After delineating the major rationale for computer education, data are presented from Stage 1 of the IEA Computers in Education Study showing international comparisons that may reflect differential priorities. Rapid technological change and the lack of consensus on goals of computer education impedes the establishment of stable curricula for ¿general computer education¿ or computer literacy. In this context the construction of instruments for student assessment remains a challenge. Seeking to anticipate and measure what educators will view as the essential computer-related abilities for students in the mid-1990s, the second stage of the IEA Computers in Education Study developed a student assessment instrument grounded in the perspective of ¿functionality,¿ student prerequisites to functioning effectively with practical information-related tasks. The threat of test obsolescence as well as philosophical differences among the experts in their goals for general computer education challenged traditional test construction procedures. The resulting content objectives and test procedures can serve as guideposts for research and planning in computer education.