focus groups for their critique and review. Each organization represented on the Chair's Advisory Committee joined by two additional organizations (NCTM and the New Standards Project) formed focus groups. In addition, the NRC convened five focus groups that were composed entirely of individuals who had not yet been involved in the project to critique the predraft. In this NRC-organized review, separate groups of experts reviewed the content, teaching, assessment, program, and system standards present in the predraft.
After the many suggestions for improving the predraft were collated and analyzed, an extensively revised standards document was prepared as a public document. This draft was released for nationwide review in December 1994. More than 40,000 copies of the draft National Science Education Standards were distributed to some 18,000 individuals and 250 groups. The comments of the many individuals and groups who reviewed this draft were again collated and analyzed; these were used to prepare the final National Science Education Standards that are presented here.
The many individuals who developed the content standards sections of the National Science Education Standards made independent use and interpretation of the statements of what all students should know and be able to do that are published in Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences gratefully acknowledges its indebtedness to the seminal work by the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061 and believes that use of Benchmarks for Science Literacy by state framework committees, school and school-district curriculum committees, and developers of instructional and assessment materials complies fully with the spirit of the content standards.
The Standards are organized into seven chapters. The next chapter (Chapter 2) lays out a set of overarching principles that underlie the vision of scientific literacy for all students. These principles, as well as definitions for key terms, provide the conceptual basis for the Standards.
Teaching and teachers are at the center of the reform in science education. The standards for science teaching are, therefore, the standards presented first. Found in Chapter 3, these standards focus on what teachers know and do. The standards for the professional development of teachers are presented next: Chapter 4 focuses on how teachers develop professional knowledge and skill. Together, the standards in Chapters 3 and 4 present a broad and deep view of science teaching that is based on the conviction that scientific inquiry is at the heart of science and science learning.
The science education assessment standards are presented in Chapter 5 as criteria for judging the quality of assessment practices. The assessment standards are also designed to be used as guides in developing assessment practices and policy. These standards apply equally to classroom-based and externally designed assessments and to formative and summative assessments.