The International Technology Education Association’s (ITEA’s) “Standards for Technical Literacy” represents one of the most comprehensive efforts to date to look at all the elements that define technological literacy—social as well as technological—for students at all grade levels.

More than three years in the making, these standards have been reviewed by the National Research Council and National Academy of Engineering. The report provides sets of standards for schools and districts to aspire to, without prescribing how educators should reach those standards.

The report defines a technologically literate person as someone who “is comfortable with and objective about the use of technology—neither scared of it nor infatuated with it.” Technology today has become such an integral part of our personal and professional lives, that understanding of it must be instilled early in children’s lives, according to ITEA.

The report outlines 20 standards, separated into four categories:

• The Nature of Technology

• Technology and Society

• Abilities for a Technological World

• The Designed World (applications of technology in major fields)

For each of the 20 standards, the report outlines benchmark topics that students at various grade levels should understand. For example, under “Abilities for a Technological World,” one standard for students is to be able to “Apply Design Processes.” This means that students in grades K-2 should learn to solve problems through designing and building something and investigating how things are made. Students in grades 3-5 working on this standard should collect information, visualize a solution, test solutions, and improve their design (most likely more than once). Students in grades 6-8 would learn to apply actual design processes to model a solution to a problem, given various criteria and constraints—also with the goal of improving their product or system. Finally, students in high school would identify a design problem and then work through the modeling, testing, and re-evaluating steps until they reach a solution.

Copies of the executive summary can be read online at http://www.iteawww.org/TAA/Execsum.pdf. To purchase the full report, which costs $12.50 and must be ordered in multiples of 25, call ITEA at (703) 860-2100 or send eMail to itea@iris.org.