Schunn gave his rationale for focusing on science standards, rather than other elements of the education system. He said that different visions of the goals of science education, including those advanced in influential reports (e.g., National Research Council, 2005, 2007a), those included in state and national science standards, and those embodied in state science assessments, may influence science teaching and learning (see Figure 2-1). Although state science assessments have an especially strong influence, their content is changing rapidly as states respond to the science testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. In contrast, state science standards change far less frequently, because creating and reaching consensus on standards is difficult and time-consuming (National Research Council, 2008b). Therefore, the analysis focusing on standards is likely to hold true for several years.
Schunn then discussed his comparison between the five skills and the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996). These national standards address not only student science learning, but also science teaching, professional development, assessment, and other aspects of science education; his comparison included the student learning and science teaching standards. Schunn said that the student learning standards include eight categories of goals (National Research Council, 1996, p. 6):
Unifying concepts and processes in science
Science as inquiry