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National Science Education Standards

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As of 2013, the National Science Education Standards have been replaced by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), available as a print book, free PDF download, and online with our OpenBook platform.

The NGSS offer a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school. The standards are based largely on the 2011 National Research Council report A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.



Americans agree that our students urgently need better science education. But what should they be expected to know and be able to do? Can the same expectations be applied across our diverse society?

These and other fundamental issues are addressed in National Science Education Standards--a landmark development effort that reflects the contributions of thousands of teachers, scientists, science educators, and other experts across the country.

The National Science Education Standards offer a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate, describing what all students regardless of background or circumstance should understand and be able to do at different grade levels in various science categories.

The standards address:

  • The exemplary practice of science teaching that provides students with experiences that enable them to achieve scientific literacy.
  • Criteria for assessing and analyzing students' attainments in science and the learning opportunities that school science programs afford.
  • The nature and design of the school and district science program.
  • The support and resources needed for students to learn science.

These standards reflect the principles that learning science is an inquiry-based process, that science in schools should reflect the intellectual traditions of contemporary science, and that all Americans have a role in improving science education.

This document will be invaluable to education policymakers, school system administrators, teacher educators, individual teachers, and concerned parents.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

272 pages | 8.5 x 10.5
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-05326-6
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-14149-9

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