Goals for School Science

The goals for school science that underlie the National Science Education Standards are to educate students who are able to

  • experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world;

  • use appropriate scientific processes and principles in making personal decisions;

  • engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern; and

  • increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding, and skills of the scientifically literate person in their careers.

These goals define a scientifically literate society. The standards for content define what the scientifically literate person should know, understand, and be able to do after 13 years of school science. The separate standards for assessment, teaching, program, and system describe the conditions necessary to achieve the goal of scientific literacy for all students that is described in the content standards.

Schools that implement the Standards will have students learning science by actively engaging in inquiries that are interesting and important to them. Students thereby will establish a knowledge base for understanding science. In these schools, teachers will be empowered to make decisions about what students learn, how they learn it, and how resources are allocated. Teachers and students together will be members of a community focused on learning science while being nurtured by a supportive education system.

Students could not achieve the standards in most of today's schools. Implementation of the Standards will require a sustained, long-term commitment to change.

History of the National Science Education Standards

Setting national goals and developing national standards to meet them are recent strategies in our education reform policy. Support for national education standards by state governments originated in 1989, when the National Governors Association endorsed national education goals. President George Bush immediately added his support by forming the National Education Goals Panel. The support for standards was continued by the new administration after the election of President William Clinton.

The first standards appeared in 1989, when mathematics educators and mathematicians addressed the subject of national standards with two publications: Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1989); and Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education, by the National Research Council (1989). The NCTM experience was important in the development of other education

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