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National Science Education Standards (1996)

Chapter: Epilogue

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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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Epilogue

The National Science Education Standards describe a vision and provide a first step on a journey of educational reform that might take a decade or longer. At this point, the easy portion of the journey is complete; we have a map. The scientific and education communities have labored to reach agreement on what students should understand and be able to do, how students should be taught, and means for assessing students' understandings, abilities, and dispositions in science. The Standards took an insightful and innovative step by suggesting that the responsibility for improving scientific literacy extends beyond those in classrooms and schools to the entire educational system.

The real journey of educational reform and the consequent improvement of scientific literacy begins with the implementation of these standards. The National Research Council now

Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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passes the challenge to all those who must assume the ultimate responsibility for reform. Scientists, science teacher educators, state departments of education, local school boards, business and industry, governmental and nongovernmental agencies, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students all have a role to play.

Science teachers have been involved in the development of the science education standards, because they have a central role in implementing them. But it would be a massive injustice and complete misunderstanding of the Standards if science teachers were left with the full responsibility for implementation. All of the science education community—curriculum developers, superintendents, supervisors, policy makers, assessment specialists, scientists, teacher educators—must act to make the vision of these standards a reality. Anyone who has read all or part of the Standards has some responsibility in the reform of science education. With distributed leadership and coordinated changes in practice among all who have responsibility for science education reform, advances in science education can rapidly accumulate and produce recognizable improvement in the scientific literacy of all students and future citizens.

Recognizing the challenge these standards present, we encourage

  • Students to use the Standards to set personal learning goals and experience the satisfaction of understanding the natural world;

  • Teachers of science to use the Standards as the basis for improving science content, teaching, and assessment;

Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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  • Science supervisors to use the Standards to implement new, long-range plans for improving science education at the state and local levels;

  • Science educators to change programs in colleges and universities and develop exemplary materials based on the Standards;

  • School administrators to focus attention on the need for materials, equipment, and staff development aligned with the Standards;

  • Those who work in museums, zoos, and science centers to use the Standards as an opportunity to collaborate in providing rich science learning experiences for students;

  • Parents and community members to use the Standards to contribute to their children's science education and generate support for higher-quality school science programs;

  • Scientists and engineers to use the Standards to work with school personnel to initiate and sustain the improvement of school science programs;

  • Business and industry to use the Standards to help schools and science teachers with guidance and resources for developing high-quality programs; and

  • Legislators and public officials to strive for policies and funding priorities aligned with the National Science Education Standards.

The challenge is large, significant, and achievable. It also is too much to place on the shoulders of any one group. Achieving the high standards outlined for science education requires the combined and continued support of all Americans.

Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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Suggested Citation:"Epilogue." National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4962.
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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.

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