Roots of Technology Education: Standards Projects

Article excerpt

Standards created at the national level began to influence educational policy and practice in the 1980s. Today, 49 out of the 50 states have developed and implemented some form of standards in dozens of subject areas, many of which are adaptations or direct adoptions of nationally developed standards. The roots of standards in technology education go back to the 1970s, with industrial arts education.

Most nationally developed standards are "content standards," which means they focus on basic concepts and "big ideas," deliberately leaving curricular decisions to state and local agencies. Content standards offer a vision for what is needed to enable all students to become literate in a given subject.

Technology education is rooted in standards. This article discusses the evolution of standards in our profession over the past 25 years with specific reference to:

* Standards for Industrial Arts Programs (1978-1981).

* Standards for Technology Education Programs (1985).

* International Technology Education Association's (ITEA) Technology for All Americans Project (1994-2003).

* The future.

Standards for Industrial Arts Programs (1978-1981)

In the late 1970s, the former U.S. Office of Education (USOE) and several professional associations became interested in developing and promoting quality standards for selected subject areas. In 1978, the USOE requested proposals for developing industrial arts program standards. Consequently, the Standards for Industrial Arts Programs Project at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia (Virginia Tech) was funded. Per the USOE, the three primary objectives of the project were:

* To develop a database on industrial arts programs (as defined in Title 1, Part C, Section 195 (15) of the Education Amendments of 1976) and on industrial arts student organization activities as an integral part of the industrial arts instructional program.

* To develop a set of standards and related handbooks for ensuring quality industrial arts programs.

* To familiarize, publicize, and demonstrate the standards developed for industrial arts programs.

The database was developed from October 1978 through November 1979. The results of this effort were included in the Report of Survey Data, which was published in 1980.

The Standards for Industrial Arts Education Programs (SLAP) developed by over 400 industrial arts teachers, state and local supervisors, teacher educators, and consultants, served as a model for schools, districts, and states that voluntarily wished to develop, adopt, or refine standards for the improvement of their industrial arts program. The standards are comparative statements that were developed around 10 major topics:


Support systems

* Instructional program

* Instructional strategies

* Student populations served

* Public relations

* Instructional staff

* Safety and health

* Administration and supervision

* Evaluation

Under these headings, 235 specific quality measures were listed. These were used to determine if an industrial arts program met, exceeded, or did not meet a standard. Once a determination was made, persons assessing a program prepared a summary profile and wrote summary comments concerning the strengths and deficiencies of the industrial arts program.

Three additional publications were produced by the Standards for Industrial Arts Programs Project as companions to the SIAP:

* AIASA Guide for Industrial Arts programs.

* Sex Equity Guide for Industrial Arts Programs.

* Special Needs Guide for Industrial Arts Programs.

The guides offered suggestions for program improvements related to student organizations, sex equity, and students with special needs. The SlAP and its companion documents contained the best thinking of the profession on what industrial arts programs should be and how they could be improved at the time of their publication. …