Some state policies directly address the intended curriculum and the resources needed to enact it, as well as other facets of the education system that affect curriculum, such as regulations governing remedial or special education programs. State policies addressing student access to classroom laboratories and information technologies also can influence what is taught. Accreditation protocols, including compliance reviews of federally funded programs, place increasing demands on schools to clearly define and support mathematics, science, and technology content congruent with state learning standards and frameworks.
The federal government influences the school curriculum mainly through policy decisions that affect resource allocations. For example, NSF provides funds for science, mathematics, and technology materials-development projects. USDoE also supports programs that may implicitly or explicitly encourage particular visions of mathematics, science, and technology education, as well as particular strategies for attaining these visions, for example, through enactment of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program (Dwight D.Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education Act, PL 103–382). On occasion, federal government officials make use of the “bully pulpit” to issue direct statements about curriculum. For example, fueled by concerns about U.S. student achievement results in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1996), the Secretary of Education emphasized the importance of algebra and geometry instruction at earlier ages for all students (Riley, 2000).
School district policies and practices such as graduation requirements and course offerings also affect the range and depth of science, mathematics, and technology content in schools. These policies, in turn, are influenced by community values and culture, including traditions and expectations regarding what schools should teach and what resources should be allocated to mathematics, science, and technology education (Shepard, 2000). In addition,