario typically involving an observation a student makes or a problem a student encounters. Across the unit, students engage in a series of activities (lessons) helping them build content knowledge related to this scenario. The Phenomena, Driving Questions, and Storyline section of the Teacher Edition show how the different activities are organized around guiding questions and the unit storyline. Multiple activities are typically required to address a guiding question in the storyline, and frequently refer to prior learning from the previous activities. Across the series, the materials do not consistently elicit nor leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences with phenomena and problems.

Examples where students’ prior knowledge related to phenomena or problems is neither elicited nor leveraged:

  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 1: Save Fred, the problem is to save Fred (a gummy worm) from his capsized boat (plastic cup). This problem was introduced through a scenario and with the specific criteria and constraints of placing a life preserver (candy ring) on Fred’s body without causing any damage and by touching only four paper clips. The materials did not provide questions or teacher guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experiences related to this problem; instead the materials elicited prior experiences about problems students solved in the last week and problems students encountered that they did not know how to solve. As a reflection after the activity was completed, students compared the steps used to solve the problem with the steps they used to solve their own problem, but this did not leverage this experience while completing the activity. 
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 4: Artificial Bone Model, the problem is to design a prototype of an artificial bone that is strong, yet light. In Activity 3, students read a case study about a student athlete with prosthetic legs, but the materials do not connect this case study or student prior knowledge or experiences with prosthetic limbs or artificial bones to this problem. At the start of this activity, students are asked to imagine taking on the role of a biomedical engineer before they watch a teacher demonstration on how to test the strength of their prototype, then brainstorm different ways to build the prototype. 
  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 5: Artificial Heart Valve, the problem is to design a functioning prototype of an artificial heart valve. At the start of the unit, students read about a grandmother with a pacemaker, but the materials do not connect this information or student prior knowledge or experiences with pacemakers or artificial heart valves to this problem. Students are asked to reflect on their experience in the prior activity of designing prototypes. At the start of this activity, the materials provide background information on the anatomical structures of the heart and how the valves work. Students design, test, and evaluate two prototypes of artificial heart valves. They compare designs, and select the best features from different prototypes to inform their redesign process.
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 8: Chemical Batteries, the challenge is to improve the design of a chemical battery. Prior to starting the activity, students are asked whether they are familiar with ways chemicals are used to release energy. However, their prior knowledge and experience specific to how batteries are designed or how they release energy is not elicited, nor leveraged during this challenge. Before beginning their design, students are provided information about how to build a battery, how the battery releases chemical energy, and what observations should be made to indicate a chemical change and energy transformation. 
  • In Unit: Ecology, Activity 15: Too Many Mussels, the problem is zebra mussels are an invasive species causing billions of dollars in damage each year. Students are challenged to decide on the best method of controlling or eliminating zebra mussels. While students are provided background information about this problem and a reading passage prompts students to recall the prairie restoration project from an earlier activity. The materials do not elicit or leverage student prior knowledge or experiences related to this problem.
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 1: Where Should We Build?, the unit level challenge is to decide where to build a new school in the fictional city of Boomtown to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Students read about Boomtown and observe a map to provide background information to help them identify possible sites for building the new school. However, the materials do not elicit or leverage students’ prior knowledge or experience with building new developments. They also do not provide possible impacts to the environment that construction may cause prior to providing information specific to the proposed building sites.

Additionally, there are several activities where the materials leverage learning from prior activities as students further develop their understanding of the topic, develop and refine models, or construct explanations. However, these activities do not reveal student experiences with or knowledge about the phenomena or problem. At the beginning of a new activity, students are often asked to refer to previous activities as a way to activate prior learning from earlier in the unit; this typically occurs with students brainstorming with a partner, small group, or whole group. 

Examples where students’ prior learning related to phenomena or problems is elicited and leveraged:

  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 6: Mutations and Evolution, the phenomenon is sickle cell frequency varies across the world based on changes in the environment. The phenomenon is initially presented with a map in Activity 5, showing the frequency and distribution of the Hemoglobin S mutation. Teachers are prompted to remind students of the hemoglobin mutation resulting in hemoglobin S and the results from the prior activity, and elicits students' prior learning about mutations by asking questions such as "What is a mutation?" and "Where do mutations occur?"
  • In Unit: Evolution, Activity 15: Bacteria and Bugs: Evolution of Resistance, the phenomenon is house mice, weeds, mosquitos, and plasmodium have developed chemical resistance over time. The materials elicit prior learning from Activity 1 by asking students to recall information where bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics when a person does not finish their medication. Students apply prior learning when comparing all four examples and explaining how evolution can account for the chemical resistance in all four organisms. Outside of connecting to prior learning in this unit, the materials do not elicit or leverage student prior experiences related to organisms developing chemical resistance. 
  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 15: Disease Detectives, the problem is to identify which infectious agent caused the disease outbreak in a series of patients. Prior knowledge is activated at the beginning of the activity when students are asked to reflect on Activity 1 in the unit and recall the location that was the source of the disease outbreak.  This lesson connects to Activity 1 as students now determine the cause of the disease outbreak. Students leverage their prior learning of how infectious diseases are spread (Activity 1) to provide recommendations for stopping the spread of the disease and identify trade-offs associated with their recommendations. While prior learning from this unit was elicited and leveraged, the materials did not provide opportunities to elicit or leverage student experiences (from outside the classroom) related to disease spread or identification.
  • In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 18: Evaluating Site Risk, the problem is the United States needs to decide where they should build a long-term nuclear waste storage facility. This lesson builds on prior learning in the unit, where the problem was first introduced in Activity 1 where students were presented with background information about nuclear waste, maps of nuclear reactors, and maps of population densities. Students are then asked to generate ideas about whether to store nuclear waste deep underground or at the reactor site. Student prior knowledge or experience about nuclear reactors, nuclear waste, or storing waste was not elicited prior to the background information in Activity 1. Throughout the unit, students learn about geologic processes. In Activity 18, they leverage the learning throughout this unit as they analyze the initial maps plus two new maps to make a recommendation about which of four sites would be the best location for a nuclear waste storage facility.

In some instances, student prior knowledge of science concepts related to the phenomenon or problem is elicited, primarily through students brainstorming with a partner, small group, or whole group but then not leveraged throughout the lesson. The materials rarely provide opportunities for students to share what they already know or have experienced with a particular phenomenon or problem prior to starting the activity, and provide few opportunities for students to leverage prior experience.  

Examples where students’ prior knowledge related to phenomena or problems is elicited, but not leveraged:

  •  In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 9: Get a Grip, students are challenged to design a mechanical grabber that can pick up and move small objects. Prior to starting the design, student prior knowledge related to the biological applications of robots, such as robotic limbs or robots used in surgery is elicited. Students design, test, and evaluate prototypes meeting specified criteria and constraints. They then optimize their designs for one of two provided options: picking up plastic eggs quickly or picking up as much weight as possible. At the end of the activity, students reflect on their designs and how it could be used in a real-world application.
  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 10: Developing a Prototype, the challenge is to develop a prototype for a hand warmer. Students observe a demonstration of a hand warmer in a plastic bag and are then asked “Why might this not be the best hand warmer design?” This prompt can elicit student prior knowledge or experience with hand warmers as they provide reasons for why the design is not the best. Students then design, test, and evaluate their designs, and then compare characteristics of other designs as they brainstorm future improvements.
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 15: Designing a Car and Driver Safety System, the problem is to design a car and driver safety system to alert drivers to changes in various factors so they can stop their vehicles. The activity elicits prior knowledge when brainstorming factors that could impact the car’s stopping distance.  

Examples where students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems are elicited and leveraged:

  • In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 7: Snack Bar, the problem is to design a snack bar to meet the needs of individuals with kidney disease. Students are asked to identify common items designed by engineers. They are then asked about how they get energy, and what affects the amount and type of food people need to be healthy. This elicits prior knowledge about nutrition and caloric needs. Students then compare different snack bars for people with different energy and nutrient needs. Student prior knowledge and experiences with snack bars are leveraged as they select ingredients to design a snack bar to meet the needs for individuals with kidney disease.
  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 7: Cutting Canyons and Building Deltas, the problem is moving water can cause erosion. Students are challenged to design a structure to reduce river erosion. Prior to investigating how water on a stream table can move sediment, students brainstorm ways water can change the land. Students’ original ideas about how water changes the land are leveraged later in the lesson as they develop prototypes to mitigate erosion. Students are asked to recall ways water can change the land and take this information into consideration as they design their prototypes.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. 


The materials provide numerous units across the series using phenomena or problems to drive student learning engaging students with all three dimensions. Typically, students engage with a phenomenon or problem within the first activity of the unit. Subsequent activities in the unit provide students with opportunities to collect evidence that will help them explain the phenomenon or to develop solutions to the problem. The investigations are directly tied to the phenomenon students are working to explain or the problem students are working to solve.


Examples of phenomenon and problems driving student learning and engaging in all three dimensions:

  • In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activities 1, 12-13, the problem is manufacturing processes can produce chemical waste. In Activity 1, students learned the reaction used to produce a circuit board produces manufacturing waste. In Activity 12, students are challenged to recover copper metal from a waste solution they collected when producing a circuit board. Students use various metal solutions to replace and recover the copper in the solution they produced in building the circuit board. In Activity 13, they use another type of chemical reaction to precipitate, filter, and recover the copper from the waste solution as they consider its disposal. Students conceptualize physical and chemical properties of matter and chemical change (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M1) as they build and test their circuit boards and analyze and interpret the changes in the solution of copper chloride (SEP-DATA-M4) to provide evidence of a chemical change. Students investigate the products and reactants of two types of chemical reactions to provide evidence that matter is conserved in a chemical process (CCC-EM-M1, SEP-CED-M5). As students look for evidence of chemical change, they observe patterns in the precipitate (CCC-PAT-M1). Students apply results as evidence to explain which reaction is best to recover the copper (SEP-CED-M4). While the problem does not directly drive learning of Activity 1, it does drive learning of Activities 12 and 13 in this sequence.
  • In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 1-5, the challenge is to determine which material is best for making a single-use drink container. Throughout this learning sequence, students determine how a material’s properties can affect how humans use them. Students compare properties of aluminum, glass, and plastic to determine which material is best for making a single-use drink container. Students begin by investigating the physical properties of elements and then reflect on the physical properties of aluminum and its use for a drink container. Students then test physical and chemical properties of materials that can be used to identify pure substances (DCI-PS1.A-M2) and determine their uses, and calculate density. Students compare properties of aluminum, glass, and plastic, then investigate physical properties to identify specific elements prior to testing the physical and chemical properties of samples of plastics, aluminum, and glass (SEP-INV-M4, SEP-DATA-M7).  Students learn structures are designed to serve particular functions by considering the properties of the materials and how the materials can be shaped and used (CCC-SF-M2). At the end of the activity, they reflect on which chemical or physical properties would be useful in a drink container. Students evaluate reviews of each type of drink container for bias (SEP-INFO-M3) and compare product life cycle diagrams to determine which of three different types of water bottles is the most useful. 
  • In Unit: Earth’s Resources, Activities 2, 4, 6, 13, and 14, the phenomenon is that humans affect the availability of natural resources drives student learning. In Activity 2, students are introduced to the phenomenon when they read about population and consumption; this provides a connection to the anchoring phenomenon by focusing on how an increase in human population affects consumption of resources.  In Activity 4, students compare changes in consumption of natural resources over a 10-year period across eight countries and use the data to support a claim about how increased population and resource consumption affects earth (SEP-ARG-E4). In Activity 6, students learn how copper is mined and extracted, and the impact the mining and use of this resource has on the environment (DCI-ESS3.C-M2, CCC-CE-M2). In Activity 13, students learn human use of a variety of resources (mining copper, burning fossil fuels,removing groundwater, and growing food) impact the environment and the availability of the resource. In Activity 14 students apply their learning and make recommendations on actions a community should take regarding use or preservation of its natural resources.
  • In Unit: Ecology, the phenomenon is people have introduced species into new ecosystems and the introduced species cause problems for people and the environment. Students explore introduced species and what impact they have on human activities and the environment. Students then apply the information to the zebra mussel and determine what, if anything, should be done to control the species. In Activity 1, students read and engage with food web information cards to simulate the impact of a newly introduced species in order to predict the impacts on the flow of matter and energy in an ecosystem. In Activity 2, students engage in a card sorting activity to evaluate changes in a forest ecosystem over time to explain how changes in abiotic factors impact other abiotic and biotic factors in the ecosystem (DCI-LS2.C-M1, DCI-LS2.C-M2). In Activities 15 and 16, students select biotic and/or abiotic factors that may be affected by the introduction of the introduced zebra mussels to the Hudson River (CCC-PAT-M3), then graph and analyze over 20 years of data from the Hudson River (SEP-DATA-M4) to support a claim as to whether or not these factors were impacted by the introduction of the zebra mussel (CCC-SC-M3, SEP-CEDS-M4).
  • In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 1, the phenomenon is some vehicles and driving behaviors decrease the chances and/or reduce the effects of car crashes. Students engage in a series of activities across the unit allowing them to collect and analyze data about what makes vehicles safer, as well as, how driving behaviors impact the likelihood of a collision. Students explore multiple variables including how the mass of a vehicle can influence a collision, how speed can affect car and driver safety, the relationship between mass and speed on a vehicle’s braking distance, and how stopping distance can be influenced by distracted drivers. Ultimately, students use the qualitative and quantitative data to create a car and driver safety system to help drivers keep a safe distance between vehicles and avoid collisions. Students collect and analyze data about the impact of mass and speed on an object’s kinetic energy (CCC-EM-M3) in order to determine the mathematical relationships between kinetic energy, mass, and speed (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.C-M1). Students construct graphs (SEP-DATA-M1) of the relationships to show patterns in these relationships (CCC-PAT-M4). 
  • In Unit: Land, Water and Human Interactions, Activity 1, the unit-level challenge is to decide where to build a new school in the fictional city of Boomtown to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Students engage in a series of activities across the unit allowing them to observe how humans can negatively impact the environment including land and water (DCI-ESS3.C-M1). Students investigate how water can be influenced by human activities, and how humans can impact the land through erosion (DCI-ESS2.C-M5). Students develop multiple models to show the results of humans changing the land as they evaluate human impacts associated with constructing buildings in different environments. Students then look at sites that are being considered for the new school and discuss possible human impacts and tradeoffs. Throughout the unit, students relate their activities to the unit problem of where to build the school in Boomtown. Students apply their learning of erosion and deposition as they model cliff erosion (SEP-MOD-M7, CCC-SPQ-M1). Students develop and test an erosion-mitigation structure, adhering to criteria and constraints for the structure (DCI-ETS1.A-M1), and then present their structure to the class. Students evaluate other structures based on the design criteria and constraints.
  • In Unit: Reproduction, Activities 2, 4, and 5, phenomenon is that an orange-tailed “critter” and a blue-tailed critter produce only blue-tailed offspring, but the second generation contains both blue- and orange-tailed offspring. In Activity 2, students are introduced to this phenomenon through observations of the “critter” populations. In Activity 4, students are provided which allele is dominant and which is recessive and then model the probability of inheritance of dominant or recessive alleles (SEP-MOD-M5) using a coin toss. Students relate the random assortment of alleles to the tail color of the “critters” (CCC-CE-M2).  In Activity 5 students are provided the genotypes for each “critter” and information about allele dominance. Students use Punnett squares to explain the first generation and then complete a second Punnett square to explain the second generation (DCI-LS3.A-M2).

In some instances, phenomena or problems are presented to students near the start of the unit and are revisited again at the end of the unit, but do not drive instruction within or across the other activities in the unit. This is a missed opportunity to connect the activities to the unit-level phenomenon or problem. Activities with the unit may include analysis questions connecting back to the unit-level phenomenon or problem to show the connection, but the science topic is driving student learning rather than the phenomenon or problem.  

Examples of phenomenon and problems that are at the beginning and end of the unit, but do not drive the learning throughout the unit:

  • In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, the challenge is to figure out how infectious diseases are transmitted, diagnosed, and treated. In Activity 1, students learn how scientists can track the source of an infectious disease. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to learn about the history of cells, as well as cell structure and function. In Activity 15: Disease Detectives, students work to identify which infectious agent caused the disease outbreak in a series of patients. Students analyze data from five different patients, looking at symptoms, incubation time, presence at Duck Lake, and other information. Students are also provided with images of two different pathogens, which they compare to the pathogen isolated from the patients. They use this information to determine which pathogen has caused the symptoms in the patients and the origin of the pathogen. Students then provide recommendations for stopping the spread of the disease and identify trade-offs associated with their recommendations. The problem of figuring out transmission and spread of infectious disease is presented at the beginning of the unit and is revisited at the conclusion of the unit, but the activities in between are not driven by the problem.
  • In Unit: Waves, the phenomenon is waves can be helpful or harmful to students. Students measure sound waves, noting patterns using the decibel scale. Students complete activities indicating that certain levels of sound can be harmful. Students also engage in a number of activities about different types of light waves. Most lessons in this unit do not connect to one another or directly back to what is presented as the anchoring phenomenon.

Across the series, the materials do not consistently provide phenomena or problems driving student learning. In the NGSS section of the Teacher Resource and on the Driving Question Board Cards, the labeled anchoring phenomenon is often written as a science concept or core idea; in the Chemistry of Materials unit, the labeled anchoring phenomenon is “Different materials have different properties, and these properties affect their usefulness and impact on the environment.” Additionally, the labeled phenomena in the Phenomena, Driving Questions, and Storyline section of the Teacher Edition are also often phrased as science concepts; “Materials like plastics, metals, and glass are all useful, but they can also affect the environment.” Across the series, the materials provide science concepts or topics driving the learning across multiple activities in the unit.


Examples where a science topic or concept drives learning across multiple lessons, rather than a phenomenon or problem:

  • In Unit: Body Systems, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem. Instead, students learn the concept the human body is composed of systems having separate functions, but systems all must interact to maintain a healthy body. Students engage in a series of lesson sequences to gather evidence to explain how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of cells. Students identify the structure and related function of the organs within each system by developing and revising a model of the human body and then predict how organs act as part of the whole system. Students work with diagrams and images to check and revise their model. While students do build understanding of the organ and organ system hierarchy, they do little to build understanding of the roles of tissues and cells in this unit, except to observe them in diagrams. In another learning sequence, students use a reading to gather information to construct an explanation for how each level of organization contributes to circulatory function, and use their knowledge from this activity to develop a model of the interactions among the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. In Activity 6, students investigate how model organisms can provide information by studying the stimulus/response behavior of Lumbriculus variegatus. Students observe and analyze how the worm responds to stimuli. Students develop a model of the parts of the organ systems to gather evidence as to how the structures of the subsystems are put together to create a system (SEP-MOD-M2). Students engage in a card sort of the functions of various organs to build toward the idea that the parts of a system work together to perform a function (CCC-SF-M1) and how the organs interact in the human body (DCI-LS1.A-M3). Students use this information to construct an explanation about interacting parts of a system and develop a model about the need for interacting (SEP-MOD-M2) systems to maintain a healthy body. 
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate, the learning is not driven by a phenomenon or problem as they learn about weather and climate. Students engage in a sequence of activities to develop an understanding of weather and climate, the causes and effects of climate change and differences in weather, the role of the atmosphere in weather and climate, and the human impact on weather and the atmosphere. Lessons include readings about climates and climate change, investigating weather and global warming, conducting a survey about severe weather, and role play related to the effect of oceans on currents and the human impact on weather and the atmosphere. The influences and interactions of weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1), the role of the hydrosphere (DCI-ESS2.C-M2), and how human activities, which cause changes in the biosphere, also impact global climate (DCI-ESS3.C-M1), are presented for students to develop an understanding through recognizing systems and creating models of systems (CCC-SYS-M2), identifying cause and effect relationships (SEP-CE-M2), and explaining how energy is transferred and matter flows (SEP-EM-M2) within the multiplicity of factors that affect weather and climate.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Gateway 2: Coherence and Scope that the materials are coherent in design, scientifically accurate, and include grade-band endpoints of all three dimensions.

Criterion 2a - 2g

Materials are coherent in design, scientifically accurate, and support grade-band endpoints of all three dimensions.
46/56
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for SEPUP/Lab-Aids Issues and Science Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Criterion 2a-2g: Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions. The materials do not support students in understanding connections between units, even though unit sequencing is noted in program design to build student engagement in the three dimensions. While the materials are modular in nature, they do provide a suggested sequence. The materials, and corresponding suggested sequence, do not reveal student tasks related to explaining phenomena or solving problems that increase in sophistication from unit to unit within or across grades. However, the materials do include few instances of tasks increasing in sophistication within single units. The materials accurately represent the three dimensions across the series and only include scientific content appropriate to the 6-8 grade band. Further, the materials include all DCIs components and all elements for physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The materials include all of the science and engineering practices but not all elements of the practices are present. The materials include all grade-band elements of the following science and engineering practices: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Using Mathematical and Computational Thinking, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence. The materials include multiple but not all grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, and Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions.. The materials include all of the crosscutting concepts. All elements are present for Patterns, Cause and Effect, Energy and Matter, Systems and System Models, and Structure and Function. One element is missing for Stability and Change and Scale, Proportion, and Quantity has one element missing and one that is partially addressed. The materials include NGSS connections to Nature of Science and Engineering elements associated with the SEPs and/or CCCs.

Indicator 2a

Materials are designed for students to build and connect their knowledge and use of the three dimensions across the series.
0/0

Indicator 2a.i

Students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit.
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit.

The materials are designed as a modular program meant to provide flexibility, but a suggested integrated scope and sequence is provided organizing the units into grades and a sequence within each grade. Within a grade, the suggested order of units provides a sequence allowing for connections between DCIs. For example, in Grade 6, the suggested sequence organizes three life science modules in order: Body Systems, From Cells to Organisms, and Reproduction. This sequence is structured in a manner having logical connections between the units. However, there is a missed opportunity to show connections between the DCIs or other dimensions between these units; the materials do not describe connections for students or provide support for teachers to help students understand possible connections. 

Examples of missed opportunities to show connections between units:

  • In the suggested sequence, Grade 6 includes the two Units: From Cells to Organisms and Body Systems. Each unit addresses some aspect of the DCI, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems in multicellular organisms (DCI-LS1.A-M3). In the suggested progression, Body Systems is taught prior to Cells to Organisms. While many activities with the Body Systems unit focus on how the body is a system of interacting parts, there are missed opportunities for the unit to make connections that the body is made of groups of specialized cells. In the Cells to Organisms unit, Activity 10 provides a reading, Cells, Tissues and Organs, reiterating the levels of organization in multicellular organisms, but misses the opportunity for students to connect this reading to any activities in the Body Systems unit. 
  • In the suggested sequence, the Energy unit (Grade 6) precedes the Chemistry of Materials unit (Grade 7) and the following Chemical Reactions unit (Grade 7). In Chemical Reactions, Activity 9, teachers are prompted to remind students of the definition of thermal energy. The Teacher Edition provides a note to teachers, “students should be familiar with this term if you have completed the Issues and Physical Science Chemistry of Materials unit or Energy unit.” There is a missed opportunity for teachers to make connections between those units and the current learning.
  • In the suggested unit sequence, the Energy (Grade 6), Chemistry of Materials (Grade 7), and Force and Motion (Grade 8) units all address different aspects of kinetic energy. In Energy, Activity 2, students observe that there are two basic types of energy: kinetic and potential (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2). In Chemistry of Materials, Activity 9, students build on the concept of kinetic energy and how it relates to temperature by carrying out an investigation to show increasing or decreasing temperatures will cause the particles to speed up or slow down, thus impacting the amount of kinetic energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M4). In Force and Motion, Activity 5, students analyze data of kinetic energy of cars of differing mass in order to calculate kinetic energy. Students construct graphs and use them to determine the mathematical relationship between kinetic energy, speed, and mass (DCI-PS3.A-M1). The materials miss the opportunity for students to make connections between activities in these units to understand different contexts for kinetic energy.
  • In the suggested sequence, the Land, Water, and Human Interactions (Grade 6), Geological Processes (Grade 7), and Earth’s Resources (Grade 8) units address issues involving water. In Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 2, students investigate water as a universal solvent and determine how the natural world is affected by the physical properties of water. In Earth’s Resources, Activity 3, properties of water as a solvent are again addressed when they focus on the water cycle and movement of materials and contaminants as the cycle occurs. However, the materials miss the opportunity to connect this learning to the prior year. In Geological Processes, Activity 2, students learn more about the interaction of water with Earth materials. The terms aquifer and water cycle are used in lessons in each unit, but there are missed opportunities for students to connect this vocabulary to their learning across units. The focus of the activities within each unit connect understanding water in different contexts to the issue of focus for each unit, resulting in missed opportunities for students to make connections between the various roles and impacts that water has on Earth.

Indicator 2a.ii

Materials have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication. 

The materials are designed as a modular program meant to provide flexibility, but a suggested integrated scope and sequence is provided that organizes the units into grades and a sequence within each grade. Within some units, student tasks related to solving problems build on each other and increase in sophistication across the activities within the unit. However, because of the modular design of each unit, the student tasks related to explaining phenomena and/or solving problems do not increase in sophistication as students progress from the first unit in the grade through the last unit in that grade, or from one grade to another. 

Within each unit, students engage in tasks that incorporate multiple SEPs, often progressing from making observations or collecting data, to analyzing or interpreting data, then constructing a model, prototype, or explanation. There are often opportunities for students to revise these models, prototypes or explanations. However, this pattern is often repeated across each unit without a corresponding increase of complexity of the data being analyzed or models being developed as students progress through the suggested sequence of units. This presents missed opportunities to increase the complexity when engaging in the SEPs or developing understanding of the CCCs.

While the student tasks often remain at the same level of complexity, the assessment system provides scoring guides that can be used to track students’ progress over the course of the year and serve as evidence of increasing competency of student work. The scoring guides are designed with five score levels (0-4) ranging from novice to expert, and provide a descriptor for each level. The guidance provided in the Assessment section of the Teacher Resources informs teachers, “in the beginning, do not expect performance at Levels 3 and 4. From unit to unit, scores will improve." Additional guidance reminds teachers, “students in earlier grades may not perform at the higher levels, but over time and with practice, clear goals, teacher and peer feedback can improve and score at the higher level.” While this system identifies student competency across the series, it does not change the fact the materials are not designed to consistently increase complexity of student engagement in the SEPs or for students to develop understanding of the CCCs across the series. 

Example where student tasks related to solving problems increase in sophistication across the activities in a unit:

  • In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 1, the unit-level challenge is to decide where to build a new school in the fictional city of Boomtown to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. Students engage in a series of activities across the unit that allow them to observe how humans can negatively impact the environment including land and water. Students investigate how water can be influenced by human activities and how humans can impact the land through erosion. Students develop multiple models to show the results of humans changing the land as they evaluate human impacts associated with constructing buildings in different environments. Then, students look at sites that are being considered for the new school and discuss possible human impacts and trade-offs. Throughout the unit, students relate their activities to the unit problem of where to build the school in Boomtown. Students apply their learning of erosion and deposition as they model cliff erosion. Students develop and test an erosion-mitigation structure, adhering to criteria and constraints for the structure, and then present their structure to the class. Students evaluate other structures based on the design criteria and constraints.

Examples where student tasks related to solving problems do not increase in sophistication between units and across the series:

  • In the suggested sequence, the Body Systems unit (Grade 6) precedes the Biomedical Engineering unit (Grade 7); both units address PE-MS-LS1-3: Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. In Body Systems, Activity 11, students read about two interacting systems; the circulatory and respiratory system. The reading includes a section about how the heart works including a diagram of the heart, and details about how muscle cells are responsible for contractions. In Biomedical Engineering, Activity 5, students make a model of a heart valve. To support this task, a section of the reading provides a diagram of the heart, information about how the valves work, and details of some medical conditions of the heart, but does not connect or link to prior learning in the Body Systems unit. While the two readings provide different details, neither adds complexity to student understanding of the structure and function of the heart. 
  • In the suggested sequence, the Reproduction unit (Grade 6) precedes the Evolution unit (Grade 8); both units address PE-MS-LS3-1: Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects on the structure and function of the organism. In Reproduction, Activity 9, students investigate the causes of variation among offspring of the same parents. Genotype conventions are introduced in a reading, the sides of a coin are used to model the two versions of a trait, and a coin toss determines the outcome of crosses of parents. In Evolution, Activity 5, students review genotype conventions and then obtain a card representing the genotype of an individual’s red blood cell trait: normal, carrier, or sickle mutation to represent the first generation of a population. A record of the class data is used to determine who survives a malaria outbreak. Students then represent a next generation cross of surviving individuals and another community and must graph all results. While students need to understand how differences in alleles cause variation (Reproduction unit) to understand how a mutation passes through generations (Evolution unit), the complexity of the tasks or use of SEPs or CCCs does not increase in sophistication between these units.

Indicator 2b

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

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials present disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts in a way that is scientifically accurate. Across the series, the teacher materials, student materials, and assessments accurately represent the three dimensions.

Indicator 2c

Materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.*
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band disciplinary core ideas. Across the series, the materials consistently incorporate student learning opportunities to learn and use the DCIs appropriate to the 6-8 grade band.

Indicator 2d

Materials incorporate all grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas:
0/0

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for physical sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all physical science DCI components and associated grade-band elements, with nearly all elements found within the six physical science units. Some physical science DCIs are present in units outside the physical science units; for example, PS3.D-M1 and PS3.D-M2 are present within the life science unit From Cells to Organisms when students learn about the chemistry behind cellular respiration. 

Examples of grade-band physical science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • PS1.A-M1. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 1: Producing a Circuit Board, students design a circuit board and etch the design with acidified copper chloride using a masking technique. They consider the trade-offs of a product that produces hazardous waste. Students work to conceptualize properties of matter and chemical change as they test their circuit boards and observe the changes that occur in the solution of copper chloride before and after its use as they consider its disposal. Students gather evidence of chemical change in the solution.
  • PS1.A-M2. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 11-13, students gather and share information from a reading about the nature and use of different polymers and the impacts of plastics. In a short speech, they explain which proposals for reducing plastic use in their community they support and provide evidence to support their reasoning.
  • PS1.A-M3. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Lesson 8: What's in a State?, students discuss three states of matter and identify characteristics of each. Students examine syringes filled with materials in each state and predict if the syringes can be compressed. A computer simulation is then used to investigate the particles of each state.
  • PS1.A-M4. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 8-10, students develop a model showing water molecules in all three states and the relationship between these states. Students develop and use a model to depict particle movement, temperature, and state, including the role of thermal energy.
  • PS1.A-M5. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activity 7: Structure and Properties of Materials, students read passages describing the molecular structure of a variety of substances and relate the structure with the properties of the substances. They build understanding by drawing models of different substances.
  • PS1.A-M6. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activity 10: Modeling State Changes, students conduct an investigation and collect data to determine the relationships between temperature and state changes. Students analyze and interpret data to construct explanations about what happens to the particles and temperature of substances when changes in state occur.
  • PS1.B-M1. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 1: Producing a Circuit Board, students design a circuit board and etch the design with acidified copper chloride using a masking technique. They consider the trade-offs of a product producing hazardous waste. Students work to conceptualize properties of matter and chemical change as they test their circuit boards and observe the changes that occur in the solution of copper chloride before and after its use as they consider its disposal. Students gather evidence of chemical change in the solution.
  • PS1.B-M2. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 4: Chemical Reactions at the Molecular Scale, students build molecular models to demonstrate chemical reactions. Students draw diagrams of the reactants and products. Students observe patterns in the reactions being modeled, demonstrating the Law of Conservation of Matter.  
  • PS1.B-M3. In Chemical Reactions, Activity 2, Evidence of Chemical Change, students conduct an investigation and analyze results to identify evidence that a chemical change has taken place.
  • PS2.A-M1. In Unit: Force & Motion, Activity 10: Interacting Objects, students investigate how interacting objects apply forces to each other by observing the forces when two marbles collide or when a rope placed around a door handle is pulled. Students use these investigations to start to develop the understanding of Newton’s third law: for any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction.
  • PS2.A-M2. In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 8: Force, Mass, and Acceleration, students review acceleration and create their own motion graphs to show changes in motion. Students perform an experiment to investigate the relationship between distance, speed, and acceleration then graph results and then determine an equation that relates force, acceleration, and mass. They use this equation to determine missing values in a chart of given values of effect of force on acceleration of blocks with different masses. In their analysis they explain how a moving object continues its motion.
  • PS2.A-M3. In Unit: Force & Motion, Activity 6: Changing Direction, students explore movement of marble(s) on curved track collecting data including positioning and pathway of moving marble.
  • PS2.B-M1. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activities 8-11, students design a transport system using magnetic fields and static electricity. Throughout the activities, students investigate factors surrounding magnetic and electric forces and their interactions. Students take measurements and evaluate forces and interactions such as repulsion and attraction in magnets.
  • PS2.B-M2. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activities 6 and 7, students investigate how gravity can be used in designed systems. Throughout the activities students investigate factors surrounding gravitational forces and interactions and evaluating forces and interactions to determine how gravity affects objects at a distance.
  • PS2.B-M3. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 4: Gravitational Forces, students graph the gravitational force between the moon and the fictional satellites. Students determine how different distances and masses between the moon and the satellites impact the gravitational force. This activity helps students develop an understanding that gravitational forces that act at a distance can be explained by fields extending through space and can be mapped by their effect on a test object.
  • PS3.A-M2. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 3: Gravitational Transporter, students investigate how energy is transferred with the gyrosphere set in motion by gravity to observe how a system of objects may contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. 
  • PS3.A-M3. In Unit: Energy, Activity 10: Energy Transfer Challenge, students engage in a learning sequence to determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students work toward the concept of heat flow. 
  • PS3.A-M4. In Unit: Energy, Activity 1: Home Energy Use, students compare the energy using devices and structural features with those that are found in the two homes. After deciding which home they believe uses the least amount of energy, they analyze the effect of weather conditions, climate, and lifestyle on energy use and describe ways to reduce energy use in both homes.
  • PS3.B-M1. In Unit: Energy, Activity 4: Shake the Shot, students analyze and interpret their experimental data to explain energy transformation and energy transfer.
  • PS3.B-M2. In Unit: Energy,  Activity 14: Hot Bulbs, students track the transfer of energy. They determine and compare the amount of energy needed to change the temperature of water using an incandescent and LED bulb. They use the change in the temperature of water to calculate the efficiency of the light bulbs, and determine the energy “wasted” in producing thermal energy.
  • PS3.B-M3. In Unit: Energy, Activity 10: Energy Transfer Challenge, students determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students track energy flows through different insulation materials.
  • PS3.C-M1. In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 10: Investigating Interacting Objects, students investigate Newton's third law of motion.  Students discover how interacting objects exert forces on each other by developing a model to predict the forces that will occur when objects collide.
  • PS3.D-M1. In Unit: Cells to Organisms, Activity 13: Plant's Source of Energy, students collect evidence that plants break down sugars. They investigate the roles of carbon dioxide and light in photosynthesis.
  • PS3.D-M2. In Unit: Cells to Organisms, Activity 13: Plant's Source of Energy, students investigate the role of carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis in an activity using bromothymol blue as indicator of dissolved carbon dioxide to show that energy input from the sun is needed for this reaction.
  • PS4.A-M1. In Unit: Waves, Activity 7: Another Kind of Wave, students deduce the inverse relationship between wavelength and frequency and the direct relationship between amplitude and energy.
  • PS4.A-M2. In Unit Waves, Activity 12: The Electromagnetic Spectrum, students complete a reading using scientists' investigations to extend their understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students read a passage comparing sound waves and light waves explaining how electromagnetic waves are different from sound waves because they can be transmitted through the vacuum of space, while sound needs a medium to be transmitted.
  • PS4.B-M1. In Unit: Waves, Activity 13: Where Does the Light Go?, students collect and analyze data for how ultraviolet and infrared light is absorbed or reflected. Students determine how certain situations can be influenced by non-visible light.
  • PS4.B-M2. In Unit: Waves, Activity 9: Refraction of Light, students experiment with the transmission of light rays by planning and carrying out an investigation of the refraction of light through water. Students work toward finding a relationship between the angle of incidence, angle of refraction, and total internal reflection.
  • PS4.B-M3. In Unit: Waves, Activity 10: Comparing Colors, students collect evidence indicating different colors of light carry different amounts of energy.  
  • PS4.B-M4. In Unit: Waves, Activity 12: The Electromagnetic Spectrum, students complete a reading using scientists’ investigations to extend their understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students read a passage about sound waves and light waves explaining that light energy does not require atoms or molecules to be transmitted and thus is not considered a matter wave.
  • PS4.C-M1. In Unit: Waves, Activity 5: Telephone Model, students model how noise interference affects the transmission and reception of analog and digitized signals, sent as wave pulses. They find that the structure of digitized signals, sent as wave pulses, are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information.

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for life sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all life science DCI components and associated grade-band elements, with nearly all elements found within the six life science units. Some life science DCIs are present in units outside the life science units; for example, LS4.C-M1 is present within the Weather and Climate unit relating changes in species over time to changing climate conditions. Also, LS2.A-M1 and LS2.C-M1 are present within the Land, Water, and Human Interactions unit when students investigate human impacts on different aquatic macroinvertebrates. 

Examples of grade-band life science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • LS1.A-M1. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activities 1- 3, students investigate that all living things are made up of cells and that microscopes and other evidence can be used to establish and confirm their existence.
  • LS1.A-M2. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 8: Modeling Cell Structure and Function, students create an animal and plant cell, and compare/contrast cell structures and functions. Students then discuss similarities in some organelle and structure functions with those of organs in the body, then answer questions to reflect on their knowledge and review their understanding of cells. Student pairs construct a model of a plant or animal cell, including information related to the function of each structure/organelle.
  • LS1.A-M3. In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 9: Heartily Fit, students collect data on their heart and respiratory rates by measuring their pulses and breathing rates before and after exercise. Students analyze data from their experiment on the effects of exercise on the body to establish a relationship between the circulatory and respiratory systems as an example of how it is important for body systems to work together.
  • LS1.B-M1. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 5: Gene Squares, students explain the possible offspring of a parent with a genetic disease. When the inheritance of parental alleles is random, students use the resulting patterns of genetic crosses to identify the cause of the inheritance of the genetic disease.
  • LS1.B-M2. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 10: Animal Behavior, students create an argument explaining how a specific trait increases the probability of an organism successfully reproducing.
  • LS1.B-M3. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 11: Plant-Animal Interactions, students develop an argument about which animal pollinator would pollinate a specific flower. This builds towards analyzing both specialized plant structures and animal pollinator behaviors as it relates to plant reproduction and demonstrating how certain traits can influence reproductive success in an organism.
  • LS1.B-M4. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 7: Do Genes Determine Everything?, students test the effect of an environmental factor on the color trait of Nicotiana seeds. Data is analyzed to determine the effect of a chosen environmental factor on the phenotype of the seeds.
  • LS1.C-M1. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 13: A Plant’s Source of Energy, students investigate the role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis by placing elodea in a vial containing an indicator for the presence of carbon dioxide. After a student blows into the vial, students predict what may happen in the vial and collect evidence by comparing the vial with elodea containing carbon dioxide with a vial with elodea and the indicator. Students then design an experiment to investigate the role of light in photosynthesis, using the materials from the first investigation and altering the light source.
  • LS1.C-M2. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 11: Energy and Matter in Cells, students read a passage of text, construct a protein model and a carbohydrate model, and draw each model in their notebook. After reading the second passage, they model what happens to the protein and carbohydrate when each enters the digestive system by diagraming what happens to a hamburger and the bun as it moves from the mouth to stomach and small intestine. Finally, students read a third passage and model how sugars and amino acids are changed to carbohydrates and proteins.
  • LS1.D-M1. In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 6: Observing Organisms, students consider how they would respond if they stepped on a sharp stone barefoot, what they already know about the nervous system, and how the nervous system helps the body respond to stimuli. Students then brush and touch blackworms, record observations, and make inferences of how the blackworms respond to the stimulus. 
  • LS2.A-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 5: A Suitable Habitat, students create an argument regarding the type of environment needed for blackworms to live, explaining the relationship between changing the features in the blackworm environment and the blackworm’s survival. 
  • LS2.A-M2. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 2: Introduced Species, students conduct research on the effects on an ecosystem, interactions that occur with other species, how the flow of energy is affected, and the impact on human activity when invasive species are introduced. 
  • LS2.A-M3. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 9: Population Growth, students predict how populations of paramecium will differ with varying amounts of food, then observe two different populations of paramecium. Students describe the transfer of energy in the ecosystem, the effects of the availability of food as observed during the lab, and predict how the population will change over time based on the amount of food provided. 
  • LS2.A-M4. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 10: Interactions in Ecosystems, students read six different scenarios describing abiotic and biotic factors. Students then match each scenario with the appropriate graph on a student sheet. Lastly, if a scenario is considered biotic, students determine if the scenario is helpful, harmful, or neutral to one or both species.
  • LS2.B-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 12: Modeling the Introduction of a New Species, students use food web cards to create a simple food chain, then a food web to identify the role of organisms and how matter is cycled and energy flows in an ecosystem. After a new species is introduced, students must explain how the new component affects the flow of energy and the cycling of matter.
  • LS2.C-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 1: The Miracle Fish?, students determine how changing a factor in an environment can impact all other factors within that same environment. Students read about the outcome of introducing the Nile perch from different points of view. They examine trade-offs and make predictions using population data graphs.
  • LS2.C-M2. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 13: Abiotic Impacts on Ecosystems, students determine the impacts of a large-scale disruption to an ecosystem and the changes caused by fire. Students explain how energy changes in a forest ecosystem.
  • LS3.A-M1. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 12: How Do Genes Produce Traits?, students develop a model of the protein fibrillin by learning how a DNA sequence codes to a protein sequence. Students fold the protein to understand how subunits interact (hydrophilic vs hydrophobic).
  • LS3.A-M2. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 4: Gene Combo, students calculate the ratios of inheritance (dominant vs. recessive) and look for patterns to help understand second generation breeding and variation of traits.
  • LS3.B-M1. In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 2: Creature Features, students develop understanding of heredity and genes, and use models to identify patterns in traits found within generations of “critters”. 
  • LS3.B-M2. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 5: Mutations: Good or Bad?, students model how a mutation will move from parent to offspring. Once offspring are produced, the community is exposed to malaria. Students track the individuals who do and do not survive the outbreak and relate that to those who have the sickle cell mutation. This builds towards understanding as they look for how mutations can be beneficial, harmful, or neutral.
  • LS4.A-M1. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 9: Fossil Evidence, students examine sets of fossils and identify unique features of each. They read a passage that describes how scientists find and date fossils before examining four simulated drill cores to detect patterns in the fossil record. They use evidence from the drill cores to list the fossils that they examined in chronological order and determine the relative ages of the fossils.
  • LS4.A-M2. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 8: History and Diversity of Life, students read text related to the history and diversity of life to learn how life forms have evolved over time with all organisms sharing a common ancestor. They build on their understanding of speciation and evolutionary trees, and are introduced to the process of extinction. 
  • LS4.A-M3. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 13: Embryology, students use images of embryonic limbs, embryos, and vertebrate forelimbs to identify patterns of similarities and differences across species to infer evolutionary relationships.
  • LS4.B-M1. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 1: The Full Course, students build knowledge of how humans have changed the way species look or behave. Students use a simulation to model antibiotic resistance in bacteria to understand natural selection. They use colored disks to represent levels of antibiotic resistance, and construct an explanation for how bacteria can differ and what happens to the bacterial population after exposure to antibiotics.
  • LS4.B-M2. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 16: Manipulating Genes, students research technologies that are being used to change the traits of organisms to make them more useful or desirable. They consider the impact of these technologies on society and other organisms. 
  • LS4.C-M1. In Unit: Evolution: Activity 1: The Full Course, students engage in an activity modeling how antibiotics affect the size and resistance of bacteria over time. Students collect and graph data of bacteria response to the antibiotic either taken as prescribed or not taken as prescribed. Finally, students reflect on their activity and its connection to evolution. This phenomenon is becoming a health risk for many people across the world. 
  • LS4.D-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 1: The Miracle Fish?, students read a passage about the introduction of Nile perch to Lake Victoria. They construct arguments to predict how the introduction of the fish will affect the ecosystem in which it was introduced, examine tradeoffs, and decide if the Nile perch should have been introduced into the environment.

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for earth and space sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all earth and space science DCI components and associated grade-band elements, with nearly all elements found within the five earth and space science units. Some earth and space science DCIs present in units outside the earth and space science units. For example, ESS3.C-M1 is present in the life science unit Ecology when students investigate how humans have impacted environments by introducing non-native species. Also ESS1.C-M1 is present in the life science unit of Evolution; students examine fossils as evidence of diversity of life throughout Earth’s past. 

Examples of grade-band earth and space science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ESS1.A-M1. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activities 2 and 3, students order phases of the moon picture cards in the sequence they believe to be correct. Then they model the phases with a light source and ball. Students look for patterns as they try to sequence the phases of the moon. They model the motion of the moon in relation to the sun and Earth. Students predict patterns of the apparent motion of the Moon, describe them and explain with the model.
  • ESS1.A-M2. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 10: Observing Objects in Space, students extend their knowledge of patterns of objects in the sky to better understand how objects in space that are farther away are more difficult to observe. Students use telescopic images to observe space objects such as planets, stars, asteroids, comets, and moons. Students compare distances between objects with mathematical computation and analysis.
  • ESS1.B-M1. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 13: Identifying Planets, students read transmission information from four spacecrafts and compare it with descriptions of the planets. They list the evidence from each transmission that helped them decide from which planet each transmission originated. Students write their own transmission from a planet not used, compare properties of dwarf planet Pluto with the other planets, and use their knowledge to reflect upon how the work of engineers supported the Mars Exploration Rover mission to Mars.
  • ESS1.B-M2. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 7: A Year Viewed From Space, students use a computer simulation to model Earth’s orbit around the sun in order to explain why we have seasons. Students make observations of the position of the Earth and the sun from two locations, and record data to compare changes in daylight and temperature at four times of the year, as well as, the distance between the Earth and the sun. They answer questions using their data to explain the relationship between the motion and distance between the Earth, sun, and seasons.
  • ESS1.B-M3. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 15: The Effects of Gravity, students read informational text describing how the solar system was formed by gravity pulling the sides of a cloud of gas and dust to form a disk.
  • ESS1.C-M1. In Unit: Earth's Resources, Activity 9: Modeling Rock Layers, students engage in an activity using a model of rock strata layers, and connect to understanding of the layering and age of rocks from the Grand Canyon.
  • ESS1.C-M2. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activities 12-14, students engage in a series of activities to understand Earth’s plates have moved over time and continue to move. Students look at how energy and gravity play a role in plate motion and develop an understanding of how tectonic processes continually generate new ocean seafloor at ridges and destroy old seafloor at trenches.
  • ESS2.A-M1. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 8: Beneath Earth's Surface, students make predictions about the Earth’s interior including initial drawings of their understanding. They read and analyze informational text focusing on layers of the Earth noting differences in properties and temperature, and how these processes are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling from the Earth’s hot interior. Students create a scaled drawing/model of layers to help analyze and predict the best location for storing nuclear waste.
  • ESS2.A-M2.In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 14: Building on the Mississippi, students explain how geological processes have changed the land and water using the example of the Mississippi River. They incorporate time scales as they use evidence from the past and present to demonstrate gradual changes versus sudden changes.
  • ESS2.B-M1. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 12: The Continent Puzzle, students are asked to use evidence (including fossil and rock information) to put together a world puzzle map while analyzing and constructing explanations as they create a model indicating Earth’s surface and continental positional changes over time. 
  • ESS2.C-M1. In Unit: Land, Water and Human Interaction, Activity 1: Where Should We Build?, students observe photographs of undeveloped and developed hillside, wetland, and clifftop to explain how each location would be changed by the construction of buildings. The lesson helps students understand how the processes take place as water continually cycles and flows on land.
  • ESS2.C-M2. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 7: Ocean Temperatures, students explain the range of latitudes that they would expect most hurricanes to form. Students analyze complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, ocean temperatures, and currents and their influence on local weather patterns and hurricane formation.
  • ESS2.C-M3. In Unit: Weather & Climate, Activity 9: Oceans and Climate, students participate in a role-play discussion focused on the mapping of ocean currents and identification of the Gulf Stream. This activity leads to discussion and analysis of the relationship between oceans and the climate and how movements of water in ocean currents are propelled by sunlight.
  • ESS2.C-M4. In Unit: Weather & Climate, Activity 8: Investigating Water, students collect data and identify patterns while carrying out investigations of temperature and density of water (cold/warm and fresh/salt). Students analyze and interpret data to construct explanations and create models explaining observations of water current movements and changes in salinity of ocean water including polar ice melting and formations.
  • ESS2.C-M5. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interaction, Activity 1: Where Should We Build?, students observe photographs of undeveloped and developed hillside, wetland, and clifftop to explain how each location, wetland, hillside, and cliff would be changed by the construction of buildings. They identify trade-offs, and make a preliminary decision about where to build the new school in Boomtown. Students develop questions they have about animals, plants, shape of land, and health of water in the area of construction. The lesson-level activities help students gather some evidence for their decision by examining how water movement can cause weathering and erosion, which can change the landscape.
  • ESS2.D-M1. In Unit: Weather & Climate: Activity 4: Climate Types and Distribution Patterns, students use their understanding of local weather and regional climate to organize information about different climates. Students identify patterns as they analyze and interpret climate data and how it relates to latitude, altitude, and proximity to oceans.
  • ESS2.D-M2. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 2: Investigating Local Weather, students collect five consecutive days of local weather data from a website, record key observations, calculate the mean, median, and mode values for each data set, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using each of the three types of averages. Students obtain local monthly averages and compute seasonal data. They graph seasonal and compare their five-day averages to monthly and seasonal data to understand that daily weather data is more accurate for providing data about a particular day, but monthly and seasonal data are more accurate to use when comparing weather patterns to gather evidence for the claim that because of is complexity, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.
  • ESS2.D-M3. In Unit: Weather & Climate, Activity 5: Earth's Surface, students use a gridded world map to estimate and calculate the percent of Earth’s surface covered by water. Students consider and analyze how oceans might influence weather and climate.
  • ESS3.A-M1. In Unit: Earth’s Resources, Activity 2: World Resource Consumption, students read passages detailing the consumption of copper, petroleum, and freshwater, followed by a passage on consumption and world population growth. Each passage includes images and maps identifying the locations of global deposits for each resource. Various graphs are included illustrating world population growth over time and global consumption of each of the resources. 
  • ESS3.B-M1. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 3: Modeling Landslides, students access and collect data from a data visualization program. Then they analyze and interpret data in order to look for patterns in the distribution of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the world. Students add data to a world map which acts as the first step in discovering that the Earth’s surface is broken into plates.
  • ESS3.C-M1. In Unit: Land, Water and Human Interaction, Activity 4: Living Indicators Investigation, students use macroinvertebrate concentration over time as an indicator for how humans have impacted water quality as evidence to begin to develop an argument for how humans impact environment over time and how those impacts can in turn affect living things.
  • ESS3.C-M2. In Unit: Earth’s Resources. Activity 4: Per Capita Consumption, students identify changes in mineral, energy, and groundwater resources over time. Students use population data to calculate the per capita consumption from eight different countries. Students then analyze this data to support an argument about whether increases in human populations and per capita consumption of natural resources lead to negative impacts on Earth.
  • ESS3.D-M1. In Unit: Weather & Climate, Activity 15: History of Earth's Atmosphere, students chronologically arrange atmosphere data cards, discuss reasoning, and build understandings and explanations of stability and changes in Earth’s atmosphere over geologic time. Students analyze/reflect and predict the effect of living organisms, including humans, on changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide gases over time.

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for engineering, technology, and the application of science (ETS). Across the series, the materials incorporate all ETS DCI components and associated grade-band elements. The ETS DCI components and associated grade-band elements are integrated within units in physical science, life science, and earth and space science. In most units, students engage with the ETS DCIs as they also work with DCIs in physical, life, and earth and space science; one exception is the Biomedical Engineering unit, where students often engage in the ETS DCI only.


Examples of grade-band engineering, technology, and the application of science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ETS1.A-M1. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 12: Modeling Cliff Erosion, students design an erosion-mitigation structure for a cliff using relevant scientific principles that might limit solutions. They design, test, and redesign structures to prevent cliff erosion. Students then use design criteria to develop a solution that is evaluated by others to determine how well they met specific criteria and constraints.
  • ETS1.B-M1. In Unit: Energy,  Activity 10: Energy Transfer Challenge, students engage in a learning sequence to determine relative energy efficiency of different devices and how to increase energy efficiency in a home. Students test a solution to melt the most ice in a given amount of time and keep the most ice from melting in a given amount of time. They modify and improve their solution based on the results of their tests, taking into account the insulation properties of the materials and energy transfers within their design. 
  • ETS1.B-M2. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut, students are challenged to find a way to return a stranded gyrosphere to its base on the moon. Students identify the task’s criteria and constraints, then develop a small-scale model for which to investigate how gravity, magnetism, and electricity can be used to return the stranded gyrosphere to its base. Students use a systematic process to evaluate and test their solution, accounting for how well their design meets the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • ETS1.B-M3. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 10: Developing a Prototype, students brainstorm designs for an improved prototype hand warmer. As they build, test, and evaluate their designs, students review the design criteria and constraints, considering that parts of different solutions can be combined to create a better solution. As students discuss the decisions made in determining their design and compare characteristics of other designs, they reflect on their knowledge of the functionality of hand warmers.
  • ETS1.B-M4. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut, students use materials to model the gyrosphere of the stranded astronaut, the abandoned rover, and the Moon base. They read a scenario and work with a partner to brainstorm ways to solve the problem of returning the stranded astronaut to the Moon base, and record their plan, process, and ideas that worked. Students exchange procedures with another group, and attempt to save the astronaut using the other group’s directions. Successful strategies are shared with the class and students describe similarities and differences in their model and how it was important for testing their solutions.
  • ETS1.C-M1. In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 4: Artificial Bone Model, students create a prototype of an artificial bone with specific criteria and constraints that include light weight, strength, and specified materials. Students determine that while one design might not perform the best across all tests, it is important to identify the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test, and incorporate them into the new design.
  • ETS1.C-M2. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 12: Measuring Wind Speed and Direction, students use the engineering design process to design, build, and test instruments for measuring wind speed and direction. Students use an iterative process to select the most promising solutions and improve and retest their designs.

Indicator 2e

Materials incorporate all grade-band Science and Engineering Practices.
0/0

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for asking questions and defining problems. Across the series, the materials do not incorporate all grade-band elements of this SEP. Across the series, two elements SEP-AQDP-M1 and SEP-AQDP-M4 are missing; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to ask their own questions related to these elements. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems present in the materials:

  • AQDP-M2. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 1: Where Should We Build?, students view aerial photographs taken before and after construction of buildings has occurred. Students ask questions to clarify evidence. The evidence obtained from the observations is used to make a claim about the human impact of building. 
  • AQDP-M3. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 14: Effects of an Introduced Species, students develop a testable question and use an online database and graphing tool to investigate it. Students ask questions about biotic and abiotic factors and use collected data to determine relationships.  The materials direct the teacher to support students in ensuring their questions ask how an independent variable affects a dependent variable.
  • AQDP-M5. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 4: Taking a Look Outside, students conduct a field study of a local environment using the transect method.  While planning the study, students discuss questions they have about the environment, and how they would test those questions.  During evidence collection, students are able to answer their questions.
  • AQDP-M6. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 8: Static Electricity, students manipulate the location of objects and observe how particles change location in relation to the location of the object. They review observations from their static electricity explorations, identify evidence that supports the idea that electrical forces attract and repel, and ask questions about the cause of the strength of forces between positive and negative particles based on their observations.
  • AQDP-M8. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut, students use materials to model the gyrosphere of the stranded astronaut, the abandoned rover, and the moon base. They read a scenario and work with a partner to brainstorm ways to solve the problem of returning the stranded astronaut to the moon base and record their plan, process, and ideas that worked.  
  • AQDP-M7. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activity 5: Evaluating Properties of Materials, students participate in a Walking Debate.  To prepare for the debate, students determine their best choice of materials for a reusable drink container.  During the activity, students defend their claim of the best material. Students prepare questions that can be used to challenge the claim of other students who argued that a different material was better for making a reusable drink container.

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for developing and using models. Across the series, the materials incorporate nearly all grade-band elements of this SEP; one element is partially addressed. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

The materials include numerous opportunities for students to develop or use models across the series, but students mostly model with the intent to describe or make predictions about phenomena. Opportunities for students to fully meet the grade-band endpoints for the element SEP-MOD-M3 are missing; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to develop a model of simple systems with uncertain and less predictable factors.

Examples of grade-band elements of Developing and Using Models across the series present in the materials:

  • MOD-M1. In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 9: Get a Grip, students design, test, evaluate, and redesign a mechanical gripping device. During this activity, students determine the limitations of their grabber model.
  • MOD-M2. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 12: Modeling the Introduction of a New Species, students use Food Web Cards to model a food web in one of four different ecosystems. Students introduce a new species into the ecosystem to see what happens. Students revise their models to explain changes in how energy flows and matter cycles through the ecosystem as a result of the change caused by the new species.
  • MOD-M4. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 17: Enough Resources for All, students connect previous knowledge from a groundwater aquifers activity to a modeled aquifer game scenario in which students are provided real aquifer data. Students use this model to analyze and interpret the data as they construct explanations using graphs they create based on given data. Students construct their explanations after identifying patterns and cause and effect relationships. 
  • MOD-M5. In Unit Solar System and Beyond, Activity 3: Explaining the Moon’s Phases, students model the motion of the Moon in relation to the sun and Earth. Students predict patterns of the apparent motion of the Moon, describe them and explain with the model.
  • MOD-M6. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 11: Energy and Matter in Cells, students read a passage of text, construct a protein model and a carbohydrate model, and draw each model in their notebook. After reading the second passage, they model what happens to the protein and carbohydrate when each enters the digestive system.
  • MOD-M7. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 12: Modeling Cliff Erosion, students apply previous knowledge of erosion and deposition as they model cliff erosion. Students develop and test an erosion-mitigation structure for a cliff. Students follow criteria and constraints for the structure, and then present their structure to the class.

Example of grade-band element of Developing and Using Models across the series partially present in the materials:

  • MOD-M3- In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 13: Forecasting Weather, students are assigned one of eight different weather maps to analyze; each map represents one date in the range August 24 to August 31. After analyzing their weather map, pairs of students write a weather report that summarizes their assigned map then compare reports; they note similarities and differences and make revisions. Students share their weather reports with the rest of the class and then use the whole class information to predict the weather in Cleveland on September 1. While students use a model with uncertain or less predictable factors, the materials do not require students to develop their own model.

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for planning and carrying out investigations. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements of this SEP. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

The materials include numerous opportunities for students to plan and carry out investigations, completing a wide range of investigations ranging from planning, as well as, conducting investigations, and collecting different forms of data in the process.

Examples of grade-band elements of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations across the series present in the materials:

  • INV-M1. In Unit: Waves, Activity 14: Blocking Out Ultraviolet, students design and conduct an investigation determining variables and controls, number of trials, and what data to record to test whether sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet light by absorbing or reflecting the light.
  • INV-M2. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 9: Population Growth, Students conduct a laboratory investigation, using Paramecium caudatum to explore how the availability of food affects the growth of a population. Wet mounts are made and initial observations of the organisms are made using a microscope. Students predict how populations of paramecium will differ with varying amounts of food, then observe two different populations of paramecium, and recording their observations.
  • INV-M3. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 3: Evidence of Microscopic Organisms, students determine which tool or tools would be best for a scientist investigating bacteria. Students choose from four choices: magnifying glass, classroom compound microscope, oil immersion microscope, and transmission electron microscope.  Students explain their thinking behind their choice and how it would be best for investigating bacteria.
  • INV-M4.  In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 13: Laboratory: Braking Distance, students conduct an investigation using a system model to provide evidence that the change in the vehicles speed results in a change of braking distance. Then students plan and carry out their own investigation with the system model. They use evidence to determine that a change in the object's mass results in a change in braking distance. Students use their evidence to support or refute explanations of the factors affecting braking distance.
  • INV-M5. In Unit: Energy, Activity 14: Hot Bulbs, students investigate and use the change in the temperature of water to calculate the efficiency of the light bulbs, and determine the energy “wasted” in producing thermal energy.

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for analyzing and interpreting data. Across the series, the materials do not fully meet grade-band endpoints for all elements of this SEP. While students had frequent opportunities to analyze and interpret data across the series, students mostly analyze and interpret data in conjunction with graphical representations or charts to look for linear and nonlinear relationships. They also frequently use the data to provide evidence for phenomena and to find similarities or differences within their data. 

The grade-band endpoint for element SEP-DATA-M6 is only partially met; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to seek to improve the precision or accuracy of the data with other tools or methods. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Analyzing and Interpreting Data present in the materials:

  • DATA-M1. In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 3: Speed and Kinetic Energy and Activity 4: Mass and Kinetic Energy, students collect and analyze data about the impact of mass and speed on an object’s kinetic energy in order to determine the mathematical relationships between kinetic energy, mass, and speed. Students construct graphs to show these relationships.
  • DATA-M2. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 11: Boomtown's Topography, students analyze data from topographic maps that display temporal and spatial information about a particular area. They construct explanations based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface over time.
  • DATA-M3. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 3: Water Quality, students analyze 100 years of water-quality data from Boomtown River to determine if the increase of Boomtown's population affects its water quality. During the activity, students review the definitions of correlation and causation, and then respond to the question, "Is there enough evidence in the graphs to determine that the population increase in Boomtown caused a decline in the water quality? Explain." The expected student response includes demonstrating an understanding of correlation and causation.
  • DATA-M4.  In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 6: Mapping Locations of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, students access and collect data from a data visualization program. Students then analyze and interpret data in order to look for patterns in the distribution of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the world. Students add data to a world map which acts as the first step in discovering that the Earth’s surface is broken into plates.
  • DATA-M5. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 2: Investigating Local Weather, students collect weather data for their location including temperature, pressure, precipitation, and wind. After collecting data for five days, students then determine the mean, median, and mode for different measurements such as temperature, air pressure, and top wind speed and compare their recorded data with provided monthly weather averages to better understand and predict seasonal variations in weather.
  • DATA-M7. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 3: Gravitational Transporter, students create a system model to collect and analyze data regarding the impact of release height and mass of a cart to the kinetic energy transfer during a collision. Students optimize their solutions through a process of testing and redesigning to eventually control the amount of gravitational potential energy in their system to achieve the best results with their transporter.

Example of a grade-band element of Analyzing and Interpreting Data partially present in the materials:

  • DATA-M6. In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 2: Measuring and Graphing Speed, students measure the time it takes a cart to travel 100 cm and record data from three trials.  Teachers are prompted to ask students why they measured results from three trials.  The materials state that students should have the understanding that repeated trials improves the quality of the data set. While the materials provided an option to measure the speed using either a timer or a magnetometer, students were not asked to make a comparison of the two tools or seek to improve the precision or accuracy of the data with other tools or methods.

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for using mathematical and computational thinking. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements of this SEP. While students have opportunities to use this SEP across the series, students mostly use digital tools to analyze large data sets, use mathematical representations to design or support conclusions or solutions, and apply certain mathematical concepts to science and engineering problems. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking present in the materials:

  • MATH-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 14: Effects of an Introduced Species, students use a Web-based graphing tool to graph and analyze a large data set regarding biotic and abiotic factors that the zebra mussel might affect.
  • MATH-M2. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activity 17: People, Weather, Climate (Is the growth of Sunbeam City affecting its weather, atmosphere, and water availability?), students engage in a jigsaw role play. They summarize strategies and analyze data to make conclusions about the relationship between population growth and changes in the environment. Students brainstorm recommendations to reduce the human impact on weather, atmosphere, and water availability, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each, using their prior knowledge of the human impact on the weather, the atmosphere, and water.
  • MATH-M3. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 1: Save the Astronaut!, students record the detailed procedure they used to save an astronaut who needs to return to the Moon base. Students then trade their procedure with others to determine if the other student’s procedures can be followed to save the astronaut.
  • MATH-M4.  In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 8: Force, Mass, and Acceleration, students perform an experiment to investigate the relationships among distance, speed, and acceleration. They graph results and determine an equation that relates force, acceleration, and mass.
  • MATH-M5: In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 4: Artificial Bone Model, students calculate the strength-to-mass ratio for each of four prototypes to identify which prototype has the best strength-to-mass ratio. Based on the calculations, students choose one prototype to redesign, retest, and re-evaluate.

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for using constructing explanations and designing solutions. Across the series, the materials do not fully meet grade-band endpoints for all elements of this SEP. Students have multiple opportunities to use this SEP across the series. 

The grade-band endpoint for element SEP-CEDS-M8 is only partially met; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to optimize performance of a design by prioritizing criteria. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions present in the materials:

  • CEDS-M1. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 10: Interactions in Ecosystems, students address how interactions among biotic and abiotic components/factors in an ecosystem affect populations. Students work in small groups analyzing and discussing their given scenario. Students construct explanations as they identify patterns of interactions that indicate cause and effect relationships among biotic and abiotic components that match their given scenario.
  • CEDS-M2. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 1: The Full Course, students build knowledge about natural selection as they use a simulation to model antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Students use colored disks to represent the level of antibiotic resistance and determine whether or not the person has taken their antibiotic. Students graph, analyze, share their results, and look for patterns. Following a class discussion, students use the model to construct an explanation for how bacteria can differ, and what happens to the bacterial population after exposure to antibiotics.
  • CEDS-M3. In Unit: Earth's Resources, Activity 6: Extracting Resources and Activity 7: Geological Processes, students learn how different resources are stored in various forms in the Earth. Students read about geological processes then discuss what they learned in the reading. They use this information as evidence to support an explanation of how resources are limited and not replaceable.
  • CEDS-M4. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 12: Recovering Copper, students recover the copper metal from the waste solution they collected by producing a circuit board. Students use various metal solutions to replace the copper in solution and recover the copper metal. They look for evidence of chemical change and observe patterns in the precipitate. Students apply results as evidence to explain which metal is best to recover the copper.
  • CEDS-M5. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 1: Producing a Circuit Board, students design a circuit board and etch the design with acidified copper chloride using a masking technique. They consider the trade-offs of a product that produces hazardous waste. Students conceptualize properties of matter and chemical change as they test their circuit boards and observe the changes that occur in the solution of copper chloride before and after its use as they consider its disposal. Students gather evidence of chemical change in the solution to support their reasoning for how chemical reactions can be both helpful and harmful.
  • CEDS.M6. In Unit: Energy, Activity 10: Energy Transfer Challenge, students design a cup to increase or decrease the rate of thermal energy transfer. During the Design and Build phase, students discuss how they think their design of the first cup will increase energy transfer. Additionally, students discuss how their design of the second cup will decrease energy transfer.
  • CEDS-M7. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 10: Developing a Prototype, students design a prototype hand warmer using the engineering design process. Students use their understanding of chemical reactions to define the problem, brainstorm a design, build and test their designs, and evaluate their design.

Example of grade-band element of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions across the series partially present in the materials:

  • CEDS-M8. In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activity 4: Artificial Bone Model, students design an artificial bone that is strong yet light. The prototype must have a minimum strength-to-mass ratio of 14:1. Students then try to optimize their prototype to achieve a strength-to-mass ratio as high as possible. Students  build, retest, and re-evaluate their prototype, describing any trade-offs they made in their final design. This activity does not provide the opportunity for students to prioritize different criteria when making design decisions.

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for engaging in argument from evidence. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements of this SEP. When students engage in this practice across the series, they most often create arguments supported by evidence to support or refute explanations, or to evaluate competing design solutions. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Engaging in Argument from Evidence present in the materials:

  • ARG-M1. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 3: A Meeting of Minds, students compare similarities and differences between Lamarck’s and Darwin’s claims about how species change over time, then explain why current scientists find Darwin’s theory more convincing. 
  • ARG-M2. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 14: The Sixth Extinction?, students  construct a claim as to whether earth is experiencing a sixth extinction. Students use evidence from the previous five extinctions to support their arguments and challenge opposing arguments during a class Walking Debate.
  • ARG-M3. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 5: A Suitable Habitat, students create an argument to explain the relationship between changing the features in the blackworm environment and the blackworm’s survival. The arguments include specific examples from their investigation to demonstrate an understanding of how organisms interact with living and nonliving factors within their environment.
  • ARG-M4. In Unit: Waves, Activity 4: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, students analyze data showing how much a pair of headphones reduce noise at various frequencies. Students use this data to support a claim about whether the headphone provides adequate protection for a firefighter exposed to a siren at 1,500 hertz and 120 decibels.
  • ARG-M5. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 15: Too Many Mussels, students brainstorm initial criteria and constraints for solutions to the zebra mussel problem. They read about six different control options for zebra mussels and identify advantages and disadvantages of each one. Students revisit and revise their criteria and constraints based on new considerations. Students ultimately choose the best control option and provide evidence to support why it is the solution that should be selected for further testing.

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the science and engineering practices for obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. Across the series, the materials do not incorporate all grade-band elements of this SEP. While students have multiple opportunities to use this SEP across the series, opportunities for students to engage in this SEP are limited to four of the five elements for this practice. When students engage in this practice across the series, they most often gather and interpret information from a variety of sources.

Element SEP-INFO-M4 is missing; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to evaluate data, hypotheses, and/or conclusions in scientific and technical texts in light of competing information or accounts. When the materials include elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information present in the materials:

  • INFO-M1. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 15: Bacteria and Bugs, students build knowledge of how humans influence evolution through natural selection when they obtain information through a reading about four types of organisms that have evolved resistance to chemical control methods. They identify cause and effect relationships between human activity and the evolution of resistance. They conclude with using principles of natural selection to explain bacterial antibiotic resistance.
  • INFO-M2. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 14: Building on the Mississippi, students explore the challenges faced by the city of New Orleans due to its location on the Mississippi River Delta. Students participate in a role-play activity involving stakeholders in geoscience and engineering who present their knowledge of the effect of human impact in New Orleans on the geological processes that occur on the Mississippi River Delta. Students integrate the stakeholder information to clarify their claims and findings.
  • INFO-M3. In Unit: Chemistry of Materials, Activities 1-5, students determine which material is best for making a single-use drink container. Students evaluate reviews of each type of drink container for bias and then compare product life cycle diagrams to determine which of three different types of water bottles is the most useful, based on the physical and chemical properties of the materials used to make each container.
  • INFO-M5. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 16: Projects: Presenting the Facts, students complete their introduced species project to show how abiotic changes in the environment can impact ecosystems. Students deliver an oral presentation to communicate the results of their research, including impacts of the species and options for controlling the introduced species.

Indicator 2f

Materials incorporate all grade-band Crosscutting Concepts.
0/0

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of patterns. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC are not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding patterns within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Patterns present in the materials:

  • PAT-M1. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 13: Another Approach to Recovering Copper, students use a chemical reaction to precipitate, filter, and recover the copper from the waste solution as they consider its disposal. Students investigate the products and reactants of two types of chemical reactions at the macroscopic level, observing patterns in the precipitate to use as evidence of atomic rearrangement resulting in chemical change. 
  • PAT-M2. In Unit: Energy, Lesson 11: Energy in Light, students conduct an investigation and compare how light interacts in three different materials. Data is graphed and students analyze patterns in rates of change as the temperature of the material increases over time.
  • PAT-M3. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activities 2-5, students work towards explaining the Moon’s orbit around Earth, and also explaining why there is not a lunar or solar eclipse every lunar cycle. Students develop and use a model to show how the orbital plane of the Moon-Earth and the Earth-sun are not the same. Students analyze data about the shape of the moon and look for patterns at each phase to prove that the cause of an eclipse is not because the Earth is blocking light to the moon.
  • PAT-M4. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activities 4-11, students access and collect data from a data visualization program. Then they analyze and interpret data within charts in order to look for patterns in the distribution of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the world. Students add data to a world map which acts as the first step in discovering that the Earth’s surface consists of plates.

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of cause and effect. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC are not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding cause and effect within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Cause and Effect present in the materials:

  • CE-M1. In Unit: Land, Water, and Human Interactions, Activity 3: Water Quality, students analyze water quality and population data from the fictional town of Boomtown to determine whether the relationship between the data is causal or correlational. To help students make sense of this data, the lesson includes a learning opportunity where students look at other data sets that are strongly correlated, weakly correlated, and causal to learn how to differentiate between causal and correlational data.
  • CE-M2. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activity 8: Static Electricity, students determine the effects of static electricity by investigating how static charge causes attraction and repulsion in objects. Students model the distribution of charges during a simulation. Students manipulate the location of the objects and observe how particles change location in relation to the location of the object. They use these observations to predict how electrical forces will attract and repel, and determine the strength of forces between positive and negative particles. 
  • CE-M3. In Unit: Evolution, Activity 6: Mutations and Evolution, students collect data using a computer simulation allowing them to create percentages and/or rates for the frequency of the sickle cell trait over time as different variables are manipulated, such as the relationship between getting malaria and access to health care. Students use the information to construct an explanation about the causal relationship for why the rate of sickle cell disease varies around the world, and how some cause and effect relationships can only be described using probability.

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of scale, proportion, and quantity. Across the series, the materials do not incorporate all grade-band elements of this CCC. While students have frequent opportunities to engage in learning about different phenomena or processes at different scales they do not always make explicit connections to this CCC. In addition, opportunities for students to fully meet grade-band endpoints for this CCC are limited to thee of the five elements for this CCC. 

Element CCC-SPQ-M2 is only partially addressed in the materials and element CCC-SPQ-M4 is missing; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to articulate how the observed function of designed systems may change with scale or how scientific relationships can be represented through the use of algebraic expressions and equations. When the materials include elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this CCC.

Examples of grade-band elements of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity present in the materials:

  • SPQ-M1. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 13: Identifying Planets, students read transmission information from four spacecrafts and compare it with descriptions of the planets. They list the evidence from each transmission that helped them decide from which planet each transmission originated. Students write their own transmission from a planet not used, compare properties of dwarf planet Pluto with the other planets, and use their knowledge to reflect upon how the work of engineers supported the Mars Exploration Rover mission to Mars. Students identify how models can be used to study systems where time and space are large.
  • SPQ-M3. In Unit: Force and Motion, Activity 5: Investigation: Quantifying Kinetic Energy, students compare graphs showing the relationship between kinetic energy and speed for different sizes of vehicles and graphs showing the relationship between kinetic energy and mass for vehicles traveling at different speeds. Students analyze and interpret the graphs and explain how the graphs can be used to communicate the magnitude of the properties within these proportional relationships.
  • SPQ-M5. In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 11: Energy and Matter in Cells, students draw a diagram to show what happens at the macroscopic level of food they eat when it enters the digestive system. They then model what happens to proteins in a hamburger and the carbohydrates in the bun as they move through the digestive system and into cells. Students describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism. This helps students understand different phenomena or processes can be observed at different scales, and that a process observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale.

Example of a grade-band element of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity partially present in the materials:

  • SPQ-M2. In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 11: Interacting Systems, students discuss how the gas moves through different scales within the respiratory system but gas exchange happens at the cellular level. This helps students build understanding that the observed function of natural systems may change with scale. The materials do not address this element of the crosscutting concept in designed systems.

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of systems and system models.  Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements of this CCC. When the materials include elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding systems and system models across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Systems and System Models present in the materials:

  • SYS-M1. In Unit: Body Systems, Activities 2-3, students learn about the different systems within the human body and the organs that comprise each system. They identify each organ, the organ’s function, and then relate how each organ is part of a larger system. For example, one diagram students use in this activity shows the digestive system, the stomach as an organ in the system, tissues of the stomach lining, and stomach cells. These activities help students develop the understanding how different systems in the human body interact with each other and how each system is made up of smaller parts or subsystems.
  • SYS-M2. In Unit: Fields and Interactions, Activities 3-4, students create a system model to collect and analyze data regarding the impact of release height and mass of a cart to the kinetic energy transfer during a collision. Students use their model to understand the interactions within the system and track the energy flows within the system. Students optimize their solutions through a process of testing and redesigning to eventually control the amount of gravitational potential energy in their system to achieve the best results with their transporter.
  • SYS-M3. In Unit: Solar System and Beyond, Activity 8: Earth’s Tilt, students use multiple types of models to understand how Earth’s tilt causes the seasons. Students answer a reflection question about how the different models represent components of the system and why it was important to use multiple models to fully understand the system.

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of energy and matter. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC are not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding energy and matter within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Energy and Matter present in the materials:

  • EM-M1. In Unit: Chemical Reactions, Activity 12: Recovering Copper, students compare metals to determine which is most effective in removing copper from a used solution of copper chloride. They use their evidence to prepare a recommendation for the use of the metal that was most effective. Students develop an understanding that metals can be recovered from waste solutions because the matter (atoms) during the etching reaction is conserved in chemical reactions.
  • EM-M2. In Unit: Weather and Climate, Activities 9-10, students engage in a sequence of activities to develop an understanding of the role of the ocean in climate. Students engage in a role-play activity to demonstrate how energy from the sun drives the motion and cycling of water and impacts oceans, currents, and air flow.
  • EM-M3. In Unit: Energy, Activity 3: Roller Coaster Energy, students investigate energy transformations between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy. Students also consider how energy can take different forms as they consider how energy is transformed into thermal energy and sound energy as the roller coaster moves.
  • EM-M4. In Unit: Energy, Activity 14: Hot Bulbs, students track the transfer of energy. Students determine and compare the amount of energy needed to change the temperature of water using an incandescent and LED bulb. They use the change in the temperature of water to calculate the efficiency of the light bulbs, and determine the energy “wasted” in producing thermal energy.

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of structure and function. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC are not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding structure and function within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Structure and Function present in the materials:

  • SF-M1. In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activities 2-5 and 7, students read background information about the heart, and problems that can occur when structures within the heart fail. Students design a prototype for a heart valve taking into consideration that the function of complex structures and systems depends on the composition and relationships among its parts. Students test and refine their prototypes.
  • SF-M2. In Unit: Biomedical Engineering, Activities 2-5 and 7, students read background information about the heart, and problems that can occur when structures within the heart fail. Students design a prototype for a heart valve, and as students test and refine their prototypes, they consider how properties of different materials can impact how particular structures or designs function.

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they incorporate the crosscutting concept of stability and change. Across the series, the materials do not incorporate all grade-band elements of this CCC. When the materials include elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band, they connect to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding systems and system models across the series. Opportunities for students to engage in one element of this CCC are missing: CCC-SC-M4; the materials do not require or explicitly prompt students to demonstrate understanding that systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms.

Examples of grade-band elements of Stability and Change present in the materials:

  • SC-M1. In Unit: Earth's Resources, Activity 7: Geological Processes, students read about the geological processes that form petroleum, copper, and freshwater. They build and compare concept maps to construct an explanation about the geological processes that resulted in the formation of natural resources, and consider how changes in natural systems can occur over different time scales.
  • SC-M2. In Unit: Ecology, Activity 5: A Suitable Habitat, students explain the relationship between changing the features in the blackworm environment and the blackworm’s survival. Students include specific examples from their investigation to demonstrate an understanding of how organisms interact with living and nonliving factors within their environment, and how a small change in one part of the environment (system) might cause changes in another part.
  • SC-M3. In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 3, Modeling Landslides, students learn about how scientists use models and technology to better understand landslides, and how changes in the environment, whether sudden or gradual, can impact when and where landslides occur. This lesson builds understanding that stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.

Indicator 2g

Materials incorporate NGSS Connections to Nature of Science and Engineering
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate grade-band NGSS connections to Nature of Science (NOS) and Engineering (ENG). Connections are made within individual activities across the series. Elements from each of the following categories are present:

  • grade-band Nature of Science elements associated with SEPs
  • grade-band Nature of Science elements associated with CCCs
  • grade-band Engineering elements associated with CCCs


The materials incorporate connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs and are addressed in a range of units across the different science disciplines.

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs present in the materials:

  • BEE-M1. In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 1: The Pellagra Story, students complete an anticipatory activity identifying ideas about their understanding of experimentation, and view a video about an early physician's study of a disease called "Pellagra". Students distinguish between observation and inference statements about Pellagra, and identify the evidence collected and used by the doctor to make a conclusion about the nature of the disease. Finally, students are asked to reflect upon their willingness to join a clinical trial. This activity helps students understand that science knowledge is based upon logical connections between evidence and explanations when studying disease in people.
  • OTR-M1. In Unit: Geologic Processes, Activity 13: The Theory of Plate Tectonics, students watch video segments on the history and development of the modern theory of plate tectonics. This activity demonstrates how scientific explanations may be revised or reinterpreted based on new evidence.
  • ENP-M2: In Unit: Geologic Processes, Activity 13: The Theory of Plate Tectonics, students examine fossil and geological evidence used by Alfred Wegener supporting the idea of continental drift. Students consider Wegener’s theory did not account for how continents could have moved and discuss how additional information added to the theory as new technology allowed for scientists to view the bottom of the ocean floor. This helps students understand that science theories are based on the body of evidence that is developed over time. 

The materials incorporate connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs. The materials present these elements across the science disciplines. 

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • WOK-M2: In Unit: From Cells to Organisms, Activity 14: Fighting Disease, students watch video segments on the discovery of penicillin. Students then connect the events in the video to other historic events in the unit as they relate the events in the video to the scientists and timelines in the student handout, Contributions to the Cell Theory and the Germ Theory of Disease. Students review how many scientists from different countries contributed to these two theories over a time span of 250 years. This activity helps students develop an understanding that science knowledge is cumulative and many people, from many generations and nations, have contributed to science knowledge.
  • AOC-M1: In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 12: The Continent Puzzle, students use a puzzle in the shape of the continents, with rock and fossil evidence, and rearrange the landmasses so that the shapes fit together. The rock and fossil evidence on one of the landmasses lines up with similar evidence on another landmass. Student theorize that the positions of the continents has changed over time and compare their puzzle to three past landmass arrangements. Students realize that their puzzle matches that of Pangea. This activity connects with the assumption that objects and events that occur in the natural world occur in consistent patterns that can be recognized through observation and measurement.
  • HE-M4: In Unit: Body Systems, Activity 13: Investigation: Testing Medicines: A Clinical Trial, students simulate a clinical trial to investigate how medicines are tested. They are introduced to the need for a control group (placebo) and collect data to analyze for the success of the medicine. They consider the trade-offs of side-effects and make an argument with evidence about the safety and effectiveness of the "medication". This activity connects with the importance of careful, honest, and minimizing risk when using people in experimentation as well as helps students understand that advances in science influence advances in medicine.
  • AQAW-M1: In Unit: Reproduction, Activity 14: Advising Joe, students develop a written email that explains Joe's situation (possibly has the gene for Marfan syndrome) and provide a recommendation for what he might do. Students summarize the information that they have learned about genetics and Marfan syndrome for their writings. The activity demonstrates how scientific knowledge can be used to provide consequences of actions but does not prescribe the decisions that an individual or society will make as a result of the scientific knowledge acquired.

The materials incorporate connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs. These elements are incorporated across all disciplines and are especially concentrated in activities that students solve engineering or design challenges.

Examples of grade-band connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • INTER-M3: In Unit: Geological Processes, Activity 7: Problem Solving: Observing Earth's Moving Surface, students learn how to analyze and interpret data from GPS measurements over time. They use this data to determine the rate and direction of tectonic plate movement. This activity does not explain the movements but shows students how technologies extend the measurement, exploration, and computational capacity of scientific investigations.
  • INFLU-M2: In Unit: Bioengineering, Activity 3: Bionic Bodies, students read the passage, Bionic Bodies, to learn about different technologies designed to replace various body parts, including a prosthetic foot, an artificial heart, and an artificial pancreas. Students consider how the technology has or has not benefited the individual and also discuss the environmental consequences associated with developing these devices. This activity helps students develop an understanding that technologies are driven by needs and values but have limitations and can have environmental impacts. 

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: 05/28/2020

Report Edition: 2019

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Waves Student Book 978-1-63093-418-7 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Waves Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-419-4 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Ecology Student Book 978-1-63093-453-8 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Ecology Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-454-5 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Teacher Resources 978-1-63093-460-6 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2019
Reproduction Student Book 978-1-63093-461-3 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Reproduction Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-462-0 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Biomedical Engineering Student Book 978-1-63093-463-7 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Biomedical Engineering Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-464-4 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
From Cells to Organisms Student Book 978-1-63093-465-1 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
From Cells to Organisms Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-466-8 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Evolution Student Book 978-1-63093-467-5 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Evolution Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-468-2 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Body Systems Student Book 978-1-63093-469-9 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Body Systems Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-470-5 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Weather and Climate Student Book 978-1-63093-471-2 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Weather and Climate Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-472-9 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2017
Land, Water, and Human Interactions Student Book 978-1-63093-473-6 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Land, Water, and Human Interactions Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-474-3 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Energy Student Book 978-1-63093-475-0 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Energy Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-476-7 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Solar System and Beyond Student Book 978-1-63093-477-4 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Solar System and Beyond Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-478-1 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Geological Processes Student Book 978-1-63093-479-8 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Geological Processes Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-480-4 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Force and Motion Student Book 978-1-63093-481-1 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Force and Motion Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-482-8 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Chemistry of Materials Student Book 978-1-63093-483-5 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Chemistry of Materials Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-484-2 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Earth's Resources and Human Populations Student Book 978-1-63093-485-9 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Earth's Resources Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-486-6 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Chemical Reactions Student Book 978-1-63093-487-3 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Chemical Reactions Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-488-0 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Fields and Interactions Student Book 978-1-63093-489-7 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2019
Fields and Interactions Teacher Edition 978-1-63093-490-3 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids 2018
Waves Complete Materials Package 978-1-63093-504-7 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids
Land, Water, and Human Interactions Complete Materials Package 978-1-63093-590-0 Third Edition SEPUP/Lab-Aids

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: Beginning in spring 2020, reports developed by EdReports.org will be using an updated version of our review tools. View draft versions of our revised review criteria here.

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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