Academy Names Members to Four Science-Standards Panels
WASHINGTON--The National Academy of Sciences has named more than 90 educators, scientists, and others to four panels that will develop national standards for precollegiate science curriculum, teaching, and assessment.
Under the aegis of the academy's Coordinating Council for Education, and funded by a $500,000 grant from the Education Department, the 33-member National Committee on Science Education, Standards, and Assessment will oversee the three independent "working groups'' that will actually develop the standards.
The chair of each working group also will serve as a liaison to the other chairs to ensure that the cooperative effort conforms to the academy's extremely short timeline.
Drafts of the curriculum standards are expected to be completed this fall, with drafts of the teaching and assessment standards to follow in the spring.
A final, inclusive, one-volume standards document is expected to be completed by the fall of 1994, following an extensive period of national "critique and consensus.''
The national committee--which officials said is designed to serve as an objective buffer between the academy and the working groups--will be chaired by James D. Ebert, the academy's vice president and the director of the Chesapeake Bay Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
A separate, eight-member chairman's advisory committee includes the heads of several discipline-specific bodies as well as the directors of the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Appointed to the national committee were such prominent scientists as Stephen Jay Gould, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University; Sheldon Lee Glashow, a Nobel Laureate and the Mellon Professor of Physics at Harvard; and Bruce Alberts, the American Cancer Society Research Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.
The nationally known education-reform advocate John I. Goodlad, the director of the Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Washington, also was named to the national panel as were former presidents of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National School Boards Association, and representatives of the A.A.A.S. and the N.S.T.A.
Catherine A. Belter, the chair of the National PTA's education commission; Sonia C. Hernandez, the director of education policy for Gov. Ann Richardson of Texas; and Goery Delacote, the executive director of the Exploratorium, the San Francisco science museum, are also members of the diverse group.
The 17-member curriculum standards group, meanwhile, held its first, closed-door organizational meeting here last week.
Its official deliberations will begin later this month in Irvine, Calif.
The panel is being chaired by Henry W. Heikkinen, the director of the Mathematics and Science Teaching Center at the University of Northern Colorado.
In addition to university researchers and precollegiate curriculum developers, the panel also includes elementary, middle, junior-high, and high-school science teachers from such large urban districts as Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego, as well as from schools in Colorado, Delaware, Missouri, and New York.
Despite the confidentiality imposed by the academy on last week's meeting, Mr. Heikkinen discussed some of the group's early work last week in Baltimore at a joint session of the Maryland Association of Science Teachers and the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
He said, for example, that members began to discuss such questions as what role technology should play in science instruction and if, and how, the science standards should address math teaching.
He also noted that the academy has charged the working group with developing standards that represent "a call to make science a core subject'' from preschool through 12th grade and beyond.
Teacher Education a Key
Mr. Heikkinen added that, in developing the standards, the panels will have to strike a delicate balance by weighing for inclusion contributions from competing reform initiatives launched by the A.A.A.S. and the N.S.T.A. as well as efforts mounted by states and other entities.
"The one thing that will kill us faster than anything else is to be unable to speak with a common voice,'' he said.
He also said that "the real work'' of standards-setting will lie in coordinating the final science standards with math standards developed by the N.C.T.M.
Noting that the teaching-standards working group was scheduled to meet for the first time this week co June 6-7, Mr. Heikkinen said that the panel doubtless will raise some questions about the direction and quality of teacher education.
"If we want effective science teaching,'' he said, "we're not going
to get it by modeling [lecture-based] classroom practice.''