Both the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards (NSES) and AAAS's Benchmarks for Science Literacy represent a great investment of thought by credible experts on science and education. Where they address common areas it is to be expected that they will overlap extensively in their recommendations. It is also to be expected that within their common areas they will often differ in detail or even in focus, for neither purports to be perfect or final.

The role that goals specified at a national level will play in educational reform in the coming decades is not clear. To the extent that curriculum development in America follows a single set of national criteria for success in science education, it is important that the NSES and Benchmarks accounts of science literacy be seen as consistent in spirit and not as implying that there is inadequate consensus on what is important in science. To the extent that state and local education units may be free to forge their own standards, it is important that the agreement of these two accounts be seen as a powerful mandate for reform, without a definitive decision having to be made for one or the other where they differ.

The analysis of correspondences between the NSES content standards and the current edition of Benchmarks was undertaken in order to demonstrate the large extent of overlap between them and to identify residual differences that might be reduced in any future versions of NSES or Benchmarks.

We are indebted to the National Research Council for its cooperation in preparing this document, including access to a revised draft of NSES just prior to publication, provision of disk copies of the published version, and approbation for drafts of our completed comparison.

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