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NSTA Position Statement:
The National Science Teachers Association takes the position that K–16 coordination is essential for effective, meaningful and developmentally appropriate science education.
Coordination is central to the mission of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA.) The NSTA Board of Directors adopted a new Mission Statement in January 1997—“The mission of the National Science Teachers Association is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.”
This position is also fundamental to the goal of scientific literacy for all students and the vision articulated by the National Science Education Standards published by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.
Coordination of learning experiences in K–16 will result in more effective teaching and learning, and help both teachers and students make transitions across grade levels. Coordination is especially important in science where sequential development and interlinking of concepts and skills are essential for students to gain a solid understanding of concepts and to develop an ability to use the scientific process. Coordinated, comprehensive science experiences for all students across grade levels K–16 will ensure that students have an opportunity for a similar core experience within content areas. Coordinated learning experiences will help students make transitions easier by providing congruency in learning across grade levels and will ensure that concepts are developmentally appropriate when presented. Coordination between high school and college teachers of science, especially those involved in college introductory level courses (grades 13–14), will enable both groups of teachers to use instructional strategies that will emphasize an inquiry approach. Coordination will similarly affect curriculum at the middle and elementary levels by providing experiences that reinforce the connectiveness and significance of science.
Coordination efforts must be extensive and involve teachers of science, science education and science specialists, coordinators of programs, agencies and organizations which offer science teaching support, and those who set policy affecting science education. Such efforts must occur in a collegial atmosphere, where each agent involved recognizes and appreciates the role of every other part in the whole enterprise of science education. The overarching goal of all efforts must be to achieve the most meaningful science learning experience for students. The following considerations are declared essential to successful K–16 science education coordination efforts.
- Communication and cooperation among science educators within and between all grade levels are imperative for coordination opportunities to be designed and implemented.
- Time for planning, access to colleagues inside and outside of the school, and resources for teachers are essential to successful coordination efforts.
- Teacher training and professional development programs must promote and help teachers work toward coordination.
- Attention must be given to coordination at transition points within the K–12 school system: Kindergarten to elementary schools, elementary to middle schools and middle to high schools. In addition, coordination between high school (grades 9–12) and post secondary education (grades 13–16) is imperative to assure congruency in learning.
- Teachers of college/ university science courses must integrate the principles of the National Science Education Standards into their own teaching in order to maintain and reinforce the comprehensive science learning experiences of students.
- Science Curricula and teaching must be coordinated with the needs and demands of business and industry.
- Professional science, engineering and education organizations must become partners in sharing responsibility for science education of our future citizens.
- A policy framework must be coupled with the efforts of all agents that impact science education. Policies that influence science education that are coordinated within and across political agencies, educational institutions, and professional organizations are a key to K–16 science education coordination.
- Assessment tools to provide feedback to all overlapping systems involved in science education must be developed, implemented, interpreted, and acted on by a coordinated effort of task developers, teachers, administrators and policymakers.
—Adopted by the Board of Directors