Students Excel on National Technology and Engineering Exam

In recent years, many educators have designed special programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines for middle school students. For example, one exciting STEM initiative in North Carolina brings middle school students on a tour of local businesses and academic institutions focused on STEM fields.

Efforts such as these seem to be paying off. The 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report indicates that technology and engineering literacy (TEL) is stronger than ever among eighth-grade students. Read on to learn more about the NAEP and the latest TEL findings.

Assessment of Students’ Knowledge

The NAEP is overseen by the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the US Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. As the only assessment designed to evaluate students’ knowledge and capabilities in various academic subjects, the NAEP offers information on student performance across the country and in some urban districts. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, it was developed in 1969. To create NAEP reports, the results of assessments are administered to a sample of students at public and private schools and are compiled according to various demographic groups. These examinations are given in reading, mathematics, science, writing, arts, civics, geography, economics, US history, and TEL.

Test Measures Skills in Areas Such As Technology

Created in 2008, the TEL assessment measures skills in areas such as technology and society, design and systems, and information and communication technology. Additionally, it gauges students’ abilities in three practice areas: understanding technological principles, developing solutions and achieving goals, and communicating and collaborating. The assessment emphasizes realistic scenarios and solutions to solve problems.

Students use computers to take the TEL assessment, which includes audio clips, videos, animations, and text for an interactive, multimedia experience. The TEL assessment is split into two 30-minute sections for a total testing time of 60 minutes. The exam also features a questionnaire to determine how much time students spend learning about technology and engineering in and out of the classroom.

From January to March 2018, the most recent NAEP TEL assessment was administered to eighth graders. About 15,400 students participated at approximately 600 schools across the US. The complete assessment was comprised of 15 scenario-based tasks (SBTs) and 77 discrete questions, although students only responded to a limited portion, and some exclusively received SBTs. The tasks and questions ranged from citing copyrighted images and selecting data visualizations to describing the effect of a technological change on collaborating and processing the data necessary to evaluate alternative technologies.

An Improvement from the Previous Assessment

The results showed improvement from the previous TEL assessment in 2014, with students scoring two points higher overall, and 3 percent more individuals performing at or over the proficient level. Out of 300 possible points, the average national score was 152, and on a scale of basic, proficient, or advanced, 46 percent of students performed equal to or above the proficient level.

In 2018, students also performed better in each content area and practice as measured by the TEL assessment. To this degree, they scored two points higher in technology and society and three points higher in the areas of design and systems, as well as information and communication technology. In the practices examined, students scored two points higher in understanding technological principles and developing solutions and achieving goals. In addition, they scored three points higher in communicating and collaborating.

Results for Underrepresented Students

Among those commonly underrepresented in STEM workplaces, the 2018 NEAP TEL report held promising news. For instance, African American students witnessed an increase in the number of individuals performing at or above the proficient level. Furthermore, students from families with incomes that made them eligible for the National School Lunch Program and female students witnessed an increase in this measurement.

Moreover, girls earned better scores overall on the assessment than their male peers by an average of five points. They also scored higher than the male students in five of the six combined content areas and practices than on the 2014 test.

Data on Access to Tech and Engineering

Students reported increased access to technology and engineering classes in school, and the number of individuals who participated in one rose to 57 percent in 2018, which was a 5 percent increase from the prior assessment in 2014.

Furthermore, those who participated in at least one such course received a higher average TEL score than those who did not. Children who had taken a technology or engineering class obtained an average score of 156. However, students who did not do so earned an average score of 148.