National, State and Local Standards Comparison Chart

Erin Peters



Benchmarks for Science Literacy

National Science Education Standards

Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools

Arlington County Public Schools Standards


American Association for the Advancement of Science, WDC

National Academy of Science in Washington, DC

Virginia Department of Education

Adapted from Virginia Department of Education Sample Scope and Sequence – revisions by selected teachers

How the document originated

Reform Movement – teachers should start with nature, engage students actively, use evidence

Set a framework for a nation with various state standards that did not correlate with each other – Beginnings of National Teacher Certificate

Identified academic content for essential components of the science curriculum at different grade levels

 - outcome based learning trend

Arlington County Public Schools used the VA SOLs as a template and added curriculum that was important to the county

Summary of intent of the document

Statements of what ALL students should know or be able to do in science, math and technology by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12

Present a vision of a scientifically literate populate

Teacher guidelines for what students need to know and do by the end of each grade

Teacher guidelines for what students in Arlington County need to know and do by the end of each grade

Publication date



1995, revised 2003

1995, revised 2002 and 2003

Geographic region of implementation

The United States

The United States

The Commonwealth of Virginia

Arlington County

Implementation guidelines

Curriculum should be shaped by the LASTING knowledge and skills we want students to acquire by the time they become adults

Local districts can use the national standards as a “jumping off” point to construct their own standards

Teachers or central administration use the Standards of Learning and the Curriculum Framework to create the curriculum

Curriculum that should be taught by the end of each school year.  Each document is aligned with the textbooks in use at each grade level




Virginia Standards of Learning Assessments, administered at Grades 3, 5, and 8

End of Course Tests:  Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science

No plan for a Physics test

Virginia Standards of Learning Assessments, administered at Grades 3, 5, and 8

End of Course Tests:  Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science

No plan for a Physics test

County assessment is available, but not required

Research Based

Yes, both content and educational

Piggybacks on the Benchmarks – National Research Council

Committees and focus groups informed the standards.  Forum put on the web for the 2003 revision.

Based on the VA SOLs and county wide curriculum developers/teachers reviewed and revised

Intended Audience

Practitioners, scientists

Practitioners – teachers and administrators

Teachers in Virginia public schools

Teachers in Arlington County Public Schools

Reason for publication

To define science literacy and break down what topics should be taught and at what level

To define an educationally literate society – goals for school science

To define what all teachers in Virginia should be teaching

To align all curricular programs in the state

To define what all teachers in Arlington county should be teaching

To align all curricular programs across Arlington County

Additional publications

  • Science for All Americans
  • Designs for Science Literacy
  • Blueprints for Reform
  • Atlas for Science Literacy
  • Introducing the National Science Education Standards
  • Inquiry and the National Standards
  • Classroom Assessment and the National Standards
  • Science Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework
  • Science Standards of Learning
  • Problem based learning scenarios for 7th and 8th grade

Grade levels addressed

  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • K-4
  • 5-8
  • 9-12
  • K-12
  • Each grade and subject area has a separate document
  • K-8
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Earth Science

Description of

Effective Teaching

Questions about nature, student centered class

Hands-on and minds-on

Content driven with scientific experimentation emphasis

Content driven with scientific experimentation emphasis


For Practitioners

Chapters are broken down into smaller chunks and cross referenced to show overlap of the standards

Has more than just content standards – system wide standards

Gives extensive examples – actionable

Teachers have a clear idea of what they need to teach in the span of a year

Teachers have a clear idea of what they need to teach in the span of a year


For Practitioners


Organization is slightly confusing ex: Program Standard D, System Standard D  - not self-descriptive

Came after the AAAS Science for all  Americans

A mile wide and an inch deep – too many concepts to cover in depth

Although it mentions science inquiry, the standards themselves do not give any opportunities for students to explore – only scientific method

Can be open to interpretation

A mile wide and an inch deep – too many concepts to cover in depth

Adds to the already tight curriculum schedule of the Virginia Standards of Learning

Can be open to interpretation

Training opportunities for users of the document

AAAS offers training for practitioners on how to use the various documents and offers publications to keep educators updated

National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards incorporates National Science Standards into the assessment and portfolio

County- or school-based standards of learning training






School-based mentor program

Types of Standards addressed

  • The Nature of Science
  • The Nature of Mathematics
  • The Nature of Technology
  • The Physical Setting
  • The Living Environment
  • The Human Organism
  • Human Society
  • The Designed World
  • The Mathematical World
  • Historical Perspectives
  • Common Themes
  • Habits of Mind
  • Standards for science teaching
  • Standards for professional development for teachers of science
  • Standards for assessment in science education
  • Standards for science content
  • Standards for science education programs
  • Standards for science education systems
  • Scientific Investigation, Reasoning and Logic
  • Force, Motion and Energy
  • Matter
  • Life Processes
  • Living Systems
  • Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems
  • Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change
  • Resources

8th Grade Physical Science

  • Investigating skills and the nature of science
  • Investigating the characteristics of matter
  • Investigating atoms and atomic theory
  • Investigating the periodic table
  • Investigating chemical bonds and changes
  • Investigating nuclear reactions and radioactivity
  • Investigating states and forms of energy
  • Investigating heat and heat transfer
  • Investigating sound
  • Investigating light and the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Investigating electricity and magnetism
  • Investigating force and motion
  • Investigating work and power

Forces and motion

K through 2

 - Things move in many different ways

 - Push or pull gets objects moving

 - Things that make sound vibrate

 - Things fall to the ground unless something holds them up

3 through 5

 - changes in speed or direction are caused by forces

 - How fast things move differs greatly

 - Gravity pulls without touching objects

6 through 8

- Unbalanced and balanced forces

 - Every object exerts gravitational force on every other object.

 - Sun’s gravitational pull holds the earth and other planets in orbits

9 through 12

 - F=ma

 - Motion is relative

 - Newton’s 3rd law


Content Standard B:  K through 4

-         Description of the position of an object

-         Description of an object’s motion

-         Change of an object’s motion or position by pushing or pulling

-         Sound is produced by vibrating objects. 

5 through 8

 - The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. 

 - An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line.

 - Balanced and unbalanced forces

9 through 12

 - Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied. 

 - Gravitation

 - Electric force

 - Electric force is greater than gravitational force

 - Electricity and magnetism

Standard 3.2

  • Types of simple machines
  • How simple machines function
  • Compound machines
  • Examples of simple and compound machines found at school, home and work

Standard 4.2

  • Motion is described by an object’s direction and speed
  • Forces cause changes in motion
  • Friction is a force that opposes motion
  • Moving objects have kinetic energy

Standard PS.10 reviews and expands 3.2 and 4.2 and introduces more mathematical concepts of motion

  • Speed, velocity, and acceleration
  • Newton’s laws of motion
  • Work, force, mechanical advantage, efficiency, and power
  • applications

Investigating Force and Motion

  • Make measurement to calculate the speed of a moving object
  • Apply the concepts of speed, velocity and acceleration
  • Explain how force, mass and acceleration are related
  • Differentiate between mass and weight
  • Identify situations that illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Solve basic mathematic problems given formulas

Safety Guidelines


Not mentioned

Teaching Standard D ensure a safe environment in the classroom

Standard #1 – Chemicals and equipment will be used safely

Standard PS.1 – chemicals and equipment will be used safely

Technology Guidelines

Encourages use of technology, not as an add-on but a way to gain more knowledge than without the technology.

Describes the interaction of technology with science which improves both fields

The goal of science is to understand the natural world, and the goal of technology is to make modifications in the world to meet human needs.

The technology standards of learning were established in 1995 and assessed 1998-2001.  The standards have been incorporated in other core areas since 2001.

Not mention

Special needs groups

Not mentioned

Modified equipment for physical disabilities.  ESL students use their own language as well as English to describe data.  Learning disabilities may need more time to complete activities. 

Not mentioned

Not mentioned


“Less is more”

hands-on, minds-on”