Project 2061 — Having an Impact

SRI InternationalAt the request of The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of Project 2061's principal funders, SRI International concluded a year-long study evaluation of the influence of Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Data for the evaluation were collected through expert interviews, reviews of state science curriculum frameworks and textbooks, telephone and mail surveys, and case studies of reform activities in six states. Here are some of the highlights of the SRI study:

"...a coherent, comprehensive, and compelling vision of science literacy."

-SRI International, 1996

National Impact

  • According to the SRI report, Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy reflect the "best thinking in science education reform..." and Project 2061 has "provided a banner around which science education reformers could rally...." By widely promoting the documents to scientists and educators, SRI says, Project 2061 has "changed the national climate for science education reform...."
  • Project 2061 has brought into the mainstream of education discourse some core ideas about science education reform: that science is a subject to be learned by all students; that science programs must be coherent, not just a collection of random facts and activities; and that the natural and social sciences, mathematics, and technology are interrelated.
  • Project 2061 has been a major influence on the development of national science education standards and on reform initiatives sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and a number of other national education and science organizations.
  • Project 2061's influence on science textbooks can be seen most readily in the books' introductory passages and in the annotated teacher's guides. To a large extent, however, it appears that reform ideas such as those promoted by Project 2061's publications and the science standards have not yet been widely adopted by textbook publishers.

State Impact

  • In interviews with education leaders from 27 states, SRI found that "a remarkably high percentage of them (90%) currently use or refer to Benchmarks in their day-to-day work" and 80% of them spontaneously mentioned Benchmarks and Science for All Americans as a primary source of information. Nearly all the leaders interviewed said Project 2061 had played a major role in defining science literacy in their respective states.
  • SRI's review of 43 state curriculum frameworks or standards-type documents and its case studies in Colorado, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Wyoming confirm Project 2061's influence on state-level reform efforts.

Individual Impact

  • 92% of workshop participants surveyed reported that increasing their familiarity with Project 2061 was of significant or major benefit to their work.
  • Teacher educators, in particular, found the workshops very beneficial to their work, and most of them make use of Science for All Americans (92%) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (90%) in their practice.
  • 85% of the teachers surveyed consider Benchmarks for Science Literacy an influence on what they teach, compared to 72% who report their science textbook as an influence.

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1996. Project 2061 — Having an Impact. Excerpted from Evaluation of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061. Zucker, A. A., Young, V. M., Luczak, J. M. (1996). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.