Anderson, of Michigan State University, researched the influence of the Standards on student achievement.

In the fall of 2001, NRC staff searched journals published from 1993 to the present, bibliographic databases, and Web sites for relevant studies using a list of 61 key words and phrases. The hundreds of documents identified were screened using explicit inclusion criteria, e.g., studies focusing on the implementation or impact of the National Science Education Standards and/or the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Copies of the resulting 245 documents were provided to the commissioned authors, and authors added additional documents with which they were familiar or that were released in the months following the search.

The researchers analyzed and evaluated the documents relevant to their topics, produced bibliographic annotations, and synthesized the findings from the body of research, drawing conclusions and giving suggestions for future research.

Sneider explained that the papers were organized under a framework developed by the NRC’s Committee on Understanding the Influence of Standards in K-12 Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, chaired by Iris Weiss, of Horizon Research, Inc. (see Figure 1-1).

“It is a lovely scheme to think about the influence of standards,” Sneider said, “whether we are talking about mathematics, technology, or science standards. You will notice on the right there is a box that says, ‘Student Learning.’ That is what the standards are for. If they don’t have an effect on student learning, then any influence they may have had is irrelevant…. How do we have impact on students? Well, primarily through their teachers.”

The Framework identified three major channels of influence on teachers and teaching: the curriculum, which includes instructional materials as well as the policy decisions leading to state and district standards and the selection of those materials; teacher professional development, which includes both pre-service and in-service training; and assessment and accountability, which includes accountability systems as well as classroom, district, and state assessments.

“All of this occurs,” Sneider explained, “within a larger context. The larger context is political and involves politicians and policy makers. It involves members of the general public and their perceptions of the system. It involves business and industry as well as professional organizations. So the way we have organized and assigned the authors to analyze the research is in these five areas: learning; teachers and teaching practice; curriculum; teacher development; and assessment and accountability.”

The Curriculum

Ellis began his presentation by explaining that the body of research on the influence of the NSES on the science curriculum isn’t “solid” and consists mostly of surveys and “philosophical papers.” However, he added that he feels “pretty confident to say that states are moving towards the vision in the National Science Education Standards.”

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