WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) produced the first-ever nationally representative assessment of technology and engineering literacy, using innovative, scenario-based tasks on computers to measure eighth graders' understanding of the use and effects of technology in their lives. On the assessment, also known as The Nation's Report Card, students interacted with multimedia tasks using an assortment of tools to solve practical problems.
The Nation's Report Card: Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) provides results on students' performance and related experiences both in and out of school. Forty-three percent of eighth-grade students performed at or above the Proficient level on questions that revealed skills in thinking through problems systematically, using technology and engineering information built into each task to arrive at the best solutions.
"We live in a world of rapid technological change, and our nation's continued prosperity rests on how we can use technology to innovate. Until now, there has been no way to assess this skill," said Terry Mazany, Chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP. "This assessment requires students to examine evidence, ask and answer challenging questions, and choose the right tools for the problem at hand. This is the exact kind of thinking that the modern world demands at home and in the workplace, no matter the career path."
Questionnaires also asked students where and how they developed these technology and engineering skills. Fifty-two percent of students reported taking at least one course related to technology or engineering in school. Fifty-nine percent reported that they sometimes learned about various topics related to technology and society in school. And nearly two-thirds of eighth graders (63 percent) indicated that their family members most often taught them about building things, fixing things, or understanding how things work. Nineteen percent of students responded that they taught themselves, and 13 percent of students reported that they learned from their teachers.
The report, which uses scenario-based tasks along with traditional questions administered on computers, correlates these types of experiences with performance. Students who learned about technology- and society-related topics more frequently in school scored higher on average than those who did so less frequently. The same held true for students who learned about technology- and society-related topics more frequently outside of school.
"The scores clearly show that when students have opportunities to engage with technology and engineering, they become fluent in the skills that prepare them for living and working in the modern world. But access to these opportunities from place to place is patchy," said Dr. Tonya Matthews, President and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. "That's a call for communities to create opportunities where needed, from schools to science centers to after-school programming."
Students attending schools in suburban locations scored higher in TEL than their peers in town and city locations. Surprising to some, female white and female black students outperformed their male peers in TEL overall, while female Hispanic and female Asian students kept pace with, but did not exceed, their male peers. In addition, 25 percent of lower-income students (those eligible for the National School Lunch Program [NSLP]) scored at or above the Proficient level, compared to 59 percent of higher-income students (those not eligible for NSLP). For English language learners, only 5 percent scored at the Proficient level.
Racial/ethnic differences were seen among percentages of students who scored at or above Proficient: 56 percent of White and Asian students, 45 percent of students with two or more races, 42 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students, 30 percent of Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander students, 28 percent of Hispanic students, and 18 percent of Black students scored Proficient or above.
An important design feature of the TEL assessment is its use of scenario-based tasks. These dynamic, computer-administered tasks set up realistic situations in which students were asked to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to solve problems. This type of assessment offers insight into whether and how students can apply concepts in a meaningful way. Below is an example of an interactive computer task students completed:
Evaluate and explain how to improve the habitat of a classroom iguana
In the Iguana Home task, students helped troubleshoot and fix the habitat for a classroom iguana named Iggy. Students first learned about iguanas and their basic needs, then worked through the task to determine how best to improve Iggy's environment. Below are steps students had to take given different problems Iggy experienced, and questions they responded to in the various scenarios.
To learn more about this and other scenario tasks, visit www.nationsreportcard.gov/tel_2014/#tasks.
A nationally representative sample of approximately 21,500 eighth graders from over 800 public and private schools across the nation took the assessment in 2014. Student performance results are presented as NAEP achievement levels and average scale scores. Achievement levels are reported as the percentages of students performing at or above three performance levels (Basic, Proficient and Advanced). Basic denotes partial mastery; Proficient denotes solid academic performance; and Advanced represents superior work. Seven independent scales were developed for each of the three content areas (technology and society, design and systems, and information and communication technology), and for each of the three practices (understanding technological principles, developing solutions and achieving goals, and communicating and collaborating). Scale scores range from 0–300.
Explore the interactive TEL Report Card and TEL profile tool to compare student groups based on their performance and learning experiences with technology and engineering literacy, and watch explanatory videos to learn more about TEL.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the largest nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States. It has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through The Nation's Report Card, NAEP informs the public about what American students know and can do in various subject areas and compares achievement among states, large urban districts and various student demographic groups.
The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, nonpartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to oversee and set policy for NAEP.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, administers NAEP. The Commissioner of Education Statistics is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project.
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SOURCE National Assessment Governing Board