Durham, NC, June 6, 2023 — EdReports, a nonprofit that provides free reviews of instructional materials, published its first set of reviews of high school science curriculum today. Of the three products reviewed, one met expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and other dimensions of quality.
“There are encouraging results in this inaugural review, but it also forecasts that there may be limited sets of high school materials that meet expectations for supporting the crucial innovations laid out in modern science standards,” said Sam Shaw, EdReports Director of Science. “But we also see tremendous opportunity. An overwhelming 96% of science teachers report wanting standards-aligned materials, and these reviews can act as a mechanism to demand better curriculum for students.”
Courtney Allison, EdReports Chief Academic Officer, added: “Throughout this process, EdReports has heard from multiple publishers that are working to improve existing products and create new ones. If content developers attend to the alignment and usability gaps identified in these educator-led reviews, it could mean that high school science teachers will soon be able to choose from multiple standards-aligned products.”
Across the three high school science courses, review teams found the following:
Meets Expectations for Alignment to NGSS:
- BSCS Biology Understanding for Life (Kendall Hunt Publishing)
Did Not Meet Expectations for Alignment to NGSS:
- Biology for NGSS (BIOZONE Corporation)
- Inspire Biology (McGraw-Hill Education)
Read the reviews here: edreports.org/reports/science
Right now, 20 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards and 24 use standards informed by the “Framework for K-12 Science Education.” Prior to today’s announcement, EdReports had reviewed 80% of core science curricular materials used in grades 6–8 classrooms and found that only two programs meet expectations for alignment. For K–5 classrooms, EdReports has reviewed 46% of core curricular materials and found that one program meets expectations for alignment in five of the six grade levels.
The current lack of aligned materials may impact what is taught in the classroom. A staggering 92% of high school science teachers report using no comprehensive instructional materials in their classrooms. More than half of all science teachers indicate that they use supplements as their primary source of materials which can have a significant impact on coherence. It is much harder to develop a coherent learning experience for students when trying to piece multiple lessons from multiple sources together into a year’s worth of learning and across multiple years.
“At my school, the science curriculum we use is all teacher-created. Not only does this mean hours and hours spent developing content, but our content can vary in quality from classroom to classroom,” said Katie Miller, an EdReports high school science reviewer and science instructional coach in Eldridge, IA. “This kind of creation puts so much pressure on teachers, and I found myself struggling to understand how to ensure quality materials for all of my students. The potential impact of EdReports’ reviews can empower any educator with information as well as provide feedback to publishers about the product they’ve created.”
Content Review Teams, comprised of expert science educators from across the country, began reviewing sets of instructional materials in August 2022. 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. EdReports’ review tools and methodology are 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.
EdReports will continue to review additional high school science instructional materials and will release the results on a rolling basis. For more information on the results and review process, visit: www.edreports.org.
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