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Physical Science Performance Expectations

Table 2.6. 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 2.5). Many performance expectations also have an assessment boundary, indicating an appropriate level of depth for the performance expectation (Table 2.5). 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 2.5. Example of Physical Science Performance Expectation
MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity. Examples of simple molecules could include ammonia and methanol. Examples of extended structures could include sodium chloride or diamonds. Examples of molecular-level models could include drawings, 3D ball and stick structures, or computer representations showing different molecules with different types of atoms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include valence electrons and bonding energy, discussing the ionic nature of subunits of complex structures, or a complete depiction of all individual atoms in a complex molecule or extended structure.]


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.



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Fig. 2.25. The periodic table of the elements (2014). This periodic table shows naturally occurring elements in green. Elements in orange are byproducts of nuclear reactors. Elements in purple are manmade.

Image copyright and source

Image by Byron Inouye

For example, this curriculum addresses the performance expectation HS-PS1-1 (Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms) in the topic The Nature and Organization of Elements (Fig. 2.25). The linking sentence for this topic describes how the content and activity in the topic, including an activity called Organizing the Elements, work towards building an understanding of the periodic table and how elements are organized.

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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.