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Indicator 8: Access to Computers and the Internet: International Comparisons

In 2015, the percentage of eighth-graders in the United States who had access to their own or a shared computer at home (97 percent) was 4 percentage points higher than the international average. The percentage of eighth-graders in the United States who had access to an internet connection at home (95 percent) was 8 percentage points higher than the international average.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international data collection conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). While the main purpose of this data collection is to assess students' performance in mathematics and science across countries, TIMSS also collects information on the educational context in each participating country. In 2015, the eighth-grade TIMSS assessment was administered in 38 participating countries and educational systems.1 Thirty-seven of these countries or other education systems are included in this analysis.2 This indicator uses data from TIMSS 2015 to examine differences across countries in eighth-graders' access to computers (including tablets) and the Internet both at home and during mathematics and science lessons at school.


Figure 8.1. Percentage of eighth-graders who had access to their own or a shared computer or tablet at home, by country or other education system: 2015

Figure 8.1. Percentage of eighth-graders who had access to their own or a shared computer or tablet at home, by country or other education system: 2015

1 Most of the education systems represent complete countries, but some represent subnational entities.
2 Norway collected data from students in their ninth year of schooling rather than in grade 8 because year 1 in Norway is considered the equivalent of kindergarten rather than the first year of primary school.
3 Data for Canada include only students from the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Quebec.
4 National Target Population does not include all of the International Target Population as defined by TIMSS.
5 Met guidelines for sample participation rates only after replacement schools were included.
6 National Defined Population covers 90 to 95 percent of National Target Population as defined by TIMSS.
7 National Defined Population covers less than 90 percent of the National Target Population (but at least 77 percent) as defined by TIMSS.
8 The international average includes only education systems that are members of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which develops and implements TIMSS at the international level.
NOTE: Countries and other education systems were required to draw probability samples of students who were nearing the end of their eighth year of formal schooling (counting the first year of primary school as year 1), provided that the mean age at the time of testing was at least 13.5 years. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 602.32a.


In 2015, the percentage of eighth-graders who had access to their own or a shared computer at home varied across countries. The percentage of eighth-graders who had access to a computer at home ranged from 70 percent in Morocco to 99 percent in England, Sweden, Malta, and Norway. Some 97 percent of eighth-graders in the United States had access to a computer at home, which was 4 percentage points higher than the international average (92 percent). However, 11 countries reported percentages of eighth-graders with access to a computer at home that were higher than the corresponding percentage in the United States. In contrast, the percentage of eighth-graders with access to a computer at home was lower than the U.S. percentage in 16 countries. In 9 countries, the percentage of eighth-graders with access to their own or a shared computer at home was not measurably different from the corresponding percentage in the United States.


Figure 8.2. Percentage of eighth-graders who had access to an internet connection at home, by country or other education system: 2015

Figure 8.2. Percentage of eighth-graders who had access to an internet connection at home, by country or other education system: 2015

1 Most of the education systems represent complete countries, but some represent subnational entities.
2 Norway collected data from students in their ninth year of schooling rather than in grade 8 because year 1 in Norway is considered the equivalent of kindergarten rather than the first year of primary school.
3 Data for Canada include only students from the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Quebec.
4 National Target Population does not include all of the International Target Population as defined by TIMSS.
5 Met guidelines for sample participation rates only after replacement schools were included.
6 National Defined Population covers 90 to 95 percent of National Target Population as defined by TIMSS.
7 National Defined Population covers less than 90 percent of the National Target Population (but at least 77 percent) as defined by TIMSS.
8 The international average includes only education systems that are members of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which develops and implements TIMSS at the international level.
NOTE: Countries and other education systems were required to draw probability samples of students who were nearing the end of their eighth year of formal schooling (counting the first year of primary school as year 1), provided that the mean age at the time of testing was at least 13.5 years. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 602.32a.


In 2015, the percentage of eighth-graders who had access to an internet connection at home varied more widely across countries than the percentage who had access to a computer at home. The percentage of eighth-graders who had access to an internet connection at home ranged from 44 percent in Morocco to 99 percent in Norway, Malta, Slovenia, Sweden, and England. In the United States, 95 percent of eighth-graders had access to an internet connection at home, which was 8 percentage points higher than the international average (87 percent). However, 10 countries reported percentages of eighth-graders with access to an internet connection at home that were higher than the corresponding percentage in the United States. In contrast, 17 countries reported percentages of eighth-graders with access to an internet connection at home that were lower than the corresponding percentage in the United States, and 9 countries reported percentages that were not measurably different. In 6 countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Morocco) less than 70 percent of eighth-graders had access to an internet connection at home.

In addition to the variation observed across countries among eighth-graders' access to computers and the Internet at home, differences were also observed across countries in eighth-graders' access to computers during mathematics and science lessons at school.3 The percentage of eighth-graders who had access to computers during mathematics lessons at school in 2015 ranged from 4 percent in Malta to 65 percent in Sweden. Some 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States had access to computers during mathematics lessons at school, which was not measurably different than the international average (33 percent). The percentage of eighth-graders in the United States who had access to computers during mathematics lessons at school was higher than the corresponding percentage in 12 countries and was not measurably different from the percentages in 21 countries. Only 3 countries (Sweden, Australia, and Kazakhstan) reported higher percentages of eighth-graders with access to computers during mathematics lessons at school than in the United States. 

The percentage of eighth-graders who had access to computers during science lessons at school in 2015 varied more widely across countries than the percentage of eighth-graders who had access to computers during mathematics lessons. The percentage of eighth-graders who had access to computers during science lessons at school in 2015 ranged from 7 percent in Malta to 80 percent in Sweden. Some 51 percent of eighth-graders in the United States had access to computers during science lessons at school, which was not measurably different than the international average (44 percent). The percentage of eighth-graders in the United States who had access to computers during science lessons at school was higher than the corresponding percentage in 10 countries and was not measurably different from the percentages in 22 countries. Only 4 countries (Sweden, Kazakhstan, Australia, and the Russian Federation) reported higher percentages of eighth-graders with access to computers during science lessons at school than in the United States. 


1 Most of the education systems represent complete countries, but some represent subnational entities.
2 Armenia participated in the eighth-grade assessment, but its data were not included in the International Database. As a result, Armenia is not included in this analysis.
3 Data on access to computers at school were based on teacher reports.



Reference Tables

  • Table 8.1. (Digest table 602.32a) Average mathematics score and percentage of eighth-graders, by access to the Internet at home, access to a computer or tablet at home or other place outside of school, frequency of computer or tablet use for schoolwork outside of school, and country or other education system: 2015
  • Table 8.2. (Digest table 602.32b) Average mathematics score and percentage of eighth-graders, by mathematics teachers' reports of student access to computers and frequency of computer use during mathematics lessons and country or other education system: 2015
  • Table 8.3. (Digest table 602.33b) Average science score and percentage of eighth-graders, by science teachers' reports of student access to computers and frequency of computer use during science lessons and country or other education system: 2015