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National Academy of Sciences

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES


The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is one of three honorific societies which, with the National Research Council, are grouped together under the umbrella organization called the National Academies. The other organizations include the National Academy of Engineering (established in 1964) and the Institute of Medicine (1970). Together, the National Academies institutions marshal the talent, expertise, and public spiritedness of roughly 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 staff who work together in more than 500 committees and issue about one report every working day (230 in 2001).

National Academy of Sciences History

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was established in 1863 by an act of Congress that was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. This act of incorporation, or charter, created an academy of fifty specified members, with the authority to fill membership vacancies and to create its own laws and organization. Most important, in the words of its charter, the new organization would, "whenever called upon by any department of the government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the government of the United States."

The academy had several historical and national antecedents. In Europe, honorific scientific organizations such as Great Britain's Royal Society and the French Academy of Sciences had been founded as far back as the 1660s. In America, the academy's fore-runners included the American Philosophical Society, formed in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, established by the Massachusetts legislature in 1780; the Columbian Institution for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, formed in 1816; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, founded in 1848. But with the founding of the NAS a new type of organization was created, one that combined an American equivalent to the venerable academies of sciences of Europe with a mission of providing scientific and technological advice to the government. The high honor of election to the academy was thus accompanied by an expectation of public service.

By 1916 the demand for scientific and technical advice exceeded the capacity of the small academy as the United States would soon find itself embroiled in a war and as it faced both domestic and world issues that warranted careful attention to empirical evidence, scientific knowledge, and technological know-how. President Woodrow Wilson therefore called upon the NAS to establish the National Research Council (NRC). Through this body the institution could broaden the participation of scientists, engineers, and other experts who were not elected members of the Academy; perhaps most important, it could engage the expertise of scientists and engineers in industry as well as in academic institutions, again with the principal ethos of voluntary public service.

President Wilson recognized the value of the NRC's wartime service by asking the NAS to continue the NRC as part of its peacetime organization. Accordingly, it was made permanent by Wilson's Executive Order No. 2859 of May 11, 1918, which cited the NRC's capacity for larger service. This larger service was reflected in the NRC's postwar organizational structure, which encompassed fields outside of the traditional physical and natural sciences. Although important work in psychology had been accomplished by the NRC during World War I, this work was placed under other divisions, such as Medical Sciences, or was classified as Special Projects. By contrast, the peacetime organization provided for a Division of Anthropology and Psychology, as well as a Division of Educational Relations. The role of the latter division was to maintain relationships with university and college research activities, "and to study the conditions attending the progress of research in these institutions."

Behavioral and Social Sciences

From its creation in 1863 the academy provided a place for the behavioral and social sciences in its section of Ethnology and Philology; later its reorganization provided for a standing committee of anthropology in 1899, later renamed Anthropology and Psychology. Members included William James and John Dewey.

Among the early forays of the NRC into the behavioral and social sciences was its involvement in the famous Army Alpha testing program, during World War I, which ultimately led to the application of intelligence tests to thousands of new recruits to the armed services. Other efforts included studies of human biological and sexual function; a study of the feasibility of developing an international auxiliary language (such as Esperanto) in 1919; and studies on human migration from 1922 to 1927. As part of the work of the Committee on Industrial Lighting (19261936), the famous Hawthorne experiments on productivity and motivation were initially designed and carried out, as described by Rexmond C. Cochrane in The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years 18631963 (1978).

In the early twenty-first century the NRC's Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education produces approximately forty reports per year, in the diverse fields of economics, population, child health and development, law and justice, statistics, cognitive sciences, human factors, testing, and education.

Education

Educational issues were embedded in the Alpha testing program and work studies of the 1920s and 1930s. Other early attention to education in the academy and NRC was focused on problems of education in sciencemainly at the postsecondary, graduate, and postdoctoral level. Following the founding of the NRC, the academy's concern in this area had two principal aspects: advanced training in science through a wide variety of fellowship programs, and the maintenance and publication of comprehensive data on the production of Ph.D.'s in the United States.

More recently, however, attention to education has broadened from science education to a concern for the science of education. Amid the cacophony of data and proposed innovations for the nation's educational system, the general public as well as policy makers at all levels of government thirst for the disciplined, honest, and dispassionate rationality of science. The federal government's major elementary and secondary education bill, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, uses the phrase "scientifically based research" more than 100 times. Growing public concern with the quality of the entire American educational enterprise, in particular with the apparent weaknesses in the elementary and secondary systemscoupled with persistent faith in Lincoln's notion of decision-making informed by rational empirical inquiryhas vastly increased the demand for science-based evidence generally, as well as for the specific consensus-seeking processes of the NRC.

The NRC's current portfolio in educationmore than 150 reports since 1993 alonehas been shaped by the confluence of several powerful forces: the advent of the standards-based education movement, which involves focused attention by the science, mathematics, and other academic communities on the content appropriate and necessary for K12 schooling; significant findings from cognitive, behavioral, and organizational research on how people learn; and increased pressure to find solutions to real-world education problems that are grounded in scientific evidence. As part of a broad reorganization undertaken in 2000, the NRC consolidated most of its education activities in the Center for Education, a unit of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.

Although the gap between research and practice is still formidable, there is no question that the twin goals of improved education research quality and improved use of the results of that research are prominent in the education policy agenda of the early twenty-first century. This thememaking scientific research accessible by and useful to educators at all levelspervades much of the academies' current portfolio.

Notable Studies

Notable education studies conducted by NRC committees and boards in the decade 19922001 include the following, organized by major topic area.

Standards-based reform. National Science Education Standards, published in 1996, offers a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate and describes what all students must understand and be able to do as a result of their cumulative learning experiences. The document integrates content, teaching, assessment, program, and system standards that are key to improving science education.

Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning (2000) is a practical guide to teaching inquiry and teaching through inquiry, as recommended in the National Science Education Standards (the Standards ) by explaining and illustrating how inquiry helps students to learn science content; mastering how to do science; understanding the nature of science; exploring the dimensions of teaching; and learning science as inquiry for K12 students across a range of science topics. This volume also examines ways that educators can offer students the opportunities to develop not only an understanding of scientific concepts, but also the ability to solve science problems through experiential learning.

Science and mathematics education. Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards (2001) focuses on a key kind of assessment: the evaluation that occurs regularly in the classroom by the teacher and his or her students as interacting participants. Focusing on the teacher as the primary player in assessment, the book offers assessment guidelines and explores how they can be adapted to the individual classroom. It features examples, definitions, illustrative vignettes, and practical suggestions to help teachers obtain the greatest benefit from this daily evaluation and tailoring process. The volume discusses how classroom assessment differs from conventional testing and gradingand how it fits into the larger, comprehensive assessment system.

Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics (2001) examines mathematics education in the United States from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, discusses the ways that children learn mathematics, and characterizes effective instruction. The report also recommends ways to improve teaching, learning, and teacher education in the subject.

Teacher professional development. As a framework for addressing this task, Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for a New Millennium, published in 2001, advocates partnerships among school districts, colleges, and universities, with contributions from scientists, mathematicians, teacher educators, and teachers. It then looks carefully at the status of the education reform movement and explores the motives for raising the bar for how well teachers teach and how well students learn. Also examined are important issues in teacher professionalism: what teachers should be taught about their subjects, the utility of in-service education, the challenge of program funding, and the merits of credentialing. Professional Development Schools are reviewed and vignettes presented that describe exemplary teacher development practices.

The 1997 Science Teacher Preparation in an Era of Standards-Based Reform is a report that offers a vision of what science teacher preparation will look like in a standards-based program, and then recommends ways in which the National Science Foundation can mobilize the postsecondary education community to achieve these goals.

Reading. Large numbers of American schoolchildren have difficulty learning to read well enough to meet the growing demands of a technological society. Failure to read adequately is especially acute among poor children, minorities, and those whose native language is not English. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children is a 1998 report that examines effective methods used to teach young children to read. It reviews relevant research on preventing reading difficulties, highlighting ways to build a learning environment that is conducive to good instruction, to proper diagnosis of problems, and to effective interventions for children at risk. The report recommends key research findings that should be integrated into reading programs for children in preschool and early elementary school, and discusses the policy implications raised by these findings.

Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success (1999), a guidebook for parents, teachers, and child-care providers, builds on recommendations from the 1998 report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. The guide offers the key elements all children need in order to become good readers; activities that parents and others can do with children so they are prepared for reading instruction by the time they reach school; concepts about language and literacy that should be included in beginning reading instruction; and ways to prevent reading difficulties in early childhood and the early grades.

Early childhood education. Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers is a book about the education of children age two to five, focusing on programs outside the home, such as preschool, Head Start, and child-care centers. This report from 2000 argues that promoting young children's growth calls for early childhood settings that support the development of the full range of capacities that will serve as a foundation for school learning.

Testing and assessment. High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation (1999) reviews the legal, educational, and psychometric foundations of testing, and recommends policies and practices to promote appropriate use of tests. This book sorts out the controversies that emerge when a test score can open or close gates on a student's educational pathway. The expert panel proposes how to judge the appropriateness of a test; explores how to make tests reliable, valid, and fair; puts forward strategies and practices to promote proper test use; and recommends how decision makers in education shouldand should notuse test results. The book discusses common misuses of testing, their political and social context, what happens when test issues are taken to court, special student populations, social promotion, and more.

The movement to improve schools by setting high standards for all students poses new challenges for students with disabilities, whose education is rooted in individual goals and instruction. Educating One and All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform (1997) is a congressionally requested report that examines how the seemingly contradictory goals of special education and standards-based reform can be reconciled.

Education research. The 2001 report Scientific Inquiry in Education examines the nature of scientific research and considers the implications for a federal education research agency.

Education in the United States does not rest on a strong research base. The 1999 report Improving Student Learning: A Strategic Plan for Education Research and Its Utilization proposes a long-term, highly focused program of research that involves the collaboration of researchers, educators, and policy experts. The plan is designed to increase the usefulness of research to educational practice.

International studies. Video technology can help education researchers examine teaching strategies in countries around the world and create a record of classroom practices for future studies. The Power of Video Technology in International Comparative Research in Education (2001) discusses how such technology can best be used.

U.S. students' mathematics and science achievement often lags behind that of their peers in other developed nations, but root causes of the disparity are not always clear. Based on a comprehensive analysis of results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the 1999 report Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education points out how the achievement gap between U.S. students and those in several other industrialized countries can be traced to differences in teaching methods, curriculum content, and school-support systems. The report also contains practical information that American schools can use to improve local programs and student learning. In addition, a supplementary professional development guide offers materials and strategies to help educators lead workshops and planning sessions aimed at enhancing mathematics and science education in the nation's classrooms.

The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has provided a remarkable volume of intriguing data about the educational performance of students around the world. However, there is a great deal of important follow-up analysis still to be done. The report, Next Steps for TIMSS: Directions for Secondary Analysis (1999), based in part on a workshop, summarizes recommendations regarding research strategies that could yield the understanding of student learning that TIMSS was intended to make possible.

See also: International Assessments, subentry on IEA Third International Mathematics and Science Study; Mathematics Learning; Science Education; Science Learning.

bibliography

Ambrose, Stephen E. 1996. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Atkin, J. Myron; Black, Paul; and Coffey, Janet, eds. 2001. Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Beatty, Alexandra; Paine, Lynn W.; and Ramirez, Francisco O., eds. 1999. Next Steps for TIMSS: Directions for Secondary Analysis. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Beatty, Alexandra, et al., eds. 2001. Understanding Dropouts: Statistics, Strategies, and High-Stakes Testing. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Bowman, Barbara T.; Donovan, Suzanne; and Burns, M. Susan, eds. 2000. Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Cochrane, Rexmond C. 1978. The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years 18631963. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Heubert, Jay Philip, and Hauser, Robert Mason, eds. 1999. High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Kilpatrick, Jeremy; Swafford, Jane; and Findell, Bradford, eds. 2001. Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

McDonnell, Lorraine M.; McLaughlin, Margaret J.; and Morison, Patricia, eds. 1997. Educating One and All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council. 1997. Science Teacher Preparation in an Era of Standards-Based Reform. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council. 1999a. Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council. 1999b. Improving Student Learning: A Strategic Plan for Education Research and Its Utilization. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council. 2000. Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for a New Millennium. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Olson, Steve, and Loucks-Horsley, Susan. 2000. Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Shavelson, Richard J., and Towne, Lisa, eds. 2001. Scientific Inquiry in Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Snow, Catherine M.; Burns, M. Susan; and Griffin, Peg. 1998. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Snow, Catherine M.; Burns, M. Susan; and Griffin, Peg, eds. 1999. Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Ulewicz, Monica, and Beatty, Alexandra, eds. 2001. The Power of Video Technology in International Comparative Research in Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Wigdor, Alexandra K. and Garner, Wendell R., eds. 1982. Ability Testing: Uses, Consequences, and Controversies. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Bruce Alberts

Michael Feuer

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National Academy of Sciences

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES was established by Congress on 3 March 1863 as a private organization to investigate and report on any subject of science or art (technology) whenever called upon by any department of the government. Largely a creation of the Civil War, the academy proved its usefulness immediately when in 1864 it helped the Union navy design a compass that would work inside the new ironclad warships. In 1871 the academy drew up instructions for the government sponsored Arctic expedition of the Polaris, commanded by Charles F. Hall.

The National Research Council was established by the academy in 1916 at the request of President Woodrow Wilson. Two years later, an executive order made the National Research Council a permanent agency of the National Academy of Sciences to aid the military and civil branches of the government during World War I, and afterward to stimulate research—particularly cooperative research—in both pure and applied science. Since that time, the research council, supported by both public and private funds, has acted as the principal operating arm of the academy. In 1950 the National Academy of Sciences and its research council became a single administrative and operating unit, the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council.

The National Academy of Engineering was created by Congress in 1964 under the original 1863 charter of the National Academy of Sciences as a private, permanent agency through which engineers could advise the government on the needs and uses of technology and engineering as it affected public policy. The National Academy of Engineering was organized with twenty-five founding members and with no limitation on membership. The parent organization, the National Academy of Sciences, had originally been limited by its charter to fifty members. In 1870 that restriction in the enabling act was removed, and membership was limited only by the maximum number that could be elected annually. Prominent members of the National Academy of Sciences have included Louis Agassiz, Albert Einstein, and Leo Szilard. The National Research Council drew its membership from scientists, engineers, and other professionals in universities, industry, and government to serve on its several hundred study committees. Because the four divisions of the academy are related but independent, when referred to as a group they are called the National Academies.

The National Academies played a central role in organizing the International Geophysical Year of 1958– 1959, a worldwide scientific investigation that included the launching of Explorer I, the first American satellite. Both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering annually elect foreign associates who meet the qualifications for membership. In 1970 the parent academy established an Institute of Medicine to provide advisory services in the areas of medicine and public health on a national scale. Based in Washington, D.C., the National Academies oversee hundreds of research projects run by its volunteer members, publish scientific and policy papers through the National Academy Press, and issue an annual report to Congress on the scientific, technological, and medical dimensions of pressing policy issues.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cochrane, Rexmond C. The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863–1963. Washington, D.C.: The Academy, 1978.

Kohlstedt, Sally G. The Formation of the American Scientific Community. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976.

Rexmond C.Cochrane/a. r.

See alsoAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science ; Engineering Societies ; Learned Societies .

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National Academy of Sciences

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the NAS has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters.

It carries out its work largely through committees of pro bono experts who employ an evidence-based, deliberative process to produce scientifically valid, nonpartisan reports. Studies originate in several ways: by Congress mandating that a federal executive branch agency contract with the NAS; by direct request of executive branch agencies, private foundations, or other private organizations; or as self-initiated projects when the academy determines that an important or highly sensitive issue might not be the subject of a request from an outside organization. Last, in addition to committee studies, NAS plays a unique convening role by sponsoring workshops, roundtables, symposiums, forums, and other activities that enable parties on all sides of an issue to come together and discuss problems and solutions in a neutral, unbiased setting. Dr. Bruce Alberts is the current president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Members and foreign associates of the academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer. The academy membership is comprised of approximately 1,900 members and 300 foreign associates, of whom more than 170 have won Nobel Prizes.

The academy is governed by a council comprised of twelve members. The Council is responsible to the membership for the activities under-taken by the organization and for the corporate management the National Academy of Sciences, a corporation created by an act of Congress that also includes the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and the National Research Council (NRC). It has delegated the governance of the National Research Council to the NRC Governing Board, which includes members of the Councils of the NAS, NAE, and IOM.

The full text of National Academy of Sciences publications is available online at the National Academy Press web site, www.nap.edu. Additional information about the institute and its activities, as well as a list of all publications, can be found at http://www.national-academies.org.

Kenneth I. Shine

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National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

The National Academy of Sciences is a private agency that advises the federal government on scientific and technical matters. It is part of the National Academy, which also includes the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.

The NAS updates and publishes the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), which "represent the nutrient intake that is sufficient to meet the needs of nearly all healthy people in an age and gender group" (Wardlaw). More specific recommendations are needed for special populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly population, and those with medical conditions.

In addition, since all nutrients and food components do not have established RDAs, Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) were developed as a guide to adequate and safe standards for nutrients such as fiber , antioxidants , and trace elements, and for upper level intakes of vitamins and minerals .

see also Dietary Reference Intake; Recommended Dietary Allowances.

Pauline A. Vickery

Bibliography

Wardlaw, Gordon M. (2000). Contemporary Nutrition: Issues and Insights, 4th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Whitney, E.; Catlado, C.; DeBruyne, L.; and Rolfe, S. (1996). Nutrition for Health and Health Care. Minneapolis, MN: West Publishing.

Williams, Sue R. (1993). Nutrition and Diet Therapy, 7th edition. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

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National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Sciences, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., a private organization of leading American scientists and engineers devoted to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. The Academy was founded in 1863; there are presently about 2,000 members. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The Academy acts as an official adviser to the federal government on matters of science and technology. Separate sections of the Academy represent all of the physical and biological sciences and many of the social sciences. In 2004 the Academy added a science museum featuring exhibitions focused on topics of contemporary interest, e.g., global warming, gene sequencing.

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