consistently focusing on these practices, concepts, and ideas and by drawing on research to inform how they can be supported through instruction and developed over multiple grades, the framework promotes cumulative learning for students, coordinated learning experiences across years, more focused preparation and professional development for teachers, and more coherent systems of assessment.

The committee recognizes that simply articulating the critical practices, concepts, and core ideas for K-12 science education does not by itself provide sufficient guidance for developing standards. In that spirit, the recommendations outlined in this chapter are intended to offer more detailed guidance that will help ensure fidelity to the framework. These recommendations are based on previous research syntheses published by the National Research Council (NRC)—including How People Learn [2], Systems for State Science Assessment [3], Taking Science to School [4], and Learning Science in Informal Environments [5]—and they draw particularly on a list of characteristics for science content standards developed in Systems for State Science Assessment [3]. According to that report, science content standards should be clear, detailed, and complete; reasonable in scope; rigorously and scientifically correct; and based on sound models of student learning. These standards should also have a clear conceptual framework, describe performance expectations, and identify proficiency levels.


Recommendation 1: Standards should set rigorous learning goals that represent a common expectation for all students.

At a time when nearly every aspect of human life is shaped by science and engineering, the need for all citizens to understand these fields is greater than ever before. Although many reports have identified the urgent need for a stronger workforce in science and engineering so that the United States may remain economically competitive, the committee thinks that developing a scientifically literate citizenry is equally urgent. Thus the framework is designed to be a first step toward a K-12 science education that will provide all students with experiences in science that deepen their understanding and appreciation of scientific knowledge and give them the foundation to pursue scientific or engineering careers if they so choose. A growing evidence base demonstrates that students across economic, social, and other demographic groupings can and do learn science when provided with appropriate opportunities [4-7]. These opportunities include learning the requisite literacy and numeracy skills required for science.

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