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Using National Standards to Improve K-8 Science Curriculum Materials

Abstract

Do national science standards still matter in the era of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)? While NCLB has brought increased emphasis on state science standards and assessments, a new Project 2061 article argues that national standards and benchmarks not only matter but are essential to the long-term improvement of U.S. science education and to the students it serves.

In "Using National Standards to Improve K-8 Science Curriculum Materials," published in The Elementary School Journal's special issue on Science Curriculum (Fortus, 2008), Jo Ellen Roseman and Mary Koppal make a case for national guidelines and identify key functions performed by Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993) and the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996). Roseman and Koppal explain how national reform efforts

  • Provide a vision of what science education could be and build consensus for that vision;

  • Model what high-quality standards should look like; and

  • Guide the development of a new generation of curriculum materials and assessments that can help all students achieve those standards.

After describing these critical functions, Roseman and Koppal discuss the quality of current state standards and then focus on the unique role that national standards can play in shaping a new generation of science curriculum materials designed to give all K-8 students a solid foundation for future science learning.

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