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Technology-Based Assessment Project

The Technology-Based Assessment (TBA) was a project undertaken by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the National Assessment in Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2000–2003. The project was designed to explore the use of technology, especially the use of the computer, as a tool to enhance the quality and efficiency of educational assessments.

Among other things, these studies examined how students perform on computer- versus paper-based mathematics and writing assessments, how population groups are affected, and how the operational and logistical mechanics of computer-delivered assessments are affected. 

The TBA was a precursor to the digitally based assessments that are now administered to students and schools across the nation.


The NAEP frameworks serve as the blueprints for each assessment describing the specific skills that should be assessed. The mathematics and writing frameworks guided the development of the TBA.

Sample Questions

Explore sample mathematics and writing assessment items:


Experience the simulations that were featured in the Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (TRE) study. These simulations focused on the assessment of problem solving in the field of physical science:

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Design and Content

The TBA was designed with five components—three empirical studies (Mathematics Online, Writing Online, and Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments), a conceptual paper (Computerized Adaptive Testing), and an online school and teacher questionnaire segment. The three empirical studies were the primary focus of the TBA project and considered the following key questions:

  • Measurement—
  • How does the method of test delivery (computer versus paper) affect the inferences that can be drawn about students’ mathematics or writing skills? Do students perform differently across the two types of delivery?
  • Equity—
  • How do different population groups perform, and do performances vary with the method of delivery? How are students with different levels of computer experience affected by a computer- versus a paper-based mathematics or writing assessment?
  • Efficiency—
  • Is a technology-based assessment more cost-effective or timely than a paper one? How might technological advances like automated scoring affect the cost and timeliness of an assessment?
  • Operations—
  • What are the logistical challenges of administering a NAEP assessment on a computer?

Learn more about the design and content of each TBA study:

Computer-Based Platform

To show students how to use the computer to take the assessments, tutorials were developed.

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Last updated 23 October 2018 (DS)