Mixed Grades for NSF's Bold Reform of Statewide Education

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Science  04 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5395, pp. 1800-1805
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5395.1800

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The National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Statewide Systemic Initiatives (SSI), a bold attempt to reform science and math education on many fronts at the statewide level, grew out of a bipartisan political promise to make U.S. elementary and secondary students the best in the world in these areas. But after 7 years, officials are still a long way from knowing whether systemic reform works--or even what constitutes success. A major assessment of the statewide efforts concluded this spring that the program's impact has been extremely hard to measure and that evidence of improved test scores as a direct result of the SSI reforms is even more tenuous ( But educators unanimously applaud NSF for launching the initiative and say that despite its flaws, the program has made a positive contribution to the national debate on how to improve science and math education.