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Technology and Engineering Literacy

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment measures whether students are able to apply technology and engineering skills to real-life situations. TEL uses interactive scenario-based tasks to gauge what students know and can do. The most recent TEL assessment was given in 2018 to approximately 15,400 students in grade 8.


2018 TEL Findings

Explore a few highlights from 2018 TEL.

Assessment Content

The assessment framework broadly defines technological and engineering literacy as the capacity to use, understand, and evaluate technology as well as to understand technological principles and strategies needed to develop solutions and achieve goals.

The TEL assessment is designed to measure three interconnected areas of technology and engineering experience in and out of the classroom: technology and society, design and systems, and information and communication technology. The framework also outlines what technology and engineering literacy knowledge and skills students should have to reach NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in a TEL assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ learning experience in and out of the classroom.


Video Gallery: TEL Tutorials and Tasks



How TEL Results Are Reported

Student performance on the NAEP technology and engineering literacy assessment is presented in two ways: scale scores and achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the technology and engineering literacy assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for the nation, states, and districts as well as and groups of students based on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three NAEP achievement levels (e.g., NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced) that are defined in the assessment framework. Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. Note that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).

Item maps illustrate how specific technology and engineering literacy knowledge and skills correspond to different NAEP achievement levels. Item maps answer the question, "What assessment questions were likely to be answered correctly by students performing at the NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement levels?"

How To Interpret TEL Results

Find out how to interpret the results of the TEL assessment, including the potential effects of exclusion on assessment results.

Learn More


Last updated 23 April 2019 (FW)