project, “Project 2061”1 in 1986. Project 2061 resulted in the publication of Science for All Americans (1989), which articulated AAAS’ vision for scientific literacy. Benchmarks for Science Literacy, which offered goals and objectives for what U.S. students should know and be able to do in science, appeared in 1993. In 1986, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics began its work on K-12 content standards for mathematics, which were released in 1989 and subsequently revised in 2000. By the end of the 1980s, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) had started crafting a new approach to teaching science (Scope, Sequence and Coordination), which recommended that students in grades 9-12 be exposed to every science subject each year (NSTA, 1996). In 1991, the National Research Council was asked by the president of the NSTA and other scientific organizations, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the co-chairs of the National Education Goals Panel (a project supported by the National Governors’ Association) to coordinate the development of national science education standards. These voluntary standards, published in 1996, reflected input from thousands of scientists, mathematicians, and science and mathematics educators. The National Science Education Standards addressed not only content but also critical related issues, such as the professionalism of teachers, the roles of colleges and universities in preparing teachers to implement and teach curricula that are consistent with the content standards, appropriate assessment of knowledge, and the educational infrastructure that would be needed to support these new approaches to teaching and learning.2 The development of these national standards reflected the concern that U.S. students needed to become much more knowledgeable about science and mathematics than they had been in the past. The national standards presaged a growing researched-based consensus about how people learn and should be taught (summarized in NRC, 1999d,e).

All 50 states are now at varying stages of developing and implementing their own curriculum frameworks and learning outcomes for students in grades K-12 (Education Commission of the


“Project 2061” was so named because it was launched in 1986, the year that Halley’s comet made its most recent close pass by Earth. The next time that the comet returns will be in 2061. The title serves as a metaphor for what AAAS views as a generation of change for fundamentally new approaches to teaching and learning science.


In mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued a separate set of recommendations for teacher education (NCTM, 1991) two years after the release of its content standards for mathematics.

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