The goal of the Committee on Developing the Capacity for Selecting Effective Instructional Materials (''the Committee") was to produce a tested standards-based instrument that would be helpful to people who select instructional materials for use in the science classroom. In so doing, the Committee was responding to the request of teachers for instructional materials that would enable them to teach science using a standards-based approach. Without these standards, many teachers will continue to teach science as they have in the past, and the efforts to increase student achievement will falter.
The Committee recognized early on that the selection instrument would have to be flexible in order to accommodate both national and state standards, as well as the diversity of standards and interests involved in decision-making at the local level, including teachers, principals, science supervisors, parents, scientists, and school board members. Consequently, the selection instrument, which begins on page 41 of this report as the Guide to Selecting Instructional Materials, has been designed for use with whatever standards have been adopted by the relevant school district.
The importance of science education has been discussed in-depth in tens if not hundreds of professional and popular articles and books, including the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993). These discussions reflect two fundamental conclusions. First, a basic understanding of science is vital for everyone, because science and technology have become relevant to enterprises as varied as business, agriculture, manufacturing, law, and government, and they have a profound impact on many contemporary personal, social, and political issues. Second, the security and economy of the