Throughout this report the following conventions are used to address the variety of "standards" for science education: The National Science Education Standards are referred to as Standards (with a capital "S") and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy are referred to as Benchmarks. These two documents are referred to as national standards — both being intended to provide guidance nationally and being largely consistent with one another (AAAS, 1997). The standards developed or adopted by states, school districts, or educational enterprises such as ''America's Choice" are referred to as standards (with a lowercase "s") or local standards.

and California, respectively, achieved this level (NCES, 1998b; NEGP, 1998).

Many state governments expressed support for President George Bush's 1989 initiatives to establish national goals for education and responded favorably to the Standards (Stedman, 1993). According to the National Science Board (NSB, 1999) and others (CCSSO, 1997; Celebuski, 1998), all states have adopted or are adopting standards for science education. While these differ extensively in content, breadth, and rigor, the adoption of standards of some kind by all states marks a significant advance. Nevertheless, without a continuing effort to bring state or national standards into the classroom, even those school systems poised to reform can fail to accomplish change. For example, although 66% of public school principals have stated that they require application of standards in science lessons (NEGP, 1998), data indicate that teachers rarely adhere to the standards' recommendations (NCES, 1998a). Data from earlier initiatives to improve science teaching suggest that teachers often do not receive the needed intellectual, financial, and administrative support for new initiatives (Bybee, 1996, 1997; Hutchinson and Huberman, 1993).

The development of the Standards took into account various factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of current science education. These include excessively broad curricula with no time to cover topics in-depth; absence of hands-on participation in science experiments; the didacticism of much science education; the absence of inquiry-based instruction; poor initial and continuing teacher education in science and science teaching; inadequate provision of necessary materials and equipment; and the poor quality of many available teaching materials, especially textbooks. Hundreds of teachers, scientists, school administrators, educational researchers, and others participated in the development,

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement