Evaluating the Impact of Amplify Science Middle School Curriculum on Teaching and Learning

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) put forth a new vision for K–12 science classrooms that recasts science proficiency as not only what students know, but also how they can use and apply what they know.

This knowledge-in-use perspective represents a different way of thinking about science learning: Disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts should work together to enable students to reason with evidence, make sense of phenomena, and design solutions to problems.

Because the NGSS are so vastly different from previous standards, many developers are creating the next generation of science curriculum materials. To date, few research-based curriculum materials have been designed from the ground up for the NGSS, and thus there is limited evidence-based research on the efficacy of NGSS designed curricula.

Background

WestEd, with research grant funding from the National Science Foundation, is leading an efficacy study to examine the impact of the Amplify Science Middle School (ASMS) curriculum on teaching and learning.

Designed by the Lawrence Hall of Science in collaboration with Amplify, ASMS is the Hall’s first comprehensive curriculum program designed expressly to meet the vision and address the performance expectations of the NGSS. The materials provide students in grades 6–8 with opportunities to engage with core ideas and cross-cutting concepts in the context of science and engineering practices over time to strengthen their science proficiency.

The curriculum package includes a digital platform for students and teachers along with physical materials for hands-on activities.

Methodology Summary and Intended Outcomes

Education researchers from WestEd, SRI International, and Rand Corporation are working closely with Lawrence Hall of Science and participating school districts to conduct the study in middle school science classrooms. This efficacy study is a randomized controlled trial that will compare classrooms that receive the ASMS curriculum materials and professional development support with classrooms in a “business as usual” (control) condition in several large school districts.

Findings from this independent study will inform the science education community about how curriculum materials can support NGSS instruction.

Learn More

For questions about this study, please email the study team at asms_study@wested.org.

To learn how school districts in NGSS states can participate in the 2019–20 study and the benefits of participating, download the ASMS study brochure (PDF).