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May 20, 2002

Professor leads effort for international 'techno-literacy' testing

Barbara O'ConnorA California State University, Sacramento professor recently led an international group of experts to complete work that will ultimately lead to testing of students in 31 nations for "technology literacy." The tests will be much like current international tests that compare students in math and science competency.

Barbara O'Connor, a CSUS professor of communications, chaired the group's 14-month effort for the Educational Testing Service, which has developed widely used tests such as the SAT and the Graduate Record Examinations.

O'Connor is excited about the work because, she says, "Technology has become a central feature in our lives, and we need to be able to measure how competent our citizens are in its use."

The group's report was presented to enthusiastic ETS officials and industry representatives earlier this month.

Among other things, the report defined technology literacy and provided a framework for designing the new test. The report says worldwide testing for technology literacy is key to helping governments, schools and other groups address technological shortcomings in their countries. That's important, the report says, because citizens in an increasingly technological world are essentially illiterate without technology-based skills and abilities.

ETS can now begin developing test instruments, and the company expects to begin administering the test by 2004.

O'Connor may be contacted at (916) 278-6415 or Additional media assistance is available by contacting the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.


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