Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education
December 28, 1999
William E. Dugger, Jr.
Director, Technology for All Americans Project
International Technology Education Association 1997 S. Main Street, Suite 701 Blacksburg, VA 24060
Dear Dr. Dugger:
This letter represents the final report of the National Research Council Standards Review Committee (SRC). The SRC has for the last seven months been engaged in reviewing the document, Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (Technology Content Standards). The standards, which describe what K-12 students should know and be able to do regarding technology, have been developed by you and your colleagues at the Technology for All Americans Project (TfAAP), which operates under the auspices of the International Technology Education Association (ITEA). Funding for the standards project has come from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
From May to late December 1999, the SRC met a total of four times to review and discuss successive drafts of the standards document. In addition to drawing on the expertise of its own membership, the committee solicited comments on the document from a set of outside technical reviewers with diverse backgrounds. The committee’s interim report, released in late October 1999, contained 13 recommendations for improving the content and structure of the standards document.
The SRC has carefully reviewed TfAAP’s response to the committee’s recommendations. Among the most important improvements in Technology Content Standards made by TfAAP were: a substantial reduction in the number of benchmarks; the elimination of language about the profession of technology education that could be considered self-serving; the elimination of language that personified technology; the consistent application of the idea that the standards represent the content of knowing and doing, not curriculum; and the strengthening of the connections between technology education and other fields of study throughout the document. The committee finds that TfAAP has responded appropriately to all of its recommendations and has, therefore, successfully completed the review process established by the NRC.
Much current discussion of the need for increased technological literacy in the United States focuses on the use of computers and the Internet in the classroom. The view of literacy outlined by ITEA/TfAAP in Technology Content Standards includes computers but is broader and more compelling. Without a firmer grasp of the human-made world, K-12 students will grow up ill
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equipped, as many adults are today, to ask intelligent questions about the direction and shape of our increasingly technological society.
Carefully developed educational standards are a critical tool in promoting systemic educational improvement. Standards for technological literacy have the potential to serve this function in an academic content area—technology—that up until now has been poorly defined. If the ITEA/TfAAP standards elevate the importance of technology studies to the K-12 community, they will have made a significant contribution. The committee sees the standards as a living document and as such expects that they will undergo periodic reevaluation and revision, as is the practice with all good educational standards.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to commend you and your staff for the professionalism with which you have managed the very challenging task of guiding the standards to completion.
Wm. A. Wulf
NRC Standards Review Committee