February 25, 2008 12:00 ET

ETS Releases ICT Literacy Standards for the iSkills™ Assessment

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - February 25, 2008) - Educational Testing Service (ETS), the world's leading educational measurement and research organization, today announced the release of "Setting Standards on the Core and Advanced iSkills™ Assessments," a comprehensive report that documents the information and communications technology (ICT) literacy standards for the Core and Advanced ETS iSkills assessments.

ICT literacy is defined as the skillful use of information within digital environments.

The ETS iSkills assessment is one of the most widely used ICT literacy assessments for college level students. Rather than testing knowledge of particular software packages, the iSkills assessment tests the kind of higher-order problem solving and critical thinking skills needed to use digital technology to solve real-world information problems.

"Our clients can confirm the power and necessity of a tool like iSkills," explains Stephen Denis, iSkills Product Manager. "While today's students are part of a technology-savvy generation, they often lack the basic ICT skills that are increasingly so important for success in college and in today's workforce. The iSkills assessment gives schools the important data necessary to evaluate the ICT literacy of their students."

"The iSkills assessment has become an essential tool to measure the ICT literacy of our students," says Carol A. Weideman, Ph.D., Director, Institutional Research & Effectiveness at St. Petersburg College. "Today, students must show they have the necessary ICT skills to meet the demands of advanced course work and to compete in the job market. With the iSkills cut scores, we have a clear benchmark for ICT literacy that we can utilize to see how our students stack-up."

In February 2007, the National ICT Literacy Policy Council met in Washington, D.C., to draft definitions of expected ICT literacy for students entering college and for college students beginning advanced course work. These definitions represent the 'foundational' level of ICT literacy or what is minimally expected of first and third-year college students.

With a mandate to have test scores that correspond to the these fundamental ICT definitions, ETS researchers designed and conducted a standard-setting study in July 2007, from which cut scores, or minimal ICT literacy scores, were drawn for its iSkills Core and Advanced assessments based on recommendations from a panel of independent experts.

The standard-setting panelists included 18 secondary and post-secondary educators selected through recommendations from the National ICT Literacy Policy Council, the National Forum for Information Literacy, and the American Association of School Librarians.

When the panel-recommended cut scores were considered in relation to the scores of 2,600 students who had taken the assessments in 2006 and early 2007, only 25 percent of students entering a community or technical college met the Core foundational level; and less than 40 percent of 4-year college freshmen met this level based on their iSkills scores. Among the more than 2,000 students moving to upper-level coursework, only 27 percent met the intermediate foundational level for the Advanced iSkills assessment.

"These results are consistent with prior results and with faculty experience that a large number of students may not have the ICT literacy skills needed to be competitive in educational and workforce settings," says Richard Tannenbaum, Ph.D., standard-setting report co-author and ETS Research Director.

"Because the National ICT Literacy Policy Council intended the foundational ICT literacy level to represent what is needed to build upon in college, not reaching this level puts a student at risk of not being able to meet the research and communication challenges of college," says Irvin R. Katz, Ph.D., research lead for the iSkills assessment and standard-setting report co-author.

"Having scores on the iSkills assessment that correspond to these foundational levels allow students to determine the likelihood that they possess ICT literacy skills at a foundational level and, if not, alert them early that they should seek further instruction," says Katz. "Furthermore, with cut scores, the iSkills assessment can be used by schools to determine if students possess the basic ICT literacy skills for certain courses, or it can be used as a general student body assessment to conclude which students need remediation."

To review the "Setting Standards on the Core and Advanced iSkills Assessments" report visit

To learn more about how the iSkills assessment can help assess student ICT skills visit, or contact Stephen Denis, Product Manager, iSkills, at 609-683-2330 or by e-mail,

About ETS

ETS, a nonprofit organization, celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. ETS today develops, administers and scores more than 50 million assessments in over 180 countries, at more than 9,000 locations worldwide. Additional information is available at

Contact Information

  • ETS Contact:
    Mark McNutt
    (609) 683-2058