Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 542]
Action Comprehensive Revision of the Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 10/31/2015
Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
9/26/15  3:02 pm
Commenter: Jim Batterson, Former Sr. Advisor to the Commonwealth for STEM Initiatives

8VAC20-543-280: Competencies for an Engineering Teacher Preperation Program

My background relevant to commenting on 8VAC20-543-280, “competencies for an approved teacher preparation program in engineering”, include the following:  I have taught high school mathematics (pre-algebra through AP Calculus and Linear Algebra), completed a thirty-year career as a NASA aerospace engineer, served as chairman of an urban school board and as chairman of a Virginia Governor’s science & technology school board, and served as Senior Advisor to the Commonwealth for STEM Initiatives.  In addition to my own background, I have consulted on this matter with a team of subject matter experts made up of a retired technology education coordinator of a large urban school division, an applied science and engineering university professor who works regularly with K12 programs in the Commonwealth, and two senior engineers – one from industry and the other from a large government R&T lab.

While not feeling qualified to comment on the pedagogical content, we found the technical competencies in this regulation to be right on target for the preparation of high school engineering teachers in the 21st century.  The proposed regulation provides for a comprehensive education in the STEM constituents and how they must play together to support successful engineering endeavors.  Basic engineering coursework is combined with the key mathematical courses used by engineers along with a broad interdisciplinary knowledge of the basic science disciplines to yield a holistic set of knowledge and skills.  There is one possible addition that is not explicitly mentioned: computer programming.  While it is likely that any student who has completed the engineering coursework listed in paragraph 4 along with experience required in paragraph 2.b, will have developed an adequate competency in computer programming, it might be a good idea to explicitly add computer programming or coding to the course listing in paragraph 4.

Significant additional strengths include 2.c (the role of failure in the engineering design process), as well as 6.a and 6.c (the cultural and social significance of engineering contributions along with knowledge of the historical development of engineering concepts and reasoning).

In 2010 the Committee on Standards for K-12 Engineering, which was formed by the National Academy of Engineering, remarked that (nationally) “there is not at present a critical mass of teachers qualified to deliver engineering instruction”.  The competencies presented here in 8VAC20-543-280 should produce a cadre of highly qualified high school engineering teachers that will eliminate that concern in Virginia.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on this very important proposed new regulation.