the absence of those considerations, there are too many other plausible explanations for the achievement gains to place any confidence in the inference that national standards had anything to do with them.

  • An investigation of declining science scores in a district committed to NRC standards. Declines in student performance on district science assessments within a setting that has tried to encourage standards-related instruction may suggest to observers that the national standards are detrimental to student learning. Even if the investigation were carefully designed and executed, it would not support that conclusion, unless relevant components highlighted by the Framework were taken into account: alignment between the district’s science assessments and the curriculum, teachers’ interpretations of the standards and attempts to realize them in classroom instruction, and the extent of professional development for teachers unfamiliar with standards-based classroom practice.

    In short, consumers of research, with the Framework in hand, can examine the results and conclusions of studies—or sets of studies—guided by questions such as these:

    Does the study…

  • establish a plausible, evidence-based chain of influence that connects nationally developed standards to particular elements of the system under investigation? The Framework highlights components that might be part of that chain of influence.

  • address plausible alternative explanations that could be advanced to account for observed effects or outcomes? The Framework highlights alternative forces and conditions that may influence effects or outcomes.

  • consider interactions among different channels of influence that can convey either mutually reinforcing or contradictory messages to teachers and schools about standards-based practices? The Framework lays out

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