Young Girls Can’t Do STEM? New Federal Data Says Otherwise

In 2018, the National Assessment of Educational Progress administered a nationally representative assessment of technology and engineering literacy to more than 15,000 students in the eighth grade throughout the nation. Students used laptops to answer questions that accessed their knowledge and skills in understanding technological principles, solving technology and engineering-related problems, and using technology to communicate and collaborate. The assessment included 15 scenario-based tasks and 77 questions.

Overall, the results shows that 46 percent of test takers met National Assessment of Educational Progress proficiency standards in technology and engineering. The test was scored on a scale from zero to 300.

Overall girls had an average score of 155 compared to an average score for boys of 150. This five-point gap was larger than a two point gap in a similar assessment conducted in 2014.

Girls scored higher than boys in all content areas, which included technology & society, design & systems, and information and communication technology. And the gender gap in favor of girls expanded compared to the 2014 results in all content areas.

Girls also outperformed boys in the three sections devoted to technology and engineering literacy practices: understanding technology principles, developing solutions and achieving goals, and communicating and collaborating. In each area, the gender gap expanded in favor of girls compared to the 2014 survey.

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields

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