school science consistent with national standards? The study and its results were published, and information on obtaining the report and Review Framework (NSF, 1997) is available online.

The NSF designed its review framework as a peer review exercise for use by NSF evaluation panels composed of scientists, science and technology educators, and science teachers. It requires written responses as well as an overall numerical rating on a five-point scale. Because no materials were evaluated by more than one panel during the NSF evaluation, no conclusions can be drawn about the reliability of the instrument or the process.

The framework is designed to review recent NSF-supported middle school curriculum materials that contain a year or more of course materials. Major criteria to be addressed by framework users are:

  • Is the science content correct?

  • How well do the materials provide for conceptual growth in science?

  • How well do the materials align with the Standards?

Notably, the NSF framework addresses only briefly the question of whether the materials under review are likely to lead to student learning and understanding. It does ask whether the materials provide guidance to teachers, suggestions for appropriate instructional strategies, ideas for a variety of assessment activities, suggestions for implementation, and whether they accommodate student diversity.


The U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) established an expert panel in 1996 to develop a process for identifying promising and exemplary programs (including instructional materials) in science and mathematics. The panel established criteria and trained teams of reviewers to evaluate instructional materials that publishers voluntarily submitted. The criteria were:

  1. The program's learning goals are challenging, clear, and appropriate for the intended student population.

  2. The program's content is aligned with its learning goals and is accurate and appropriate for the intended student population.

  3. The program's instructional design is appropriate, engaging, and motivating for the intended student population.

  4. The program's assessment system is appropriate and designed to provide accurate information about student learning and to guide teachers' instructional decisions.

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