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    New science curricula
    Posted on 04/28/2017

    Information for Families about the Middle School Science Instructional Materials Field Test

    Seattle Public Schools 2017-18

    Greetings Middle School Families,

    Our middle school science curriculum modules, often referred to as “kits”, were adopted by Seattle Public Schools in 2002.  With the recent adoption of a highly innovative and rigorous set of new state science standards, our science teachers now find themselves trying to bring these outdated science materials into alignment with the new standards. 

    WA State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards and the Next Generation Science Assessment

    Adopted by our state in 2013, the WA State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards are based on the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were collaboratively developed by a consortium of teachers, researchers, scientists, and engineers representing 26 states. The new science and engineering standards call for a significant shift in instruction that will engage more students in science.

    Beginning in the spring of 2018, WA State will implement Next Generation Science Assessment statewide at grades 5 and 8 to assess student proficiency around the new standards. The new test will be an online assessment requiring students to engage interactively with the technology to manipulate elements on the screen in order to demonstrate understanding of scientific principles and practices.

    Middle Schools science teachers have participated in district-wide professional learning for the past two years to begin preparing for the new state science assessment and the shifts in teaching and learning.

    Instructional Materials Field-Test and AmplifyScience

    A representative group of teacher leaders in collaboration with the SPS Science Department identified a web-based program called Amplify Science as a program that aligns with the new standards and offers great promise for our students’ engagement. 

    AmplifyScience was developed the Lawrence Hall of Science based at UC Berkley. It is a research--based, digitally enhanced curriculum for Grades 6–8 that that includes interactive educational technologies as well as text-based and hands-on learning activities and assessments. Students investigate current and relevant science phenomena, use scientific tools such as computer simulations, and explore scientific principles on scales too big or small to be imagined such as climate change or genetic mutations. Students take on the role of scientists and engineers throughout each unit and allows them to engage in authentic problem-solving.

    With the support of district Science Department and the Technology Department, our middle school was provided an opportunity to apply for a science instructional materials waiver and technology mini-grant in order to patriciate in a three year classroom field-test of the AmplifyScience program. AmplifyScience has been extensively field-tested nationwide and has demonstrated that they are responsive to working with collaboratively with our teachers. Through this collaborative partnership, our school will participate in a field-test of the AmplifyScience program using laptops provided by the district. Science teachers in our building who are participating in the field-test will not use the current middle schools science curriculum kits and will instead the AmplifyScience units.

    A robust evaluation system will be implemented to assess the effectiveness of this technology-based program The University of Washington School of Education will serve as partners in the data collection.

    Teachers will receive initial training this summer to understand how to implement the program and will meet for three additional release days during the course of the year to prepare to teach the additional units.  AmplifyScience and Lawrence Hall will support teachers with detailed instructions for each lesson. Ongoing, personalized support and will be provided by AmplifyScience.

    We believe our students will benefit from multiple opportunities to engage in science through a digital platform to meet with success on the new assessment and believe that a technology-based program will provide these opportunities and allow our teachers to access the most current scientific information available through high quality vetted web-based resources. We believe that AmplifyScience will provide teachers with the instructional materials help them develop the next generation of students to be critical scientists and informed citizens.

    Questions or Need More Information?

    For more information, visit  To view an interactive demo of the program go to

    For questions related to the Instructional Materials Waiver and field test roll-out please contact the district K-12 Science manager, Mary-Margaret Welch at

    For more detailed information about our school’s participation in the science instructional materials field-test, please contact Erin Rasmussen, Assistant Principal, at 206-252-7739 or