Components of the science education system serve a variety of functions that influence the classroom practice of science education. Functions generally decided at the state (but sometimes the local) level include the content of the school science curriculum, the characteristics of the science program, the nature of science teaching, and assessment practices. For any of these functions, many different organizations and responsible individuals interact. Figure 8.2 depicts how individuals and agencies from different systems interact in the preparation, certification, and employment of teachers of science.
Components of the science education system that have a major influence on teacher certification fit into four categories: (1) professional societies (such as the National Science Teachers Association, American Association of Physics Teachers, National Association of Biology Teachers, American Geological Institute, American Chemical Society), (2) program-accrediting agencies (such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which certifies teachers, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which certifies teacher education programs), (3) government agencies, and (4) institutions of higher education operating within and across national, state, and local levels.
Professional societies usually are not thought of as accrediting agencies, but their membership standards describe what it means to be a professional teacher of science. Teacher accrediting agencies certify the