U.S. eighth-graders scored above the international average for computer and information literacy, but they also struggle with some key 21st-century employability skills, according to an international study.
The International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) measures eighth-graders’ ability to use computers to investigate, create, participate, and communicate at home, at school, in their future workplace, and in their communities. The 2018 study’s results were released in the United States by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), marking the first time that U.S. ICILS data are available.
“The study shows that the idea of the ‘digital native’ is more myth than reality,” says Peggy G. Carr, associate commissioner for assessment at NCES. “Today’s eighth-graders were raised in a world in which computers and smartphones are commonplace, but the majority of them were unable to execute basic tasks independently. Clearly, we have work to do to ensure that our students are prepared to use digital devices to successfully navigate all aspects of life.”
While 90 percent of U.S. students demonstrated a functional working knowledge of computers as tools and were able to complete simple tasks, such as opening a link in a new browser tab, an alarmingly smaller group–25 percent of U.S. eighth-graders–was able to independently use computers as tools (such as for gathering information or managing work) and successfully distinguish the reliability of web-based information. The assessment found that girls in the U.S. and internationally scored higher than boys in computer information literacy.