Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Why CATTS Needs SPACE! Standards-Based Technology Curricula for Standards-Based Technology Programs

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Why CATTS Needs SPACE! Standards-Based Technology Curricula for Standards-Based Technology Programs

Article excerpt

It was a dreary afternoon in late August when the call came to the principal's office. She had been in the principal's job for only two years--having moved from technology department chair to principal in record time. Her ability to work collaboratively with staff, students, and the school community, and her ability to promote the value-added for students in the technology program and for the business community earned her a timely promotion. But on this day, test scores had been released by the state, and newspaper reporters were digging. They had found test scores for every school in the district on the dreaded state assessments. Her school had not only outperformed all the others in the district (no small accomplishment in a school system of 175,000 students) but had also outscored every other school in the state. It had been a long journey, and the staff and community had bickered endlessly over every aspect of the new school improvement plan. It had taken many meetings to bring the diverse groups to consensus on the right direction to take. She thought back on the early days when the questions from parents had hit her like a ton of bricks.

Standards? Assessments? Rigor? What are they? What difference will they make? My child is going to Harvard--she just needs rigorous advanced placement courses. Or, "My child is going to work in a trade, he doesn't need to worry about standards or assessments--just get him to graduate." What difference will the national standards make on the state assessments and in their plans for the future?

They had come a long way, but the fruits of their labor had proven to be worthwhile. She no longer had to talk about "value-added" to the endless stream of parents that came to see her each week. In fact, the problem now was that the parents from the neighboring school feeder areas wanted their children to attend the schools in her feeder area for the program where technology became the hub, the center for technological literacy and the application of core concepts. This was one problem she had never anticipated.

How many of us have found ourselves in situations where we needed to not only describe what standards are and why assessments (to the degree they are used or not used) are important, but defend it to our principal, supervisor, parent, business community, or a perplexed student? How often have we been confronted with the question about what really is the value-added for students in a technology program, the school, and the community? Since the introduction of Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) (ITEA, 2000/2002) the profession has, at times, struggled to find its identity as a core subject on the educational landscape. Through STL, the content for the study of technology has been clearly identified, and we are making great gains in the ability to describe to the school community what we do.

A recent discussion on ITEA's IdeaGarden centered on the need for a "national curriculum." Since there are national standards, wouldn't it make sense to have a model national curriculum that could be assessed? The answer to the question is obvious--we need a national model that is standards-based, with an assessment that can measure whether students are technologically literate. The value-added is the fact that students who go through this model achieve higher on state and national assessments and are better prepared for a changing technological workforce--much easier said than done--but an imperative if we are to be accountable for our content and survive in today's data-driven schools.

So the idea of a national curriculum is one of great debate. From time to time we hear that we need to maintain flexibility in what is taught so that teachers can be creative and teach based on their strengths. But how can anything be measured if everybody teaches something different? The answer is simple. In fact, a good standards-based program has much flexibility in the way it is delivered and the resources that are used--if it is developed in a thoughtful, organized, and deliberate process. …

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