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Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?
The Development of Technology/EngineeringConcepts in Massachusetts Academic Standards
Jacob Foster, Director of Science and Technology/Engineering Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Commissioned paper for the National Academy of Engineering
July 8, 2009
Over the past decade Massachusetts has developed academic technology/engineering standards and implemented related programs. The Massachusetts experience has become a reference point for a number of other states and countries looking to support engineering education. This paper outlines the process Massachusetts has undertaken and some of the successes and challenges related to the implementation of engineering concepts in K–12 education.
The development of state technology/engineering standards was initially made possible through the Massachusetts 1993 Education Reform Law but was only carried out through the advocacy of technology education educators and engineers with an interest in education. Massachusetts treats technology/engineering as a science discipline, equivalent to physical science, life science, and earth and space science. A number of state policies support the implementation of school and district technology/engineering programs aligned with the technology/engineering standards, such as licensure and assessment expectations. A number of challenges remain, however, before technology/engineering can be considered to have developed to a point equivalent to traditional science disciplines.2
History of Technology/Engineering in Massachusetts
The development of technology/engineering standards in Massachusetts started with the inclusion of language in the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Law:
The board shall … develop academic standards for the core subjects of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages and the arts…. The board may also include in the standards a fundamental knowledge of technology education and computer science and keyboarding skills… (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 69, Section 1D, italics added)
The inclusion of “science and technology” in this legislation was the impetus for the development of the first state MA Science and Technology Framework (MA ESE, 1996). The
This paper focuses on academic standards and programs. The state also has Career/Vocational Technical Education (CVTE) frameworks with engineering foci, including Engineering Technology, Biotechnology, and Robotics and Automation Technology, among others. While fairly new (2007), there are a growing number of these programs in voc tech schools across the state. The CVTE frameworks can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/cte/frameworks/