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Heads of Two Standards Panels for Science Named

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PASADENA, Calif--The body coordinating the development of national standards for science teaching, curriculum, and assessment has chosen the heads of two of the panels that will develop the standards and expects to name the third soon.

Although an announcement has yet to be made, officials of the National Academy of Sciences said at a meeting here this month that they have chosen Karen Worth, the principal investigator with the Insights Project at the Education Development Center in Newton, Mass., to head the teaching-standards panel.

They added that Henry Heikkinen, a chemistry professor at the University of Northern Colorado, will head the curriculum-standards panel.

The official announcement, officials said, will not be made until a third person is named to head the panel that will develop standards for assessing student performance.

Because assessment is expected to be one of the most controversial areas in the standards-setting process, the search for someone to head that committee is lagging behind the others, officials said.

But sources said Richard Shavelson, the dean of the graduate school of education at the University of California at Santa Barbara and an expert in precollegiate science assessment, is the leading candidate for the post.

The issue of viable assessment, experts noted, is essential to successful science reform because what is taught in the classroom is frequently defined by what knowledge is to be tested.

"What we don't want is the wrong kind of assessment applied to science education,'' said Douglas Lapp, the executive director of the National Science Resources Center, a joint venture of the academy and the Smithsonian Institution.

A Progress Report

During a working conference on science-education reform held here by the resources center, participants heard from Kenneth Hoffman, the academy's associate executive officer for education, about the progress of the standards project.

Ms. Worth participated in the conference, and Mr. Shavelson described to the participants his efforts to help devise alternative methods of assessment.

Mr. Hoffman said the three 18-member panels will, under the direction of a governing body yet to be named, begin developing drafts during a monthlong retreat this summer in California.

The entire standards-setting process is expected to take two years.

Although scientists who attended the conference were, for the most part, initially unaware that efforts were under way to set standards, they quickly agreed that the process should include advice from scientists. (See related story, page 12.)

Mr. Hoffman also noted that, because the standards-setting process must satisfy such diverse constituencies--from President Bush to the heads of the various science-education organizations--"the whole process is infinitely more political than you can imagine.''

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