A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics examines students’ access to computers at home and in school, and students’ use of computers for classroom learning at grades 4, 8, and 12. Associations between students’ computer access and use and student performance on the 2015 NAEP mathematics and reading assessments are also examined.
NAEP is given to a representative sample of students across the country, and results are reported for groups of students with similar characteristics. As part of the 2015 NAEP assessments, students answered a survey question about their access to computers at home, and teachers answered a survey question about the availability of computers for them and their students in school. Students and teachers also answered questions about their use of computers for classroom learning and instruction.
Key findings from the report included:
- Computer access is divided along socioeconomic lines. Smaller percentages of lower income students reported having computer access at home in comparison to middle-to-higher income students.
- Lower- and higher-performing students differ in how often they use computers for practicing and building academic skills in the classroom. For example, compared to higher-performing fourth-grade students, larger percentages of lower-performing students had teachers who reported that they never or hardly ever used computers in class to practice and review mathematics topics or to extend their mathematics learning with enrichment activities.
- Computer use once or twice a week increased by as much as 5 percentage points in mathematics classes and 6 percentage points in reading classes between 2013 and 2015.
The report helped the public to understand how use of computers are related to academic performance. However, the survey did not include students’ use of other digital devices, such as tablets and smartphones in 2015.