In a bid to make technology literacy more widespread, the National Assessment Governing Board this month announced plans to develop the first nationwide assessment of technological learning in U.S. schools. NAGB, a government-commissioned independent council, awarded nonprofit WestEd, a 40-year-old educational research and service group, a $1.86 million contract to work with educators, school officials, the business community, and the public on constructing the test, set to hit schools in 2012.
NAGB officials and others hope the test will help reverse the slide in U.S. test scores and enrollment in such subjects as science, math, and engineering, and ultimately address the more generally waning competitiveness of the U.S. in technology. “If you look at the business community and post-secondary work, those sectors really need students who have science, technology, and engineering backgrounds to fill jobs in these new and dynamic fields,” says NAGB Executive Director Mary Crovo.
Enrollment in graduate-level computer science and engineering is dropping, says the National Science Foundation. The number of full-time graduate enrollments in computer science and engineering courses decreased 11%, to 29,800, in 2004, the last year for which data is available, since peaking in 2002, according to the foundation. The number of foreigners with bachelor’s degrees holding jobs in U.S. science and engineering almost doubled, to 19%, from 1990 to 2005.
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