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Indicator 6: Computer Use for Schoolwork

In 2015, about 20 percent of 8th-grade public school students reported not using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday, 29 percent reported using a computer for less than 1 hour, 29 percent reported using a computer for 1 to 2 hours, 11 percent reported using a computer for 2 to 3 hours, and 11 percent reported using a computer for more than 3 hours.

The Computer Access and Familiarity Study (CAFS) was designed to measure student access to and familiarity with technology. The CAFS was conducted as part of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and administered to public school students in grades 4, 8, and 12.1

This indicator uses the CAFS to examine the status and the number of hours that 8th-grade public school students reported using a laptop or desktop computer anywhere for schoolwork on a weekday, by selected student or school characteristics. In 2015, about 20 percent of 8th-grade public school students reported not using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday, 29 percent reported using a computer for less than 1 hour, 29 percent reported using a computer for 1 to 2 hours, 11 percent reported using a computer for 2 to 3 hours, and 11 percent reported using a computer for more than 3 hours.


Figure 6.1. Percentage distribution of 8th-grade public school students, by number of hours they spend using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday and selected student and school characteristics: 2015

Figure 6.1. Percentage distribution of 8th-grade public school students, by number of hours they spend using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday and selected student and school characteristics: 2015

‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: American Institutes for Research, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Validity Studies Panel, Initial Tables From the 2015 Computer Access and Familiarity Study. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 218.50.


Among 8th-grade public school students in 2015 who reported not using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday, differences were found by student sex, race/ethnicity, disability status, eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL), and school locale. A higher percentage of 8th-grade males (21 percent) than females (18 percent) reported not using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday. The percentages of 8th-grade students who reported not using a computer were higher for Hispanic (24 percent) and Black students (22 percent) than for White (18 percent) and Asian students (11 percent). In addition, the percentage of White students who reported not using a computer was higher than the percentage for Asian students. The percentage of 8th-grade students who reported not using a computer for schoolwork was higher for students with a disability (25 percent) than for students without a disability (19 percent).

In addition, a higher percentage of students eligible for FRPL (24 percent) reported not using a computer for schoolwork than did students not eligible for FRPL (14 percent). The percentage of students who reported not using a computer for schoolwork also varied based on the locale in which their school was situated (i.e., located in a city, suburb, town, or rural area). A higher percentage of 8th-grade students in rural and city (22 percent each) than in suburban (18 percent) and town schools (17 percent) reported not using a computer for schoolwork.

Among 8th-grade public school students who reported using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday for 1 to 2 hours in 2015, differences were only found by student disability status and school locale. The percentage of 8th-grade students who reported using a computer for schoolwork for 1 to 2 hours was higher for students without a disability (30 percent) than for students with a disability (24 percent). A higher percentage of 8th-grade students in suburban schools (30 percent) than in rural schools (26 percent) reported using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday for 1 to 2 hours.

Few measurable differences were found among 8th-grade public school students who reported using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday for more than 3 hours. The percentage of 8th-grade students who reported using a computer for more than 3 hours was higher for Black students (16 percent) than for White and Hispanic students (10 percent each). A higher percentage of 8th-grade students in suburban schools (12 percent) than in rural schools (10 percent) reported using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday for more than 3 hours.


1 The results for grade 8 students are shown in the figures. The results for grade 4 students are available in reference tables cited at the end of the indicator.



Reference Tables

  • Table 6.1. (Digest table 218.50) Percentage distribution of 8th-grade public school students, by number of hours they spend using a laptop or desktop computer for schoolwork on a weekday and selected student and school characteristics: 2015