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National Science Teachers Association - History, Legal Status and Governance, Membership, Publications, Influence and Significance

nsta education teaching organization

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) promotes excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. Its guiding principles are to model excellence; to embrace and model diversity through equity, respect, and opportunity for all; to provide and expand professional development to support standards-based science education; to serve as a voice for excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, curriculum and instruction, and assessment; to promote interest in and support for science education collaboratively and proactively throughout society; and to exemplify a dynamic professional organization that values and practices self-renewal. NSTA was founded in 1944 and is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its 2001 membership of more than 53,000 included science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

The association publishes professional journals, a newspaper, and many publications for teachers, and it conducts world-class conventions that attract more than 30,000 attendees annually. NSTA offers many services for science educators, including the NSTA Institute, which provides online and site-based professional development programs; teacher recognition and grant programs; and competitions for students. NSTA also maintains a website that provides grade-specific resources for teachers, the latest news and information affecting science education, and opportunities for educators to connect with one another. NSTA participates in cooperative working arrangements with numerous educational organizations, government agencies, and private industries on a variety of projects.

History

NSTA originated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1944. It was created by a merger of the American Council of Science Teachers and the American Science Teachers Association, both of which ceased to exist after the merger. At the time, the organizations had approximately 2,000 members combined. Years later, NSTA became an affiliate organization of the National Education Association (NEA) and was housed with NEA and its affiliates in downtown Washington, DC. Eventually becoming an independent organization, NSTA purchased and moved into its own headquarters on Connecticut Avenue in 1974. In 1994 NSTA moved its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia.

Legal Status and Governance

The National Science Teachers Association is a 501 (c)(3) organization, incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia by Articles of Incorporation filed on July 1, 1960. The association filed a Statement of Election to Accept Title 29, Chapter 10 of the District of Columbia Code, and a Certificate of Acceptance was issued on January 30, 1974. NSTA is governed by bylaws, which are amended from time to time.

The organization is governed by a board of directors with two advisory bodies: the NSTA Council and NSTA Congress. The board of directors consists of elected officers, including a president (chair), president-elect, and retiring president, as well as ten division directors. The council serves as the advisory body to the board of directors and consists of eighteen elected district directors and presidents from each of NSTA's seven affiliates. The council receives reports from NSTA committees and the congress and makes recommendations to the board. The congress is composed of a large body of science education leaders who gather to discuss and bring forth recommendations of interest to NSTA. Members include delegates from each NSTA state chapter and each NSTA-associated group.

Membership

NSTA offers both individual teacher memberships and institutional memberships for schools and libraries. Special discount memberships are also given to students and retired educators. Members receive their choice of one of four award-winning journals, a newspaper, discounts on more than 300 books and publications, and reduced prices at NSTA regional and national conventions.

Publications

NSTA publishes four award-winning, peer-reviewed journals geared to the specific needs of science educators at every level. They include Science and Children for elementary teachers, Science Scope for those at the middle and junior high level, The Science Teacher for high school science educators, and the Journal of College Science Teaching for educators at the college level. Considered a popular benefit of NSTA membership, these journals help teachers learn about the latest teaching strategies and identify new activities to use in the classroom.

NSTA's news publication, NSTA Reports!, has been a timely source of news and information about science education. The newspaper is published six times a year as a free member service. It includes national news on science education and education in general; information on teaching materials; announcements of programs for teachers; and advance notice about all NSTA programs, conventions, and publications.

NSTA is also a major publisher of quality science materials for teachers. In 2000 the association revamped its publishing division, calling it NSTA Press to reflect its efforts to deepen its involvement in the science publishing arena. NSTA Press produces a wide variety of books, websites, CD-ROMs, and posters on popular science topics, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental science, and physical science. Resources also focus on the diverse curriculum needs of teachers, such as teaching in alignment with the National Science Education Standards, mentoring, and assessment, as well as on creative teaching strategies, such as organizing science fairs and addressing questions about evolution.

Influence and Significance

With more than 53,000 members worldwide, NSTA is a major voice of science teachers and strong supporter of quality science education. It is the largest member organization in the world committed to quality science teaching and learning for all and is a key player in setting the nation's science education agenda. In the mid-1990s, the organization was instrumental in the development of the National Science Education Standards, which guide the science education community in improving science teaching and learning. The association is an ardent advocate for long-term, sustained professional development for all teachers of science.

NSTA has a presence on Capitol Hill. The organization works closely with key members of the U.S. Congress and their staff, and is asked to present testimony to Congress and provide input to legislators on key issues. NSTA reaches more than 40,000 educators with its electronic Legislative Update, which reports the latest news of legislative and regulatory activities affecting science education. Through the Legislative Update, the association encourages its members to contact members of Congress to voice their support for legislation bolstering quality science education. As a result of these efforts, NSTA has helped to maintain a high level of federal funding for science teaching and learning.

The association keeps its members and the general public informed on national issues and trends in science education. NSTA conducts and disseminates national surveys on science teaching. Many of these surveys, along with other NSTA opinions, have been featured in major news media outlets. In addition, NSTA has position statements on issues, such as teacher preparation, evolution, and laboratory safety that help guide policies and practices in education institutions around the country.

NSTA also has an impact on science education through its resources and programs. One successful program is Building a Presence for Science. Sponsored by the Exxon Education Foundation, this national education program seeks to strengthen the quality of science teaching and learning by creating a network of science advocates in public and private schools nationwide. It promotes standards-based science teaching instruction and hands-on, inquiry-based learning. A key component of the program is its dynamic national electronic network that enables information sharing among teachers and serves as a viable two-way communications conduit that is used by state and federal agencies and other organizations to share information with science teachers. As of 2001 the program had been implemented in twenty-four states and the District of Columbia.

INTERNET RESOURCE

NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION. 2002. <www.nsta.org>.

HAROLD PRATT

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