IT Infrastructure & Management

The Tech Factors Linked to Higher NAEP Scores

By Alyson Klein — November 02, 2022 3 min read
View on laptop of a Black male teacher with a young student sitting at a desk.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Technology access and good learning environments make a difference when it comes to student achievement.

That is a key lesson from the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, which showed across-the-board declines in achievement in reading and math due to the pandemic.

A teacher, a quiet place to study, internet access at home as well as school, all these things, when done right, are going to make a huge impact.

The achievement scores showed that higher-performing students were more likely to have access to laptops or other computing devices, an internet connection, a quiet place to work at home, school supplies, and daily, real-time lessons than lower-performing students, according to teacher survey data released last month alongside student results on the NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

More than half of 4th graders—58 percent, according to the math survey—learned remotely during at least part of the 2020-21 school year. But conditions for learning outside of school were very different for students who scored in the top quartile (the high-performers) than for many of those who scored in the bottom quartile (the low-performers).

The most striking finding: High-performing students were more likely—in some cases, significantly more likely—to participate in real-time virtual lessons with a teacher, every day or almost every day. For instance, nearly three-quarters—71 percent—of high-performing 8th grade math students received those lessons, compared with under half—41 percent—of low-performers.

The differential for 8th grade reading was even more dramatic, with 74 percent of high-performers participating in daily or almost daily virtual lessons, compared with just 39 percent of low-performers.

The percentages were closer for younger students, but still showed significant gaps. Fifty percent of high-performers for 4th grade reading had daily access to real-time virtual lessons, compared with 37 percent of low-performers.

Access to technology, proper learning environments matter

Access to technology also had a significant effect on achievement. For example, for 4th grade math, 80 percent of high-performing students had access to a desktop or laptop computer, or a tablet, all of the time. But just 50 percent of low-performing students could say the same.

Proper learning environments were also a big influence on achievement:

  • 90 percent of high-performing 4th grade math students had a quiet place to work available at least some of the time, compared with 70 percent of low-performing students.
  • 89 percent of high-performers had constant access to school supplies, compared with 61 percent of low-performers.
  • And 87 percent of high-performers had access to an internet connection at least some of the time, compared with 71 percent of low-performers.

Survey results for 4th grade reading, and 8th grade math and reading revealed similar gaps.

Overall, student scores on the NAEP plummeted, revealing the devastating impact of disrupted pandemic learning. Results for students who took the test in spring 2022—the first main NAEP administration for these grades since the pandemic began—show the biggest drop in math performance in 4th and 8th grades since the testing program began in 1990.

It’s obvious that reliable technological tools—and real-time lessons—were essential for effective virtual learning, said Joseph South, the chief learning officer for the International Society for Technology in Education.

It brought to his mind an analogy: a patient who is trying to get substantial meals in liquid form. “If you had a little bit of access [to those tools] then you were sucking your nutrition through a tiny straw,” he said. “If you had a lot of access, it was like drinking out of a giant glass. If you got no access, then you weren’t getting any nutrition at all.”

That analogy will continue to be true, South emphasized, as schools move to a more-digital model of delivering instruction. “A teacher, a quiet place to study, internet access at home as well as school, all these things, when done right, are going to make a huge impact,” he said.


School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure & Management Ed-Tech Companies Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks. A New Federal Effort Wants to Help
The Education Department is teaming up with a top research university to stem a wave of cyberattacks on schools.
4 min read
Image of lock on binary code background.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management Leader To Learn From Through Wars, Tornadoes, and Cyberattacks, He's a Guardian of Student Privacy
Jun Kim, the technology director in Moore, Okla., works to make the most of innovations—without endangering student data.
11 min read
Jun Kim, Director of Technology for Moore Public Schools, center, leads a data privacy review meeting on Dec. 13, 2023 in Moore, Okla.
Jun Kim, director of technology for the Moore public schools in Moore, Okla., leads a data privacy review for staff.
Brett Deering for Education Week
IT Infrastructure & Management One Solution to Maintaining 1-to-1 Devices? Pay Students to Repair Them
Hiring students to help with the repair process is one way school districts are ensuring the sustainability of their 1-to-1 programs.
4 min read
Sawyer Wendt, a student intern for the Altoona school district’s IT department, repairs a Chromebook.
Sawyer Wendt, who's been a student intern for the Altoona district's tech department since junior year, is now studying IT software development in college.
Courtesy of Jevin Stangel, IT technician for the Altoona school district
IT Infrastructure & Management Schools Get Relief on Chromebook Replacements. Google Extends Device Support to 10 Years
Schools have typically had to replace Chromebooks every three to five years.
4 min read
Photo of teacher working with student on laptop computer.
iStock / Getty Images Plus