Education Week - March 27, 2013 - (Page 18)

18 EDUCATION WEEK n MARCH 27, 2013 n FOCUS ON: ENGINEERING CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 one appear to be building steam. Those developments come on top of the many recent, and some longstanding, programs and projects that bring engineering into the classroom. In Mobile, Ala., for instance, middle schools are using a recently crafted set of curricular units, each intended to be taught half in math class and half in science. “The students, as they go from math to science, are trying to solve a design challenge,” said Susan A. Pruet, the director of Engaging Youth Through Engineering at the Mobile Area Education Foundation, which devised the curricula with support from a $3.5 million National Science Foundation grant. In one unit, students design a barrier system for a stream bed to reduce the sediment discharge rate. In another, they design a device to catch blood clots before they reach the lungs and ensure that blood still flows at a fast enough rate, she said. Ms. Pruet argues that engineering really is at the heart of stem. “To me, stem is integrated science, technology, and math through engineering. It is the glue.” Meanwhile, a yearlong course, Engineer Your World, developed by the University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with engineers from nasa, is being piloted this year at 23 high schools in eight states, with plans to reach 100 campuses next year. Two of the best-known precollegiate engineering initiatives have seen exponential growth in recent years. Project Lead the Way’s Pathway to Engineering curriculum, a sequence of engineering courses that aim to deliver a “hands-on, realworld” approach to solving problems, is being offered this academic year in some 2,760 U.S. high schools, 10 times the figure from a decade ago. More than 45,000 elementary teachers are using curricular units from Engineering Is Elementary, a program launched in 2004 by the Museum of Science in Boston. “The kids keep asking: ‘When are we going to be able to be engineers again?’ ” said Jennifer L. Haynes, a 2nd grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School in the Lakota district in southwest Ohio, which brought the program to its elementary schools this year. Charlie Mahoney/Prime for Education Week Study of Engineering Is Getting Elevated In K-12 Curriculum Lots of out-of-school stem initiatives with a strong engineering component have cropped up or substantially expanded over the past few years, from robotics competitions to after-school engineering clubs. The Family Engineering program, for example, launched in 2011 with nsf support, offers a guide to planning engineering activities and events for elementary-age children and their families. Enlarging the Pool Advocates cite several reasons for devoting school time to engineering. A top pitch is the power of the engineering-design process to engage young people and bring math and science concepts to life with practical, real-world applications, such as ensuring clean water for communities and designing robots or smartphones. Another selling point is the skills and traits engineers bring to solving problems, including persistence, creativity, collaboration, systematic thinking, and an ability to work within constraints, whether technological, economic, or even ethical. Some advocates see an economic imperative in drawing more young people, especially women New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge 20,000 students to be assessed next year By Sarah D. Sparks Understanding the mathematical formula to calculate lift and thrust is still a long way from designing a 747 airplane, and the U.S. Department of Education is trying to get students to cross that bridge with the development of a new way to gauge how well they both understand and apply technology and engineering principles. The National Center for Education Statistics is nearing completion of a 15,000-student pilot test—the largest in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress—to craft a new technology- and engineering-literacy test, or the tel. “What we’re talking about here is trying to put the ‘t-e’ in stem,” said nces Commissioner Sean P. “Jack” Buckley, referring to the common term for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “We’ve been assessing the [science and math] for some time, but it’s been much harder to figure out the framework for an actual, practical, functional field assessment for technology and engineering components.” The current pilot, on track to be finished by the end of this month, targets 8th graders. In 2014, a final version of the test is slated to be administered to a nationally representative sample of 20,000 such students, with results expected in 2015. Eventually, the tel will cover the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades. “This is really important, and I’m glad to see it,” said Adam Gamoran, a member of the National Board of Education Sciences, the Education Department’s research advisory group, and the director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While a few curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate program, include engineering and technology courses, Mr. Gamoran noted there is little research on how well even today’s “digital native” generation understands technology and engineering. “From my vantage point as a sociology researcher, I suspect there remains a substantial digital divide—that children from different backgrounds will have vastly different experiences with these questions about technology,” he said. “This will provide evidence of something we have many suspicions about but virtually no evidence.” lag behind that of students in other countries on pisa. More than 2,000 engineering and technology professionals from around the United States contributed to the development of the test’s framework, which covers three interconnected areas: the design process and principles of dealing with technology in daily life; information and communication-systems technology, such as computer networks and mobile devices; and the social and ethical implications of technology’s effects in the natural world. “We’re pretty good at assessing students in science, but how do we assess the difference between a scientific solution—some sort of global, perfect universal solution—and engineering, which is a lot more about trade-offs and constraints in a given situation to get a solution that works?” Mr. Buckley said. New Direction The solution, he said, is to include “much more complex and higher-orderthinking items” than have previously been used in naep. Roughly 20 percent of the test’s questions will cover concrete facts and information. The rest will use a new kind of question, which requires students to interact in engineering or technology “scenarios,” to apply ways of critical thinking and problem-solving that are associated with engineering. Each scenario is 10, 20, or 30 minutes long and gauges a student’s mastery of engineering practices, such as systematically the tel represents a significant shift for the battery of tests commonly dubbed “the nation’s report card.” It will be naep’s first entirely computer-based test and the first to use a majority of interactive scenario-based questions. International assessments, in particular the Program for International Student Assessment, already gauge proficiency in more comprehensive and applied-science questions, which is in part why experts say American students’ performance tends to Testing ‘Scenarios’ Sophomore Brett Dennehy, center, watches his creation as he and classmates prepare last week for a robot race in an introduction to engineering course at Stoughton High School in Stoughton, Mass. using technology, tools, and skills to solve a problem or achieve a specific goal, or using technology to communicate and collaborate with a team and consult experts. For example, a student may be asked to collaborate with a simulated “boss” via videoconference to improve the consumer “life cycle” of a toaster. “Naep is not alone in the world of largescale standardized assessment in trying to come up with ways to better assess how people work collaboratively,” Mr. Buckley said. Moreover, the test will also begin to use student-activity data to report and evaluate how the student solves each problem. For example, naep’s writing test collects information about how students used the in-test word-processing software to check spelling and edit sentences, but does not use that information to evaluate students’ performance. In this assessment, a student might get more points for answering a problem efficiently and making the best use of the tools available. “The intent is to be much more authentic and closer to a real project,” Mr. Buckley said. During the test’s administration, the nces will also collect data on students’ access to technology at home and teachers’ use of technology in the classroom. Coverage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is supported by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, at Scan this tag with your smartphone for a link to information about the Technology and Engineering Literacy assessment at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 27, 2013

Education Week - March 27, 2013
N.Y.C. System School-Match Gaps Tracked
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Educators Questioning Timing of
Resident Teachers Are Getting More ‘Practice’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Race to Top Districts ‘Personalize’ Plans
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study Finds Gaps in ‘College Ready’ Math Offerings
Early-Algebra Push Found to Yield No NAEP Boost
Math Teachers Break Down Standards For At-Risk Students
More Teachers Group Students by Ability
San Diego Superintendent Pick Has Deep Parental Ties
Partnership Combines Science Instruction and English Learning
States’ Score Cards Pinpoint Problems Of School Climate
Experts: Later School Start Helps Sleep-Deprived Teens
Blogs of the Week
Project Aims to Expand Web Access
New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge
Elementary Students Tackling Windmills
Policy Brief
'Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave
School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases
‘Sequester’ Cuts Still in Place Amid Budget Wrangling
Political Storm Rages as Acting N.M. Chief Presses on With Job
Congress Eyes Pre-K
REGIS ANNE SHIELDS & KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Want Effective Teachers? Think About Your Value Proposition
ALISON CROWLEY: Getting Rid of the GPS: Teaching the Common Standards in Math
STEPHEN R. HERR: Celebrating Without Accomplishing
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
AMANDA GARDNER: The Many Keys To Radical Classroom Change

Education Week - March 27, 2013