. "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
half of the respondents judged that the Standards were complete and accurate, that they would help policy makers and practitioners make decisions, and that they presented an acceptable vision. The teaching and content standards received the most supportive ratings.
Respondents were asked to choose one area for which the NRC Standards were likely to have the greatest influence. Program development and evaluation, teaching practice, policy formulation, and content selection received the most votes, in that order. These are important themes in the improvement of science education and ones that the NRC had intended the Standards to influence.
In January 1997, the NSTA completed a survey of 5,000 randomly selected NSTA members for their reactions to the NRC Standards (NSTA, 1997). Of the 1,900 members who responded, 87 percent were teachers. (There were no data to indicate whether those responding were representative of those surveyed.) When asked if they thought that the NRC Standards could improve the way science is taught in their classrooms, 80 percent of the teachers who answered the question responded "yes." Further, 75 percent of teachers responding thought the NRC Standards would improve the way science is taught in their schools. Very importantly, the survey asked what the teachers perceived as barriers to implementing standards in actual practice. The three top barriers cited by teachers were adequate time for planning and working with other teachers; financial support for relevant professional development; and instructional materials, resources, and facilities.
Results such as these are not unexpected. Like the NRC survey results, they indicate that educators are aware of the NRC Standards and the implications for their practice. Further, they underscore that science teachers understand that critical requirements for the success of standards-based reform include time, professional development, and instructional materials. These data have influenced the work of the NRC, as described in the discussion of strategies for interpretation and implementation above. Implications for state policy are discussed in the Recommendations section of this report.
The Efficacy and Influence project of the Center, mentioned earlier in the discussion of evaluation of the NCTM Standards, will serve as a guide for ongoing monitoring of science standards implementation.
Although the NRC Standards were released quite recently, it is never too early to begin planning for revision. From the beginning, the various advisory committees encouraged the NRC to view the Standards as a living document, one that would undergo revision at appropriate intervals. The formal process of revision for the NRC Standards will likely begin in the year 2000, for release in 2002. It will include, as before, broad participation by those involved with and interested in science education and will incorporate the lessons learned from the mathematics community's current revision of the NCTM Standards.