NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) Assessment

The first-ever NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment is currently under development. In 2014, eighth-grade students who are selected to take NAEP will participate in the assessment. In preparation for this assessment, selected eighth-grade students in 2012 will participate in a TEL tryout of scenario-based tasks on the computer; print out the TEL Task Tryout fact sheet (115K PDF) that participating schools received.

Technology and engineering have become critical components of 21st century life. For generations, students have been taught about technology and have been instructed on how to use various technological devices. However, there are currently no standardized, nationally-representative assessments to provide evidence of what students know about technology and engineering, the roles they play in our lives, and the extent to which students can use technologies and understand how engineers design and develop them.

The 2014 NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy Framework (3,062K PDF), developed under the guidance of the National Assessment Governing Board, broadly defines technological and engineering literacy as the capacity to use, understand, and evaluate technology as well as to understand technological principles and strategies needed to develop solutions and achieve goals. NAEP frameworks provide the theoretical basis for assessments and describe the types of questions that should be included and how they should be designed and scored

Questions in the TEL assessment will explore, among other things, to what extent students analyze the pros and cons of a proposal to develop a new source of energy, whether students can use the Internet to find and summarize information to solve a problem, and whether students understand how and why new technologies are developed to suit human needs and wants.

The framework directs that students should be assessed in three major areas of technology and engineering literacy:

  • Technology and Society involves the effects that technology has on society and on the natural world and the ethical questions that arise from those effects.
  • Design and Systems covers the nature of technology, the engineering design process by which technologies are developed, and basic principles of dealing with everyday technologies, including maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Information and Communication Technology includes computers and software learning tools, networking systems and protocols, hand-held digital devices, and other technologies for accessing, creating, and communicating information and for facilitating creative expression.

In all three areas of technology and engineering literacy, students are expected to be able to apply particular ways of thinking and reasoning when approaching a problem. These types of thinking and reasoning are referred to as “practices.”

The framework specifies three kinds of practices that students are expected to demonstrate when responding to test questions:

  • Understanding Technological Principles focuses on how well students are able to make use of their knowledge about technology.
  • Developing Solutions and Achieving Goals refers to students’ systematic use of technological knowledge, tools, and skills to solve problems and achieve goals presented in realistic contexts.
  • Communicating and Collaborating concerns how well students are able to use contemporary technologies to communicate for a variety of purposes and in a variety of ways, working individually or in teams, with peers and experts.

The framework focuses on literacy as the level of knowledge and competencies needed by all students and citizens, that is, students who are literate about technology and engineering can function in a technological society. The focus of the framework is not on whether students have the ability to engineer or produce technology in the professional sense. Therefore, TEL does not address technical knowledge of specific technologies, nor types of engineering expertise taught in specialized courses to prepare some students for postsecondary engineering studies.

The assessment will be completely computer-based. Although many items will be standard multiple-choice questions, other items will be more complex and will allow students to manipulate components of the systems and models that are presented to them.

The TEL task tryout will engage students through the use of multimedia presentations, such as video, audio, and interactive simulations, and will be administered to students entirely on a computer.

Schools selected for the tryout will be asked to designate about 25 to 30 students to participate. TEL will be administered in sessions of up to 15 students each. NAEP staff will bring all necessary materials, including laptop computers, to the school on tryout day.

<>Students will be asked to complete two or three scenario-based tasks on the computer, as well as a brief questionnaire. The tryout will take approximately 90 minutes.</>