With the latest instructional materials evaluation from the Louisiana Department of Education, the PhD Science® K–2 Open Educational Resource (OER) from Great Minds® earned the top ranking for quality with a Tier 1 rating. The K–2 OER joins Levels 3–5 in this rating, which makes the entire K–5 PhD Science program a Tier 1 science curriculum in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Department of Education is highly respected for its curricular leadership, and the rigorous review process evaluates science curricula across eight criteria:
- Three-dimensional learning: Do students have multiple opportunities in each unit to develop an understanding of and apply the three dimensions?
- Phenomenon-based instruction: Is student learning driven by explaining phenomena and designing solutions?
- Alignment and accuracy: Do materials address the Louisiana state science standards?
- Disciplinary literacy: Do materials engage students with authentic sources and incorporate speaking, reading, and writing to develop scientific literacy?
- Learning progressions: Are materials coherent, and do they provide natural connections to Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas?
- Scaffolding and support: Do materials provide teachers with guidance to build their own knowledge and to help all students build scientific thinking?
- Usability: Are materials easily accessible and viable for implementation given the length of a school year?
- Assessment: Do materials offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress?
"[PhD Science] materials provide a coherent sequence of authentic science sources that build scientific vocabulary and knowledge over the course of study. Vocabulary is addressed as needed, but only after students have first had the opportunity to build conceptual understanding of the terms."
–Louisiana Department of Education
PhD Science showed strong performance across all of these criteria, and the review cites specific examples from the curriculum that demonstrate “superior quality.”
“Rigorous and engaging instructional materials that support science learning have been missing in our classrooms. This review of PhD Science is good news for educators and students who can now use this open educational resource to advance STEM learning in their communities,” says John White, Chief Success Officer at Great Minds, and former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education.
“Louisiana’s curriculum review process is the best out there, and this Tier 1 rating will help education leaders in the state and across the country engage in sound decision-making on behalf of students. Our thanks go to Dr. Cade Brumley and the team at the Louisiana Department of Education for their continued commitment to high standards and quality curriculum.”
The PhD Science K–2 OER gives students in the earliest grades a high-quality science curriculum for free, with the same rigor and principles as Levels 3–5 along with texts and writing work that are adjusted for grade-appropriate literacy skills. The program’s interdisciplinary approach—such as the inclusion of trade texts, knowledge-building math content, and opportunities for writing practice—also reinforces what students learn in other content areas, helping teachers make the most of their instructional hours.
"Students regularly engage in speaking and writing about scientific phenomena and engineering solutions using authentic science sources (e.g., authentic data, models, lab investigations, or journal excerpts). [PhD Science] materials address the necessity of using scientific evidence to support scientific ideas."
–Louisiana Department of Education
Unlike many other science curricula, PhD Science was designed from the beginning based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates a three-dimensional teaching and learning model into every lesson. PhD Science asks students to think and act like scientists as they uncover Disciplinary Core Ideas by engaging in the Science and Engineering Practices and using Crosscutting Concepts to make sense of phenomena.
PhD Science’s hands-on learning model and focus on examining real-world phenomena spark students’ curiosity and reward it with the joy of building knowledge coherently and comprehensively. “It’s vital that all students have access to a cohesive, high-quality science curriculum that builds critical knowledge and takes advantage of students’ innate curiosity to boost engagement and improve learning,” says Pam Goodner, Chief Academic Officer of Science at Great Minds. “I’m so proud of our team for delivering on the promise of great science instruction for all.”
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Alyssa has nearly a decade of education research experience. She has led equity and student success research to support K-12 public school districts across the country in addressing their most pressing challenges, including college access, mental health, social emotional learning, and racial justice. Alyssa holds a B.A. in Psychology and Global Studies and an M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change from Lehigh University.