NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and a National Academy of Sciences president’s discretionary fund provided by the Volvo North American Corporation, The Ettinger Foundation, Inc., and the Eugene McDermott Foundation.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
National Science Education Standards.
“National Research Council.”
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Science—Study and Teaching—Standards—United States.
I. National Research Council (U.S.).
First Printing, December 1995
Second Printing, March 1996
Third Printing, July 1996
Fourth Printing, October 1996
Fifth Printing, February 1998
National Science Education Standards is available for sale from the
National Academy Press,
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). It is also available via internet at http://www:nas.edu.
Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Cover by Grafik, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia.
The National Science Education Standards are the product of the efforts of many individuals and groups. We want to acknowledge
The National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment
The Chair's Advisory Committee
The Executive Editorial Committee
The Content Working Group
The Teaching Working Group
The Assessment Working Group
The Focus Groups
The National Review Groups
The many individuals who have served as consultants to the project
All who have diligently reviewed the drafts
The National Science Education Standards Development Team
Angelo Collins, Director
Rodger Bybee, Chair, Content Working Group
Karen Worth, Chair, Teaching Working Group
Audrey Champagne, Chair, Assessment Working Group
Harold Pratt, Senior Program Officer
The National Research Council Staff
Donna M. Gerardi, Special Assistant for New Initiatives
Patrice Legro, Senior Program Office
Lee R. Paulson, Managing Editor
Douglas K. Sprunger, Senior Project Assistant
Suzanne White, Senior Project Assistant
Tina M. Winters, Editorial Assistant
See Appendix for members of the above groups.
Major funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and a National Academy of Sciences president's discretionary fund provided by the Volvo North American Corporation, The Ettinger Foundation, Inc., and the Eugene McDermott Foundation.
National Science Education Standards is available for sale from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). It is also available via internet at http://www:nas.edu.
The world looks so different after learning science.
For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming heat is released the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree. [A]nd in the ash is the small remnant of the part which did not come from air, that came from the solid earth, instead.
These are beautiful things, and the content of science is wonderfully full of them. They are very inspiring, and they can be used to inspire others.
Call to Action
This nation has established as a goal that all students should achieve scientific literacy. The National Science Education Standards are designed to enable the nation to achieve that goal. They spell out a vision of science education that will make scientific literacy for all a reality in the 21st century. They point toward a destination and provide a roadmap for how to get there.
All of us have a stake, as individuals and as a society, in scientific literacy. An understanding of science makes it possible for everyone to share in the richness and excitement of comprehending the natural world. Scientific literacy enables people to use scientific principles and processes in making personal decisions and to participate in discussions of scientific issues that affect society. A sound grounding in science strengthens many of the skills that people use every day, like solving problems creatively, thinking critically, working cooperatively in teams, using technology effectively, and valuing life-long learning. And the economic productivity of our society is tightly linked to the scientific and technological skills of our work force.
Many types of individuals will play a critical role in improving science education: teachers; science supervisors; curriculum developers; publishers; those who work in museums, zoos, and science centers; science educators; scientists and engineers across the nation; school administrators; school board members; parents; members of business and industry; and legislators and other public officials.
Individuals from all of these groups were involved in the development of the National Science Education Standards, and now all must act together in the national interest. Achieving scientific literacy will take time because the Standards call for dramatic changes throughout school systems. They emphasize a new way of teaching and learning about science that reflects how science itself is done, emphasizing inquiry as a way of achieving knowledge and understanding about the world. They also invoke changes in what students are taught, in how their performance is assessed, in how teachers are educated and keep pace, and in the relationship between schools and the rest of the community—including the nation's scientists and engineers. The Standards make acquiring scientific knowledge, understanding, and abilities a central aspect of education, just as science has become a central aspect of our society.
The National Science Education Standards are premised on a conviction that all students deserve and must have the opportunity to become scientifically literate. The Standards look toward a future in which all Americans, familiar with basic scientific ideas and processes, can have fuller and more productive lives. This is a vision of great hope and optimism for America, one that can act as a powerful unifying force in our society. We are excited and hopeful about the difference that the Standards will make in the lives of individuals and the vitality of the nation.
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT
PRESIDENT NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES