students who are economically deprived, female, have disabilities, or from populations underrepresented in the sciences. These equity principles must be incorporated into science education policies if the vision of the standards is to be achieved. Policies must reflect the principle that all students are challenged and have the opportunity to achieve the high expectations of the content standards. The challenge to the larger system is to support these policies with necessary resources.
All policy instruments must be reviewed for possible unintended effects on the classroom practice of science education.
Even when as many implications as possible have been carefully considered, well-intentioned policies can have unintended effects. For schools to meet the Standards, student learning must be viewed as the primary purpose of schooling, and policies must support that purpose. The potential benefits of any policy that diverts teachers and students from their essential work must be weighed against the potential for lowered achievement.
Unless care is taken, policies intended to improve science education might actually have detrimental effects on learning. For instance, policies intended to monitor the quality of science teaching can require extensive student time to take tests. And teacher time to correct them and file reports on scores can take valuable time away from learning and teaching science. To reduce unintended effects, those who actually implement science education policies, such as teachers and other educators, should be constantly involved in the review of those policies. Only in this way can the policies be continuously improved.
Responsible individuals must take the opportunity afforded by the standards-based reform movement to achieve the new vision of science education portrayed in the Standards.
This standard acknowledges the role that individuals play in making changes in social systems, such as the science education system. Ultimately, individuals working within and across organizations are responsible for progress. The primary responsibility for standards-based reform in science education resides with individuals in the science education and science communities.
Teachers play an active role in the formulation of science education policy, especially those policies for which they will be held accountable. They should be provided with the time to exercise this responsibility, as well as the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skill to discharge it. Teachers also work within their professional organizations to influence policy.
All members of the science education community have responsibility for communicating and moving toward the vision of school science set forth in the Standards. In whatever ways possible, they need to take an active role in formulating science education policy.
Scientists must understand the vision of science education in the Standards and their role in achieving the vision. They need to recognize the important contributions of science education to the vitality of the scientific