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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

WHAT IS THE INFLUENCE OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS?

Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary

Karen S. Hollweg and

David Hill

Steering Committee on Taking Stock of the National Science Education Standards: The Research

Committee on Science Education K-12

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract/Grant No SI-0102582 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2003). What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards? Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Karen S. Hollweg and David Hill. Steering Committee on Taking Stock of the National Science Education Standards: The Research, Committee on Science Education K-12, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

STEERING COMMITTEE ON TAKING STOCK OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS: THE RESEARCH

Cary I. Sneider (Chair),

Boston Museum of Science

Ronald D. Anderson,

School of Education, University of Colorado

Rolf Blank, Council of Chief State School Officers,

Washington, DC

Enriqueta C. Bond,

Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Research Triangle Park, NC

James J. Gallagher,

Michigan State University

Brian Stecher,

RAND Education, Santa Monica, CA

Staff, Center for Education

Jay Labov, Deputy Director

Karen S. Hollweg, Project Director

Gail Pritchard, Program Officer

LaShawn N. Sidbury, Project Assistant

Jessica Barzilai, Intern

Laura Bergman, Intern

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE EDUCATION K-12

J. Myron Atkin (Chair),

School of Education, Stanford University

Ron Latanision (Vice-Chair),

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Carol Brewer,

University of Montana

Juanita Clay-Chambers,

Detroit Public Schools

Hubert Dyasi,

School of Education, City College, City University of New York

Patty Harmon,

San Francisco Unified School District

Anne Jolly,

SERVE, Mobile, AL

Judith Jones,

East Chapel Hill High School, NC

Tom Keller,

Maine Department of Education

Okhee Lee,

School of Education, University of Miami

William Linder-Scholer,

SciMathMN

María Alicia López Freeman,

California Science Project

Jim Minstrell,

Talaria Inc., Seattle, WA

Carlo Parravano,

Merck Institute for Science Education, Rahway, NJ

Cary Sneider,

Boston Museum of Science

Jerry Valadez,

Fresno Unified School District

Robert Yinger,

School of Education, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Staff, Center for Education

Jay Labov, Deputy Director

Karen S. Hollweg, Director,

COSE K-12

LaShawn N. Sidbury, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

Preface

Since their publication in 1996, the National Science Education Standards (NSES) have been at the center of the science education reform movement in the United States. Prior to that time, the National Science Foundation, other government agencies, and private foundations had supported the development of a plethora of curricula and approaches to instruction; these led to such R&D organizations as the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, the Chemical Bond Approach, and the Physical Science Study Committee. However, most of these programs were developed independent of one another and without the benefit of some common framework or consensus about what students should know and be able to do in science at various grade levels.

The purpose behind the NSES was to create that consensus of what every K-12 student should be expected to know and be able to do in the area of science and what reforms in professional development, teaching, assessment, curriculum, and systems are needed to deliver high-quality science education to all students.1 Those who led the four-year nationwide effort to develop the NSES expected the coherent vision described in that document to inform and guide educators in moving science education in a new direction. A cursory view of the literature suggests that it has achieved at least a part of that vision. Most state departments of education have used the NSES in developing their own guidelines for what students should know and be able to do in science. These state standards, in turn, have focused local and regional efforts ranging from teacher education and textbook adoption to large-scale testing. And federal agencies have encouraged the use of the NSES in the development of models for systemic improvement.

A cursory view of the literature is not adequate to determine whether or not the nation is on course in improving science education. In 2001, with support from National Science Foundation, the National Research Council began a review of

1  

In 1993, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Like the NSES that followed, the Benchmarks attempted to define the science content that students in the United States should know by the time they graduate from high school. The Benchmarks did not offer standards for assessment, instruction, professional development, or systems, but subsequent publications from AAAS/Project 2061 have offered guidance on these issues (1997b, 1998, 2001a, 2001b). In this report, we use the term NSES when referring only to the National Science Education Standards. We use the term Standards to refer collectively to national standards articulated in the NSES and Benchmarks.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

the evidence concerning whether or not the National Science Education Standards have had an impact on the science education enterprise to date, and if so, what that impact has been. This publication represents the second phase of a three-phase effort by the National Research Council to answer that broad and very important question.

Phase I began in 1999 and was completed in 2001, with publication of Investigating the Influence of Standards: A Framework for Research in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (National Research Council, 2002). That report provided organizing principles for the design, conduct, and interpretation of research regarding the influence of national standards. The Framework developed in Phase I was used to structure the current review of research that is reported here.

Phase II began in mid-2001, involved a thorough search and review of the research literature on the influence of the NSES, and concludes with this publication, which summarizes the proceedings of a workshop conducted on May 10, 2002, in Washington, DC.

Phase III will provide input, collected in 2002, from science educators, administrators at all levels, and other practitioners and policy makers regarding their views of the NSES, the ways and extent to which the NSES are influencing their work and the systems that support science education, and what next steps are needed.

The Committee on Science Education K-12 (COSE K-12), a standing committee of the NRC’s Center for Education, has taken the lead in developing these projects. Efforts in Phase II leading to the current publication began with the formation of the Steering Committee on Taking Stock of the National Science Education Standards: The Research. The Steering Committee’s charge was to conduct a workshop that would answer the question: Based on the research, what do we know about the influence of the National Science Education Standards on various facets of the educational system, on opportunities for all students to learn, and on student learning? In addition, the workshop was to identify questions that still need to be answered to fully assess the influence of the NSES. Steps taken to address this charge included:

  1. Defining criteria to guide the literature search and preparation of an annotated bibliography;

  2. Commissioning authors to create the bibliography and write review papers summarizing the research;

  3. Planning and conducting the workshop to present and discuss the papers;

  4. Preparing this workshop summary.

Workshop attendees were selected to represent a broad range of stakeholder interests, including professional organizations of scientists and science educators, teachers, school district officials and foundation officers; teacher educators and researchers; curriculum developers and textbook publishers; and representatives from government agencies, science centers, and museums. Because commissioned authors prepared their analyses of the research on a particular topic prior to the workshop, attendees were invited to discuss the research findings with the commissioned authors, to consider the implications of these findings for practice, and to formulate questions that will require additional

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

research. All statements are attributed to attendees by name when they identified themselves prior to making a statement. When they could not be identified, they are referred to as “a workshop attendee” or a similar identifier. Similarly, the analyses of the research presented in commissioned papers are those of the authors and are provided in this report as they were presented at the workshop. The results of the workshop are summarized in the following pages.

It would be misleading to promise clear-cut answers to readers of this report regarding the fundamental research question that guided this review. Nonetheless, the Steering Committee can promise readers a richly textured discussion of areas that have been influenced by the NSES, insights about vital areas seemingly untouched by the NSES, and provocative questions for further research. We trust the results will be valuable for everyone concerned with quality science education, and a useful guide for those who wish to conduct further research on the influence of the NSES.

This publication includes a summary of the workshop, the five commissioned review papers, a master list of all references found in the literature search, and annotations for studies that provide the evidence for the reviews. Some readers may wish to turn to the first page of the Workshop Summary immediately, so as to get right to the heart of the issues. Others may wish to finish reading the Preface, which provides further information on the boundary conditions and context of the literature review and subsequent workshop.

Scope. Early on, the Steering Committee decided to include research on the influence of the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) as well as the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996). While the two documents are somewhat different in scope, they are similar in intent and there is about 90 percent overlap between the two in the science content they include (American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 1997b). Also, the Committee expected to find more research on the influence of Benchmarks since it had been out for a longer period of time. However, the Committee decided not to include research on technology or mathematics standards, except to the extent that such studies provided information about the adoption of educational standards in general or provided models for new studies of the science standards.

Structure. The Framework in Figure 1-1 in Chapter 1, drawn from the earlier report Investigating the Influence of Standards (NRC, 2002), was invaluable in parceling the research review into five manageable parts. Three of the authors were commissioned to review research on the channels of influence of national standards within the education system—impact on the curriculum, on teacher development, and on assessment and accountability. The fourth author focused on the impact of the NSES on teachers and teaching practice, while the fifth author reviewed research on the impact of the NSES on student learning.

Search. To find relevant research articles published between 19932 and the present, the staff of the Committee on Science Education K-

2  

The National Science Education Standards were not released until 1996. The literature search for this project began with papers published in 1993 because that year marked the publication of the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy and thus the beginning of an awareness of national science standards by the education community.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

12 conducted a broad search of journals, databases, and reports to state and federal education agencies and to professional organizations. Several hundred documents were identified using a list of 61 key words and phrases (presented in Chapter 7, Box 7-2). The articles were screened for relevance and methodology, using guidelines modified from the EPPI-Centre’s Review Group Manual, Version 1.1 (2001). A total of 245 articles met the criteria for the review. These were copied and parceled among the five commissioned authors. A cover sheet was filled out for each article, stating why it was included, and suggesting where it was likely to fit into the Framework. Authors were asked to complete annotations for the articles that they were assigned, and to write a thoughtful, comprehensive review article summarizing the body of research in their assigned area. Details of the methodology are described in Chapter 7.

Annotations. The COSE K-12 staff provided authors with guidelines for annotations. These included a synopsis paragraph describing the manuscript, the nature of the work and methodology, the degree of rigor, and a brief statement on how the paper relates to the author’s particular area of influence. The authors shared and discussed their initial annotations early in the process so as to achieve a common sense of purpose and style. The annotated bibliography is in Chapter 8.

Reviews. Given the broad knowledge and experience of the Steering Committee members, we were able to identify and engage some of the best researchers in the country to create the annotations and literature reviews. Two authors chose to work with co-authors. All authors’ names and organizational affiliations are listed at the beginning of each of the chapters in Part Two. Each author or team of co-authors reviewed the relevant individual studies in depth, synthesized the findings, and drew conclusions based on the entire body of evidence, and then gave suggestions for future research based on their review. Teleconferences allowed the Steering Committee members and authors to discuss the papers as they were being developed.

Workshop. Pre-prints of the five review papers were sent to all participants a week before the conference, so that time at the workshop could focus on implications of the research, rather than on the papers themselves. A full-day workshop allowed sufficient time for authors and Steering Committee members to share prepared remarks, and for participants to develop their ideas in small groups. David Hill was commissioned as rapporteur to write a summary the workshop. His summary, as reviewed by the members of the Steering Committee and others, appears in Chapter 1.

Future Steps. As described above, input from the field concerning the influence of the NSES has been collected through a separate initiative. With the conclusion of Phase III, we will have before us a broad-based analysis to guide the next steps toward realizing the vision of the National Science Education Standards. While the path forward may not be as precise as a blueprint, it will at least be better informed, thanks to the many individuals who have contributed to this effort.

Cary I. Sneider

Steering Committee Chair

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

Acknowledgments

Many outstanding people worked together to make this publication possible. We are very grateful to each of them for their important contributions and for their spirited commitment to this project.

Our sponsor, the National Science Foundation, and in particular Janice Earle, made this work possible with their generous support.

The Steering Committee members, with Cary Sneider’s leadership, applied their expertise to enthusiastically plan and masterfully guide the initiative from an initial concept to this implementation of the workshop. Their insights have shaped this effort.

Georgeann Higgins capably performed the computerized searches, and Shane Day and Laura Bergman persevered in acquiring numerous documents and processing hundreds of bibliographic entries, enabling staff to complete an extensive literature search in a relatively short period of time.

The commissioned authors, whose papers appear in Chapters 2 through 6, accepted the challenge of carefully reviewing and analyzing scores of documents and then conceiving and writing thoughtful reviews. In the process, they deferred other activities to respond to our requests, meet our deadlines, and present their findings at the workshop—all with aplomb.

The workshop participants, listed in Appendix B, devoted their time to reading the reviews and convening at The National Academies to discuss the authors’ findings and their implications for policy, practice, and future research in science education. Their diverse views have added to the richness of this report.

Two delightful and talented wordsmiths aided us in completing this publication. David Hill served as the workshop rapporteur, adeptly summarizing the workshop (see Chapter 1). Paula Tarnapol Whitacre deftly edited the entire publication, guiding us in matters ranging from format to sentence structure and correcting numerous details in the bibliography.

Through the entire project, LaShawn Sidbury served as an exceptional project assistant, keeping track of the hundreds of documents, coordinating the involvement of some hundred participants, ensuring the high quality of products produced, and dealing smoothly with many logistical details. Interns Laura Bergman and Jessica Barzilai added fresh ideas and energy to the project from start to finish. Gail Pritchard applied her considerable skills in coordinating the team that conducted the literature search and distributed documents to the authors. And Jay Labov, Patricia Morison, and Margaret Hilton provided sage advice.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Hubert M. Dyasi, City University of New York; James J. Gallagher, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Linda P. Rosen, consultant, Bethesda, MD; and Elisabeth Swanson, Montana State University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Kendall N. Starkweather, International Technology Education Association. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author(s) and the NRC.

This document is a tribute to the commitment and can-do spirit of all these contributors, and we extend our sincerest thanks to each of them.

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
×

*  

The research reviews and the annotated bibliography are not printed in this volume but are available online. Go to http://www.nap.edu and search for What Is the Influence.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. What Is the Influence of the National Science Education Standards?: Reviewing the Evidence, A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10618.
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In 2001, with support from National Science Foundation, the National Research Council began a review of the evidence concerning whether or not the National Science Education Standards have had an impact on the science education enterprise to date, and if so, what that impact has been. This publication represents the second phase of a three-phase effort by the National Research Council to answer that broad and very important question.

Phase I began in 1999 and was completed in 2001, with publication of Investigating the Influence of Standards: A Framework for Research in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (National Research Council, 2002). That report provided organizing principles for the design, conduct, and interpretation of research regarding the influence of national standards. The Framework developed in Phase I was used to structure the current review of research that is reported here.

Phase II began in mid-2001, involved a thorough search and review of the research literature on the influence of the NSES, and concludes with this publication, which summarizes the proceedings of a workshop conducted on May 10, 2002, in Washington, DC.

Phase III will provide input, collected in 2002, from science educators, administrators at all levels, and other practitioners and policy makers regarding their views of the NSES, the ways and extent to which the NSES are influencing their work and the systems that support science education, and what next steps are needed.

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