in the classroom. The content embodied in the Standards can be organized and presented with many different emphases and perspectives in many different curricula.

Instead, the Standards provide criteria that people at the local, state, and national levels can use to judge whether particular actions will serve the vision of a scientifically literate society. They bring coordination, consistency, and coherence to the improvement of science education. If people take risks in the name of improving science education, they know they will be supported by policies and procedures throughout the system. By moving the practices of extraordinary teachers and administrators to the forefront of science education, the Standards take science education beyond the constraints of the present and toward a shared vision of the future.

Hundreds of people cooperated in developing the Standards, including teachers, school administrators, parents, curriculum developers, college faculty and administrators, scientists, engineers, and government officials. These individuals drew heavily upon earlier reform efforts, research into teaching and learning, accounts of exemplary practice, and their own personal experience and insights. In turn, thousands of people reviewed various drafts of the standards. That open, iterative process produced a broad consensus about the elements of science education needed to permit all students to achieve excellence.

Continuing dialogues between those who set and implement standards at the national, state, and local levels will ensure that the Standards evolve to meet the needs of students, educators, and society at large. The National Science Education Standards should be seen as a dynamic understanding that is always open to review and revision.

Organization of the Standards

After an introductory chapter and a chapter giving broad principles and definitions of terms, the National Science Education Standards are presented in six chapters:

  • Standards for science teaching (Chapter 3).

  • Standards for professional development for teachers of science (Chapter 4).

  • Standards for assessment in science education (Chapter 5).

  • Standards for science content (Chapter 6).

  • Standards for science education programs (Chapter 7).

  • Standards for science education systems (Chapter 8).

For the vision of science education described in the Standards to be attained, the standards contained in all six chapters need to be implemented. But the Standards document has been designed so that different people can read the standards in different ways. Teachers, for example, might want to read the teaching, content, and program standards before turning to the professional development, assessment, and systems standards. Policy makers might want to read the system and program standards first, while faculty of higher education might want to read the professional development and

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