The Assessment Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 1995);
The National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996b); and
The Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993).
Even with the availability of goals and a comprehensive set of standards, the curriculum program design committee needs to agree upon and articulate a common vision for the district in its own language. Teachers, administrators, and others on the committee should translate what is called for in national, state, and local standards into administrative and classroom policy and practice for their district. The committee will want to consult research literature and other sources on best practices in teaching and learning science and mathematics.
Creating a common vision of what and how students will learn mathematics and science is an important component of the development of the curriculum program, regardless of whether most of the program's components are adopted or adapted from other programs or developed independently. A common vision helps focus all stakeholders on what the school district believes is important. The vision is critical for good communication, as it will help the committee describe what the practices and behaviors of students, teachers, administrators, and parents should be when the curriculum program is in place.
In building a common vision, the design committee should describe what would be observable when the curriculum program is fully developed and implemented in terms of
what students are learning and how they are learning it;
what teachers are doing to support, encourage, and expect learning;
the evidence to be used during assessment of student performance; and
activities parents, administrators, businesses, and colleges and universities are engaged in to support and encourage high levels of student performance.
Many approaches to this part of the design committee's work are possible as long as members engage in intellectual and focused discussion regarding issues of teaching and learning. One such discussion might include tracing the development of a particular concept or strand across several grade levels, and correlating this development with national and state standards documents. Examining sample instructional materials or student work also could help the committee clarify the nature of student