developed in this document is intended to address that need—to provide guidance for the design, conduct, and interpretation of research focused on influences of nationally developed standards on student learning in mathematics, science, and technology.

INTRODUCTION

Perspectives on Standards

To many educators, a “standard” is a statement describing what a person should know or be able to do. That use of “standard” is often called a “content standard.” For many members of the general public and for the education policy community, “standards” focus on outcomes and imply “a mechanism by which to hold schools accountable for what students learn” (Raizen, 1998). In such cases, specific levels of performance relative to standards are defined, and assessments are designed to measure student progress toward attaining those standards.

NCTM, NRC, and ITEA “standards” use the word in a broader sense, offering a vision for what is needed to enable all students to become literate in mathematics, science, and technology. Teaching and learning promoted by the mathematics, science, and technology standards represent a departure from common patterns of practice. All three sets of standards affirm the importance of increased expectations, opportunities, and achievement of all students, including groups largely bypassed historically, such as girls and ethnic and language minorities. The standards call on teachers to recognize the rich diversity students bring to classrooms and to provide opportunities for all students to learn.

The standards emphasize understanding of basic concepts and “big ideas” in each subject area, acquisition of useful skills, engagement in inquiry-based learning, and coherent articulation of learning opportunities across all grade levels. The standards also call for students to be able to use their knowledge, skills, and understanding to make decisions and participate productively in society,



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