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Physical Science Performance Expectations

Table 1. Core ideas for Physical Science performance expectations
Core Idea

PS1:  Matter and Its Interactions

PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
PS1.C: Nuclear Processes
PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
PS2.A: Forces and Motion
PS2.B: Types of Interactions
PS2.C: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems
PS3: Energy
PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
PS4.A: Wave Properties
PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation

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). Many performance expectations also have an assessment boundary, indicating an appropriate level of depth for the performance expectation. 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. Example of Physical Science Performance Expectation

4-PS4-3. Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include drums sending coded information through sound waves, using a grid of 1s and 0s representing black and white to send information about a picture, and using Morse code to send text.]

*This performance expectation integrates traditional science content with engineering through a practice or disciplinary core idea.


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 Sea Earth Atmosphere, performance expectations are aligned at the topic level. Each topic contains a combination of content, activities, and/or special features that build toward the associated performance expectations.


For example, this curriculum addresses the performance expectation 3-PS2-1 (Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object) in the topic Wave Forces Cause Erosion. The clarification statements and assessment boundary are included to clarify the elements explored in the associated activitiy, Disappearing Beaches

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.