development of mathematics, science, and technology programs in their schools and seek and promote professional-growth opportunities for themselves and their colleagues (NCTM, 1991, pp. 20–22; NRC, 1996, pp. 27–54).
In short, teachers are expected to be well-versed in the content they teach and masterful in their uses of appropriate pedagogy. One group of commentators described the instructional practices advocated by the national standards this way:
There is no well-defined set of techniques that will reliably produce high levels of student performance when applied in a routine manner. Rather, to teach in a manner consistent with the new vision, a teacher would not only have to be extraordinarily knowledgeable, but would also need to have a certain sort of motivation or will: the disposition to engage daily in a persistent, directed search for the combination of tasks, materials, questions, and responses that will enable her students to learn each new idea. In other words, she must be results-oriented, intently focused on what her students are actually learning rather than simply on her own routines for “covering” the curriculum. Her knowledge and skill are valuable resources, but judgment and continuous invention are required to turn these resources into effective performance. (Thompson, Spillane, and Cohen, 1994, P. 4)
The NCTM, NRC, and ITEA standards embody a vision of what professionals in each subject area believe is needed to improve the teaching and learning in their respective subject areas. However, in attempts to understand the influence of these standards, it is important to consider what must happen within the education system to realize that vision. The next chapter examines the system within which that desired teaching and learning must occur and identifies key interactions among that system’s components. That analysis leads to a framework to guide investigations regarding the possible influence of nationally developed standards upon and within that system and—most critically—on classroom teaching and learning.