. "NRC and the National Standards for Science Education." Improving Student Learning in Mathematics and Science: The Role of National Standards in State Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
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Improving Student Learning in Mathematics and Science: The Role of National Standards in State Policy
Most of the issues addressed by the Center through interpretation activities have been carried into implementation. Here the NRC has provided leadership through the development of products and the convening of groups to support state and local initiatives. To further the work in curriculum and instructional materials, for example, a conference on "Using the National Science Education Standards to Guide the Evaluation, Selection, and Adaptation of Instructional Materials" was held at the NAS in November 1996. Three hundred and fifty federal, state, and local science educators attended this meeting. A set of guidelines for aligning instructional materials with the NRC Standards is currently under development. A new project, funded by the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, will develop criteria for selection of materials and will design and pilot a process to do so with district-level teams throughout the country as they critique, select, and adapt textbooks and instructional materials for their respective districts and schools.
In February 1996, the NRC and the Council of Chief State School Officers convened a symposium to explore the implementation of the NRC Standards with respect to teacher preparation and credentialing. It was designed for leaders in science education, university science deans and scientists, and state education officials responsible for teacher certification. Participants attended as part of a state team; the teams examined the NRC Standards and created action plans to further their own efforts. Proceedings of the symposium, including the state action plans, were published in Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996b).
The NRC is currently planning collaborative efforts with associations of science leaders from states (Council of State Science Supervisors [CSSS]) and districts (National Science Education Leadership Association [NSELA]). These initiatives will explore and document the various processes that different states and districts are using to move from national standards to state frameworks and, eventually, to influence changes in textbooks and instructional materials, curriculum, assessment, and teaching. In the future, the Center plans to host a summer institute for state leaders in mathematics as well as science that will provide state teams with the opportunity to apply new understandings about national standards to their state reform initiatives. Staff of the Center will work with NSELA leadership to formulate specific directions for collaborative work.
The evaluation of the NRC Standards actually began as part of the process to establish a national consensus before the Standards were revised to their final form. Forty thousand copies of the penultimate draft were distributed for national review by individuals and groups that had expressed an interest in being part of the process. Approximately 4,000 responses were received from individuals and special focus groups; respondents included teachers (K-12 levels), science educators (district coordinators, science supervisors, curriculum developers, teacher educators), scientists (college, university, industry), policy makers (school boards, state government officials), and other role groups (business, parents)(NRC, 1995b).
Among these self-selected respondents, there was significant agreement on the content in the National Science Education Standards. The survey asked for agreement with characteristics of the content standards, including the intent, consistency, developmental appropriateness, vision of good science, and clarity. Across all respondent groups, there was at least 59 percent agreement or strong agreement. In most cases, the level of agreement was much higher.
Another series of questions in the national review asked about the various areas in the NRC Standards: teaching, professional development, assessment, content, program, and system. For all areas except the system standards, more than