First National Assessment of Technology and Engineering Reveals 43% of 8th Graders Can Use Engineering to Solve Problems

May 17, 2016

BOSTON - Forty-three percent of 8th grade students nationwide were able to apply technology and engineering skills successfully to real-life situations, according to the first-ever Nation’s Report Card for Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL), released today by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and the National Center for Education Statistics:


·      Female students scored higher than male students on average;

·      56% of white and Asian students, 28% of Hispanic students, and 18% of black students scored at Proficient or above;

·      59% of higher-income students (not eligible for National School Lunch Program) scored at or above Proficient, compared to 25% of lower-income students;

·      Students attending schools in suburbs scored higher than peers in towns, cities.

The innovative digital assessment, administered in 2014, measured whether 21,500 randomly selected 8th grade students from 840 public and private schools could apply technology and engineering skills to immersive, engaging scenario-based problem-sets, testing them through their interaction with multimedia tasks, and asking where they learned these 21st century skills. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as The Nation’s Report Card, is the largest continuing national measure of what students know and can do in key subjects.

"This assessment requires students to examine evidence, ask and answer challenging questions, and choose the right tools for the problem at hand … the exact kind of thinking that the modern world demands at home and in the workplace," said Terry Mazany, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP.

"Having this baseline for student learning in engineering and technology is critical to our nation's leadership in innovation," said Museum of Science, Boston president and director Ioannis Miaoulis, who has championed this assessment since 2009.  "All of us in education, government, and industry must intensify our efforts to prepare students of all backgrounds and abilities -- girls and boys -- in school and out -- to succeed in our engineered world by introducing them to the engineering design skills enabling them to use science and math to solve problems. With TEL standards and assessments in place, states can help drive what students need to learn. We will use this data to work with states to ensure that the next assessment shows far better results."

The Museum helped develop the NAEP TEL and has worked with states to modify their standards and assessments. The Museum also offers affordable, integrative K-12 STEM curricula nationwide using the engineering design process geared to diverse learners, teacher professional development, and free out-of-school engineering curricula. Moreover, the Museum strives to enhance public perceptions of engineering through advocacy and lifelong learning. Museum curricula have reached an estimated 119,700 teachers and 10.5 million students in 50 states.

With the 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, states can now use federal funds to amend their science assessments to include engineering skills and practices, to fund STEM teacher professional development, and STEM learning both in classrooms and out-of-school settings.

On June 16 on Capitol Hill, Miaoulis will co-host the first Congressional Briefing on the NAEP TEL results with the National Assessment Governing Board in conjunction with the STEM Congressional Caucus to discuss implications and action steps.

The NAEP TEL results were reported in percentages of students attaining one of three levels, Basic (partial mastery), Proficient (solid mastery), or Advanced in the interconnected areas of Technology and Society, Design and Systems, and Information and Communication Technology. The test also addressed how well students practiced Understanding Technological Principles, Developing Solutions and Achieving Goals, and Communicating and Collaborating.

About the Museum of Science, Boston

One of the world's largest science centers and New England's most attended cultural institution, the Museum of Science introduces nearly 1.4 million visitors a year to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) via dynamic programs and hundreds of interactive exhibits. Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Highlights include the Hall of Human Life, Thomson Theater of Electricity, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater, Gordon Current Science & Technology Center, 4-D Theater, and Butterfly Garden.The Science Behind Pixar, created in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, has begun a 10-year national tour. The Museum is the nation's first science center with a comprehensive strategy and infrastructure to foster technological literacy in museums and schools nationwide. In 2015, its National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) received the National Science Board's Public Service Award. NCTL curricula have reached 10.5 million students and 119,700 teachers. Reaching over 20,000 teens a year worldwide via The Clubhouse Network, the Museum has also led a 10-year, $41 million National Science Foundation-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network of science museums. Visit:


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