Standards-based testing is a major issue impacting public education around the world. Educational publications and daily newspapers cite instances where schools are accredited, or other instances where teams of educators are being assigned to failing schools, to suggest changes for improving student learning and subsequent test scores. In some instances, the state government has taken control of poorly performing schools.
Department of Education reports are also comparing urban, suburban, and rural schools within states. State and national governments are increasing the funds that are directed toward improving education. In the U.S., No Child Left Behind (2001) legislation has demanded that all children meet educational standards before they are promoted to the next grade level.
Many educators are suggesting that freedom and enjoyment are being removed from children's and adolescents' daily school activities because there is not time left in the curriculum for exploration (a general education). Schooling's main focus is on the core subjects and the resultant standards-based test scores. Families are choosing where to live, so their children can attend accredited (quality) schools.
Since technology education is an elective course in many schools, as are the other career and technical education components of the school curriculum, state leaders have made administrators and teachers aware of the importance that career and technical education subjects have in reinforcing academic content within a contextual environment. At the state level, technology educators have worked to show the linkages of the courses to the state standards for language arts, science, social studies, mathematics, and educational technology. They state that they have aligned the career and technical subjects to support instruction and learning of the academics.
The history of technology education will show that for many years the profession has said that one of its programmatic goals is to assist in applying other school subjects (ITEA, 1985). From a practical perspective, students must use reading to develop knowledge from our textbooks and read plans on using tools and materials to solve technological problems. Often, technical vocabulary is taught. Students are required to apply scientific principles to both understand and to design solutions to problems. We do this with heat, flight, propulsion, simple machines, etc. Since technology changes society, many projects undertaken by students in technology education laboratories require that students become familiar with the history of the period and contributions that technological developments have made to society. Some teachers have students bring in magazine and newspaper articles that show new developments in technology and their potential use in everyday activities.
Mathematics is the language of the technological world. Students measure in technology education. They also solve equations to analyze circuits. They figure areas when purchasing needed construction materials. They analyze statistics on the projects they build, such as the weight held by a bridge or the seconds that a plane was able to fly. They modify their designs, trying to improve their statistics. In a way, technology education is a multidisciplinary subject that applies all subjects in its study and applications.
While articles could be written about the contribution that technology education has made to all school subjects, the authors have chosen to analyze mathematics in this writing. One reason for this choice is that when schools are reviewed for their accreditation, they are often found not performing well in mathematics at the middle school level.
U.S. Statistics on Mathematics
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics assessment gauges student mathematics achievement in Grades 4, 8, and 12. The NAEP mathematics assessment is a nationally ongoing assessment of mathematics achievement, using a representative sample of thousands of public and private school students. …