Study illustrates the potential for curriculum that addresses the new science standards to advance today’s vision of science education. 

San Francisco – WestEd is pleased to present new findings from a recent randomized controlled trial led by the agency to examine the efficacy of the widely available Amplify Science Middle School (ASMS) curriculum for advancing seventh grade students’ learning in relation to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations. Initial findings show that students in intervention classrooms performed significantly better than students in comparison classrooms.

As new curriculum materials are emerging to support educators in addressing the NGSS performance expectations, and as these curricula are implemented more widely, evidence-based research on their efficacy is increasingly important to inform educators’ decision making.

ASMS materials designed for Grades 6 through 8, developed by the University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science in collaboration with Amplify Education, Inc., are among the first comprehensive curricular programs designed specifically to meet the vision of the Framework for K–12 Science Education and to address the NGSS performance expectations.

The research team led by WestEd investigated the extent to which the curriculum supports students’ three-dimensional learning and the nature of teachers’ implementation.

WestEd Director of Science and Engineering Education Research Christopher Harris says, “Put broadly, the results show that curriculum materials designed for the NGSS and aimed toward important science standards can support educators in creating classroom conditions that will prepare students for next generation science learning.”

The study examined research questions relative to two primary domains:

Student learning: What is the impact of the ASMS curriculum on learning outcomes in culturally and linguistically diverse school settings? How does the impact of the ASMS curriculum vary by student background characteristics?

Curriculum implementation: What is the nature of teachers’ implementation of the ASMS curriculum? In what ways does implementation of the ASMS curriculum influence teachers’ NGSS instruction?

Researchers conducted a randomized experiment across 15 schools in three districts that were in different geographic regions and represented a range of diverse student populations. Schools were assigned randomly into one of two groups: an intervention group in which teachers implemented ASMS and a comparison group in which teachers implemented their regular curricular units. Science teachers in both groups implemented instruction that aimed for the same NGSS performance expectations.

The study’s initial findings show that students in intervention classrooms performed significantly better than students in comparison classrooms. These early findings contribute to a better understanding of the potential of NGSS-designed curriculum for advancing today’s vision for science education.

This study is among the first rigorous studies of widely available curriculum materials for the NGSS. Subscribe to the WestEd E-Bulletin to stay tuned for further in-depth research findings.

Download the research brief for more information.