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Good News for K-12 Engineering!

April 11, 2013

Two major developments in K-12 education will go a long way to ensure that students will be exposed to the engineering design process.

The much anticipated final version of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), released April 9, 2013, has restored engineering design as a Disciplinary Core Idea. Engineering is considered an essential practice students should learn, and given the same importance as scientific inquiry. These standards, developed by writing teams that included many teachers, and guided by review teams from 26 states, reflect the National Research Council's Framework for K-12 Science Education. The Framework made history, calling for engineering design to be taught on an equal footing with core ideas in the life, earth and physical sciences.

Attempting to limit the role of engineering, however, the second public draft of the standards elicited disappointment among engineering educators and the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) initiated a call to restore engineering as an equal to life, earth and physical sciences. Fortunately, the final version restored engineering design as a core discipline idea, with specific performance expectations for grade bands K-2, 3-5, middle school, and high school. In addition, crosscutting concepts include the relationship between science and engineering and the influence of engineering, technology, and science on society and the environment. The next step, a framework for aligned assessments, is being developed by the National Academies Board on Testing and Assessment.

Meanwhile, a new National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) entitled, the Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) Assessment, has released a helpful video and additional educator resources. The TEL will be administered in 2014 to a national sample of 8th graders and eventually to grades 4, 8, and 12. Examining knowledge about information and communication technology, design and systems, and technology and society, the TEL will be the first computer-based, cross-curricular assessment allowing students to analyze data and manipulate variables. Students will be asked to perform realistic interactive scenario-based tasks to solve problems.

In addition to urging the NGSS writers to restore engineering design in the final version, the NCTL advocated for engineering design in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and helped develop the TEL assessment framework.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

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