Although this Framework has been developed specifically to guide thinking regarding nationally developed mathematics, science, and technology standards, it is intended to support comparable considerations for any set of education standards. In short, the Framework is designed to guide inquiry into the influence of standards on various parts and levels of the education system. Those investigations may be centered on one or more of these key questions:
How are nationally developed standards being received and interpreted? Because the vision expressed in the standards for student learning, teaching practice, and system behavior is conveyed through broadly framed statements, it is subject to interpretation. Accordingly, individuals throughout the system will necessarily engage in various forms of sense-making, drawing on prior beliefs, knowledge, and priorities, as they give educational and operational meaning to the standards (Spillane and Callahan, 2000). Thus, to understand anything about the influence of standards, answers to this first central question are needed. The answers will reveal much about how expectations embedded in nationally developed standards are understood, and whether they are accepted, rejected, or altered in that interpretive process.
What actions have been taken? What have curriculum developers, teacher educators, and assessment designers done in response to standards? Actions taken by individuals or entities with respect to the standards will depend on their interpretations, and on their capacities and determination. Variations in resources, professional expertise, structural features, working cultures, and values will affect their motivation and ability to implement nationally developed standards in some form or other. Enactment of standards represents an unfolding story of reform intentions interacting with the multiple contexts within which teachers work and learners learn (Talbert and McLaughlin, 1993). That story will unfold differently in particular states and localities depending on what educators