An Innovative Assessment in an Era of Rapid Technological Change
Female students are making strides in tech and engineering, beginning at the 8th grade level. This alone is disruptive to the general perception of student populations enrollment and performance in STEM subjects in K12 education. Girls are rocking it! Whatever parents and educators are doing differently in socializing girls without limiting academic pursuits, it is working on a national scale. I say that a significant rise in females entering STEM professions and declaring college majors is inevitable.
America, give yourselves a hearty round of applause. We are slowly tearing down barriers related to gender, and children are benefitting more equitably, at least between male and female student achievement. Although test performance can be very contextually based, we should not lose hope that this assessment indicates progress towards diversifying and demystifying STEM and TEL for educators and students.
In 2014, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the first-ever nationally representative assessment of technology and engineering literacy[TEL]. Eighth-grade students were presented real-world scenarios involving technology and engineering challenges. Students were asked to respond to questions aimed at assessing their knowledge and skill in understanding technological principles, solving technology and engineering-related problems, and using technology to communicate and collaborate. Students also were surveyed on their opportunities to learn about technology and engineering in and out of school.
Highlights of what we learned about eighth-grade students include the following:
Female students scored 3 POINTS higher than male students.
NSLP[National School Lunch Program] not eligible students scored 28 POINTS higher than eligible students.
87% reported figuring out why something was not working in order to fix it outside of their school work.
50% reported using a computer to create, edit, or organize digital media at least once a month in school.