During the past decade, educators, professional groups, politicians, and others have discussed much information (and misinformation) about national education standards. In 1989, when the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) released its landmark document Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, a stampede of education standards followed, including the release in 1996 of the National Science Education Standards. Now nearly every content area has developed standards. What about these standards is useful and how should they be disseminated for use? How can these various education standards have a significant impact on practice in our schools and not end up as dusty documents lining bookshelves?

About the time of the release of the National Science Education Standards, we at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conducted a random sample of our membership. We asked our teacher members if they thought that the science standards would have an impact on...

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