EdReports Breaks New Ground with Inaugural Science Reviews

Thu Feb 28 00:00:00 UTC 2019

EdReports.org, a nonprofit that provides free reviews of instructional materials, announced the results of its first round of science reviews for grades 6-8. Its findings revealed that one of the six instructional materials series fully met criteria. 

“With 19 states (including Washington D.C.) adopting the Next Generation Science Standards and 21 other states adopting standards informed by NGSS and A Framework for K-12 Science Education, there is a clear need from the field for materials that are also designed for the innovations of the NGSS. Ultimately, we hope our reviews help ensure teachers have the resources they need to foster student success,” said EdReports.org’s Executive Director Eric Hirsch. 

Content Review Teams, comprised of expert science educators from across the country, analyzed programs over the course of several months. Hundreds of hours were spent identifying evidence and scores for the five characteristics of the NGSS innovations: Making Sense of Phenomena and Designing Solutions to Problems, Three-Dimensional Learning, Building K-12 Progressions, Alignment with English Language Arts and Mathematics, and All Standards, All Students. The EdReports rubric and review methodology is free and publicly available on its website. 

Materials that met criteria for alignment were then further evaluated on usability criteria which include supports for educators, multiple strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners, strong student assessment practices and effective use of technology. 

Across the six middle school science series, review teams found the following: 

Met Expectations for Alignment to NGSS: 

  • Amplify Science (Amplify) 

Partially Met Expectations for Alignment to NGSS: 

  • HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 

Did Not Meet Expectations for Alignment to NGSS: 

  • Science and Technology Concepts Middle School (Carolina Biological Supply Company) 
  • Discovery Science Techbook for California NGSS Middle School (Discovery Education) 
  • Bring Science Alive! Integrated Program (Teachers' Curriculum Institute) 
  • Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program (Teachers' Curriculum Institute) 

Ted Willard, Assistant Executive Director for Science Standards at the National Science Teachers Association, celebrated the release. “The Next Generation Science Standards have the power to transform science education by enabling students to learn science the way it is practiced and experienced in the real world,” Willard said. “The standards recommend significant shifts in science teaching, and the instructional materials teachers use need to reflect these important changes. Districts are looking to independent third parties like EdReports to help guide them in the selection of high-quality science instructional materials. These science reports will give educators a highly useful piece of evidence they need to navigate the instructional materials market and make informed decisions.” 

Hirsch adds, “There has been a shortage of reviews available of year-long science programs, yet these programs remain the backbone of classroom curriculum nationwide. We’ve heard from states, districts, and schools how much our reviews help them reflect on the materials they are currently using and may consider in the future. We expect the extensive evidence documented in our reports will empower districts with the data they need to ask the right questions and make the best decisions.” 

EdReports.org will continue to review additional 6-8 print and digital instructional materials in science and will release the results on a rolling basis. Elementary school reports will be available early in 2020 and high school reports down the line. 

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