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Indicator 16: Mathematics Scores by Computer Use and Internet Access at Home

In 2015, the average 8th-grade NAEP mathematics scale score was higher for 8th-grade students who used a computer at home (285) than for those who did not use a computer at home (262). Similarly, the average mathematics scale score was higher for 8th-grade students who had access to the Internet at home (284) than for those who did not have access to the Internet at home (261).

Using data collected from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics administration, this indicator describes associations between students' computer use and internet access at home and their mathematics assessment scores. Achievement gaps between those who reported using a computer at home/having access to the Internet at home and those who did not could be influenced by other factors, including socioeconomic background characteristics such as parents' educational attainment and family income.1 NAEP assesses student performance in mathematics at grades 4, 8, and 12 in both public and private schools across the nation.2 NAEP mathematics assessments have been administered periodically since 1992; the most recent were administered in 2015. The 2015 NAEP mathematics assessment was administered in a paper-and-pencil format. In addition to the assessment, NAEP includes a student questionnaire to provide context for student performance. The NAEP student questionnaire includes questions on demographics, as well as questions about students' use of computers and access to the Internet at home.

In 2015, average mathematics scale scores varied according to whether students reported that they used a computer at home and whether they had access to the Internet at home. Differences were observed at grades 4 and 8, as well as across various student and school characteristics, including sex, racial/ethnic group, English language learner (ELL) status, school poverty status,3 and school locale. NAEP mathematics scores range from 0 to 500 for both grade levels.4

On the 2015 mathematics assessment, students who used a computer at home scored higher than those who did not use a computer at home. The average 8th-grade mathematics scale score was 285 for students who used a computer at home, compared with 262 for those who did not use a computer at home. The average 4th-grade mathematics scale score was 243 for students who used a computer at home, compared with 230 for those who did not use a computer at home. This pattern was consistently observed across student and school characteristics. For example, the average 8th-grade mathematics scale scores for students who used a computer at home and for those who did not were 287 vs. 265 for non-ELL students, and 249 vs. 239 for ELL students. Similarly, the average 8th-grade mathematics scale scores for students who used a computer at home and for those who did not were 302 vs. 275 for students in low-poverty schools and 266 vs. 256 for students in high-poverty schools.


Figure 16.1. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 8th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics and computer use at home: 2015

Figure 16.1. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 8th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics and computer use at home: 2015

NOTE: Scale ranges from 0 to 500. Includes students tested in mathematics with accommodations (12 percent of all 8th-graders); excludes only those students with disabilities and English language learners who were unable to be tested even with accommodations (2 percent of all 8th-graders). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2015 Mathematics Assessment, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 222.45.


Although students who used a computer at home consistently scored higher on the 2015 mathematics assessment than those who did not use a computer at home, the size of differences between those who reported using a computer at home and those who did not varied by racial/ethnic group, ELL status, and school poverty status. For example, the mathematics score difference between 8th-grade students who used a computer at home and those who did not was larger for White students (22 points) than for Hispanic students (14 points) and Black students (10 points). The score difference was also larger for non-ELL 8th-graders than for ELL 8th-graders (22 points vs. 10 points), and larger for those in low-poverty schools than for those in high-poverty schools (27 points vs. 10 points). Similar patterns in mathematics score differences relating to home computer use by racial/ethnic group, ELL status, and school poverty status were observed at grade 4. Differences in mathematics scores associated with whether students used a computer at home differed by school locale: Among 8th-grade students, the mathematics score difference was largest for students in suburban schools (26 points), followed by those in city schools (23 points), and smallest for those in rural (18 points) and town schools (16 points). However, the 4th-grade mathematics score differences relating to home computer use were not measurably different between 4th-grade students in suburban schools (15 points) and their counterparts in city schools (13 points). The score difference between 4th-grade students who had a computer at home and those who did not was higher among students in suburban (15 points) and city (13 points) schools than among students in rural and town schools (9 points each).


Figure 16.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 8th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics and internet access at home: 2015

Figure 16.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 8th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics and internet access at home: 2015

NOTE: "Access to the Internet" was one item on a list preceded by the question "Do you have the following in your home?" For each item, students could either select "Yes" or leave the item blank. Students who left the "access to the Internet" item blank are counted as having no internet access at home. Scale ranges from 0 to 500. Includes students tested in mathematics with accommodations (12 percent of all 8th-graders); excludes only those students with disabilities and English language learners who were unable to be tested even with accommodations (2 percent of all 8th-graders). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2015 Mathematics Assessment, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 222.45.


At both grade 4 and grade 8, average 2015 mathematics scale scores were higher for students who reported that they had access to the Internet at home than for those who did not. Specifically, the average mathematics score was 284 for 8th-grade students who had access to the Internet at home, compared with 261 for those who did not have access. The average 4th-grade mathematics scale score was 244 for students who had access to the Internet at home, compared with 222 for those who did not have access to the Internet at home. This pattern was consistently observed across student and school characteristics. For example, the average 8th-grade mathematics scale scores for students who had access to the Internet at home and those who did not were 284 vs. 260 for male students, and 284 vs. 262 for female students. Similarly, the average 8th-grade mathematics scale scores for students who had access to the Internet at home and for those who did not were 281 vs. 252 for students in city schools, 288 vs. 263 for students in suburban schools, 280 vs. 267 for students in town schools, and 284 vs. 265 for students in rural schools.

The size of differences in mathematics scale scores between those who had access to the Internet at home and those who did not varied by student and school characteristics. For example, among 8th-grade students the mathematics score difference associated with whether students had home internet access was higher for male students (25 points) than for female students (22 points); and the score difference was higher for non-ELL students (21 points) than for ELL students (16 points). In addition, this score difference was largest for 8th-graders in city schools (28 points), followed by the difference for those in suburban schools (24 points) and rural schools (19 points), and smallest for those in town schools (14 points). However, mathematics score differences between those who had access to the Internet at home and those who did not were not measurably different among White, Black, and Hispanic 8th-graders. In addition, differences in mathematics scores for 8th-graders associated with home internet access were not measurably different by school poverty status. At grade 4, the mathematics score difference between those who had access to the Internet at home and those who did not was larger for non-ELL 4th-graders (20 points) than for ELL 4th-graders (15 points), and larger for 4th-graders in low-poverty schools (19 points) than for those in high-poverty schools (16 points). In addition, this score difference was larger for 4th-graders in city schools and suburban schools (24 points each) than for those in town (17 points) and rural schools (16 points). However, the score differences between those who had access to the Internet at home and those who did not were not measurably different between male and female students or between White, Black, and Hispanic students.


1 Associations between socioeconomic characteristics and DLR access are presented in Section 1 of this report.
2 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.
3 In this indicator, low-poverty schools are those with 025 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and high-poverty schools are those with 76100 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. For more discussions on using free or reduced-price lunch data as a proxy for poverty, see the NCES blog "Free or reduced-price lunch: A proxy for poverty?".
4 While the scale is cross-grade, the skills tested and the material on the test increase in complexity and difficulty at each higher grade level, so different things are measured at the different grades even though a progression is implied.



Reference Tables

  • Table 16.1. (Digest table 222.45) Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale score and percentage distribution of 4th- and 8th-graders, by computer use and internet access at home and other selected characteristics: 2015