STEM: The Science Behind the Motivation

The Science Behind STEM Education in the United States

Elementary and Secondary Education

Assessments of Math and Science Knowledge

  • National-level assessment of U.S. students’ knowledge of math and science is a relatively recent phenomenon, and assessments in other countries that provide for international comparisons are even more recent.
  • Yet the limited information available thus far is beginning to reveal results that concern many individuals interested in the U.S.educational system and the economy’s future competitiveness.
  • The most recent assessments show improvement in U.S. pupils’ knowledge of math and science; however, the large majority still fail to reach adequate levels of proficiency.

  • Moreover, when compared to other nations, the achievement of U.S. students is seen by many as inconsistent with the nation’s role as a world leader in scientific innovation.

NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment

Technology Literacy

Technology Literacy

The first-ever NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment (TELA) is currently under development. The assessment is intended to measure what students know about technology and engineering.

The assessment is based on the NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy Framework (3,062K PDF. As with all NAEP frameworks, the technology literacy framework was developed under the guidance of the National Assessment Governing Board. The NAEP frameworks provide the theoretical basis for the assessments and describe the types of questions that should be included and how they should be designed and scored.

According to the framework, students will be assessed in three major areas of technology and engineering literacy:

  • Technology and Society involves the effects that technology has on society and on the natural world and the ethical questions that arise from those effects.
  • Design and Systems covers the nature of technology, the engineering design process by which technologies are developed, and basic principles of dealing with everyday technologies, including maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Information and Communication Technology includes computers and software learning tools, networking systems and protocols, hand-held digital devices, and other technologies for accessing, creating, and communicating information and for facilitating creative expression.

In all three areas of technology and engineering literacy, students are expected to be able to apply particular ways of thinking and reasoning when approaching a problem. These types of thinking and reasoning are referred to as “practices.”

The framework specifies three kinds of practices that students are expected to demonstrate when responding to test questions:

  • Understanding Technological Principles focuses on how well students are able to make use of their knowledge about technology.
  • Developing Solutions and Achieving Goals refers to students’ systematic use of technological knowledge, tools, and skills to solve problems and achieve goals presented in realistic contexts.
  • Communicating and Collaborating concerns how well students are able to use contemporary technologies to communicate for a variety of purposes and in a variety of ways, working individually or in teams, with peers and experts.

The assessment will be completely computer-based. Although many items will be standard multiple-choice questions, other items will be more complex and will allow students to manipulate components of the systems and models that are presented to them.

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