How Do You Know You’re Looking at a Real CA NGSS Program?

Don’t Be Fooled by “Frankenstein” Programs that Just Bolt On the CA NGSS

Twig Science was built from the ground up for the CA NGSS, with every detail designed to deliver investigation-based, phenomena-centered learning.

Other programs claim to be CA NGSS, but too often, beneath the surface, they’re Frankenstein products—legacy programs with bits of the CA NGSS bolted on.

So how do you know you’re getting the real deal?You’ve got to look at the instructional shifts required by the CA NGSS (link).

Here are three key things to watch out for:

1. Units Build to Unpack Anchor Phenomena


A program in which “Students engage in the CA NGSS practices to build deeper understanding of science and engineering content and make sense of phenomena and design solutions” (CA NGSS instructional shift).

Genuine CA NGSS units embed anchor phenomena to inspire students to observe and make sense of phenomena for themselves through a series of investigations that build understanding—until students can unpack the anchor phenomena themselves.


Programs that simply “bolt on” phenomena on top of content—where information is front-loaded rather than discovered. They’re often rigidly divided into life, earth, and physical sciences—rather than integrated across all science disciplines.

See how Twig Science has been built to support the CA NGSS from the foundations up: Evaluation Rubric—Foundations video

2. Fully Integrated Engineering Design Process


A program in which “Engineering is integrated into all science disciplines” (CA NGSS instructional shift) Genuine CA NGSS programs have students use the engineering design process as a fully integrated part of how students investigate phenomena or design problems.


Programs where “Engineering is treated as an add-on.” The addition of engineering practices is new to the CA NGSS, so it’s easy to recognize programs that are just superficially adapted to it. They can’t integrate the engineering design process into legacy materials, so they’re forced to create special “STEM” or “Engineering Challenges” and—once again—bolt them on top.

See a preview of a Twig Science module and its series of true real-world engineering investigations:
BioTech Systems Worldwide teacher trailer video

3. Student-Driven Investigation


Programs in which “engaging in science and engineering practices allows students to revise their
thinking and understanding”
(CA NGSS instructional shift).

Students should lead the discovery using the full range of science and engineering practices (SEPs)—asking
and answering their own questions, carrying out their own collaborative investigations, and coming to their own
evidence-based conclusions.


Rather than using the SEPs to explore a phenomenon, some programs use the “scientific method”
to lead students through investigations to “prove” or “demonstrate” what they’ve already been told.
See how the structure of Twig Science modules encourages students to lead their own discovery:
Twig Science program structure video

If you’re not looking at Twig Science, you’re looking at old science.

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