Language, literacy and math skills have long been the focus of national assessment tests to measure how school children are progressing. A new set of tests by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) now targets something that is becoming more important for getting a job after high school or college. And girls are winning in the assessment results.

NAEP

The first nationwide tests for technology and engineering literacy among US eighth-graders disclosed a big difference between the genders. The tests also identified the percentage of students at or above proficient by race/ethnicity.

White and black female students scored higher than their males peers in the Information and Content Technology (ICT) content area. Only 43 percent of eighth-grade students scored proficient or above in these tests. The test results show that more eighth-grade students were proficient or above in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) than any other performance category.

NAEPGirls also beat out the boys in three more critical literacy areas: Communicating and Collaborating; Developing Solutions; and Achieving Goals practice areas. The ICT tasks included creating content for a website and promoting a teen recreation center.

The tests found that 56 percent of white students and 56 percent of Asian students scored either at or above the proficient level. The test results showed 18 percent of black students and 28 percent of Hispanic students achieved that level.

The tests also questioned students about where they learn about technology and engineering. Sixty-three percent of eighth-graders reported family members taught them most of what they know about constructing and fixing things and learning how things work. Independent learning was a significant factor in technology skill acquisition.

A solid 19 percent of the tested students reported that they were self-taught. Only 13 percent attributed their technical skills to lessons from their teachers.

NAEP On Display

NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what this country’s students know and can do in various subject areas, according to the organization’s website. It conducts paper and pencil assessments periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history and Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL).

NAEP will expand it assessment program next year. The organization will begin administering digitally based assessments (DBA) for mathematics, reading and writing. It will add other subjects in 2018 and 2019.

NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation. Those results set a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to more accurately assess student academic progress over time.

The assessment administration will not change as NAEP moves into computer-based assessments. NAEP falls under the umbrella jurisdiction of the US Department of Education.

Ultimately, the Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, directs the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board is independent of the US Education Department but is appointed by the Secretary of Education.That Board sets policy for NAEP and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the assessments.