As with the mathematics standards developed by NCTM, efforts leading to development of science standards were initiated by educators. AAAS’s Project 2061 began efforts to identify desired learning goals in the mid-1980s. As its title implies, Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1989) reflected the consensus of much of the scientific community regarding a common core of learnings for everyone in science, mathematics, and technology. Then, based on cognitive research and the expertise of teachers and teacher leaders, Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) described how those core concepts can be introduced and developed within the grade-level spans of K-12 schooling. In 1989, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) started its Scope, Sequence, and Coordination project, which sought to delineate a multigrade sequencing of concepts across scientific disciplines within the secondary-school curriculum (NSTA, 1992). In 1991, the NRC agreed to coordinate development of national science education standards, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Education, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Institutes of Health. The National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996), informed by the earlier work of NCTM, AAAS, and NSTA, emerged as the central product of that collaborative effort.
Again, consistent with intentions of the mathematics standards, NRC standards offered a vision of science education for all students, including what they should know, understand, and be able to do within particular K-12 grade intervals. In addition to physical, life, earth, and space science concepts, the content standards addressed science as inquiry, unifying concepts and processes (such as systems and the nature of models), science and technology, science in personal and social perspectives, and the history and nature of science. Furthermore, the document takes a systemic perspective, including standards that address science teaching,