Girls Beat Boys in U.S. Test of Technology Literacy

Low proficiency rate on Nation’s Report Card exam concerns educators

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Girls outperformed boys on the first test of “technology and engineering literacy” on the so-called Nation’s Report Card released Tuesday.

While 45% of the girls scored proficient or better, 42% of boys did so. All were eighth-graders who took the test in 2014, the first effort by the National Assessment of Educational Progress to examine how students use technology to solve real-world problems.

The slight gender gap surprised officials who run the tests, partly because girls tend to match or lag behind boys on average in math on the organization’s exams. “We did not expect this pattern,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.

This new test on laptops aimed to assess how U.S. students will fare in a competitive modern world where many careers depend on the ability to innovate. The low proficiency rates concerned educators, though they were higher than 2015 rates for eighth-graders in math and reading in the same federal program.

American teenagers have turned in lackluster performances on one of the biggest international comparisons, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA): In the latest results from 2012, the mean score for American 15-year-olds in science and math fell behind the average for peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The new interactive computer test asked students to solve a range of problems in designing and troubleshooting, generating data and using evidence to justify decisions.