nature and extent of the influence of standards on the educational system. In this paper we have maintained this broad interpretation.
Our focus was on empirical evidence of the nature and extent of influence of the NSES on teachers and teaching practice. We did not include in this analysis papers that discussed the implications of NSES for policy and practice, or advocated for standards or a particular type of professional development, but did not provide empirical data. We also omitted empirical studies that focused on very small sample sizes or failed to provide sufficient evidence to justify their conclusions. Finally, we limited the use of studies of mathematics reform to those that clearly had implications for understanding the influence of science standards.
As already noted, the NSES call for major changes in instructional practice. It is reasonable to expect that teachers who agree with the vision of science teaching in the NSES will be more inclined to put in the extra effort required to change their practice. How teachers feel about the NSES and about standards-based instruction, the results of efforts to align teachers’ attitudes and beliefs with the NSES, and barriers to the success of these efforts are addressed in several studies identified in the NRC literature search. The following sections address the extent to which teachers who have been exposed to the NSES support the underlying vision, the extent to which attempts to align teachers’ attitudes and beliefs with the NSES have been successful, and some of the factors that affect teachers’ attitudes toward the NSES and standards-based instruction.
Awareness of and familiarity with the NSES differ by teachers’ grade level. The 2000 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education found that middle and high school science teachers were much more likely than elementary teachers to report being aware of the NSES; one-third of elementary teachers, compared to about 60 percent of middle- and high-school science teachers reported being at least somewhat familiar with the document. However, among those who indicated familiarity, there was no difference by grade range in extent of agreement with the NSES; approximately two-thirds of science teachers across the board report agreeing or strongly agreeing with the vision of science education described by the NSES (Weiss, Banilower, McMahon, and Smith, 2001). Similarly, there were no differences in extent of agreement by urbanicity, region, or school SES (Banilower, Smith, and Weiss, 2002).
Several studies report on the impact of various interventions on teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. For example, in a study of the Milwaukee Urban Systemic Initiative (MUSI), Doyle and Huinker (1999) reported that there was “strong evidence to indicate that the strength of MUSI during its two years of implementation was a change in attitude toward mathematics and science instruction. Site visit interviews with principals, teachers, students, and MSRTs [Mathematics and Science Resource Teachers] all indicated more teachers were interested in teaching reform than had been in the past” (p. 28).
Zucker, Shields, Adelman, Corcoran, and Goertz (1998) synthesized data gathered as part of SRI’s five-year cross-site evaluation of NSF’s Statewide Systemic Initiatives (SSIs). The evaluation covered 25 SSIs and included data from principal investigators, observations of activities, interviews with key stakeholders, and document reviews. The researchers found that “most teachers participating in the SSIs articulated an understanding of and commitment to the new paradigm of teaching—hands-on activities, students working cooperatively, teachers probing for students’ prior knowledge and encouraging the students to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts” (p.19).
How teachers come to engage with the NSES may affect the likelihood of their supporting standards-based