Some of these elements have been further addressed in detailed reports by the National Research Council and others (Bybee, 1996, 1997; NRC, 1997a,b).

Finally, for science teaching programs to achieve the goals of the Standards, teachers and students will require access to instructional materials that are accurate in science content, clear in their presentation of scientific concepts and processes, appropriate for the age of the children who will use them, and suitable for the local community, as well as consistent with the aims of the Standards. This report deals with this issue.


Instructional materials for K-12 school science include textbooks, laboratory manuals, other books about scientific matters, kits, software, CDs, and other multimedia materials, such as videos, that provide equipment and materials for specific inquiry-based lessons. Not only are these materials a primary source of classroom science learning, but because the professional development for teachers is often structured around instructional materials, they also play a profound role in the education of teachers. Thus, to achieve the learning goals of the Standards or Benchmarks, students and teachers must be provided with instructional materials that reflect these standards. Moreover, teachers will be more likely to provide the requisite classroom experiences if professional development programs provided by school systems are grounded in standards-based instructional materials. For these reasons, the selection of instructional materials that reflect the learning goals of the standards is a central issue. This is no simple task, since schools and school districts must select from among the broad array of materials produced by U.S. publishers. As documented in the TIMSS project, many instructional materials used for teaching science in the United States emphasize breadth of coverage at the expense of a deep understanding of fundamental scientific concepts (Schmidt et al., 1997).

Ultimately, teachers decide what to teach in the classroom, and many teachers — especially elementary school teachers — base their lesson plans on the class textbook and on other instructional materials rather than on the "intended" curriculum specified by official policies (Woodward and Elliott, 1990). In 1991, Horizon Research, Inc., surveyed 930 past winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), comparing them with a random national sample of 2,065 elementary math and science teachers.

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