Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Accelerate Learning STEMscopes NGSS 3D Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
4
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Accelerate Learning STEMscopes NGSS 3D Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

Criterion 1a - 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Accelerate Learning STEMscopes NGSS 3D Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include multiple instances for students to use the three dimensions, but across the series students typically engage in learning opportunities that are two-dimensional. Multiple opportunities for student sensemaking with the three dimensions are present, however, it is more common that scopes are designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with DCIs. The materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) at the lesson level (scope) building toward the three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence (bundle), but the formative assessment tasks do not consistently reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions related to the respective objectives and the tasks do not consistently support the instructional process. The materials provide three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the larger learning sequence (bundle), but do not consistently measure student learning of the complete objectives (PEs).

Indicator 1a

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

Indicator 1a.i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning opportunities (activities). Throughout the series, multiple scopes contain at least one learning opportunity integrating the SEPs, CCCs and DCIs. This typically occurs within one or more Explore activities within the scope; the remaining Explore activities in the scope typically engage students in two-dimensional learning, integrating an SEP and DCI.

In scopes that do not contain at least one learning opportunity integrating all three dimensions, students typically engage in two-dimensional learning of the SEP and DCI. The materials provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in the practices of developing models, analyzing data, constructing explanations, conducting investigations, and communicating information, including multiple opportunities across the series for students to analyze real-world data using Tuva datasets. When the materials include the crosscutting concepts, these are often presented as discussion or reflection questions. Across the series, the materials provide multiple instances where students engaged in elements of SEPs or CCCs that are below the 6-8 grade band. 

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

  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Cells, Explore 2, students engage in a learning opportunity developing the concept that all living things are made of cells. Students use microscopes (SEP-INV-E3) to examine cheek cells, a leaf, sand, blood (prepared slide), and water to determine if the cells are present in the sample, and if the sample was living or once living (DCI-LS1.A-M1). A question in the student handout asks, “Why do you need a microscope to determine if something is living?” with the expected student response to reflect that cells are at a scale too small to be seen without magnification (CCC-SPQ-M5).
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2, Scope 1: Reproduction in Plants and Animals, Explore 1, students engage in a learning opportunity simulating reproductive behavior patterns for fish. Students model a fish spawning activity, using paper clips to represent fertilization. Students use two different procedures (SEP-MOD-M7) to collect data representing spawning over five days and spawning all at once. Students calculate the probability of success of the two spawning scenarios, determine which behavior has the greatest reproductive success (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M2), and use data from the simulation to support an explanation through use of a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) structure about which spawning behavior is more successful (SEP-ARG-E4). 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Competition in Ecosystems, Explore 1, students engage in a learning opportunity highlighting the interdependent relationships in ecosystems. Students roll dice to provide a random combination of factors and organisms, then determine whether the factor is biotic or abiotic, and whether the type of relationship between the organism and that factor is competitive, dependent, or neither. Students answer questions about the effect that a change in different factors would have on the population, based on the type of relationship (DCI-LS2.A-M2, CCC-CE-M2). At the end of the activity, students reflect on the evidence collected in their game to construct an explanation (CER) that describes the various relationships between organisms and abiotic and biotic factors (SEP-CEDS-M4, DCI-LS2.A-M2).
  • In Earth Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Earth Materials, Explore 1, students engage in a learning opportunity to model the rock cycle. Students shave and chop crayons of four different colors to represent sediment resulting from weathering. Students pour the crayon sediment into a plastic bag to represent weathering and deposition, then compress their bag under a book to show compaction and cementation. They break the compressed “sedimentary rock” and compare a cross section of their wax model to an actual sedimentary rock and draw parallels between the process they used to make the wax rock and the natural process. Students warm and compress the model of sedimentary rock to model how metamorphic rock is formed and compare a cross section of their model to actual metamorphic rock. Finally students melt and quickly cool their wax rock to model how igneous rock is formed and compare a cross section of their model to actual igneous rock. Students then use their model and answer questions about the rock cycle, Earth’s sources of energy to heat the rock, forces needed to compress the rock, and what causes the system to change and stabilize over time during each type of rock formation (SEP-MOD-M6, CCC-SC-E1, DCI-ESS2.A-M1).
  • In Earth Science, Bundle 4, Scope 1: The Water Cycle, Explore 1, students engage in a learning opportunity to learn about the processes of the water cycle. Students observe what happens at three time intervals when a plastic bag is secured over a plant with leaves and the plant is placed under a heat lamp. Next, students add water to a bag of sand, add blue food coloring to the water, and seal the bag to represent a pond in a closed system. Students place the bag under a heat lamp and make observations at timed intervals. Students answer questions about how water appeared in both bags and what energy source was used to drive the changes. Students then answer questions about water cycle vocabulary and the mechanisms that drive the process in nature, outside of their classroom models (CCC-EM-M2, SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS2.C-M1). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 5: Modeling Conservation of Mass, Explore 2, students engage in a learning opportunity to demonstrating matter is conserved in a chemical reaction. Students follow a procedure (SEP-INV-M2) to compare the mass of vinegar and baking soda before a chemical reaction and then, compare the mass of the products after the reaction in an open system. Students make a comparison of the masses consisting of reactants and products in a closed system and account for their results using the law of conservation of mass (DCI-PS1.B-M2, CCC-EM-M1); they use their collected data to make and support a claim (CER) about whether matter is conserved during chemical reactions in both open and closed systems (SEP-CEDS-M1, DCI-PS1.B-M2, CCC-EM-M1).

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

  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 2: Anatomy of a Cell, students engage in a learning sequence that looks at structures within a cell and their functions. While students engage in all three dimensions across the entire scope, the materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any activity within this scope. In Engage, students complete a cell scavenger hunt. Students are provided names of cell organelles and associated functions, and then look for each organelle sign that has been placed around their school campus. For example, the sign for mitochondria is placed in the gym to correspond with the function of “energy of cell”. This activity helps students learn that cells contain smaller structures that each have different functions (DCI-LS1.A-M2, CCC-SF-E2). In Explore 1, students receive function cards containing the names of a structure or process and a description of the associated function. Students first sort the cards into the categories of plants, animals, and cells, then match to a function category, such as protection, reproduction, or waste removal. Students compare major functions between plants, animals, and cells to learn that plants, animals, and cells have structures serving various life functions (DCI-LS1.A-E1, DCI-LS1.A-M2, CCC-SF-E2). In Explore 2, students design a blueprint of a house based on parts of a cell. The blueprint serves as an analogy (SEP-MOD-E3) to the structures and functions of a cell (DCI-LS1.A-M2). While students make analogies between the functions of different cell organelles and different parts of buildings, the materials do not address how the structure of each organelle contributes to its function. Therefore, this example only integrates two dimensions and there is a missed opportunity to integrate the CCC into student learning.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 4: Sensory Receptors, students engage in a learning sequence to understand the five senses and how they relate to memory. This scope builds on information provided in Bundle 1, Scope 3, Explain, Content Connections Video - The Nervous System. The materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any activity within this scope. In Engage, students sort cards listing different senses into three input categories: mechanical, chemical, and electromagnetic. In Explore 1, students follow procedures to investigate their different senses (smell, taste, sight, and touch) in four activities. After each activity, students answer questions and determine which input category was used in the activity. The final question asks students, “What do our brains do with the information from the sensory receptors?” In Explore 2, students investigate how different scents trigger memories. Students smell 10 different items (such as cough syrup, pine needles, vanilla extract) and write down the scent, a memory, and an emotion they associate with that scent. At the end of the activity, students write an explanation (CER) about the connection between smell and memory (SEP-CEDS-E1). In Explore 3, students research and present findings on one topic (the materials provide multiple topics) related to processing of sensory information (DCI-LS1.D-M1, SEP-INFO-M5); students evaluate the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of their resources (SEP-INFO-M3). This example only integrates two dimensions and there is a missed opportunity to integrate the CCC into student learning.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Structure of Matter, students engage in a learning sequence designed to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. The materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any activity within this scope. In Engage, students determine the amount of times they are able to cut a strip of paper in half, measuring the size of the paper after each cut. They extrapolate the number of cuts needed in order to approximate the size of an atom. In Explore 1, students learn the different symbols representing the elements on the periodic table and learn details about how certain elements were named. In Explore 2, students learn what the different symbols in a chemical formula represent and how different types of atoms combine with one another to make up certain compounds (DCI-PS1.A-M1). Students also follow directions to connect certain numbers and different colors of snap cubes together to represent amounts of each type of atom (but not position) in molecules (SEP-MOD-P3). In Explore 3, students observe crystals of three different substances under the microscope. They then learn how the atoms of these substances combine into extended structures and write an explanation (CER) of how atoms can be combined to form different substances (SEP-CEDS-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M5). In Explore 4, students use a Tuva dataset to identify relationships between different elements in the periodic table (SEP-DATA-E1, DCI-PS1.A-M2). This example only integrates two dimensions and there is a missed opportunity to integrate the CCC into student learning.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 3: Synthetic Materials, students engage in a learning sequence to learn about the difference between natural and synthetic materials. The materials do not integrate the three dimensions in any activity within this scope. In Engage, students mix multiple substances to create a new substance, identifying whether each substance was natural or synthetic. In Explore 1, students engage in a card sort providing names and images of various substances and materials (such as herbs, salt, rubber bands, wood, eraser, prescription drugs). Students determine if the material on each card is natural or synthetic and renewable or nonrenewable. Students then sort each card into categories that include natural/synthetic and then further sort the natural resources into renewable and nonrenewable categories. In Explore 2, students use at least two sources to research a natural resource and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias (SEP-INFO-M3) to learn how the resource is used to create synthetic products (DCI-PS1.A-M2). Students also describe how properties of the synthetic product differ from the natural resource and describe how the resource impacts society. Students answer questions through their research about different synthetic materials, but never use the CCCs to make a connection between the structure of a material and how this impacts the function. Therefore, this example only integrates two dimensions and there is a missed opportunity to integrate the CCC into student learning.

Indicator 1a.ii

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Materials are designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences.

Throughout the series, three-dimensional learning is found primarily within the Explore activities within a scope. Multiple scopes contain at least one learning opportunity supporting meaningful sensemaking across all three dimensions, but it is not consistent across the scopes. Within the Engage and Explain sections of scopes, learning is typically one- or two-dimensional and the scopes are consistently designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support sensemaking with the DCI. 

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

  • In Life Science, Bundle 2, Scope 1: Reproduction in Plants and Animals, Explore 1, students engage in a learning sequence simulating reproductive behavior patterns for fish. Students model a fish spawning activity, using paper clips to represent fertilization. Students use two different procedures (SEP-MOD-M7) to collect data representing spawning over five days and spawning all at once. Students calculate the probability of success of the two spawning scenarios, determine which behavior has the greatest reproductive success (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M2), and use data from the simulation to support an explanation (CER) about which spawning behavior is more successful (SEP-ARG-E4). 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 5: Dynamic Nature of Ecosystems, Explore 1, students engage in a learning sequence to determine the impact of fertilizer on aquatic ecosystem health. Students conduct an investigation in which they test varying amounts of fertilizer in water with algae. They monitor over multiple days to see changes in dissolved oxygen and mass (DCI-LS2.C-M1, CCC-SC-M3). Students use collected data to make sense of the factors that lead an algal bloom to occur and the consequences for the rest of the ecosystem. In discussion questions, students extrapolate what they observed to the larger ecosystem. They then construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) based on the evidence from the investigation and their discussion.
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Explore 1, students use Tuva datasets to identify trends in data related to world population and air pollution. Students test different variables and how they relate to the increased population over time. Students answer questions about the trends in the types of pollution as human population increases (DCI-ESS3.C-M2, SEP-DATA-M4, CCC-PAT-M2, CCC-PAT-M4) to make sense of the question, “What would happen to the pollutants if the Clean Air Act was not created?” 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 2: Human Activities and Global Climate Change, Explore 2, students view a Tuva dataset showing the extent of Arctic sea ice. They use the dataset to identify trends using different attributes such as solar irradiance, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide (CCC-PAT-M2, CCC-PAT-M4). Students state their findings regarding the dataset, identify main causes of global warming, and discuss the types of human sources of carbon dioxide (DCI-ESS3.D-M1, SEP-DATA-M4). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3, Scope 4: Gravitational Force, students learn about gravity and factors that causes the amount of gravitational force to vary. Students watch a demonstration depicting larger objects with greater mass will have a larger gravitational force than smaller objects with less mass. Students then engage in simulations demonstrating the distance between objects affects gravitational pull followed by another simulation showing the impact on the orbital path of objects by changing the mass of one or both objects (DCI-PS2.B-M2). Students manipulate the mass of objects in the simulation to observe the changes in the gravitational force between the objects (SEP-INV-M2) and observe how the change in orbital path of the smaller object is impacted by manipulating conditions (CCC-SC-M2). Lastly, students construct an explanation (CER) describing gravity as an attractive force and reason that smaller objects with less mass will orbit around larger objects with greater mass because of the gravitational force exerted by the larger object (DCI-PS2.B-M2). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 1, Explore 2, students are introduced to the relationship between mass and speed to describe a value for kinetic energy (KE). The learning sequence includes viewing a roller coaster car moving on its track with the question, “When is the most kinetic energy being used when riding a rollercoaster?” Students observe the relationship of change in mass and kinetic energy as they collect data from objects of different mass in order to figure out the relationship between the mass and speed of an object and its kinetic energy (SEP-DATA-M1, DCI PS3.A-M1). As students make sense of the data collected during their investigation, they develop an understanding of how proportional relationships provide information (CCC-SPQ-M3). At the end of the activity, students write an explanation (CER) to support the claim, “The more mass an object has, the more kinetic energy it will have when moving at any non-zero speed.”  

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

  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 2: Anatomy of a Cell, students engage in a learning sequence focusing on structures within a cell and their functions. In Explore 1, students use a CCC to make sense with the DCI. Students compare major functions among plants, animals, and cells to learn that plants, animals and cells have structures that serve various life functions (DCI-LS1.A-E1, DCI-LS1.A-M2, CCC-SF-E2). 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 4: Sensory Receptors, students engage in a learning sequence to understand the five senses and how they relate to memory. In Explore 2, students use an SEP to make sense with the DCI as they investigate how different scents trigger memories. Students smell 10 different items (such as cough syrup, pine needles, vanilla extract) and write down the scent, a memory, and an emotion they associate with that scent. At the end of the activity, students write an explanation (CER) about the connection between smell and memory (SEP-CEDS-E1). The sample answer indicates students’ reasoning should make a connection between sensory receptors and the brain (DCI-LS1.D-M1). While this activity does not provide information about the sensory receptors or their connection to the brain, students were previously presented this information in Bundle 1, Scope 3, Explain, Content Connections Video - The Nervous System. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2, Scope 4: Energy Flow in Organisms, students use a CCC to make sense with the DCI as they engage in a learning sequence describing the breakdown of macromolecules. In Explore 1, students use three types of macromolecule paper cutouts to show how objects such as macromolecules can break into smaller pieces or smaller molecules by enzymes (DCI-LS1.C-M2, CCC-EM-P1). This simulation helps students build towards an understanding of conservation of matter (CCC-EM-M1) at the molecular level as students understand that polymers can be broken into monomers or that carbohydrates break down into sugars. 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Earth, Sun and Moon System, Explore 3, students use an SEP to make sense with the DCI as they learn about lunar eclipses. Students first physically model a lunar eclipse and then model a lunar eclipse using a lamp (SEP-MOD-M6) and draw their observations. Students then reflect on what they have learned about the lunar eclipse to consider what would happen with a solar eclipse as they answer questions about lunar and solar eclipses (DCI-ESS1.A-M1).
  • In Earth Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Earth’s Materials, Explore 1, students use an SEP to make sense with the DCI as they use a crayon to model various earth processes including erosion, deposition, compaction, and cementation. Students add different amounts of heat to model the formation of metamorphic and igneous rock (SEP-MOD-M6). Students use information gained through their model to answer questions about the different stages and processes of the rock cycle (DCI-ESS2.A-M1).
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Structure of Matter, students use an SEP to make sense with the DCI as they engage in a learning sequence designed to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. In Explore 2, students learn what the different symbols in a chemical formula represent and how different types of atoms combine with one another to make up certain compounds (DCI-PS1.A-M1). Students follow directions to connect certain numbers and different colors of snap cubes together to represent amounts of each type of atom (but not position) in molecules (SEP-MOD-P3). In Explore 3, students observe crystals of three different substances under the microscope. They then make sense of how the atoms of these substances combine into extended structures and write an explanation (CER) of how atoms can be combined to form different substances (SEP-CEDS-M2, DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M5). 

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the scope level that build toward the three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence (bundle). While there are instances where the assessment tasks reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives, assessment tasks do not consistently reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives, nor do the assessment tasks consistently support the instructional process.

The Lesson Planning Guide provides an overview of the performance expectations (PEs) for each bundle and each scope within each bundle. Each bundle and scope lists PEs as learning objectives. Within each bundle, multiple performance expectations (PEs) are listed and those same PEs are divided among the scopes as the objective(s) for each scope. Performance expectations or their components that are listed for each scope build towards the PEs for the entire bundle. Within each bundle, evidence statements and elements of each PE are provided. 

Formative assessments are specified in two areas in the materials. Some Explore activities within the scopes have a CER section, referred to as “formative CERs”. These typically include instructions for students to use the CER to write a scientific explanation, and is accompanied with a provided answer key and rubric. The rubric is generic across all of the formative assessment CERs and provides the following assessment categories: “Answers the question and is accurate based on data”; “Cites data, patterns within the data, and uses labels accurately”; and “Cites the scientifically accurate reason using correct vocabulary and connects this to the claim; shows accurate understanding of the concept.” The rubric does not specifically lay out the information that a student should have related to the DCI, SEP, or CCC of the lesson’s objective. Student responses to the CERs are typically two-dimensional (most instances with the SEP and DCI) and sometimes three-dimensional. Additionally, the rubric does not provide teachers with guidance to act on information gathered from student formative assessments or include next steps after reviewing student responses or scientific explanations.

Each scope also provides SEP and CCC rubrics. Each rubric looks at a specific element addressed in part of the learning sequence, which is typically found as a discussion question in one of the Explore activities. Sample responses are provided at novice, emergent, and proficient levels. Teachers are advised to keep track of where students are throughout the year by using these rubrics, although the materials provide little guidance to the teacher for using these rubrics during each scope. Each of the SEP and CCC rubrics are either one-dimensional for the SEP or CCC, respectively, or two-dimensional, including the DCI and the SEP or CCC.

Examples of assessment tasks that reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives, but do not support the instructional process.

  • In Life Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Cells, the objective is performance expectation MS-LS1-1, “Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.” Students view different items under the microscope to observe whether they are living or nonliving. At the end of the activity, students are provided a new sample and then complete a formative CER to explain whether the sample is living or nonliving. Students use the evidence from the investigation where they use microscopes (SEP-INV-E3) to examine cheek cells, a leaf, sand, blood (prepared slide), and water (DCI-LS1.A-M1). There are SEP and CCC rubrics for the teacher to use with examples of novice, emergent and proficient, to help track student performance over the year. The materials also provide a CCC and SEP rubric for a specific part of the learning sequence. In this scope, the CCC rubric for a single element (CCC-SPQ-M5) evaluates responses to a discussion question. Students are asked why microscopes are necessary; their responses should reference scale. While the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric question, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or question. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2, Scope 2: Growth and Development of Organisms, the objective is performance expectation MS-LS1-5, “Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.” Students identify if hypothetical plants with known environmental and genetic conditions could live under new conditions. Discussion questions are provided for students to think about the core idea behind the activity. At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER (SEP-CEDS-M2) to explain their understanding of genetic and environmental factors relative to the activity. The SEP and CCC rubrics each correspond to a discussion question and provide an example of a novice, emergent, and proficient response. The CCC-focused question asks students to explain why there is still uncertainty in plants being able to grow and develop in certain conditions (DCI-LS1.B-M4, CCC-CE-M3). While the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric question, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or question. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 4: Flow of Energy in Ecosystems, the objective is performance expectation MS-LS2-3, “Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.” Students use organism cards to develop a food web and look at energy transfer, then answer discussion questions. At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER to explain their understanding of how energy flows through an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.B-M1, CCC-EM-M4). This lesson uses discussion questions to build understanding from students development of a food web in the activity. The SEP and CCC rubrics each correspond to a discussion question and provide an example of a novice, emergent, and proficient response. The discussion questions corresponding to the SEP and CCC rubric ask students to explain how the food web (DCI-LS2.B-M1) they made is a model, and to model the flow of energy or transfer of matter (CCC-EM-M4, SEP-MOD-M5). While the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric question, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or question. 
  • In Earth Science, Bundle 1, Scope 1: Earth, Sun and Moon System, the objective is performance expectation MS-ESS1-1, “Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.” Students work with a Tuva dataset to examine patterns in data as they model changes to the duration of daylight hours, lunar and solar eclipses, seasons, and the phases of the moon (DCI-ESS1-M1, SEP-MOD-M2, CCC-PAT-M4). At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER to explain their understanding of how day length is related to seasons (DCI-ESS1-M1, CCC-PAT-M4). Students use the data set to provide evidence to support their claim. There is a rubric to score the CER. While the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and discussion questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 1: Kinetic Energy, the objectives are performance expectations MS-PS3-1, “Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object” and MS-PS3-5, “Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.” Throughout the scope, students calculate the speed of an object and determine the kinetic energy of the motion. Students are provided the formula to calculate kinetic energy in joules. Students investigate objects of different mass to observe the relationship of mass, speed, and kinetic energy, and determine if relationships are linear or nonlinear. At the end of these activities, students complete a formative CER to explain their understanding of the relationship between mass and kinetic energy. Student responses should demonstrate understanding of the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object (DCI-PS3.A-M1) and that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object (DCI-PS3.B-M1), citing evidence from the activities. The question in one CCC rubric asked students, “What is speed and how is it calculated?” which requires students to understand the mathematical relationship, but does not fully develop the concept that proportional relationships among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes (CCC-SPQ-M3). The question in the other CCC rubric asks students about the kind of energy involved when moving and where the energy came from. The proficient answer requires students to understand that energy can take different forms (CCC-EM-M3). One SEP rubric ask students to identify relationships displayed in graphs (SEP-DATA-M1). While the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or rubric questions. 

Examples of assessment tasks that do not reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives or support the instructional process:

  • In Earth Science, Bundle 1, Scope 3: Formation and Motion of Galaxies, the objective is performance expectation MS-ESS1-2, “Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.” Across the Explore activities in the scope, students represent energy and matter flow within systems as they model the formation of the universe through a play about the Big Bang Theory. They also use iron filings and a magnet to simulate the gathering of material in space that is caused by gravity’s pull, creating planets, stars, and galaxies. Finally, in Explore 3, students simulate the spinning of the galaxy and the effect of gravity by using a plastic bowl and marble as a model. Students do not complete a formative CER within this scope. The questions in the CCC and SEP rubrics ask students to respond to what happened during the play and what it represented (in Explore 1). Also, what happened with the magnet and iron filings and what it represented (in Explore 2). To answer these questions, students must be able to relate the learning in the activity to how the solar system formed (DCI-ESS1.B-M3). The combined assessment questions assess student understanding of the DCI, but not of the other dimensions. Further, while the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the rubric questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the rubric questions. 
  • In Earth Science, Bundle 2, Scope 1: Geologic History of the Earth, the objective is performance expectation MS-ESS1-4-3, “Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old history.” Students complete a fossil worksheet and an earth strata worksheet by coloring the fossils and matching them to the strata, based on provided information. At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER to use their  knowledge of the law of superposition and the geological time scale to write an explanation about how index fossils aid geologists in determining the age of rock layers (DCI-ESS1-M4, SEP-CEDS-E1). Included is a rubric to score the CER. The combined assessment questions assess student understanding of the DCI and the SEP, but not of the CCC. Further, while the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and discussion questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 4, Scope 2: Mutations, the objective is performance expectation 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.” Students write a provided sentence where all words consist of three letters, then replace one letter with a different letter and write the sentence with the replacement mutation. Students repeat this process two more times, deleting or inserting a letter, rather than replacing, to represent the impact of the different types of mutations. The discussion question corresponding to the SEP rubric asks students how the model represents mutations in organisms. The answer requires students to recognize that the changes were mutations, which they are told during the activity. Later in the scope, students tape their fingers to represent a mutation and pick up as many beans as they can in 15 seconds. At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER to explain their understanding of how mutations can have positive, negative, or neutral effects on an organism (DCI-LS3.B-M2), citing evidence from the data the class collected using the six different hand mutations (SEP-INV-E3). There is a rubric to score the CER. The discussion question that corresponds to the CCC rubric asks students “What did this simulation model in terms of how different mutations function in a population of organisms?” To proficiently answer this question, students must make sense of the data they collected and relate it to their understanding of the impacts of different types of mutations (DCI-LS3.B-M2). The combined assessment questions assess student understanding of the DCI and SEP, but not of the CCC. Further, while the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or questions. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Fossil Record, the objective is performance expectation MS-LS4-1, “Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.” Students examine the fossil record time scale and fossil evidence from each time period to determine the effects of specific organism extinctions on other organisms living in the same time period. Students also view images and information on the type of fossil and its environment identifying different layers reveal different environments. At the end of the activity, students complete a formative CER to explain their understanding of what we can learn from studying the fossil record in an area (DCI-LS4.A-M1), citing evidence from the activity. The questions in the CCC rubric ask students about patterns observed during the activity using blocks to represent different rock layers and timelines (CCC-PAT-M4), and the SEP rubric asks students to respond to similarities and differences in the causes of extinction events (DCI-LS4.A-M1). The combined assessment questions assess student understanding of the DCI and CCC, but not of the SEP. Further, while the teacher instructions provide an answer key for the CER and rubric questions, they do not provide teacher guidance on modifying instruction if students struggle with the CER or rubric questions.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The instructional materials provide learning objectives for each bundle and scope in the form of the performance expectations (PEs), which are three-dimensional in nature. 

The materials provide Action Plans as summative assessments at the bundle level, which are accessed from the Teacher Guide page of each bundle. The Action Plans provide opportunities for students to create a project, presentation, or respond to a prompt, and are connected to the bundle’s Mission. While they assess students’ abilities to apply one or more of the DCIs in the PEs listed as bundle objectives, they do not assess all of the objectives of the bundle. Further, the materials do not provide rubrics or sample student answers that could provide guidance to help teachers assess which SEPs or CCCs students should include in their performances.

The Assessments tab in the materials provides a bank of items; each item is coded to one or more PEs. The number of items coded to each PE varies, but is generally less than 30 and more frequently around 20 items. Teachers can select one or more items from this bank to create summative assessments after each bundle or scope. The bank includes multiple formats of items, including multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blank, and some items with multiple interactive components. Many of the items are one-dimensional for either the DCI or SEP in the PE; several are two-dimensional and assess both an SEP and a DCI. The CCCs are infrequently assessed by the items in the bank.

Additionally, summative assessments are provided at the end of each scope and typically focus on student use of one or two PEs that are the objectives for that scope. Across the series, each scope contains an Evaluation tab including three types of summative assessments: a Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt, Open-Ended-Response Assessment (OER) questions, and multiple choice questions. Each OER assessment contains three questions and each multiple choice assessment contains five questions. These questions are typically one- or two-dimensional in design, primarily assessing the targeted DCIs in the scope. Both the individual assessment types and the combination of all three assessment types rarely measure student learning of the complete objectives (listed PEs or all their associated elements).

Examples where objectives are three-dimensional, but no summative assessment tasks are three-dimensional in design; assessment tasks connect but do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Life Science, Bundle 5: Evidence of Common Ancestry, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, and MS-LS4-3. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Fossil Record, the objective is PE MS-LS4-1. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI-LS4.A-M1 and CCC-PAT-M4 associated with this PE, but not the SEP. The summative CER provides students with information about steps of petrification and a diagram of fossils in rock layers. Students then make a claim about which fossil is the oldest (DCI-LS4.A-M1). There are three OER questions, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCI and five multiple choice questions. Question 2 assesses whether students can interpret information on a data table, but does not require understanding of the DCI. Question 5 assesses whether students can identify patterns in a data table to interpolate a data point (CCC-PAT-M4), but does not require understanding of the DCI. To answer the remaining three questions, students need to be able to interpret a data table to answer content questions related to the DCIThe assessment bank contains 17 items coded to PE-MS-LS4-1. Of these, two items require students to interpret information in graphs, tables or images and are one-dimensional for interpreting the data, where an additional eight are two-dimensional and also require knowledge related to the DCI. One item had multiple interactive components.
    • In Scope 2: Evolutionary History and Relationships, the objective is PE MS-LS4-2. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI (DCI-LS4.A-M2) associated with this PE, but not the SEP or CCC. The CER provides pictures of whales over time and students must write an explanation for how modern whales differ from their ancient ancestors. While the diagrams provide information to support the answer, most of the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario. There are three OER questions assessing student understanding of homologous structures, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCI (DCI-LS4.A-M2) and five multiple choice questions. The first three questions assess understanding of the DCI (DCI-LS4.A-M2), question 4 assesses whether students can apply content learning to a phylogenetic tree, and question 5 assesses whether students understand that data in tables can be represented in another graphical display (phylogenetic tree) showing relationships (SEP-DATA-E1). The assessment bank contains 18 items coded to PE-MS-LS4-2. Of these, 13 items are one-dimensional for a DCI or SEP. A few questions could be answered by interpreting the model or image without prior knowledge of the DCI. Five items are two-dimensional and assess a DCI and SEP. One item has multiple interactive components.
    • In Scope 3: Embryonic Similarities, the objective is PE MS-LS4-3. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI (DCI-LS4.A-M3) associated with this PE but not the SEP or CCC. The CER provides pictures of bird embryonic development over time and students must write an explanation for how birds and fish are more similar than they appear based on adult features.  While the images provide information to support the answer, the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario. There are three OER questions assessing student understanding of embryonic homologies, of which all are one-dimensional for the targeted DCI (DCI-LS4.A-M3). The assessment bank contains 15 items coded to PE-MS-LS4-3.  Of these, eight items are one-dimensional and connected to the DCI for the scope. Four items are one-dimensional for an SEP, requiring students to interpret data, graphs, tables or images. Two items are two-dimensional for the DCI and SEP. One item has multiple interactive components.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 6, Changes in Organisms Over Time, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-6, and MS-LS4-5. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Natural Selection, the objectives are PEs MS-LS4-4 and MS-LS4-6. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCIs (DCI-LS4.C-M1, DCI-LS4.B-M1), but not the SEPs or CCCs associated with these PEs. The summative CER provides students with information about two colors of treefrogs, their range, and habitats. Students then make a claim about why treefrog species are different colors (DCI-LS4.C-M1). Most of the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario. There are three OER questions, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCI of understanding how natural selection leads to different traits (DCI-LS4.B-M1) and five multiple choice questions requiring students to understand the DCIs. While question 4 presents the answer choices within a data table, students could answer this by selecting the correct image in the table. The assessment bank contains 32 items coded to PE-MS-LS4-4 and PE-MS-LS4-6. Of these 14 are one-dimensional and require students to have an understanding of the DCI to answer the question. Fifteen items are two-dimensional, assessing student ability to apply DCI understanding to interpreting graphs and data. One item is two-dimensional with a CCC and DCI. Two items have multiple interactive components.
    • In Scope 2: Artificial Selection, the objective is PE MS-LS4-5. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI (DCI-LS4.B-M2), but not the SEP or CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with information about how different cruciferous vegetables were artificially selected from wild mustard plants. Students then make a claim about how the process of artificial selection is used to create new foods (DCI-LS4.B-M2). Most of the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario. There are three OER questions, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCI of understanding how natural selection leads to different traits (DCI-LS4.B-M2) and five multiple choice questions requiring students to understand the DCIs. Question 1 additionally assesses whether students can interpret data in a table using logical reasoning to support a claim of what trait was selected (SEP-DATA-E2). The assessment bank contains 19 items coded to PE-MS-LS4-5. Nine items are aligned to the DCI associated with the scope. Three items are one-dimensional and require students to interpret data, graphs, images or tables to answer the question. Four items are two-dimensional, assessing student understanding of the DCI as they interpret data or graphs, or provide a scientific explanation with reasoning. One item has multiple interactive components.
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 1: The Earth and the Solar System, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS1-1, MS-ESS1-2, and MS-ESS1-3. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Earth, Sun, and Moon System, the objective is PE MS-ESS1-1. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess two DCIs (DCI-ESS1.A-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M2) and an SEP (SEP-MOD-M5), but not the CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with two images, one showing the sun-earth-moon system and the other showing Jupiter and its moons. Students then explain if Ganymede exhibits phases like Earth’s moon (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Most of the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario. There are three OER questions. The first two are one-dimensional for the DCI related to understanding how the tilt of the earth impacts seasons (DCI-ESS1.B-M2) and eclipses (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). Question 3 assesses whether students understand how to manipulate a model of a flashlight, tennis ball, and basketball to demonstrate the changing appearance of the moon (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, SEP-MOD-M5). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 2 and 5 are one-dimensional for the DCIs in this scope (DCI-ESS1.A-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Questions 1, 3, and 4 require that students understand the DCI and models (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, SEP-MOD-M5). The assessment bank contains 30 items coded to PE-MS-ESS1-1. Eighteen items are associated with the DCI for this scope. Six items are two-dimensional and assess the DCI and students’ ability to interpret data and graphs, or write an explanation using scientific reasoning to explain their thinking. Three items are two-dimensional for a CCC and DCI.
    • In Scope 2: Solar System, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS1-2 and MS-ESS1-3. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess one DCI (DCI-ESS1.B-M1) and one CCC (CCC-SPQ-M1), but not the remaining DCI, CCC, or the SEPs associated with these PEs. The summative CER provides students with a data table showing characteristics of the earth and other planets. Students then determine which planet other than earth would be hospitable enough for life. Students can complete this CER by selecting the planet that has characteristics that best match those of earth, and describing how the non-selected planets have data that differs from earth. There are three OER questions that are one-dimensional for the DCI related to planet characteristics and orbits (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 2, 3, and 5 are one dimensional for one DCI in this scope (DCI-ESS1.B-M1). Questions 1 and 4 require students to understand the relative scale of sizes of and distances between planets (CCC-SPQ-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M1). The assessment bank contains 28 items coded to PE-MS-ESS1-2. Eighteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Two items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret data and/or graphs. Four items are two-dimensional for the DCI and interpreting graphs, images, or data. Four items are two-dimensional and assess student understanding of the DCI while  interpreting models or systems. The assessment bank contains 19 items coded to PE-MS-ESS1-3. Seven of the 19 items are also coded to PE-MS-ESS1-2. Ten items are one-dimensional for the DCI and two items are two-dimensional for an SEP and the DCI.
    • In Scope 3: Formation and Motion of Galaxies, the objective is PE MS-ESS1-2. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess two DCIs (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M3), but not the SEP or CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with information about different types of galaxies and provides an illustration of the Milky Way. Then, students make a claim about the type of galaxy the Milky Way Galaxy is (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, SEP-DATA-M4). There are three OER questions that are one-dimensional for the DCI related to solar system formation (DCI-ESS1.B-M3). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 2, 3, and 4 are one-dimensional for two DCIs in this scope (DCI-ESS1.B-M1, DCI-ESS1.B-M3). Question 1 is one-dimensional for the CCC and asks students to recognize a simple pattern in data and extrapolate data based on that pattern (CCC-PAT-M4), not requiring students to understand the DCIs. Question 5 assesses whether students understand the DCI and a model of planetary motion (DCI-ESS1.B-M3, SEP-MOD-M5). The assessment bank contains 28 items coded to PE-MS-ESS1-2. Eighteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Two items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret data and/or graphs. Four items are two-dimensional for the DCI and interpreting graphs, images, or data. Four items are two-dimensional and assess student understanding of the DCI while interpreting models or systems. 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5: Natural Resources and Human Impacts on Earth Systems, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, and MS-ESS3-5. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess two DCIs (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, DCI-ESS3.C-M2), but not the SEPs or CCCs associated with these PEs. Additionally, they do not assess the ETS PEs. The summative CER provides students with two graphs showing world population over time and global carbon emissions over time. Students then predict the total world carbon emissions in 2050 if the population decreases to five billion people. Students do not need to understand the DCI to make this prediction. Instead, they need to interpret data on each graph and synthesize the information between the two graphs (SEP-DATA-M2). There are three OER questions, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCIs related to human impacts on the environment (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, DCI-ESS3.C-M2) and five multiple choice questions. Questions 1-4 require students to understand the DCIs related to human impacts (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Question 5 requires students to select from pairs of graphs, the pair that represents an inverse relationship (SEP-DATA-M1), but does not require students to understand the DCIs in the objectives. The assessment bank contains 18 items coded to PE-MS-ESS3-3. Ten items assess the DCI. Six items are two-dimensional and assess the DCI and either students’ ability to interpret data and graphs or write an explanation using scientific reasoning. One item has multiple interactive components. The assessment bank contains 16 items coded to PE-MS-ESS3-4. Eleven items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Two items assess whether students can interpret data and graphs. Three items are two dimensional and assess the DCI and students’ ability to interpret data and graphs or write an explanation that includes scientific reasoning. The assessment bank contains no items coded to PE-MS-ETS1-3 or PE-MS-ETS1-4.
    • In Scope 2: Human Activities and Global Climate Change, the objective is PE MS-ESS3-5. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI (DCI-ESS3.D-M1), but not the SEP or CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with two graphs showing fossil fuel emissions over time and sea level changes over time. Students then predict what would happen to sea levels if fossil fuel emissions were similar to those in 1850. Students do not need to understand the DCI to make this prediction. Instead, they need to interpret data on one graph (SEP-DATA-M2). There are three OER questions, of which all are one-dimensional for the DCI of understanding how human activities impact climate change (DCI-ESS3.D-M1). While Question 3 asks how models and simulations help understand the effects of the rise in global temperature, expected student responses do not demonstrate understanding of any CCC elements from systems or system models. There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 2 and 3 require students to be able to interpret data from different graphical representations (SEP-DATA-E2), but do not require they understand the DCI to do so. The remaining questions assess student understanding of the DCI  (DCI-ESS3.D-M1). The assessment bank contains 19 items coded to PE-MS-ESS3-5. Nine items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Nine items are two-dimensional and assess the DCI and students’ ability to interpret data and/or graphs or students will write an explanation to include scientific reasoning. One item has multiple interactive components.
    • In Scope 3: Human Dependence on Natural Resources, the objective is PE MS-ESS3-5. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCI (DCI-ESS3.A-M1), but not the SEP or CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with information on oil production in the Middle East and Hawaii, whether they were covered in ocean in the past, and the age of each region. Students then make a claim about why oil is found in the Middle East but not Hawaii (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). Most of the information required to write this CER is found within the text of the scenario, other than students needing to know the areas with oil must have been under the ocean at one point. There are three OER questions. Question 1 assesses students’ ability to read a data table (SEP-DATA-E2). The remaining two questions are one-dimensional for components of the DCI of understanding how natural resources are distributed and that they are limited (DCI-ESS3.A-M1). There are five multiple choice questions requiring students to understand the DCIs. Question 3 rephrases question 1 in the OER questions (SEP-DATA-E2). The assessment bank contains 19 items coded to PE-MS-ESS3-5. Nine items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Nine items are two-dimensional and assess the DCI and students’ ability to interpret data and/or graphs or write an explanation to include scientific reasoning. One item has multiple interactive components.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4: Potential and Kinetic Energy, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS3-1, MS-PS3-2, and MS-PS3-5. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Kinetic Energy, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS3-1 and MS-PS3-5. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCIs (DCI-PS3.A-M1, PS3.B-M1) and one SEP (SEP-DATA-M1), but do not assess the CCCs associated with these PEs. The summative CER provides students with a drawing of a roller coaster. Students then make a claim about when the roller coaster has the most kinetic energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1). There are three OER questions. Questions 1 and 2 assess students’ ability to understand the definition of kinetic energy and the changes in potential and kinetic energy as an object falls (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2). Question 3 assesses whether students can calculate the kinetic energy of a moving object when given the total energy and potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 1, 2, and 3 assess student understanding of the relationship between mass and kinetic energy (DCI-PS3.A-M1). Questions 4 and 5 assess whether students can interpret information presented in linear and nonlinear graphs (SEP-DATA-M1), but do not require students to apply understanding of the DCI to answer the questions. The assessment bank contains 29 items coded to PE-MS-PS3-1 and PE-MS-PS3-5. Sixteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Seven items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret data and graphs. Four items are two-dimensional and assess whether students can apply the DCI as they interpret data or graphs or write an explanation to support their thinking. Two items have multiple interactive components.
    • In Scope 2: Potential Energy, the objective is PE MS-PS3-2. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess the DCIs (PS3.B-M1, DCI-PS3.C-M1) but do not assess the SEPs or CCCs associated with these PEs. The summative CER provides students with images of a pinball machine’s spring lever in four different positions. Students then make a claim about which lever position would start the game with the most potential energy. The provided scenario states “Typically, the farther you pull back the spring, the farther and faster the ball goes.” Students only need to identify which image shows the lever position pulled back the farthest and then explain why that’s true (DCI-PS3.B-M1). There are three OER questions. All three questions are one-dimensional for the DCI and assess students’ ability to understand the definition of potential energy and the changes in potential and kinetic energy as an object falls (DCI-PS3.A-M2). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 1, 3, and 4 assess student understanding when two objects interacting through a field change relative position, the energy stored in the field is changed (DCI-PS3.A-H1), which can then transfer energy to the other object (DCI-PS3.C-M1). Questions 2 and 5 assess whether students can identify which object positions have the greatest potential energy (DCI-PS3.B-M1). The assessment bank contains 20 items coded to PE-MS-PS3-2. Fourteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Five items are two-dimensional and assess the DCI and students’ ability to interpret models. One item has multiple interactive components.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS3-3 and MS-PS3-4. Assessment tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not assess all elements of the targeted PEs. The Action Plan does not provide a three-dimensional assessment of all of the targeted PEs in this bundle. The examples below detail the assessments for each scope that collectively do not assess their respective objectives (all elements of the PEs).
    • In Scope 1: Thermal Energy Transfer, the objectives include the following PEs: MS-PS3-3, MS-PS3-4, MS-ETS1-1, and MS-ETS-4. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess three DCIs (DCI-PS3.A-M3, DCI-PS3.B-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M3), but do not assess the SEPs or CCCs associated with these PEs. Additionally, they do not assess the ETS PEs. The summative CER provides students with a graph showing temperature data over time of three materials. Students then make a claim about which material should be used to create a cup that would keep coffee hot for the longest period of time. Students do not need to understand the DCI to make this selection. Instead, they need to interpret data on the graph to determine which material stays warmest the longest (SEP-DATA-M2). There are three OER questions. Question 1 is one-dimensional for the DCI and assesses students’ ability to understand the relationship between temperature and thermal energy transfer (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Questions 2 and 3 additionally require students to understand the relationship between thermal energy change and temperature as they interpret data tables and calculate temperature change (SEP-DATA-M2). There are five multiple choice questions, all are one-dimensional for DCIs (DCI-PS3.A-M3, DCI-PS3.B-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M3). The assessment bank contains 20 items coded to PE-MS-PS3-3. Thirteen items are one dimensional and assess the DCI.  Three items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret data or graphs. Three items are two-dimensional and assess students’ understanding of the DCI as they interpret data and/or graphs, or provide an explanation. One item has multiple interactive components. The assessment bank contains 27 items coded to PE-MS-PS3-4. Eighteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Six items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret graphs, data, tables, or charts. Three items are two-dimensional and assess students’ understanding of the DCI as they interpret data and/or graphs, or provide an explanation. One item has multiple interactive components. The assessment bank contains no items coded to PE-MS-ETS1-1 or PE-MS-ETS1-4.
    • In Scope 2: Energy Transfer and Temperature, the objective is PE MS-PS3-4. The summative tasks are not three-dimensional; they assess three DCIs (DCI-PS3.A-M3, DCI-PS3.B-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M3) and one SEP (SEP-INV-M2), but do not assess the CCC associated with this PE. The summative CER provides students with a graph showing the relationship between water depth and temperature. Students then explain the difference in temperature at different water depths. In the reasoning section, students should demonstrate an understanding of it takes more energy from the sun to increase large amounts of water (deeper) than small amounts of water (shallow) (DCI-PS3.B-M2). There are three, one-dimensional OER questions for the DCIs related to the kinetic energy of atoms and temperature changes (DCI-PS3.A-M3, DCI-PS3.A-M4). There are five multiple choice questions. Questions 1 and 2 are one-dimensional and require students to understand factors impacting the amount of energy transfer needed to change temperature (DCI-PS3.B-M2). Question 4 assesses if students are able to identify an appropriate variable and controls when designing an investigation related to how quickly different materials cool after heating (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-PS3.B-M2). Question 3 assesses if students can extrapolate information based on a linear relationship shown on a graph (SEP-DATA-M1), and Question 5 assesses if students can perform simple subtraction mathematics to determine which environment had the greatest temperature change (SEP-DATA-E2); neither of these two questions require students to understand or apply the DCI elements related to the PE for this scope. The assessment bank contains 27 items coded to PE-MS-PS3-4. Eighteen items are one-dimensional and assess the DCI. Six items are one-dimensional and assess students’ ability to interpret graphs, data, tables, or charts. Three items are two-dimensional and assess students’ understanding of the DCI as they interpret data and/or graphs, or provide an explanation. One item has multiple interactive components.

Criterion 1d - 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Accelerate Learning STEMscopes NGSS 3D Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include phenomena in 0% of bundles and scopes and problems in 53% of bundles and 13% of scopes. Of the problems present, they do not consistently require students to use or apply grade-band appropriate DCIs to complete a challenge or solve the problem and are not consistently presented to students as directly as possible. Core ideas or topic-based guiding questions organize the learning and use of the three dimensions within scopes rather than driving phenomena and/or problems. The materials do not elicit or leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to the problems present except for a few instances where the elicitation is performed for prior knowledge related to the content, but not prior experience related to the problem or challenge. The materials include driving questions focused on content and topic ideas at the bundle level that organize student learning across multiple lessons (scopes) rather than phenomena or problems driving learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons (scopes).

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). Each scope begins with what the materials label as an Investigative Phenomena event that is typically introduced with a brief video or image and an associated question, labeled as a Student Wondering of Phenomena Question; these are revisited in the Evaluation section in the summative assessment Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt at the conclusion of each scope. Students do not subsequently engage in investigations directly related to what they observe in the image or video; instead, each scope provides opportunities for students to investigate topics or concepts that are connected to grade-band DCIs, and engage in activities to build content knowledge to later apply their learning to answer the provided Student Wondering of Phenomena Question. The Investigative Phenomena sections present a missed opportunity for students to figure out a specific event. Therefore, no examples of phenomena are present.

Throughout the program, students have few opportunities to solve problems or design challenges. Only one of the four design challenges identified during the Mission Briefings requires students to apply knowledge of a grade-band DCI to complete the design. In the remaining three Mission Briefings, students apply knowledge of DCIs to answer content-based questions, but not to actually solve the challenge. Seven of the eight design challenges identified in the Explore section of individual scopes require students to use or apply grade-band DCIs to complete the challenge; one of the eight connect to the DCI to answer questions, but the challenge can be completed through trial and error.

Examples of problems or design challenges that are connected to grade-band DCIs or their elements:

  • In Life Science, Bundle 2: Growth and Development of an Organism, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a compost garden that is visually appealing and will attract and promote organism interactions. Students apply learning of decomposition (DCI-LS2.B-M1) to determine the composition of their compost, identify plants to include in the garden, and draw a labelled blueprint, including measurements, of their garden design. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope: Ecosystem Biodiversity, Explore 3, students are presented with the issue when developers fill wetlands for projects, they must mitigate and rebuild a similar wetland in another location. Students are challenged to develop a wetland that carries as many ecosystem services as the original wetland. Students must identify a location that has resources to maintain a wetland and support as many wetland services as possible (DCI-LS4.D-M1), design a wetland with a detailed diagram to scale, and provide details for constructing and maintaining the wetland. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class. 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge to “design a system to monitor the effects of human interactions and behavior on the ecosystem of a local park or nature preserve.” Students apply knowledge from prior lessons including human activities can damage or destroy natural habitats (DCI-ESS3.C-M1) as they plan their designs. Students create a plan including scale diagrams showing the monitoring system and how it measures impacts on biotic and abiotic factors, and identify the impacts of the monitoring system on the environment. They learn the importance of defining criteria and constraints during the planning process (DCI-ETS1.A-M1), and identify any necessary materials and technology needed in their plan. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 5: Modeling Conservation of Mass, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge of improving airbag systems, so the product will inflate rapidly but also reach the appropriate amount of inflation. Students apply their learning of how different substances react when combined to select and determine which chemical reaction and amount of reactants (DCI-PS1.B-M1) are needed to inflate an airbag within 20 seconds, but not over inflate. Students then design, test, and modify an airbag design before presenting it to the class and evaluating other designs presented in the class.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 2, Scope 3: Thermal Energy in Chemical Reactions, Explore 2, students are presented with the problem: homeless individuals could suffer from hypothermia in the winter. Students are challenged to design a device that can provide temporary heating for homeless individuals. Students apply prior learning of endothermic and exothermic reactions (DCI-PS1.B-M3) and factors affecting reaction rates to design, test, and refine their solution.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Newton's Third Law of Motion, Explore 3, students are presented with a problem: little attention is given to the environment when a driver collides with a stationary object. Students are challenged to create a new safety feature for a vehicle. Each team must develop and test a prototype that will keep the front of the vehicle from being damaged during a collision and will protect the hit object from being damaged. Students apply their understanding of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, mass, and speed as they design their solution, also considering cost, time and materials as factors. Students design, test, refine, and present their designs, explaining how they solved the design challenge using Newton’s Third Law of Motion (DCI-PS2.A-M1).
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Thermal Energy Transfer, Explore 3, the problem is patients may have complications if their temperature sensitive medications are not kept at the correct temperature. Students are challenged to design a medicine container to keep one ice cube frozen for 24 hours. Prior to beginning the design process, students research which materials are insulators and conductors to inform their design. Students apply their understanding of thermal energy, conductors, and insulators to construct, test, and modify their designs to reduce the amount of energy transferred so the temperature doesn’t change (DCI-PS3.B-M2). Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6, Scope 3: Properties of Visible Light, Explore 4, the problem is light passes through most window treatments and Alaskan residents have difficulty sleeping because of the light. Students are challenged to create a stylish window treatment that will block most of the light. Students apply an understanding of how different materials interact with light to absorb or reflect the transmitted light (DCI-PS4.B-M1) as they construct, test, and modify their designs. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class.

Examples of problems or design challenges that are not connected to grade-band DCIs or their elements:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3: Force and Motion, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a three-dimensional maze incorporating the forces of magnetism, electricity, and gravity to move a marble from a starting position to the finish line. Students are able to complete the design portion of their challenge through trial and error and are not required to use or build knowledge of any DCIs prior to construction of their maze. Additionally, while the Mission Briefing instructs students to provide a detailed analysis of the forces needed to successfully complete the game, students are not evaluated on the analysis of the forces during each component of their maze. Instead, as students complete the Mission Log, they answer content questions related to force and motion (DCI-PS2.A-M1, DCI-PS2.A-M2), magnetic forces (DCI-PS2.B-M1), and gravitational forces (DCI-PS2.B-M2). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, Mission Briefing, students are given the challenge to design a device for campers to heat food to a certain temperature and then maintain the temperature after removed from the heat. The Mission Briefing instructs students to draw and label their design, and then include a summary of how the device works before presenting the design. Students do not actually construct or test their design. Instead, as students complete the Mission Log, they answer content questions related to temperature and thermal energy (DCI-PS3.A-M4, DCI-PS3.B-M3).
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6: Waves and their Applications in Technologies and Information Transfer, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a device using light waves to communicate. In order to complete this mission, students apply understanding that people can use a variety of devices to send and receive information over long distances (DCI-PS4.C-P1). In addition, the Mission Briefing instructs students to create a sales pitch explaining how their device works, how it makes life easier, and the advantages of using light waves; however, they are not evaluated on this sales pitch. Instead, students are asked content questions about how digitized information can be transmitted (DCI-PS4.C-E1) and the reliability in encoding and transmitting information (DCI-PS4.C-M1).
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 2: Potential Energy, Explore 4, students are presented with a problem: a skateboarder wants to avoid injury and would like a model of a new trick prior to skating it to ensure that it will work. Students are challenged to create a model of a halfpipe that will allow a marble to travel down one side, up the other side, and land in a small specific area (cup). Students design, test, evaluate, and refine their model, identifying any limitations to their model. Students can construct the model design using trial and error. One reflection question asks students, “What could be done to shorten the trial-and-error approach” which expects students to understand they could have started with calculations, including friction (DCI-PS2.A-M2), but students aren’t required to make these calculations to test or evaluate designs.

Indicator 1e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible. Each scope begins with what the materials label as an Investigative Phenomena event that is typically introduced with a brief video or image and an associated question, labeled as a Student Wondering of Phenomena Question; these are revisited in the Evaluation section in the summative assessment Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt at the conclusion of each scope. Students do not subsequently engage in investigations directly related to what they observe in the image or video; instead, each scope provides opportunities for students to investigate topics or concepts that are connected to grade-band DCIs, and engage in activities to build content knowledge to later apply their learning to answer the provided Student Wondering of Phenomena Question. The Investigative Phenomena sections present a missed opportunity for students to figure out a specific event. Therefore, no examples of phenomena are present.

In some cases, the image or video is the most direct or practical way to introduce students to the associated question; in others, it is unclear what students should be observing in the video or picture without the associated question. Additionally, students do not subsequently engage in investigations directly related to what they observe in the image or video, but engage in investigations and activities to build content knowledge to later apply to answer the Student Wondering of Phenomena question.

Throughout the program, students have limited opportunities to solve problems or design challenges. Four problems are presented to students during the Mission Briefing at the start of the bundle. Mission Briefings are presented to students as a letter written to the students outlining the problem for students to solve. In some cases, the letter is accompanied by an image or video that provides a common entry point for students who may not have prior experience or context to be able to engage and solve the problem.

The remaining eight problems or design challenges are presented to students as an Engineering Solution activity in the Explore section of a scope. In some cases, these are introduced with a scenario including the problem to be solved, and in other cases these are introduced with a challenge of creating a final product meeting certain specifications. In nearly all instances, they are introduced with text only, and without visuals or common entry points to support students who may not have had prior experience in those areas.  

Examples of problems or design challenges presented as directly as possible:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3: Force and Motion, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a three-dimensional maze incorporating the forces of magnetism, electricity, and gravity to move a marble from a starting position to the finish line. Students are presented with this challenge through text in the Mission Briefing and a video accessed through the Teacher Guide. Additionally, a picture of a three-dimensional maze is included in the Mission Log. The animated video provides a visual to support students who many not have prior experiences with three-dimensional maze games.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2:  Growth and Development of an Organism, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a visually appealing compost garden which will attract and promote organism interactions. Students are presented with this challenge through text in the Mission Briefing, a time lapse video in the Anchoring Phenomenon Event showing strawberries decomposing, and a video showing food waste being added to a large (compost) pile. The video of the compost pile provides a visual support to students who may not have prior experience with composting.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 5: Modeling Conservation of Mass, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge of improving airbag systems so the product will inflate rapidly but also reach the appropriate amount of inflation. The student materials present this challenge through text, accompanied by a picture of a crash test mannequin in a vehicle with an inflated airbag. The image provides a visual support to students who may not have prior experience with airbags inflating.

Examples of problems or design challenges that are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge to “design a system to monitor the effects of human interactions and behavior on the ecosystem of a local park or nature preserve.” Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The problem statement does not specify a specific problem students are trying to solve, simply pointing out interactions in an ecosystem can be monitored to evaluate whether behaviors are harmful or beneficial. The text does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this challenge.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 6: Ecosystem Biodiversity, Explore 3, students are presented with the issue: when developers fill wetlands for projects, they must mitigate and rebuild a similar wetland in another location. Students are challenged to develop a wetland carrying as many ecosystem services as the original wetland. Students are presented with this challenge through text. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this issue.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 2, Scope 3: Thermal Energy in Chemical Reactions, Explore 2, students are presented with the problem: homeless individuals could suffer from hypothermia in the winter. Students are challenged to design a device intended to provide temporary heating for homeless individuals. Students are presented with this challenge through text. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this problem.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Newton's Third Law of Motion, Explore 3, students are presented with a problem: little attention is given to the environment when a driver collides with a stationary object. Students are challenged to create a new safety feature for a vehicle. Each team must develop and test a prototype that will keep the front of the vehicle from being damaged during a collision and will protect the hit object from being damaged. The student materials present this challenge through text and a clip art image of a car. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this problem.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 2: Potential Energy, Explore 4, students are presented with a problem: a skateboarder wants to avoid injury and would like a model of a new trick prior to skating it to ensure that it will work. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this problem.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, Mission Briefing, students are given the challenge to design a device for campers to heat food to a certain temperature and maintain the temperature after removed from the heat. Students are presented with this challenge through text in the Mission Briefing and an image of a thermometer outside. The image and text do not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this challenge. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Thermal Energy Transfer, Explore 3, the problem is that patients may have complications if their temperature sensitive medications are not kept at the correct temperature. Students are challenged to design a medicine container to keep one ice cube frozen for 24 hours. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this problem.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6: Waves and their Applications in Technologies and Information Transfer, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a device that uses light waves to communicate. Students are presented with this challenge through text in the Mission Briefing. The Teacher Guide suggests teachers do an Internet search for a video showing visible light communication, but the materials do not provide a video. The text does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this challenge. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6, Scope 3: Properties of Visible Light, Explore 4, the problem is light passes through most window treatments and Alaskan residents have difficulty sleeping because of the light. Students are challenged to create a stylish window treatment that will block most of the light. While the text clearly outlines the problem their solution is intended to address and criteria they must include in their plan, it does not provide an opportunity for students to directly observe and understand this problem.

Indicator 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Across the series phenomena and problems do not drive student learning across the scopes. 

During the Engage section of each scope, the materials present an image or video that connects to or illustrates a core idea or topic. This is accompanied by a provided Student Wondering of Phenomenon question and a document labeled as an Investigative Phenomena Table, which allows students to record their thinking before, during, and after instruction. While students add their ideas to the Investigative Phenomenon Table, the materials do not explicitly connect this content learning to the video or image until the Evaluate section at the end of the scope, where students are then provided additional information related to the initial video or image as part of the summative assessment Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt. As a result, a phenomenon does not drive learning across the scope.

Because phenomena and/or problems do not drive learning across the scope, students do not engage in all three dimensions in order to figure out a phenomenon or problem. Rather, students often engage with the three dimensions as they participate in multiple investigations and activities to build content knowledge about the core idea or topic and to answer the core idea- or topic-based guiding question for the scope. In several scopes, an Explore activity labeled as an Engineering Solution is included. Across the series, eight Engineering Solutions are included where students solve design problems. However, these generally provide an opportunity for students to apply the content learned in prior Explore sessions, rather than driving new learning.

Examples where core ideas or topic-based guiding questions drive learning rather than phenomena and problems:

  • In Life Science, Bundle 2, Scope 1: Reproduction in Plants and Animals, the guiding question, “What characteristics do plants and animals have that increase their chances of reproduction?” drives student learning. During the Explore section of the scope, students watch a video of a peacock showing its feathers and look for plant and animal adaptations on their school campus. In Explore 1, students use paperclips to represent eggs and sperm and they simulate fish spawning in two scenarios. Students calculate the probability of success of the two spawning scenarios, determine which behavior has the greatest reproductive success (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M2), and write a CER explaining which spawning behavior is more successful (SEP-ARG-E4) using data from the simulation. In Explore 2, students learn about different types of plant behaviors, animal behaviors, and structures that increase the odds of reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). In Explore 3, students apply their learning of adaptations to construct a physical representation of a flower that is able to attract an animal pollinator.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 6: Ecosystem Biodiversity, the guiding question, “Why is biodiversity important in an ecosystem?” drives student learning. During the Explore section of the scope, students view a video showing a balance with earth on one side and coins added to the other side until balanced and record the variety of cars in the school parking lot. In Explore 1, students are introduced to the term biodiversity and engage in an activity to simulate pine beetle infestations in a forest with only white pines and then with multiple tree species. In Explore 2, students sort cards to make energy pyramids and food chains, determining the impact of losing biodiversity in the ecosystem (CCC-CE-M2, DCI-LS2.C-M2). In Explore 3, students are challenged to develop a wetland carrying as many ecosystem services as the original wetland. Students must identify a location containing resources to maintain a wetland and support as many wetland services as possible (DCI-LS4.D-M1). In Explore 4, students use a Tuva dataset to analyze California condor data and how their populations have changed over time with a captive breeding program (CCC-CE-M2, SEP-DATA-M1).
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 4, Scope 3: Ocean Currents, the guiding question, “How does the ocean influence weather and climate?” drives student learning. During the Explore section of the scope, students observe a brief video of an image of the earth with different spots of blue and red labeled as warmer than average and cooler than average temperatures, and observe what happens when a colored ice cube is placed in room-temperature water. In Explore 1, students investigate the effects of salinity and temperature on energy transfer and water currents by observing a colored ice cube placed in room-temperature water. Students then compare this to diagrams of ocean currents to learn how convection drives ocean currents (SEP-DATA-M4, DCI-ESS2.C-M4). In Explore 2, students model how ocean currents, along with latitude, affect weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D-M3, SEP-MOD-M5, CCC-PAT-M3). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 3: Synthetic Materials, the guiding question, “Is it better to use synthetic materials or natural resources?” drives student learning. During the Explore section of the scope, students watch a video of a black and silver liquid moving around and then mix various substances, identifying whether each substance and the final mixture is natural or synthetic. During Explore 1, students sort cards of various objects into natural and synthetic materials. During Explore 2, students work on a research project about different natural and synthetic substances. Students research a natural resource to learn how it is used to create synthetic products. They also determine how the physical and chemical properties in a natural resource are different from the properties of the synthetic product (DCI-PS1.B-M1), describe how the physical and chemical properties contribute to the function of the synthetic product, and describe how the resource impacts society. Finally, students assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias in research sources (SEP-INFO-M3). 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6, Scope 1: Introduction to Properties of Waves, the guiding question,“What is the relationship between the amplitude and energy of waves?” drives student learning. During the Explore section of the scope, students watch a video of a drinking glass breaking when a horn is playing next to the glass and different groups of students use different objects to create waves and demonstrate to the rest of the class. The hook activity, along with activities using a spring toy in Explore 1, are used to develop vocabulary around waves, such as amplitude, wave length, frequency, and trough (SEP-INV-E3, DCI-PS4.A-M1). In Explore 2, students complete a guided investigation using a spring toy to identify patterns in waves (CCC-PAT-M2) and determine the relationships between wave frequency and energy and wave amplitude and energy. In Explore 3, students demonstrate how a rubber band can make sound and the pitch changes depending on the amount of stretch. Students then follow the instructions to place a spinner inside a box to create a mechanical oscilloscope to view the sound vibrations (DCI-PS4.A-P1). 

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 53% (9/17) of the bundles and 13% (8/61) of the scopes compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 0% of the bundles and scopes are designed for students to investigate and make sense of phenomena.

Each bundle begins with a Mission Briefing where an issue, task, challenge, or problem is introduced. These missions are designed to connect learning within the scopes to the overarching issue, task, challenge, or problem. Problems or design challenges that students solve are found within the Mission Briefing in four bundles: three in physical science and one in life science.

Each bundle contains two or more scopes. Not every scope contains an Engineering Solution, but when it is present, it is included in the Explore section and introduces an issue, task, challenge, or problem. Problem or design challenges students solve are identified within the Engineering Solution activities in eight scopes: one scope in each of the six physical science bundles, one life science scope, and one earth and space science scopes. 

At the beginning of each bundle, the materials include a component labeled as an Anchoring Phenomena Event; these differ from the problems presented by the Mission Briefings. These are presented with a video and a teacher-lead discussion. The Anchoring Phenomena Events are not subsequently revisited throughout the bundle and students do not collect evidence to explain these events.

During the Engage section of each scope, the materials include a section labelled as an Investigative Phenomenon and contain an associated Student Wondering of Phenomenon question. These are accompanied by an Investigative Phenomena Table that provides a structure for students to record their thinking before, during, and after instruction. Across all scopes, students are presented with an image or video that illustrates a core idea or topic and is accompanied by a question. Throughout each scope, students engage in investigations and activities to build content knowledge about that core idea or topic. Other than students adding their ideas to the Investigative Phenomenon Table, the materials do not explicitly connect this content learning to the video or image until the Evaluate section at the end of the scope. In this section, students are provided additional information related to the initial video or image as part of the summative assessment Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt to connect back to the initial video or image and answer the associated questions. As such, the materials do not present phenomena for students to investigate and explain.

Examples of problems or design challenges in the Mission Briefing:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3: Force and Motion, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a three-dimensional maze incorporating the forces of magnetism, electricity, and gravity to move a marble from a starting position to the finish line. Students are prompted to consider how collisions, repellent forces, and gravity can be used to change the motion of the marble as it goes through the maze. None of the questions in the Mission Log prompt students to consider how electricity can be used in the maze. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a device for campers to heat food to a certain temperature, and then maintain the temperature after removed from the heat. Throughout the bundle, students apply what they learn about temperature, thermal energy transfer, insulators, and conductors as they draw their design.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6: Waves and their Applications in Technologies and Information Transfer, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a device that uses light waves to communicate. Students apply understanding of light to design a device and act as a salesperson pitching the new product on the television show Making Life Easier. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2: Growth and Development of an Organism, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a visually appealing compost garden that will attract and promote organism interactions. Students apply their learning of decomposition to determine the composition of their compost, identify plants to include in the garden, and then draw a labelled blueprint, including measurements, of their garden design. 

Examples of problems or design challenges in the scopes:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 5: Modeling Conservation of Mass, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge of improving airbag systems so the product will inflate rapidly but also reach the appropriate amount of inflation. Students apply learning of chemical reactions to design, test, and modify an airbag designed to inflate within 20 seconds, but not over inflate. Students present their design to the class and evaluate other designs presented in the class.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 2, Scope 3: Thermal Energy in Chemical Reactions, Explore 2, students are presented with the problem: homeless individuals could suffer from hypothermia in the winter. Students are challenged to design a device that can provide temporary heating for homeless individuals. Students apply prior learning of endothermic and exothermic reactions and factors affecting reaction rates to design, test, and refine their solution.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Newton's Third Law of Motion, Explore 3, students are presented with a problem: little attention is given to the environment when a driver collides with a stationary object. Students are challenged to create a new safety feature for a vehicle. Each team must develop and test a prototype that will keep the front of the vehicle from being damaged during a collision and will protect the object that is hit from being damaged. Students apply their understanding of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, mass, and speed as they design their solution, also considering cost, time, and materials as factors. Students design, test, refine, and present their designs, explaining how they solved the design challenge using Newton’s Third Law of Motion.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 2: Potential Energy, Explore 4, students are presented with a problem: a skateboarder wants to avoid injury and would like a model of a new trick prior to skating it to ensure that it will work. Students are challenged to create a model of a halfpipe that will allow a marble to travel down one side, up the other side, and land in a small specific area (cup). Students design, test, evaluate, and refine their model, identifying any limitations to their model. 
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Thermal Energy Transfer, Explore 3, students are presented with the problem: patients may have complications if their temperature sensitive medications are not kept at the correct temperature. Students are challenged to design a medicine container to keep one ice cube frozen for 24 hours. Students apply their understanding of thermal energy, conductors, and insulators to construct, test, and modify their designs. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6, Scope 3: Properties of Visible Light, Explore 4, students are presented with the problem that light passes through most window treatments and Alaskan residents have difficulty sleeping because of the light. Students are challenged to create a stylish window treatment that will block most of the light. Students apply an understanding of how light is absorbed, reflected, and transmitted when constructing, testing, and modifying their designs. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope 6: Ecosystem Biodiversity, Explore 3, students are presented with the issue of when developers fill wetlands for projects, they must mitigate and rebuild a similar wetland in another location. Students are challenged to develop a wetland carrying as many ecosystem services as the original wetland. Students must identify a location containing resources to maintain a wetland and support as many wetland services as possible, design a wetland with a detailed diagram to scale, and provide details for constructing and maintaining the wetland. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class. 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge to, “design a system to monitor the effects of human interactions and behavior on the ecosystem of a local park or nature preserve.” Students create a plan including scale diagrams showing the monitoring system and how it measures impacts on biotic and abiotic factors, and identify the impacts of the monitoring system on the environment. They identify any necessary materials and technology needed in their plan. Students present their solutions and evaluate other solutions presented in the class.

Indicator 1h

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

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

Each scope begins with what the materials label as an Investigative Phenomena event that is typically introduced with a brief video or image and an associated question, labeled as an Anchoring Phenomena Driving Question; these are revisited in the Evaluation section in the summative assessment Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) prompt at the conclusion of each scope. Students do not subsequently engage in investigations directly related to what they observe in the image or video; instead, each scope provides opportunities for students to investigate topics or concepts that are connected to grade-band DCIs, and engage in activities to build content knowledge to later apply their learning to answer the provided Anchoring Phenomena Driving Question. Therefore, no examples of phenomena are present. 

Mission Briefings are presented as a letter written to the students outlining the problem for students to solve or the issue for students to address. In some cases, the letter is accompanied by an image or video. Across the series, four problems are presented for students to solve. While students are asked questions as part of an initial discussion, these questions elicit student prior knowledge or learning about the content, but the questions are not specific to experiences students have had with the problem or challenge. 

The remaining eight problems or design challenges are presented to students as an Engineering Solution activity in the Explore section of a scope. On the student worksheets for each of these design challenges, the Brainstorm and Research section directs students to “Write down any ideas you have about how you could master the challenge.” While this can provide an opportunity for students to consider what they already know as they begin to design their model, the materials provide no guidance for the teacher on how to use or leverage this information.

Examples where the materials do not address students’ prior knowledge and experience related to problems or design challenges:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, Mission Briefing, students are given the challenge to design a device for campers to heat food to a certain temperature and then maintain the temperature after removed from the heat. During the Anchoring Phenomenon Event, students watch a video of candles on different substrates melting at different rates and then are asked questions about candles, heat, and the movement of thermal energy. While these questions can be used to elicit student prior knowledge about heat and thermal energy, they do not elicit students’ prior knowledge or experience with heating devices or those used outdoors.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3: Force and Motion, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a three-dimensional maze incorporating the forces of magnetism, electricity, and gravity to move a marble from a starting position to the finish line. During the Anchoring Phenomenon Event, students watch a video of a dog skateboarding and are asked questions about the forces in the video. These questions do not elicit or leverage student prior knowledge or experience with three-dimensional mazes, electricity, magnetism, or gravitational forces.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6: Waves and their Applications in Technologies and Information Transfer, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a device that uses light waves to communicate. During the Anchoring Phenomenon Event, students watch a video on Morse code as a digital signal to communicate, and then are asked questions about different forms of communication. These questions can be used to elicit student prior knowledge about different ways to communicate and different technologies used during communication, however, the materials do not provide opportunities to leverage student prior knowledge related to using light waves for communication. 
  • In Life Science, Bundle 2: Growth and Development of an Organism, Mission Briefing, the challenge is to design a visually appealing compost garden resulting in attracting and promoting organism interactions. During the Anchoring Phenomenon Event, students watch a time-lapse video of strawberries decomposing and then are asked questions about strawberries, and environmental factors causing strawberries to decompose. Students then watch a video of vegetable waste being added to a compost pile. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with making compost or its use for gardening. 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Human Impact on the Environment, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge to “design a system to monitor the effects of human interactions and behavior on the ecosystem of a local park or nature preserve.” Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with environmental monitoring systems.
  • In In Life Science, Bundle 3, Scope: Ecosystem Biodiversity, Explore 3, students are presented with the issue when developers fill wetlands for projects, they must mitigate and rebuild a similar wetland in another location. Students are challenged to develop a wetland carrying as many ecosystem services as the original wetland. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining the problem and provides criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with wetland environments or wetland plans.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 1, Scope 5: Modeling Conservation of Mass, Explore 3, students are presented with the challenge of improving airbag systems so the product will inflate rapidly, but also reach the appropriate amount of inflation. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with car airbag systems.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 2, Scope 3: Thermal Energy in Chemical Reactions, Explore 2, students are presented with the problem: homeless individuals could suffer from hypothermia in the winter. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with chemical hand warmers.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 3, Scope 1: Newton's Third Law of Motion, Explore 3, students are presented with a problem that little attention is given to the environment when a driver collides with a stationary object. Students are challenged to create a new safety feature for a vehicle. Each team must develop and test a prototype that will keep the front of the vehicle from being damaged during a collision and will protect the hit object from being damaged. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with safety features of cars.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 4, Scope 2: Potential Energy, Explore 4, students are presented with a problem: a skateboarder wants to avoid injury and would like a model of a new trick prior to skating it to ensure that it will work. Students are challenged to create a model of a halfpipe that will allow a marble to travel down one side, up the other side, and land in a small specific area (cup). Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with skateboarding or halfpipe design.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5, Scope 1: Thermal Energy Transfer, Explore 3, the problem is patients may have complications if their temperature-sensitive medications are not kept at the correct temperature. Students are challenged to design a medicine container to keep one ice cube frozen for 24 hours. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with insulated containers or temperature-sensitive medications.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6, Scope 3: Properties of Visible Light, Explore 4, the problem is that light passes through most window treatments and Alaskan residents have difficulty sleeping because of the light. Students are challenged to create a stylish window treatment that will block most of the light. Students are presented with this challenge through text outlining criteria for the solution. The materials provide no guidance for eliciting or leveraging student prior knowledge or experience with materials that can effectively block sunlight.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Each bundle includes a Mission Briefing, which presents students with a letter introducing them to their mission. This letter describes what students will be doing in the bundle, what is needed to solve the mission, and what content they will learn to do so. In some cases, the mission is in a research project or other activity; in other instances, it is an engineering challenge for students to solve. As students work through each scope in the bundle, they are directed to add new learning to their Mission Log. While Explore activities build background knowledge for students to apply to the mission, the mission is not driving the learning across the scopes or bundles. In multiple instances, the Mission Log connection is comprised of content-driven questions students can apply in order to complete the mission. 

In addition, each bundle contains what the materials label as an Anchoring Phenomena Event at the beginning of each Bundle. These include a brief video clip or an image and possible questions that the students may ask. Students do not engage in learning specifically to explain what they observed in the video. Instead, the associated Anchoring Phenomenon Driving Question is used to drive learning across multiple scopes in the bundle. This driving question focuses on developing an understanding of a DCI, rather than leading toward an explanation of a specific phenomenon or students’ observations in the video. 

While students typically engage in all three dimensions across an entire bundle as they work toward answering the driving question, there are a few instances where the elements of the dimension are not at the middle-school grade band.  

Examples that do not use a phenomenon or problem to drive student learning across multiple lessons but do engage with all three dimensions across multiple lessons:

  • In Physical Science, Bundle 5: Energy Transfer in Temperature, the driving question, “How can you maximize the thermal energy transfer in a system?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. In Scope 1, students develop the concept of thermal energy transfer and energy transfer and temperature (DCI-PS3.A-M3). They investigate different distances from heat source and different properties of materials to better understand thermal energy transfer (DCI-PS3.A-M3, CCC-SF-M2, SEP-INV-M4). Students are then challenged to design a medicine container to keep one ice cube frozen for 24 hours. Prior to beginning the design process, students research which materials are insulators and conductors to inform their design. Students apply their understanding of thermal energy, conductors, and insulators to construct, test, and modify their designs to reduce the amount of energy transferred so the temperature doesn’t change (DCI-PS3.B-M2). In Scope 2, students investigate different liquids to determine the rate they lose heat energy and determine how temperature change also depends on the amount of matter and the environment something is placed (DCI-PS3.A-M3, CCC-SF-M2, SEP-INV-M4). Students determine how to transfer thermal energy to their device, and how to use appropriate materials to maintain the thermal energy. Students then design (SEP-CEDS-M6) a device that transfers thermal energy (CCC-EM-M4, DCI-PS3.A-M3) to heat food, and maintains thermal energy to keep food warm. Students are asked to design a device by drawing and labeling their ideas on paper, but students do not actually construct or test their design, nor are they evaluated on their summary. Instead, students engage in all three dimensions as they develop an understanding to complete the Mission Log and answer the associated questions.
  • In Physical Science, Bundle 6: Waves and their Application in Technologies and Information Transfer, the driving question, “How are different types of waves used in technology and communication applications?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. In Scope 3, students explore different properties of light and how light waves are transmitted, absorbed, and reflected through different materials (DCI-PS4.B-M1, SEP-INV-M2). In Scope 4, students further develop their understanding of light as they determine the relationship between frequency of light and refraction (DCI-PS4.B-M2) and how the brightness of light is impacted by the material it is transmitted through (DCI-PS4.B-M3, SEP-INV-M2, CCC-SF-M2). In Scope 5, students learn about digital and analog signals and how each can be used to transfer information. To complete the mission, students apply what they learned in the bundle to design a device (SEP-CEDS-M6) making life easier for people by communicating through light (DCI-PS4.A-M1, DCI-PS4.C-M1). Students use the information they learned in the scopes of this bundle to design a communication device using light waves.
  • In Life Science, Bundle 5: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity, the driving question, “How do we know that organisms existed millions of years ago?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. Over the course of three scopes, students learn about the fossil record, evolutionary relationships, and embryonic similarities. They communicate this knowledge in a press release, citing evidence from the fossil record, evolutionary relationships, and embryonic similarities. Students construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-E3) that restates relevant information presented in the scopes about the fossil record, evolutionary relationships, and embryonic similarities (DCI-LS4.A-M1, DCI-LS4.A-M2, DCI-LS4.A-M3).
  • In Life Science, Bundle 6: Changes in Organisms Over Time, the driving question, “How can organisms be bred for specific purposes?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. In Scope 1, students use a simulation with beans and finch beak traits to learn how natural selection leads to genetic variation in a population (DCI-LS4.B-M1). Students then learn about different traits provide survival advantages for different organisms and how natural selection successful traits can change the distribution of traits in a population (DCI-LS4.C-M1). Students then analyze Tuva data to determine how seed type and size caused populations of finches in the Galapagos Islands to change over time (SEP-DATA-M1, DCI-LS4.C-M1). In Scope 2, students learn about artificial selection by examining traits of different dog breeds and determining which dogs, and their associated traits, should be bred in order to produce offspring with desired traits (DCI-LS4.B-M2, CCC-CE-E1). Additionally, students research impacts of artificial selection and assess the credibility of sources used for their research (DCI-LS4.B-M2, SEP-INFO-M3).  
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 3: Earth’s Materials Systems and Natural Hazards, the driving question, “What can past geoscience processes tell us about Earth’s materials and natural hazards?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. Across this bundle, students engage in four scopes to learn about weathering, erosion, types of rocks, the rock cycle, and natural hazards. In Scope 1, students follow directions to make models of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. Students shave wax crayons and put different colored shavings in a bag and compress them to represent sedimentary rocks. Then, students place it in hot water to represent metamorphic rock. Students also represent igneous rock by heating and then cooling the crayon shavings in the bag to view changes that result in the formation of the different types of rocks (DCI-ESS2.A-M1, SEP-MOD-E4, CCC-SC-M2). Students also draw a model of the path of matter in the rock cycle (DCI-ESS2.A-M1, SEP-MOD-M5). 
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 4: The Role of Water in the Earth’s Surface, and Weather and Climate, the driving question, “How can the interactions of the air, ocean, and land be used to predict the formation and movement of a hurricane?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. In Scope 1, students use a model to observe the water cycle, and observe a plant that has a portion of its leaves wrapped in a plastic bag with a heat lamp. Students use these models to describe their observations (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS2.C-M1). Students are asked to reflect on the energy source in the model system the component in nature it represents, and the role energy transfer plays in the water cycle (CCC-EM-M2).
  • In Earth and Space Science, Bundle 5: Natural Resources and Human Impacts on Earth Systems, the driving question, “How does the use of natural resources like petroleum impact the environment?” drives student learning, rather than a phenomenon or problem. In the Mission Briefing, students develop a film storyboard to explain the impact of extracting petroleum and disposing of plastics in the environment. Students develop a film storyboard (SEP-CEDS-E3) to show the impact of human extraction of fossil fuels that are used for energy (DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Across the bundle, students investigate the relationship between human populations and air pollution using a Tuva dataset (CCC-PAT-M2) and investigate how carbon dioxide acidifies oceans and how that impacts shells of animals. Students also investigate factors that caused global temperatures to rise over the past century. Students observe cups of soil under three different conditions to create a model of the greenhouse effect. They also compare balloons filled with air and with water to understand the impacts of global warming on oceans.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

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

Criterion 2a - 2g

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

Indicator 2a

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

Indicator 2a.i

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

Indicator 2a.ii

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

Indicator 2b

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

Indicator 2c

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

Indicator 2d

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

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

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

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

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

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

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

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3d

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

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

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

Indicator 3d

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

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

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

Indicator 3f

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

Indicator 3g

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

Indicator 3h

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

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

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

Indicator 3k

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

Criterion 3l - 3s

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

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Indicator 3o

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

Indicator 3p

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

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Indicator 3s

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

Criterion 3t - 3y

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

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3v

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

Indicator 3w

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

Indicator 3x

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

Indicator 3y

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

Criterion 3z - 3ad

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

Indicator 3z

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

Indicator 3aa

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

Indicator 3ab

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

Indicator 3ac

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

Indicator 3ad

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

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 04/23/2020

Report Edition: 2019

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
NGSS 3D MS Life Science Teacher Planning Comp TPC 978-1-64168-543-6 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Earth and Space Science Teacher Planning Comp TPC 978-1-64168-544-3 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Physical Science Teacher Planning Comp TPC 978-1-64168-545-0 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Life Science STEMscopedia Print 978-1-64168-825-3 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Physical Science STEMscopedia Print 978-1-64168-826-0 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Earth and Space Science STEMscopedia Print 978-1-64168-827-7 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Life Science Student Journal 978-1-94736-585-8 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Physical Science Student Journal 978-1-94736-586-5 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018
NGSS 3D MS Earth and Space Science Student Journal 978-1-94736-587-2 Accelerate Learning Inc. 2018

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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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