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Earth and Space Sciences Performance Expectations

Table 1. Core ideas for Earth and Space Science performance expectations
Core Idea

ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe

ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars
ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System
ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
ESS2: Earth’s Systems
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions
ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate
ESS2.E: Biogeology
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

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, but not all, performance expectations also have an assessment boundary, indicating an appropriate level of depth for the performance expectation (Table 2). 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 an Earth and Space Science Performance Expectation

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways in which the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.]


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 5-ESS3-1 (Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment) in the topic Marine Debris. The clarification statements and assessment boundary are included to clarify the elements explored in the associated activitiy, DIY Beeswax Wraps.

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.