## High School Biology Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

### Biology: A Community Context. South-Western Educational Publishing, 1998

#### Cell Structure and Function: Instructional Analysis

##### I: Providing a Sense of Purpose
###### Conveying unit purpose

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. A problem, question, representation (or otherwise identified purpose) is presented to students.
2. The problem, question, representation (or otherwise identified purpose) is likely to be comprehensible to students.
3. The problem, question, representation (or otherwise identified purpose) is likely to be interesting and/or motivating to students.
4. Students are given an opportunity to think about and discuss the problem, question, representation (or otherwise identified purpose).
5. Most lessons are consistent with the stated purpose and those that are not are explicitly labeled as digressions.
6. The material returns to the stated purpose at the end of the unit.

Rating = Good

The material meets indicators 1–4 and 6, and somewhat meets indicator 5.

Indicator 1: Met
Each unit begins with a problem or question that is presented in the text and in an accompanying video. The focus of unit 4 is homeostasis. The opening video shows students engaging in sports and asks: “As you watch the video, try to detect potential threats to homeostasis” (p. 199s).

Indicator 2: Met
Though the problems and issues dealt with are complex, they are presented in simple terms that are likely to be comprehensible to students.

Indicator 3: Met
The videos are likely to make the issues presented interesting to students.

Indicator 4: Met
Students are asked to think about the problem presented and discuss their ideas with classmates. For example, after viewing the video about student athletes, they consider the following questions:

What is balance?

What is being done to keep a proper balance?

How do you know that monitoring and control are occurring?

How do organisms other than humans maintain balance in their body functions?

p. 199s

Indicator 5: Somewhat met
Some lessons are consistent with the stated purpose, but not all of the lessons seem relevant to the problem presented at the beginning of the unit. For example, the investigation of the relationship of surface area to volume (pp. 204–205s) does not appear to be relevant to the problem of maintaining homeostasis, and no attempt is made to help students see the connection. Similarly, the text on the distinction between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells as well as the text on food preservation do not appear relevant to the homeostasis problem presented at the beginning of unit 4.

Indicator 6: Met
Students return to the initial problem at the end of the unit. The issue of homeostasis is taken up again in a role-play activity, in which students defend positions on whether or not physical education classes should be offered in schools (pp. 275–276s).

###### Conveying lesson/activity purpose

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material conveys or prompts teachers to convey the purpose of the activity to students.
2. The purpose is expressed in a way that is likely to be comprehensible to students.
3. The material encourages each student to think about the purpose of the activity.
4. The material conveys or prompts teachers to convey to students how the activity relates to the unit purpose.
5. The material engages students in thinking about what they have learned so far and what they need to learn/do next at appropriate points.

Rating = Fair
The material mostly meets indicators 1 and 2.

Indicator 1: Mostly met
The material provides purposes for Guided Inquiries, which are to occupy 75 percent of students’ time. The following example illustrates how the investigations are introduced to provide purpose for students:

How does a cell maintain just the right amount of water inside? How does water get into a cell? In this Inquiry, you will find out how water, a molecule that is critical to life, moves into or out of a cell by the process of osmosis. The cell membrane lets the liquid part of a solution move across it, but some of the dissolved substances cannot. Therefore osmosis occurs as a result of differing concentrations of water on the two sides of the membrane.

In this Inquiry, you will observe the movement of water into and out of animal cells (Part A) and plant cells (Part B). You will also investigate factors that affect the concentration of water inside a cell.

p. 211s

While separate purposes are not provided for readings, they could be viewed as extensions of the Guided Inquiries.

Indicator 2: Mostly met
Most purposes provided for activities are likely to be comprehensible to students. When technical terms are used in introducing activities, often the terms are related to familiar examples.

Indicator 3: Not met
Students are not asked to think about the purpose of investigations or readings. While questions are used in the introductions to the Guided Inquiries, students are not asked to respond to or think about them.

Indicator 4: Not met
This is not a feature of this material. No attempt is made to convey how investigations or readings relate to the purpose of the unit.

Indicator 5: Not met
The material does not engage students in thinking about what they have learned so far and what they need to learn next.

###### Justifying lesson/activity sequence

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material includes a logical or strategic sequence of activities.
2. The material conveys the rationale for this sequence.

Rating = Fair
The material somewhat meets the first indicator and does not meet the second.

Indicator 1: Somewhat met
The unit that includes the key ideas about cell structure and function appears to be logically sequenced. For example, the following sequence of sections in unit 4 appears logical:

What is Balance and How is it Maintained?

Section Title: What is Balance?

Section Title: Monitoring and Control

Section Title: Transport Processes Maintain Homeostasis

Guided Inquiry: Diffusion

Section Title: How Particles Diffuse

pp. 198–206s

However, the presentation of key ideas on cell structure and function seems tangential to the focus of this unit on homeostasis. It seems as though the information about cells is serving as a background to homeostasis. Likewise, the information about the cell membrane regulating what can enter and exit the cell (Idea a) serves mainly as a useful analogy or example of homeostasis. Furthermore, the other sections (e.g., on types of cells, food preservation, and turgor pressure in plants) are not well connected to the main topic of homeostasis.

Indicator 2: Not met
The Teacher’s Guide describes the content of unit 4 but does not present the rationale for presenting the content:

Using balance and homeostasis as a theme, this unit focuses on osmoregulation, temperature maintenance, defense against disease, growth and regulation, transport, and gas exchange. The unit begins with an exploration of diffusion and osmosis using modeled cells and then applies these two concepts to a variety of systems and organisms. Students become familiar with homeostatic mechanisms associated with nutritional needs by manipulating the enzymes of digestion. Temperature and fluid regulation, metabolism, and responses to disease are highlighted as contributory to homeostasis. In each case, the student must consider the internal balance of the organism and the unique methods each has developed to cope with changes and stress in the environment.

p. 218t

Furthermore, no rationale is provided for the sequence of lessons within the unit. While the Teacher’s Guide indicates that the Guided Inquiries are “carefully sequenced to provide a reasonable flow of ideas and effort on the part of the student” (p. 32t), it does not describe the flow of ideas or justify it.

##### II: Taking Account of Student Ideas
###### Attending to prerequisite knowledge and skills

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material alerts the teacher to specific prerequisite ideas or skills (versus stating only prerequisite topics or terms).
2. The material alerts teachers to the specific ideas for which the prerequisites are needed.
3. The material alerts students to prerequisite ideas or experiences that are being assumed.
4. The material adequately addresses (provides instructional support for) prerequisites in the same unit or in earlier units (in the same or other grades). (The material should not be held accountable for addressing prerequisites from an earlier grade range. However, if a material does address such prerequisites they should count as evidence for this indicator.)
5. The material makes adequate connections (provides instructional support for connections) between ideas treated in a particular unit and their prerequisites (even if the prerequisites are addressed elsewhere).

Rating = Poor
The material only somewhat meets indicator 4.

Indicator 1: Not met
The material does not alert the teacher to specific prerequisite ideas or skills.

Indicator 2: Not met
The material does not alert teachers to the specific ideas for which prerequisites are needed.

Indicator 3: Not met
The material does not alert students to prerequisite ideas or experiences that are being assumed.

Indicator 4: Somewhat met
The material briefly mentions parts of three prerequisite ideas. Although the student text explains that blood carries nutrients, gases, and waste products (p. 228s), it does not mention that the circulatory system functions to serve the needs of cells or that any other organs or tissues serve the needs of cells. Hence it does not explain the prerequisite idea that “Various organs and tissues function to serve the needs of all cells for food, air, and waste removal” [5C(6–8)/2]. Likewise, the prerequisite idea that “Atoms may stick together in well-defined molecules…” [4D(6-8)/1] is mentioned briefly in the student text and a Guided Inquiry has students build models of molecules (pp. 35–36s). Another prerequisite idea is presented only in the Teacher’s Guide, in suggested responses to Self-Check questions. The prerequisite idea that “The rate of reactions among atoms and molecules depends on how often they encounter one another, which is affected by the concentration, pressure, and temperature of the reacting materials” [4D(9-12)/9] is mentioned only once in the Teacher’s Guide. A question asks students to “Explain why homeostasis (a stable internal environment) is essential for the efficient functioning of an organism” (pp. 251s, 244t, Self-Check 1, item 1). The answer provided in the Teacher’s Guide explains that:

For organisms to function efficiently, they must be able to carry out a vast array of chemical reaction at optimal rates. The rates of chemical reactions are influenced by a number of factors, including temperature, concentrations of reactants and products, and concentrations and activity levels of enzymes (many of which function best within a fairly narrow range of temperatures and pHs). Therefore it is essential that organisms maintain a relatively stable internal environment.

p. 244t

Although this answer addresses this prerequisite idea, the information was not presented in the student text; therefore, the students would have no way to appropriately answer this question.

Indicator 5: Not met
The material makes essentially no connections between ideas treated in a particular unit and their prerequisites.

###### Alerting teachers to commonly held student ideas

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material accurately presents specific commonly held ideas that are relevant to the key ideas and have appeared in scholarly publications (rather than just stating that students have difficulties with particular ideas or topics).
2. The material clarifies/explains commonly held ideas (rather than just listing them).

Rating = Not rated
For the topic of cell structure and function, materials were not rated on this criterion because no research base outlines commonly held student ideas.

###### Assisting teachers in identifying their students’ ideas

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material includes specific questions or tasks that could be used by teachers to identify students’ ideas.
2. The questions/tasks are likely to be comprehensible to students who have not studied the topic and are not familiar with the scientific vocabulary.
3. The questions/tasks are identified as serving the purpose of identifying students’ ideas.
4. The material includes questions/tasks that ask students to make predictions and/or give explanations of phenomena (rather than focus primarily on identifying students’ meanings for terms).
5. The material suggests how teachers can probe beneath students’ initial responses to questions or interpret student responses (e.g., by providing annotated samples of student work).

Rating = Poor
The material meets no indicators.

Indicator 1: Not met
While acknowledging that students have ideas about various topics when they begin class, the material provides teachers with no questions relevant to the key ideas that could be used to find out what students’ ideas are. The Teacher’s Guide indicates that a teacher using Biology: A Community Context should be aware that:

Students—like it or not, right or wrong—have their own perceptions and often have already formulated their own conceptions about science and the world around them. In this curriculum, teachers use strategies that encourage students to reveal and explain their current views, thinking, and ideas. With this knowledge, teachers can structure their interactions with students more purposefully and decisively, seeking pathways for moving students’ thinking in desired ways.

p. 7t

Yet the questions and tasks provided either are unrelated to the key ideas (e.g., “How do organisms other than humans maintain balance in their body functions?” [p. 199s]) or are too general to reveal students’ misconceptions or preconceptions about them (e.g., “What is balance?” [p. 199s]). And while relevant questions are sometimes used to introduce inquiry activities (e.g., “How do molecules move between cells?” [p. 202s]; “How does a cell maintain just the right amount of water inside?” [p. 211s]), students are not expected to respond to these questions.

Indicator 2: Not met
The above questions are comprehensible but will not be helpful in probing for the students’ ideas on this topic.

Indicator 3: Not met
None of the questions is identified as serving the purpose of identifying students’ ideas.

Indicator 4: Not met
Students are not asked to make any predictions that could reveal misconceptions or preconceptions about the key ideas.

Indicator 5: Not met
The Teachers’ Guide reminds teachers that the role of the initial inquiry is to encourage students to brainstorm (pp. 8–9t). No suggestions are given for how teachers could probe students’ initial responses more deeply.

###### Addressing commonly held ideas

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material explicitly addresses commonly held ideas.
2. The material includes questions, tasks, or activities that are likely to help students progress from their initial ideas, for example, by
1. explicitly challenging students’ ideas, for example, by comparing their predictions about a phenomenon to what actually happens
2. prompting students to contrast commonly held ideas with the scientifically correct ideas, and resolve differences between them
3. extending correct commonly held ideas that have limited scope.
3. The material includes suggestions to teachers about how to take into account their own students’ ideas.

Rating = Not rated
For the topic of cell structure and function, materials were not rated on this criterion because no research base outlines commonly held student ideas.

##### III: Engaging Students with Relevant Phenomena
###### Providing variety of phenomena

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Phenomena could be used to support the key ideas.
2. Phenomena are explicitly linked to the relevant key ideas.

Rating = Poor
Since the rating scheme depends on how many phenomena meet both of the indicators, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

This material provides no phenomena to illustrate the key ideas on cell structure and function. Although a Guided Inquiry has students investigate the diffusion of water in an animal cell (uncooked chicken egg) and in plant cells (pp. 211–216s), the focus is on changes in the cells and the movement of water, not the control that the cell membrane exerts over what can enter and exit the cell (Idea a). Although one text statement explains that “[t]he cell membrane lets the liquid part of a solution move across it, but some of the dissolved substances cannot” (p. 211s), it does not explain that the cell membrane can control what enters and leaves the cell (Idea a). Furthermore, none of the follow-up questions focuses on this key idea.

It is worth noting that the material does provide students with many firsthand experiences with data, but the experiments are not related to the key ideas. For example, students examine how a Paramecium ingests and digests food (pp. 222–224s), how yeast growth is affected by the type of food provided (pp. 225–228s), and the circulatory system of a goldfish (pp. 228–231s). These investigations may be relevant to the general topic of the structure and function of organisms, but not to the key ideas about cell structure and function.

###### Providing vivid experiences

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Each firsthand experience is efficient (when compared to other firsthand experiences) and, if several firsthand experiences target the same idea, the set of firsthand experiences is efficient. (The efficiency of an experience equals the cost of the experience [in time and money] in relation to its value.)
2. The experiences that are not firsthand (e.g., text, pictures, video) provide students with a vicarious sense of the phenomena. (Please note that if the material provides only firsthand experiences, this indicator is not applicable.)
3. The set of firsthand and vicarious experiences is sufficient.

Rating = Poor
Since the rating scheme depends on how many phenomena meet all of the indicators, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

The material meets no indicators. While the inquiries provide students with firsthand experiences, none of the phenomena involved in the inquiries is used to support the key ideas. Hence, there is nothing to be judged for vividness.

##### IV: Developing and Using Scientific Ideas
###### Introducing terms meaningfully

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material links technical terms to relevant experiences that develop the idea as the term is used (rather than just having students learn definitions of terms).
2. The material restricts the use of technical terms to those needed to communicate intelligibly about key ideas.

Rating = Poor
The material does not meet indicator 1 and minimally meets indicator 2.

Indicator 1: Not met
The material does not link technical terms to relevant experiences. Many terms related to cell structure and function are introduced (pp. 208–211s) with only a brief mention in the student text. Some terms, specifically those related to cell organelles, are also seen in a diagram (p. 209s), but the diagram is little more than a list of cell parts. The diagram does not help to explain how the cell parts function.

Indicator 2: Minimally met
The material minimally restricts the use of technical terms to those needed to communicate intelligibly about key ideas. While technical terms like “cromatin,” “cristae,” “peroxisomes,” and “centriole” are not used, many technical terms are included in the introduction of key ideas on cell structure and function. For example, when presenting the specialized parts of cells, the text uses terms such as “capsids,” “plasmids,” and “cellulose” (pp. 206–210s).

###### Representing ideas effectively

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Representation is accurate (or, if not accurate, then students are asked to critique the representation).
2. Representation is likely to be comprehensible to students.
3. Representation is explicitly linked to the real thing.

Rating = Poor
Since the rating scheme depends on how many representations meet all of the indicators, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

The material includes very few representations for the key ideas on cell structure and function. A diagram shows the specialized parts of the cell, but does not help to explain how the parts function (p. 209s). Likewise a diagram of the cell membrane focuses on the architecture of the membrane but does not help to explain how the membrane controls what can enter and exit the cell (p. 207s). No other relevant representations are provided.

###### Demonstrating use of knowledge

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material consistently carries out (or instructs teachers to carry out) the expected performance (e.g., the student text explains a particular phenomenon using the kinetic molecular theory). (Teacher’s guides often include responses to questions posed in the student text. If the material does not instruct the teacher to use the answers to model the use of knowledge, such responses do not count as instances of modeling.)
2. The performance is step-by-step.
3. The performance is explicitly identified as a demonstration of the use of knowledge or skill.
4. The material provides running commentary that points to particular aspects of the demonstration and/or criteria for judging the quality of a performance.

Rating = Poor
The material meets no indicators.

Indicator 1: Not met
The material does not demonstrate the use of key ideas or suggest how teachers could do so.

Indicator 2: Not met
No demonstrations are provided.

Indicator 3: Not met
No demonstrations are provided.

Indicator 4: Not met
No demonstrations are provided.

###### Providing practice

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material provides a sufficient number of tasks in a variety of contexts, including everyday contexts. (In order to determine whether the task/question addresses the actual substance of the key idea, reviewers will need to consider both the question and the expected response in the teacher’s guide.)
2. The material includes novel tasks.
3. The material provides a sequence of questions or tasks in which the complexity is progressively increased.
4. The material provides students first with opportunities for guided practice with feedback and then with practice in which the amount of support is gradually decreased.

Rating = Poor
Since the rating scheme depends on how many practice tasks meet all of the indicators, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

Two kinds of questions and tasks were considered for this criterion. These included Self-Check questions and student tasks and questions within the chapter requiring application of ideas presented in the text. Only one question is provided for one of the key ideas on cell structure and function. A question in unit 4’s Self-Check 1 asks students to “Identify the types of cells that have a cell membrane. Explain how the cell membrane helps materials to enter and exit the cell” (p. 251s, Self-Check 1, item 7). The expected answer in the Teacher’s Guide briefly mentions the control that the cell membrane has over what substances can enter and exit the cell:

All cells have some type of plasma membrane that separates them from the outside environment. Plants and most bacteria have a semi-rigid cell wall around the plasma membrane. The membrane is a double layer of phospholipid molecules that forms a continuous boundary. This membrane bars easy passage of water-soluble substances into or out of the cell. Embedded in the phospholipids are various proteins, many of which serve as “tunnels” or “shuttles” for the transport of materials through the membrane.

p. 245t

No other practice questions are provided for any of the other key ideas on cell structure and function.

The material does not provide a sequence of questions or tasks in which the complexity is progressively increased.

The material does not provide students with opportunities for guided practice with feedback in which the amount of support is gradually decreased.

##### V: Promoting Students’ Thinking about Phenomena, Experiences, and Knowledge
###### Encouraging students to explain their ideas

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Material routinely encourages students to express their ideas.
2. Material encourages students not only to express but also to clarify, justify, and represent their ideas (a material is not expected to encourage students to clarify, justify, and represent ideas each time they are asked to express their ideas; however, in the course of teaching a particular key idea the material should provide students with opportunities to clarify, justify, and represent ideas).
3. Material provides opportunities for each student (rather than just some students) to express ideas.
4. Material includes specific suggestions on how to help the teacher provide explicit feedback to students or includes text that directly provides students with feedback.
5. Material includes suggestions on how to diagnose student errors, explanations about how these errors may be corrected, and recommendations for how students’ ideas may be further developed.

Rating = Poor
The material meets no indicators.

Indicator 1: Not met
The material does not routinely encourage students to express their own ideas about the key ideas. The introductory pages of the Teacher’s Guide stress the importance of brainstorming sessions (p. 9t); of having “real conversations” with students (p. 10t); and of having students present their ideas in BioLogs (p. 17t), conferences (p. 12t), congresses (p. 13t), and forums (p. 14t). However, almost no specific questions are provided which allow students to express their opinions about the key ideas.

Furthermore, students are not asked to express their ideas following the readings.

Indicator 2: Not met
Students are not asked to clarify, justify, or represent their ideas relevant to the key ideas.

Indicator 3: Not met
Since most of the questions do not apply to this criterion, the fact that students are expected to write answers to those questions is not relevant.

Indicator 4: Not met
The material does not include specific suggestions to help the teacher provide explicit feedback to students, nor does the text do so.

Indicator 5: Not met
The material does not include suggestions on how to diagnose student errors, explanations about how these errors may be corrected, and recommendations for how students’ ideas may be further developed.

###### Guiding student interpretation and reasoning

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material includes specific and relevant tasks and/or questions for the experience or reading.
2. The questions or tasks have helpful characteristics such as
1. framing important issues
2. helping students to relate their experiences with phenomena or representations to presented scientific ideas
3. helping students to make connections between their own ideas and the phenomena or representations observed
4. helping students to make connections between their own ideas and the presented scientific ideas
5. anticipating common student misconceptions
6. focusing on contrasts between student misconceptions and scientific alternatives.
Please note that while a single high quality task or question sequence might have only one of these characteristics, the set of sightings should exhibit several of them.
3. There are scaffolded sequences of questions or tasks (as opposed to separate questions or tasks).

Rating = Poor
The material meets no indicators.

Indicator 1: Not met
Although the material includes specific questions at the end of each Guided Inquiry, none of the questions focuses on the key ideas on cell structure and function.

Indicator 2: Not met
None of the questions has helpful characteristics such as framing important issues, helping students make connections between their own ideas and the presented scientific ideas, or anticipating student misconceptions.

Indicator 3: Not met
No question sets provide a careful sequence of questions about these key ideas.

###### Encouraging students to think about what they have learned

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material gives students an opportunity to revise their initial ideas based on what they have learned (without asking them explicitly to think about how their ideas have changed).
2. The material engages (or provides specific suggestions for teachers to engage) students in monitoring how their ideas have changed, but does so infrequently in the unit.
3. The material engages (or provides specific suggestions for teachers to engage) students in monitoring how their ideas have changed and does so periodically in the unit.

Rating = Poor
The materials meet no indicators.

Indicator 1: Not met
The material does not give students an opportunity to revise their initial ideas based on what they have learned. While the Teacher’s Guide notes that “Self-Checks allow students to assess their own progress and compare it to the expectations of the curriculum” (p. 11t), there are no explicit suggestions to use Self-Check questions for this purpose. The questions provided in these sections do not ask students to consider what they thought at the beginning of the unit, how their ideas have changed throughout the unit, and what convinced them of their new ideas.

Indicators 2 and 3: Not met
The material does not engage students in monitoring how their ideas have changed.

##### VI: Assessing Progress

To assess students’ understanding of concepts at the end of instruction, Biology: A Community Context provides a test for each unit (pp. 443–517t) and provides generic Assessment Rubrics for each kind of activity—for example, Initial Inquiry, Guided Inquiry, Self-Check, and Conference (pp. 524–540t). These assessment features were examined for the first two assessment criteria.

###### Aligning assessment to goals

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The specific ideas in the key ideas are necessary in order to respond to the assessment items.
2. The specific ideas in the key ideas are sufficient to respond to the assessment items (or, if other ideas are needed, they are not more sophisticated than key ideas and have been taught earlier).

Rating = Poor
Since the rating scheme depends on how many assessment tasks meet both of the indicators, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

Biology: A Community Context includes only the following three items that assess the key ideas, which is far from sufficient:

The membranes of cells within your body:

1. can transport wastes out.
2. can transport nutrients in.
3. contain fat molecules.
4. can function as a barrier.
5. all of the above.

pp. 480t and 487t, question 4

Some cells have the ability to:

1. regulate the passage of materials into and out of the cell.
2. replicate genetic information.
3. make new cell components.
4. make and use energy-rich compounds.
5. all of the above.

pp. 484t and 487t, question 18

The cell membrane (cytoplasmic membrane):

1. allows transport of nutrients into the cell.
2. allows transport of water products out of the cell.
3. replicates genetic information.
4. both a and b.
5. none of the above.

pp. 484t and 487t, question 19

The generic rubrics used to assess student performance on activities do not assess the key ideas on cell structure and function. Rather, they typically assess such things as level of participation or degree of investigation completion (p. 525t, criteria 2 and 4), communication with others (p. 526t, criterion 10), helping others in their efforts to self-check (p. 527t, criterion 7), or design of investigation and persistence (p. 530t, criteria 4 and 5). When rubrics relate to conceptual information, they provide no guidance in assessing specific ideas. For example, the following rubrics are given for Criterion 3, Understands Major Themes of Unit, and for Criterion 4, Learning of Specified Factual Information: “Has provided remarkable evidence,” “Provides some evidence,” and “Little or no evidence” (p. 527t).

###### Testing for understanding

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Assessment items focus on understanding of key ideas.
2. Assessment items include both familiar and novel tasks.

Rating = Poor
Since few assessment tasks were aligned to the key ideas, the report for this criterion is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

Of the relevant assessment items described under the previous criterion, none requires understanding of any of the key ideas. Clearly this is not sufficient to assess students’ understanding of the set of key ideas on cell structure and function.

###### Using assessment to inform instruction

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material uses embedded assessment as a routine strategy (rather than just including occasional questions).
2. The material assists teachers in interpreting student responses to diagnose what learning difficulties remain.
3. The material provides specific suggestions to teachers about how to use the information from the embedded assessments to make instructional decisions about what ideas need to be addressed by further activities.

Rating = Poor
Since the material provides no tasks for this criterion, the report is organized to reflect the overall rating rather than each indicator judgment.

Although the Teacher’s Guide indicates that “Many of the assessments and evaluations are embedded, included as an integral part of a learning activity” (p. 18t), it does not specify any particular tasks or questions that are to be used to inform instruction.

##### VII: Enhancing the Science Learning Environment
###### Providing teacher content support

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Alerts teachers to how ideas have been simplified for students to comprehend and what the more sophisticated versions are (even though students are not required to understand the more sophisticated versions).
2. Provides sufficiently detailed answers to questions in the student book for teachers to understand and interpret various student responses.
3. Recommends resources for improving the teacher’s understanding of key ideas.

Rating = Some support is provided.
The material provides minimal support in alerting teachers to how ideas have been simplified for students to comprehend and what the more sophisticated versions are. Teacher Background Information provides peripherally more extensive (p. 231t) or sophisticated versions of ideas for student activity sections (e.g., pp. 220–221t). The advanced explanations often do not explicitly alert teachers to how ideas have been simplified for students (e.g., pp. 226–227t). Overall, the Teacher Background Information may be used as a selective but not a comprehensive content resource by the teacher.

The material provides some sufficiently detailed answers to Discussion Questions in the Teacher’s Guide and tasks in the student book for teachers to understand and interpret various student responses (e.g., p. 228t, Answers to Interpretations, answer 5; p. 232t, Answers to Applications, answer 3). However, there are some limitations to the responses provided in the teacher notes, which occasionally are brief and require further explanation (e.g., p. 228t, Answers to Interpretations, answer 7; p. 245t, Self-Check 1, answer 8).

The material provides minimal support in recommending resources for improving the teacher’s understanding of key ideas. A reference list with some brief annotations is provided at the end of each unit in the Teacher’s Guide (e.g., p. 271t). The Instructional Resource includes a list of additional resources for each unit (e.g., p. 81) and Web sites for the entire material (e.g., pp. 173–178). While these resources might help teachers improve their understanding of the key ideas, the lists lack annotations about what kind of specific information the resources provide. In addition, annotated reference lists are provided at the end of each unit in the student text (e.g., p. 279s) and supplemental Instructional Resource (e.g., pp. 78–80). The annotations identify topics and sometimes specify scientific concepts that are addressed in the resources.

###### Encouraging curiosity and questioning

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. Includes suggestions for how to encourage students’ questions and guide their search for answers, respect and value students’ ideas, raise questions of evidence, and avoid dogmatism.
2. Provides examples of classroom interactions—e.g., dialogue boxes, vignettes, or video clips—that illustrate appropriate ways to respond to student questions or ideas, etc.

Rating = Some support is provided.
The material provides many suggestions for how to encourage students’ questions and guide their search for answers. Students are sometimes asked to design their own experiments on topics related to the activities (e.g., p. 214s, Interpretations, item 6). In addition, the material sometimes asks students to generate and research answers to their questions (e.g., pp. 252s and 247t, Conference).

The material provides many suggestions for how to respect and value students’ ideas. Introductory teacher notes emphasize the importance of valuing students’ ideas (pp. 15–17t, Communicating with Students). Many tasks elicit students’ ideas about particular concepts and issues (e.g., p. 221t, Instructional Notes; p. 248s, BioPrediction). In addition, teacher notes state that multiple student answers should be acceptable for some questions (e.g., p. 224t, Answers to Interpretations, answer 4; p. 232t, Answers to Applications, answer 2).

The material provides some suggestions for how to raise questions such as “How do we know? What is the evidence?” and “Are there alternative explanations or other ways of solving the problem that could be better?” The material includes some tasks that ask students to discuss evidence or reasons in their responses (e.g., p. 214s, Interpretations, items 3–4; p. 216s, Interpretations, item 2).

The material provides many suggestions for how to avoid dogmatism. Introductory teacher notes portray science as a durable yet dynamic enterprise in which many people participate (pp. 19–20t, The Nature of Science). Throughout the material, the writing avoids dogmatism by being explicitly directed to students (e.g., p. 199s, The Video). In addition, the material discusses contemporary issues in biology (e.g., p. 239s, BioIssue; p. 248s, BioPrediction).

The material does not provide examples of classroom interactions (e.g., dialogue boxes, vignettes, or video clips) that illustrate appropriate ways to respond to student questions or ideas. However, some sense of desirable interactions may be gained from general guidelines (e.g., pp. 4–17t) and particular directions for cooperative group activities (e.g., pp. 202–205s, Guided Inquiry 4.1; pp. 252s and 247t, Conference).

###### Supporting all students

Indicators of meeting the criterion

1. The material avoids stereotypes or language that might be offensive to a particular group.
2. The material illustrates the contribution of women and minorities to science and brings in role models.
3. The material suggests alternative formats for students to express their ideas during instruction and assessment.
4. The material includes specific suggestions about how teachers can modify activities for students with special needs.
5. The material provides strategies to validate students’ relevant personal and social experiences with scientific ideas.

Rating = Some support is provided.
The material generally avoids stereotypes or language that might be offensive to a particular group. For example, photographs include a diverse cultural mix of students and adults (e.g., pp. 196s, 198s, 233s, 241s).

The material provides a few illustrations of the contributions of women and minorities to science and as role models. Most of the contributions of women and minority scientists, however, appear in a separate career feature entitled BioOccupation. For example, one BioOccupation features the education of an African American medical student named Belfondia Pou. Pou describes the importance of his high school science courses in providing a firm foundation for his medical career (p. 221s). While these sections highlighting science careers are interesting and informative, they may not be seen by students as central to the material because they are presented in separate features.

The material suggests multiple formats for students to express their ideas during instruction and assessment, including individual log writing (e.g., p. 199s, Brainstorming), cooperative group activities (e.g., p. 252s, Conference), laboratory investigations (e.g., pp. 211–216s, Guided Inquiry 4.2), whole class discussions (e.g., p. 221t, Instructional Notes), essay questions (e.g., pp. 224s, 232t, Applications, item 3; pp. 251s, 245t, Self-Check 1, item 7), research projects (e.g., pp. 269–270s, Extended Inquiry 4.7), and drawings (e.g., p. 215s, Procedure, items 2–3). For a few activities, the material provides alternatives for the same task (e.g., p. 252s, Conference).

The material does not routinely include specific suggestions about how teachers can modify activities for students with special needs. However, the student text with corresponding teacher notes and the Instructional Resource provide some additional activities for students. At the end of each unit, there are investigations similar in complexity to those in the student text (e.g., pp. 253–270s, 248–263t, Extended Inquiries; Instructional Resource, pp. 66–74).

The material provides many strategies to validate students’ relevant personal and social experiences with scientific ideas. Some text sections relate specific personal experiences students may have had to the presented scientific concepts (e.g., p. 267s, Enzyme Examples). In addition, many tasks (e.g., p. 216s, Applications, items 1–3; p. 265s, Interpretations, item 5; p. 271s, Self-Check 2, item 16) ask students about particular personal experiences they may have had or suggest specific experiences they could have. However, the material rarely encourages students to contribute relevant experiences of their own choice to the science classroom. Overall, the tasks are well integrated with students’ personal and social experiences with scientific ideas.