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Technology Education Joins Push for Standards

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Technology education, a relatively new field of study in secondary schools, is joining the standards movement.

The International Technology Education Association announced last week that it will head an effort to set national standards for students to understand, use, and control technology.

The National Science Foundation and NASA have contributed nearly $1 million for the first phase of the project.

Academic and prevocational courses in technology took hold in schools in the early 1980's, according to Kendall Starkweather, the executive director of the Reston, Va.-based technology-education group.

The curriculum typically covers the development of technology--including the areas of manufacturing, construction, communications, transportation, and energy--and its effect on the environment and society.

Courses might include technology transfer, inventions and innovations, and design and engineering drawing.

Because the field is growing rapidly and standards have been set in related fields, the i.t.e.a. and others decided it was time to join the movement, said William E. Dugger Jr., the director of the new project.

He estimated that there are 35,000 technology teachers in secondary schools--and a few elementary schools--throughout the United States. About five million students have had some instruction in the field.

Technology educators had begun work on setting guidelines about 10 years ago, when the field started gaining interest.

"We're trying to parallel some of the work with math and science standards now, and we have people from those efforts involved" in the project, said Mr. Dugger, who is on leave from his teaching post at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Planning for the Future

Officials working on the three-year project hope to draw up sets of content standards for technology courses in grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

The panel--made up of experts in technology and technology education, curriculum development, engineering, and other disciplines--met last week to set the group's agenda.

Its members are expected first to focus on ways to define technology as a discipline and develop a "rationale and structure" for the subject because it was a latecomer to schools, Mr. Dugger explained.

During the second phase, officials will begin to write standards for what students should know and be able to do and what the curriculum should cover at every level of education.

The I.T.E.A. has stressed that the guidelines should be consistent with the standards for related fields, such as science and mathematics.

The project leaders also hope to create standards for teacher preparation in technology and to design assessments.

The association is expected to post the panel's progress and seek input in The Technology Teacher, a publication for its members.

The membership comprises developers, administrators, and university personnel involved in the field, as well as officials from leading technology companies.

Mr. Starkweather said the I.T.E.A. is seeking funding for the second half of the project.

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