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Life Science Performance Expectations

Table 2.8. Core ideas for Life Science performance expectations
Core Idea

LS1:  From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
LS1.D: Information Processing
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior
LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits
LS3.B: Variation of Traits
LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

Defining Performance Expectations

According to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), performance expectations describe what students who demonstrate understanding should know and be able to do. Performance expectations encompass practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (DCI). Most performance expectations are accompanied by a clarification statement, which provides examples or explains the emphasis of the performance expectation (Table 2.7). Many performance expectations also have an assessment boundary, indicating an appropriate level of depth for the performance expectations (Table 2.7). Full performance expectations including clarification statements, assessment boundaries, links to common core state standards, and how each expectation is related to practices, crosscutting concepts, and DCI are available on the NGSS website.


Table 2.7. Example of a Life Science Performance Expectation
HS-LS1-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells. [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include identification of specific cell or tissue types, whole body systems, specific protein structures and functions, or the biochemistry of protein synthesis.]


Performance Expectations often encompass a depth and breadth of content that is beyond the scope of any one lesson or activity. For this reason, in Exploring Our Fluid Earth, Performance Expectations are aligned at the topic level. Each topic contains a combination of content, activities, and/or question sets that build toward the associated performance expectations. For each topic, a linking sentence describes how the contents of the topic address the performance expectations.


Image caption

Fig. 2.26. A gyotaku print

Image copyright and source

Image by Kanesa Duncan Seraphin

For example, this curriculum addresses the performance expectation MS-LS4-2 (Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships) in the topic Structure and Function in the unit on fish (Fig. 2.26). The linking sentence for this topic describes how the content and activities in the topic, including the activity Fish Printing for Form and Function, work towards building an understanding of adaptations and evolutionary relationships.

Representative Image
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.