Core Curriculum Content Standards

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NJ World Class Standards
Content Area: Science

Content Area



5.3 Life Science: All students will understand that life science principles are powerful conceptual tools for making sense of the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Order in natural systems arises in accordance with rules that govern the physical world, and the order of natural systems can be modeled and predicted through the use of mathematics.


E. Evolution and Diversity: Sometimes, differences between organisms of the same kind provide advantages for surviving and reproducing in different environments. These selective differences may lead to dramatic changes in characteristics of organisms in a population over extremely long periods of time.

By the end of grade

Content Statement


Cumulative Progress Indicator (CPI)


Variations exist within a group of the same kind of organism.


Describe similarities and differences in observable traits between parents and offspring.


Plants and animals have features that help them survive in different environments.


Describe how similar structures found in different organisms (e.g., eyes, ears, mouths) have similar functions and enable those organisms to survive in different environments.


Individuals of the same species may differ in their characteristics, and sometimes these differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing in different environments.


Model an adaptation to a species that would increase its chances of survival, should the environment become wetter, dryer, warmer, or colder over time.


In any ecosystem, some populations of organisms thrive and grow, some decline, and others do not survive at all.


Evaluate similar populations in an ecosystem with regard to their ability to thrive and grow.


Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.


Describe the impact on the survival of species during specific times in geologic history when environmental conditions changed.


Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring in particular environments. The advantages or disadvantages of specific characteristics can change when the environment in which they exist changes. Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow survival.


Organize and present evidence to show how the extinction of a species is related to an inability to adapt to changing environmental conditions using quantitative and qualitative data.


Anatomical evidence supports evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence of branching of various lines of descent.


Compare the anatomical structures of a living species with fossil records to derive a line of descent.


New traits may result from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells within a population.


Account for the appearance of a novel trait that arose in a given population.


Molecular evidence (e.g., DNA, protein structures, etc.) substantiates the anatomical evidence for evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence in which various lines of descent branched.


Estimate how closely related species are, based on scientific evidence (e.g., anatomical similarities, similarities of DNA base and/or amino acid sequence).


The principles of evolution (including natural selection and common descent) provide a scientific explanation for the history of life on Earth as evidenced in the fossil record and in the similarities that exist within the diversity of existing organisms.


Provide a scientific explanation for the history of life on Earth using scientific evidence (e.g., fossil record, DNA, protein structures, etc.).


Evolution occurs as a result of a combination of the following factors:

  • Ability of a species to reproduce
  • Genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes
  • Finite supply of the resources required for life

Natural selection, due to environmental pressure, of those organisms better able to survive and leave offspring


Account for the evolution of a species by citing specific evidence of biological mechanisms.