State Science Standards and Students’ Knowledge of What States Value: The Example of Lunar Phases

Ibramin H Yetter, Kimberly K Livengood, Walter S. Smith


This study of science standards of all 50 states and 1958 American early adolescents asked whether there is agreement among states about a science topic, lunar phases, that appears in all recent national standards documents, is of cultural significance, and has been widely studied for misconceptions held by children and adults.  Secondly, we asked whether there is a significant correlation between what students know about lunar phase ideas which appear in state standards and the degree to which states value those ideas.  Data about student knowledge was collected from a volunteer sample of early adolescents by a forced-choice, online test, the questions of which corresponded to 24 lunar phase ideas found among published state science standards.  States were found not to be in agreement about what early adolescent students should learn about lunar phases, although all but one state expected students to learn something about lunar phases.  Also, there was not a significant correlation between the number of students who could successfully answer questions about the states' various lunar phase standards and the number of states that had standards addressing those ideas. If the issue of lunar phases is representative of American science standards, states are not in agreement about what students should learn about science and students do not necessarily know the ideas, which more states value.


state standards, national standards, science standards, lunar phases

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