The Standards

Middle School

Natural Selection and Adaptations

Students who demonstrate understanding can:




Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past. MS-LS4-1

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on finding patterns of changes in the level of complexity of anatomical structures in organisms and the chronological order of fossil appearance in the rock layers.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the names of individual species or geological eras in the fossil record.


Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships. MS-LS4-2

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.

Assessment Boundary: none


Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy. MS-LS4-3

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on inferring general patterns of relatedness among embryos of different organisms by comparing the macroscopic appearance of diagrams or pictures.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of comparisons is limited to gross appearance of anatomical structures in embryological development.


Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. MS-LS4-4

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using simple probability statements and proportional reasoning to construct explanations.

Assessment Boundary: none


Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time. MS-LS4-6

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical models, probability statements, and proportional reasoning to support explanations of trends in changes to populations over time.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include Hardy Weinberg calculations.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Analyze displays of data to identify linear and nonlinear relationships. (MS-LS4-3)

Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (MS-LS4-1)

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Mathematical and computational thinking at the 6–8 level builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to identifying patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments.

Use mathematical representations to support scientific conclusions and design solutions. (MS-LS4-6)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that describe phenomena. (MS-LS4-4)

Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events. (MS-LS4-2)

Connections to Nature of Science

Science Knowledge Is Based on Empirical Evidence

Science knowledge is based upon logical and conceptual connections between evidence and explanations. (MS-LS4-1)

Common Core State Standards Connections

  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-LS4-1), (MS-LS4-2), (MS-LS4-3)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-LS4-1), (MS-LS4-3)
  • RST.6-8.9 - Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-LS4-3), (MS-LS4-4)
  • SL.8.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. (MS-LS4-2), (MS-LS4-4)
  • SL.8.4 - Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. (MS-LS4-2), (MS-LS4-4)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-LS4-2), (MS-LS4-4)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-LS4-2), (MS-LS4-4)
  • 6.EE.B.6 - Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set. (MS-LS4-1), (MS-LS4-2)
  • 6.RP.A.1 - Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. (MS-LS4-4), (MS-LS4-6)
  • 6.SP.B.5 - Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-LS4-4), (MS-LS4-6)
  • 7.RP.A.2 - Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. (MS-LS4-4), (MS-LS4-6)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (MS-LS4-6)

Model Course Mapping

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