grade or earth science at the eighth-grade? Or is a coordinated or integrated selection of content desired at each level?)

  • Concepts in the framework should be grouped to form the basis of units or courses, with logical connections shown both within a grouping and across grades.

  • The framework should account for all standards.

In a well-designed curriculum program, the sequence is cumulative, with each subsequent level applying, extending, and building on previously obtained knowledge. The main purpose is to build coherence into the program by describing a reasonable flow of these ideas across the grade levels.

It should be clear that neither the standards nor the framework constitute a curriculum program. Standards and frameworks identify the concepts that are to be learned and the order in which they are to be addressed. They do not specify how the content is to be taught. This is addressed by the fourth — and final — component of the curriculum program to be addressed in this report — instructional materials.


There is broad consensus in both the mathematics and science education communities that use of instructional materials aligned with the content and teaching standards in national standards documents is a critical component of effective curriculum programs. With funding from the NSF, developers have designed instructional materials to address the standards, have tested them in classrooms, and have made available evidence of their effectiveness. The use of exemplary instructional materials to support the student learning identified in the K-12 instructional framework increases the likelihood that all students will have an opportunity to attain the level of understanding called for in the standards.

In recent years, several groups have developed objective criteria that can be used to identify exemplary instructional materials. Various review instruments have been produced that can be used by a school or district to select high-quality instructional materials. While the review instruments vary in format and some criteria, they all address two important dimensions of materials: 1) the degree of alignment between the content of the materials with that specified in the standards; and 2) the quality of the suggested instructional strategies. Many of the instruments also include a review of the assessments that are used in the materials and their degree of alignment with the specified learning outcomes (AAAS, 1997; NCTM, 1995; NRC, 1999c;

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