future. Getting serious about standards requires states to:
1-A Develop high standards for all students, through consensus, including a process for periodic review.
Most states have a document, or documents, that contain state content standards for science and mathematics education. These documents tend to draw heavily on national standards (CCSSO, 1997a). They vary considerably in specificity and scope (CCSSO, 1997a), in quality (Diegmueller, 1996; Zucker, 1997) and in their ''ambitiousness" (Tirozzi, 1997). They also differ in the process used in their development. State standards that were well developed with careful attention to involvement of educators throughout the state, as well as important stakeholders like parents, business representatives, scientists and mathematicians, and community members, appear to have benefited from critical public support (Massell et al., 1997; Zucker, Shields, Adelman, & Powell, 1995). In such a consensus process, participants become a knowledgeable force of advocates, thus building the capacity of the state to improve the system for science and mathematics education.
For example, North Carolina uses a process external to the state agency to build consensus around state documents. A qualified, independent organization statistically samples both educators and the lay public regarding proposed documents, soliciting input from all groups. The organization then uses feedback from this survey to validate or make recommendations for improvement of documents in a report to the State Board of Education. This process, as well as strategies such as well publicized focus groups and expert advisory committees, provides many opportunities for input and ensures that no particular special interest group has undue influence on the development of important state documents.
In the development of standards, states may find the experiences of NCTM and NRC helpful, in addition to their links to the professional communities. National standards can be a reference point against which states can evaluate the degree of rigor in their own standards, including whether they have incorporated and, if so, adhered to such principles as "less is more," that is, depth of understanding is more important than breadth of coverage. The efforts of NCTM and NRC described earlier might help suggest ways to bring the forces in the state together in the dissemination, interpretation, and implementation of their own standards.
1-B Build a coherent system for mathematics and science education within the state in which every component and level of education is aligned and has a common goal: that all students will meet these high standards.
One of the benefits of having a common set of standards, built through a consensus process, is that they can focus and guide action within a state. This was the intention of both NCTM and NRC, whose national standards include attention to all components of reform including content, teaching, and assessment. They go beyond statements of what students should know and be able to do; they describe the teaching, assessment, programs, professional development, and the system support needed for students to learn that content. Further, the national mathematics and science standards address all levels of the education system, seeking "vertical integration" of what students learn in the early grades with what they learn in middle and high school and with how their teachers are prepared. Both sets of national standards suggest what needs to be done in classrooms, schools, districts, states, and at the national level.
States must similarly and continuously seek a "systemic" approach to science and mathematics reform, in which parts of the system work in concert with each other. Changes in one part influence adjustments in others; the common thread is the achievement of a shared set of standards (Smith & O'Day, 1991). Curriculum frameworks, funds for instructional materials, state assessments, preservice and inservice professional development programs, funding and other