Thus no single study can investigate the entire domain—that is, all the ways that national standards are, or could be, part of the education reform story. Rather, various types of studies, each guided by its own appropriate methodologies, will be needed to establish the scale and scope of influences, identify routes by which standards actually exert influence, and ascertain the direction and educational consequences of those influences.
The Framework is offered as a tool for producers, consumers, and sponsors of research as they consider central questions about the influence of nationally developed standards on mathematics, science, and technology education. It can be used in: (1) situating existing studies within the educational terrain relevant to the standards; (2) providing a conceptual tool for analyzing claims and inferences made by these studies; and (3) generating questions and hypotheses to be explored by future studies through assembling knowledge gained from existing studies and identifying gaps in current research. The Framework should be regarded as an evolving conceptual picture, stimulating different forms of inquiry, and helping to guard against the superficiality that often permeates debate about high-visibility national policies.
Public conversations about the worth and impact of standards in mathematics, science, and technology—or about standards-based reforms in general—will continue. The Framework offered here is intended to help the education research community contribute to that debate with reasoned voices based on evidence and sound inference.