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    Our mission is to provide all SPS science classrooms with a common NGSS-aligned core scope and sequence that is engaging, authentic, culturally relevant, rigorous, and technology-based to be college and/or career ready.  Our goal is that all our students will be scientifically literate. This is accomplished through a collaborative, interactive, rigorous science program responsive to the needs of diverse learners.


    Instructional Materials

    Our curriculum is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that were adopted by Washington state in 2013. Our courses are researched, field-tested, and evaluated in classrooms by small teams of expert teachers, university science educators, and scientists. Teachers are trained on using the appropriate curricula through year-round professional development.

    In addition, the curricula represent a shift in pedagogy towards three-dimensional learning described in the NGSS. Historically, science teaching has been focused primarily on content, but NGSS recognizes that 21st century skills involve a deep understanding of Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas (content), and Crosscutting Concepts that apply to all scientific disciplines. This shift in practice moves us towards a pedagogy that focuses on “figuring out instead of telling about.”

    In order to do this, units are centered around puzzling scientific phenomena that are relevant to students’ lives. Students are then lead through a series of activities that help them understand the science around the phenomenon.

    Because this represents a significant shift in practice for even our most experienced teachers, there are year-round professional development opportunities for teachers of all our core science classes. These sessions encourage collaboration among teachers, and also involve partners from University of Washington, Michigan State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Seattle Pacific University.

    Science Adoption for Grades K-12

    In May 2018, Seattle Public Schools initiated an adoption process for instructional materials to support science in grades K through 8. In September 2018, the district initiated an adoption process for instructional materials to support science in grades 9 through 12. 

    The instructional materials process will follow the Seattle Public Schools Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials, Policy No. 2015pdf icon.

    When approved by the Seattle School Board, the new instructional materials will be ready for implementation by the 2019-20 school year.

    A timeline and details may be found on the science adoption pages.


    Improving diversity in science and STEM-related career fields requires focus on K-12 learning opportunities. Seattle Public Schools commissioned science alignment teams comprised of teacher representatives across the district to determine a scope and sequence that meets the new graduation requirements. For information about high school alignment, see our list of Questions and Answers, and additional details can be found on our Science Alignment website.


    Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

    Students will be assessed on their science literacy in the 5th, 8th and 11th grades as required by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Starting with the class of 2021, students will be required to pass the 11th grade test. For more details, refer to science assessment page.

    2019 Middle School Science Fair update

    The districtwide middle school science fair will not be held this year. With limited staff and resources at the district level to support this event, and waning participation in previous years, the department is focusing its priorities on the best ways to serve all our 12,000 middle school students in SPS. Although the district is unable to offer a district-level event, middle schools can continue to offer a building-level event and encourage student participation.

    The SPS Science Department is currently working to adopt new instructional materials for all students at grades 6-8 for future years. Once SPS has adopted and aligned to a new standards-aligned core science curriculum, the Science Department hopes to collaborate with science teachers and possibly community STEM organizations to develop and offer a standards-aligned, engineering-focused event in the future that is accessible to all students.

    Administrative and Community Support across the School District

    This support includes administrators who encourage and support teachers; university scientists who collaborate with the instruction of science content courses for teachers; families who explore what their children are learning; and organizations, institutions and businesses that offer in-kind and financial resources.


    Contact Us

    Mary Margaret Welch
    Science Program Manager

    Helpful Links

    For SPS Teachers

    Log in and access:

    • instructional guides
    • pacing guides
    • writing guides
    • science staff contact information