Content is fundamental if it

  • Represents a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.

  • Represents a central scientific idea and organizing principle.

  • Has rich explanatory power.

  • Guides fruitful investigations.

  • Applies to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.

  • Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.

  • Is developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.


Three criteria influence the selection of science content.

  • The first is an obligation to the domain of science. The subject matter in the physical, life, and earth and space science standards is central to science education and must be accurate.

  • The second criterion is an obligation to develop content standards that appropriately represent the development and learning abilities of students.

  • The third criterion is an obligation to present standards in a usable form for those who must implement the standards.


Persons responsible for science curricula, teaching, assessment and policy who use the Standards should note the following

  • None of the eight categories of content standards should be eliminated. For instance, students should have opportunities to learn science in personal and social perspectives and to learn about the history and nature of science, as well as to learn subject matter, in the school science program.

  • No standards should be eliminated from a category. For instance, “biological evolution” cannot be eliminated from the life science standards.

  • Science content can be added. The connections, depth, detail, and selection of topics can be enriched and varied as appropriate for individual students and school science program.

  • The content standards must be used in the context of the standards on teaching and assessments. Using the standards with traditional teaching and assessment strategies defeats the intentions of the National Science Education Standards.

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