Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

HJR 25: Science, Math, and Technology Education

October 10, 2006

The second meeting of the joint subcommit-tee, chaired by Delegate Cosgrove, took place on October 10, 2006. Members heard from five guest speakers, as well as two students from the Shenandoah Valley Governor's School.

Marcia Hickey - Adjunct Instructor, College of Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University

Ms. Hickey discussed the Children's Engineering Guide, which was first published in July 2003. The guide was designed for K-5 grade teachers to use as a supplement to the core curriculum. Ms. Hickey maintains that children in kindergarten through fifth grade should study technology in order to:

• Make connections between the natural and man-made world.
• Develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
• Experience the true application of knowledge and technology.
• Gain ownership of essential knowledge.
• Bridge the gap between memorization of facts and the understanding of skills and processes.

Technology education teaches students to identify a problem, brainstorm solutions, create solutions, evaluate the chosen solution, and finally to test the solution. Ms. Hickey explained that the guide helps teachers enhance current teaching in the core Standards of Learning areas of English, math, science, history, and social science and helps children to retain the content described in the Standards of Learning more successfully. An example of a math lesson would be a third grade teacher assigning a challenge where small groups of students must brainstorm, restate a problem, build, record difficulties, and evaluate a chosen solution. After each challenge the teacher assesses each student's performance.

Ms. Hickey stressed the need for profes-sional development for teachers. She noted that since the guide was published in 2003, only 150 teachers (.05 percent of the teaching population) have received school division level in-service training through Design and Technology workshops. Teachers need to receive training so that they can be confident in imple-menting design and technology in the classroom as a means to extend and support Virginia's Standards of Learning.

Kathleen Stansbury - President, Virginia Technology Education Association (VTEA)

Ms. Stansbury presented a preliminary report on the need for technology education in Virginia, as the VTEA envisions a citizenry that is techno-logically literate. There are six initiatives promoted by the VTEA as essential to achieve its goals:

• Elementary School—integrated learning through the elementary school curriculum.
• Middle School—required instruction in technology education for each student.
• High School—provide at least two technology education electives.
• STEM initiative—funding for two biennial periods to establish K-12 based technology education courses.
• Technical Assistance—provided by the VDOE to local education agencies through the services of at least three technology education program area specialists.
• Teacher Preparation—establishment of pre-service and in-service education to make sure a sufficient number of trained teachers are available.

Ms. Stansbury emphasized that ensuring that each learner benefits from technology education means that it must be included within the Commonwealth's educational requirements. The VTEA believes that to improve and strengthen the education of all students in Virginia's schools the study of technology, which emphasizes technologi-cal content, processes, and effects, must be included within the curriculum for every child in grades K-12. Teachers must be prepared in the content and methods for developing the individ-ual learner's technological literacy and capability.

George R. Willcox - Career Cluster Coordinator, Career and Technical Education, VDOE

Mr. Wilcox spoke on behalf of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) about the Standards for Technological Literacy and Project Lead the Way, a national program that partners with state agencies to provide specialized education in high school. The Standards for Technological Literacy establish requirements and benchmarks for all grade K-12 students, with 20 broadly stated standards that specify what every student should learn about technology. A technologically literate person understands what technology is, how it is created, how it shapes society, and in turn is shaped by society. Project Lead the Way is a not-for-profit organization offering a four year curriculum in engineering that when coupled with math and science classes introduces students to the scope, rigor, and discipline of engineering and engineering technology prior to entering college. Currently, 24 Virginia schools in 14 different school divisions offer Project Lead the Way courses.

Linda Cauley - Director, Shenandoah Valley Governor's School

Ms. Cauley spoke to the members about the Governor's School and emphasized that the school's teachers never stop learning. The Shenandoah Governor's School provides an arts/humanities track and a math, science, and technology track with a range of options available in each program. Ms. Cauley estimated that roughly half of the students that apply to attend the Governor's School are able to attend. Two current students spoke to the members about their learning experiences at the school. They both noted that the school is preparing them for college, gives them a chance to work independently, and allows them to earn college credit in dual enrollment courses.

Daniel J. LaVista, Executive Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Dr. LaVista spoke at the first meeting in August, and returned to answer follow-up questions. He informed the members that SCHEV is currently working on conducting a survey of Virginia institutions in order to determine the weak skill areas of college freshman in math and science. National surveys reveal that 85% of faculty members indicate that high school graduates are either “unprepared” or are “only somewhat well prepared” to pursue a college degree. Dr. LaVista also stated that 10,000 degrees are conferred every year in Virginia in the math, science, and technology fields. The members requested more detailed information, including what percentage of those degrees are awarded to students who attended Virginia high schools. Dr. LaVista noted that the median salary for all workers in 2005 was $34,000, compared to $56,000 among all science, math, and technology workers. With respect to professors in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), Dr. LaVista stated that university deans and department heads, acting as the hiring authority for most faculty positions, reveal that teaching load is a major determinant as to whether or not a well-qualified candidate will accept a teaching offer.

Dr. LaVista reported that other states are attracting research dollars by: • Identifying research focus areas that may receive federal support.

• Attracting and retaining top-notch faculty.
• Developing new researchers from within the state.
• Expanding to provide the space available for faculty to conduct university research.

Currently Virginia ranks 37th in the nation for research dollars expended per capita by universities, 32nd in the nation for federal research dollars expended per capita by universities, and 35th in the nation for state, local, and institutional research dollars expended per capita by colleges and universities.

Next Meeting

The third meeting will be held on October 25, 2006, in Alexandria at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and members will tour the school before a public meeting at 2:30 p.m. There will be a presentation about the school and members will hear from current students.

The Hon. John A. Cosgrove

The Hon. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis

For information, contact:
Patrick Cushing and Nikki Seeds, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

Privacy Statement | Legislative Services | General Assembly