Science Core Curriculum

Mission and Vision for SFUSD Science

The natural-born scientist in every SFUSD student will be tapped and nurtured so that they graduate from high school scientifically and ecologically literate.

This will be realized through rigorous and engaging science education connected to life-worthy and lifelong learning that fosters 21st century dispositions and skills (identifying problems & designing solutions, observation & questioning, analyzing evidence, creativity, communication, and collaboration). ​

Science in Our Schools

San Francisco Unified School District is committed to a district-wide implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through a core curriculum that positively impacts science learning for all students. The NGSS call for a shift in the way that science is taught, with an increased focus on the doing of science and engineering through making sense of rich phenomena and solving real-world problems. As students have increasing access to endless amounts of information, being good at science is no longer defined by a student’s ability to memorize science content. Instead, we are focused on their ability to identify patterns, ask questions, analyze and interpret data, argue from evidence, collaborate with other scientists, and communicate their understandings. ​

SFUSD has addressed these shifts by developing a Science Core Curriculum in partnership with SFUSD teachers and experts in the science education field. In designing for these shifts, the Core Curriculum aligns with SFUSD’s Vision 2025 and the expectations for student outcomes laid out in the Graduate Profile. Specifically, the curriculum engages students in taking on real-life tasks that use San Francisco as the classroom. Students are led to build mastery and personalize their learning in their approaches to the real-life tasks.
The Secondary Core Curriculum follows the 5E Instructional model, a student-centered, constructivist approach to science learning that identifies students prior knowledge and through a series of experiences, has them build new and robust understanding of the science concepts. At each stage of the 5E lesson sequence (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate), students draw upon and build their literacy skills and their science and engineering practices. The 5E is a research-based model that ensures that students are developing deep conceptual understanding of the science that will transfer to new situations over many years. For strategies and supports for implementing the Science Core Curriculum, you can review our Science Teaching Toolkit.

The Elementary Science team aims to improve elementary education for all students through the use and support of the SFUSD Science Core Curriculum.  The science core curriculum includes Amplify physical, earth and life science units and SFUSD teacher-created implementation guides to meet the needs of our diverse students and unique context. The curriculum follows a phenomenon-based approach, which encourages students to use evidence to explain or predict observable events. Students figure out how the world works through hands-on investigations, reading, talking, writing, scientific models, and computer simulations. The literacy-rich curriculum provides foundational content and vocabulary to help students access complex text, make sense of and appreciate the world around them in order to become scientifically and ecologically literate citizens.

The SFUSD Science Core Curriculum continues to evolve as teacher and student feedback has been incorporated starting with the initial field tests and continuing through its introduction into science classrooms throughout SFUSD. Teacher and student feedback will continue to be sought out to improve the instructional materials through ongoing revisions. This is a living curriculum that will move and grow over time as the wisdom from teachers across the district is more thoroughly incorporated. We are grateful for all of the teachers who have worked to develop this curriculum and look forward to more voices and experiences continuing to improve it.