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    Quick Links to SPS Adoption Websites

    Science Adoption for Grades 6-8

    In May 2018, Seattle Public Schools initiated an adoption process for instructional materials to support science in grades 6 through 8. An Adoption Committee, which will include teachers, parents, and community members, is being formed to begin the process of reviewing instructional materials candidates in June 2018.

    The instructional materials process will follow the Seattle Public Schools Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials, Policy No. 2015PDF icon.

    When approved by the Seattle School Board, the new instructional materials will be ready for implementation by the 2019-20 school year.

    Science Adoption FAQ

    In light of inaccurate reporting by local media, Seattle Public Schools is providing information related to the K-12 science adoption process to both inform the community and to clarify any misconceptions and inaccuracies that have been reported.

    Why is the SPS science materials adoption necessary for our students?

    Equitable access to instructional materials that promote modern teaching practices, align with the Next Generation Science Standards, and support all students’ achievement is the driving force of the science materials adoption process.

    The most recent K-5 science curriculum adoption in SPS occurred 24 years ago and 17 years ago at grades 6-8. No high school science materials have ever been officially adopted by the district. Since the last science adoptions, technology, engineering, scientific knowledge, and science teaching practices have undergone dramatic innovation and change.

    In response to the lack of updated, standards-aligned science curricula, schools with heavy PTSA financial involvement have been able to purchase supplemental materials for their schools. Schools with this level of PTSA investment tend to also have fewer students experiencing poverty and lower teacher turnover. Some schools have also been able to purchase from their building-based budget, but not all schools.

    This practice has resulted in highly varied instructional resources, in both quality and quantity, across our district. This patchwork of disjointed and supplemental science curricula is not sustainable at a systems level and, most importantly, is profoundly inequitable for Seattle Public School’s historically underserved students. As a result of this inequitable access to science instructional materials, low-income students and students of color are far less likely to be prepared for high-school level science courses, as evidenced by the achievement gaps in SPS between white students and students of color reported at grades 5, 8, and 11.

    The district’s new 5-year Strategic Plan calls for every Seattle Public Schools’ student to receive a high-quality, world-class education, and to graduate prepared for college, career, and community. The Board-adopted plan mandates that all departments in SPS ensure racial equity in our educational system. The adoption of foundational science instructional materials at grades K-12 will ensure high quality, board approved resources are available to all students regardless of school assignment or zip code.

    Is there a state assessment for science?

    Last spring, the State of Washington began testing students’ mastery of content and skills found in the Next Generation Science Standards. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) launched the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) at grades 5, 8, and 11, a statewide assessment.  The test is entirely computer-based and all test items are digitally interactive. The test assesses students’ proficiency of science principles in the new standards and the eight engineering and science practice skills, as well as the seven crosscutting concepts.

    What is a science curriculum adoption process?

    It is part of SPS Policy No. 2015, “Selection & Adoption of Instructional Materials.” An Instructional Materials Committee creates a representative Adoption Committee for each specific adoption (e.g. elementary science). In the case of science, the three adoption committees consisted of teachers, professors, scientists, and families. It is a thorough process that solicits input from the community on their opinions and values about instructional materials. After the Adoption Committee completes its review, the Committee is directed to recommend instructional materials for adoption to the School Board. Typically, the committee presents a single candidate for recommendation. The 2018-19 Science Adoption is scheduled for introduction to the board on May 15.

    How many adoptions committees were there? How were SPS teachers involved? 

    The 2018-19 Science Adoption engaged three committees, one for K-5, one for 6-8, and one for 9-12. In all, 90 teachers, parents, scientists and engineers contributed more than 70 hours each to help determine the finalists for field testing. 

    How was the adoption committee selected?

    SPS Communications and SPS science broadly announced the opportunity to participate on the Science Adoption Committee. The announcements were broadcast via parent email, the public website, social media, community networks and organizations, and personal communication via teachers and building administrators. ALL interested individuals who applied to participate were invited to become a committee member. However, when more than one teacher per grade band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) at a school applied to the committee, the applicants were asked to choose their one representative.  Committee membership at all three grade bands included individuals from Science teaching, English Language Learners, Special Education, Advanced Learning, STEM industry professionals, representatives from institutions of higher learning, families, and Seattle’s diverse community.

    How were materials tested and evaluated?

    Each adoption process runs through four stages including initial review, community input, field testing, and review against a rigorous rubric prior to School Board approval and implementation. That entire process is about 14 months. The field-testing process included 62 teachers who served as field test leads, engaging more than 3,800 students. Extensive data was gathered during the field testing. Each instructional material was reviewed against a rigorous rubric that aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards. The finalist candidate for board action was determined through a committee analysis of the rubric, the field test, and community input.  It is the adoption committee, not the SPS Science Manager or staff, that determines which curriculum candidate is selected for recommendation of approval for adoption by the School Board, as outlined in Board Policy 2015.  You can read more about the Adoption Process and Timeline here.

    How are instructional materials selected for consideration by the Adoption Committee?

    As per board policy, SPS Purchasing Department sends a formal notice of the anticipated adoption to the Washington-Oregon-Alaska Textbook Representatives Association roster and any other publishers who have requested notification. The publishers are invited to submit materials to the Instruction Materials Office for evaluation.

    A recent media story questions the process related to the committee’s AmplifyScience recommendation. Below is background information and details on the process.

    Who Created AmplifyScience?

    AmplifyScience was developed by UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and the digital learning team at Amplify. Lawrence Hall has been developing science curriculum since the 1970s and also authored FOSS and SEPUP science curricula, both of which were part of the original science adoptions at SPS and have been in use in grades K-8 in SPS for decades. AmplifyScience is Lawrence Hall’s first curriculum designed to address the new science standards.

    Why is AmplifyScience currently in use in several SPS middle schools? Who approves the use of instructional waivers in SPS?

    When a school determines that currently adopted curriculum materials do not meet the needs of its students or programs, the school’s principal may apply to waive the use of currently adopted materials so that non-adopted materials can be used. This is a common practice at SPS and at districts nationwide. (Instructional Materials waivers are currently in use in SPS for Math, ELA, and other subjects, at all grade bands.) In SPS, building principals first submit instructional waiver applications to the required district personnel, including the Superintendent, for approval in accordance with Board Policy 2020.

    In 2016, with no science curriculum adoption scheduled for the future, science teacher representatives from all SPS middle schools formed an alignment team and began meeting to align the outdated adopted science curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards, which were adopted by Washington State in fall of 2013. Recognizing that it was not realistic to align standards by revising 15-year-old curriculum, the alignment team began exploring several alternatives supported by Board Policy 2020, and their schools’ ability to offer supplemental or alternative curricula if approved through a formal waiver process.

    Together, in January 2017, the alignment team identified Amplify instructional materials as an option to be used with the appropriate Board mandated instructional materials waiver. In March 2017, alignment team members asked their building principals to submit a three-year instructional waiver application, as outlined in Board Policy 2020 and Board Policy 2020SP, for their respective schools at some or all grade levels.  This resulted in 16 of the 22 SPS middle school principals submitting formal instructional material waivers, which were approved by the former Superintendent.

    How did SPS obtain Amplify for use as instructional waiver materials?

    Amplify provided the program subscriptions (the digital portion) for free to SPS. SPS used existing resources to provide schools with the workbooks and kits (labs).

    Is there a relationship between the waivers use of Amplify and the fact that Amplify became a candidate for adoption?

    No, they are completely separate processes. Beginning in 2017, Amplify was requested in the Instructional Waiver process by several SPS schools to be used as an alternative to the current instructional materials adopted in 2001-2002. At this time, SPS Science had not yet been informed of the decision to proceed with an official science instructional materials adoption process for grades K-12 at all SPS schools. Amplify, like all other curriculum publishers, received the announcement from the SPS Purchasing Department of the Requests for Proposals (RFP). Amplify, along with 10 other publishers at grades K-5 and 9 other publishers at grades 6-8 submitted materials to be considered in the adoption process.

    How did Amplify become a candidate in the science curriculum adoption process?

    When the adoption process was made public, Amplify, along with 10 other publishers, submitted its materials to be considered as part of the process. The K-5 and 6-8 Adoption Committees then narrowed their choices of curricula to three candidates, which were then field tested in schools for two months. Based on the committees’ evaluation of the three finalists’ materials, and based on public input, and the field-tested materials’ performance in classrooms, the Adoption Committee ultimately recommended Amplify for adoption at K-5 and 6-8, and CarbonTIME, PEER, and District-Developed Materials, at 9-12.

    Did the SPS Science Program Manager have any relationship with Amplify prior to the start of the science curriculum adoption process that would constitute a conflict of interest?

    The SPS Science Manager does not have, and has not had, any relationship with Amplify. Further, the Science Program Manager does not select which curriculum publishers submit materials for review by the Adoption Committee; potential candidates must go through the SPS Purchasing Dept. The Science Program Manager is not an actual member of the Adoption Committee and does not evaluate materials submitted for review, nor does the Science Program Manager vote on whether to advance an adoption candidate to the next round of consideration by the School Board.

    Is Amplify being used in other districts?

    Regionally, Amplify has been adopted in Bellevue, Bethel, Edmonds, Puyallup, Sumner-Bonney Lake, Yelm, as well as Hillsboro, Sherwood, and Bend, Oregon. Nationally, Amplify has been adopted in New York City Public Schools, San Francisco Unified, Denver Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, Madison, Wisconsin, and approved for adoption by all districts within the state of California.

    Has Amplify been evaluated for standards alignment and educational effectiveness by a third party?

    Amplify for grades 6-8 has recently been rated as “fully-aligned” by EdReports. Amplify for grades 6–8 is the only middle school science program to receive EdReports’ highest ranking, indicating that a curriculum meets expectations for every category of the EdReports review system for science programs in grades 6–8. EdReports has not yet conducted an evaluation of K-5 science materials programs. View the report here:

    Does Amplify require students to use computers excessively? Are there any hands-on activities?

    Amplify blends hands-on investigations, literacy activities, and interactive digital tools to allow students to think, read, write, and support claim from evidence like real scientists and engineers. This is common among science instructional programs developed for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, and all of the instructional materials candidate programs that were field-tested as part of the K-5 and 6-8 science adoption process included interactive technology as part of the lesson activities.

    At elementary, the technology component of Amplify is largely teacher-based, however there are opportunities for students to work together in pairs to use digital tools, such as scaling tools, modeling tools, and simulations.  In Amplify at grades K-1, students do not use computers at all. At grades 2-3 the use of student devices is limited to approximately 2% of the learning activities and progresses to approximately 10% at grades 4-5.

    At grades 6-8, students may directly access the online portal, however the classroom teacher is still responsible for instructing the lesson and motivating each learning activity within the lesson. The students are more engaged with digital learning tools, such as modeling tools and simulations, than at elementary, however computer-based activities comprise approximately 15% of the learning activities in each unit. All other learning activities can be conducted offline.

    What curriculum is currently being used in non-Amplify schools?

    K-5 schools, as well as the middle schools that did not apply for the instructional waiver to use Amplify, are currently provided with the adopted science materials from 1996 and 2002, respectively.

    The previous science adoption at K-5 and 6-8 was not a single comprehensive program; unit titles were purchased from the three different vendors included in the adoption: STC (Science and Technology Corporation), FOSS (Full Option Science System), and Lab-Aids by SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding). This “piecemeal” adoption resulted in a unit scope and sequence that includes both redundancies and content gaps. Further, because of their age, the text-based resources are outdated and/or inaccurate. As a result, many schools have opted, independently and informally, to purchase supplement or replacement materials using PTSA or building-based funds, therefore there is a high degree of variability in the science materials being used across the district.

    Were any AmplifyScience kits purchased by SPS prior to the launch of the official science adoption process in the Spring of 2018?

    Yes. Amplify Science instructional materials including kits were purchased for three new district elementary schools using capital budget funds. For existing schools that had applied to use Amplify Science under the instructional materials waiver process, kit materials were sourced from existing inventory.

    In the Spring of 2017, 22 years after the last K-5 adoption and 15 years after the last 6-8 adoption, there was still no indication from district administrators that a long-overdue science instructional materials adoption was a possibility.

    In the absence of instructional materials that aligned to the new WA State Science Standards (NGSS) adopted in 2013, several schools articulated the need for standards-aligned, high-quality instructional materials to transition their science teaching and learning to meet the new standards. To facilitate this transition, several schools requested an Instructional Materials Waiver in accordance with School Board Policy #2020 in order to accommodate the immediate need for instructional materials designed for the NGSS. The waivers were approved for three years and signed by Superintendent Larry Nyland in May of 2017. The waivers were presented to the School Board C&I Committee in early November 2017.

    Elementary Waivers:

    The three new K-5 schools opening in the Fall of 2017 were granted instructional waivers to purchase AmplifyScience kits for their schools as they opened. The current K-5 science materials, which were adopted by SPS in 1995, could not be purchased for these schools because many of the kit titles were no longer available from the published, or the printed materials were no longer in print. Each new building used their dedicated capital budget funds to purchase the new science materials, which is common practice for new schools. The following items were purchased for these elementary schools:

    • One materials “kit” per science unit containing science supplies needed to deliver the hands-on learning activities in the unit.
      • There are three units at each grade level for K-2 and four units at each grade level for 3-5.
    • One teacher manual per kit.
    • One set of student reader books per kit.
    • One classroom license per teacher.

    Middle School Waivers:

    Twenty middle schools applied for, and were granted, a three-year instructional materials waiver as an alternative to the current adopted 6-8 science kits, which were adopted by SPS in 2001-2002 and did not align in practice or content with the 2013 WA State Science Standards (NGSS). Again, with no science adoption slated for the future, schools requested an instructional materials waiver to use the AmplifyScience materials which designed and created to align to the new standards. To support the transition to the waiver materials, three components were required for each science teacher using the waiver:

    1. A classroom laptop cart – the SPS DoTS’ (Dept. of Technology Services) Board Action Report for instructional technology was approved in November 2017 and laptop carts were placed in classrooms that had applied for a waiver.
    2. AmplifyScience units include several hands-on investigations. To create the materials “kits” for the Amplify units, the SPS Science Materials Center reallocated existing inventory and materials from the 2002-era kits.
    3. Each student at a waiver-approved school needed a license to access the online components of the program. These licenses were given to the district by Amplify at a reduced rate. This is a common practice employed by publishers to help districts with such purchases.

    Instructional Materials Open Houses

    Please note: The Open House originally scheduled for February 9th, canceled due to weather conditions, has been rescheduled:

    Saturday, March 2nd
    Rainier Beach High School
    8815 Seward Park Ave S
    Seattle, WA 98118
    9:00am - 11:00am  Elementary Science
    11:00am - 1:00pm  Middle School Science
    1:00pm - 3:00pm  High School Science

    We are hosting two Science Instructional Materials Open Houses in February, where we will provide information about the new standards and how science will look different for students, answer your questions, and allow you time to review the candidates being considered for adoption by the district.

    Saturday, February 2nd
    Nathan Hale High School

    10750 30th Avenue NE
    9:00am - 11:00am  Elementary Science
    11:00am - 1:00pm  Middle School Science
    1:00pm - 3:00pm  High School Science

    Saturday, February 9th
    Rainier Beach Community Center

    825 Rainier Avenue S
    9:00am - 11:00am  Elementary Science
    11:00am - 1:00pm  Middle School Science
    1:00pm - 3:00pm  High School Science

    Adoption Committee Information

    Roster of 6-8 Science Adoption Committee Membershippdf icon

    Applicants for the Adoption Committee were reviewed by the Instructional Materials Committee and the full membership was approved on June 8, 2018.

    The Adoption Committee includes principals, teachers, families, and community members who will provide valuable insight and perspective regarding the instructional materials provided for review. The parents and community members on the committee are asked to bring an open mind and a passion about innovative student learning in science. They will also be willing to engage in inquiry, meaningful dialogue, and collaboration throughout the adoption process.

    Review Criteria used by the K-8 Adoption Committee