Internet Access Soars in Schools,
But "Digital Divide"
Still Exists at Home for Minority and Poor Students
Two New Reports Look at Computer
and Internet Use in Education
November 3, 2003
Tuesday - 1:00 am
While public schools have made huge improvements in providing
computer and Internet access, minority and poor students lack
computer access outside of regular school hours, according to
two new reports released last week by the National Center for
Education Statistics in the department's Institute of Education
"The pace of technological
change is truly astounding and has left no area of our lives
untouched, including schools," said U.S. Secretary of Education
Rod Paige. "These reports are good news and show how much
progress has been made in connecting nearly every school in the
nation to the Internet. But there are still big differences in
home computer use that need to be addressed before we can declare
the digital divide closed.
"We need to address the
limited access to technology that many students have outside
of school. There is much more we can do. Closing the digital
divide will also help close the achievement gap that exists within
The No Child Left Behind Act
continues to support enhancing education through technology and
helps to support those students who need it most. Approximately
$700 million has been appropriated for educational technology
programs in 2002 and 2003.
The first report, "Internet
Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2002,"
is an annual department survey conducted to report on the availability
and use of technology in schools. Among its findings:
- In 1994, 3 percent of classrooms
in U.S. public schools had access to the Internet; in the fall
of 2002, 92 percent had Internet access; in 1994, 35 percent
of schools had access; and in fall 2002, 99 percent had access.
- In 2002, the ratio of students
to instructional computers with Internet access in public schools
was 4.8 to 1, an improvement from the 12 to 1 ratio in 1998 when
it was first measured.
- In 2002, the ratio of students
to instructional computers with Internet access was higher in
schools with the highest poverty concentration than in schools
with the lowest. Despite this gap, in schools with the highest
poverty concentration, the ratio improved from 6.8 students per
computer in 2001 to 5.5 in 2002.
- In 2002, 53 percent of public
schools with access to the Internet reported that they made computers
available to students outside of regular hours (96 percent after
school, 74 percent before school, 6 percent on weekends).
- Eighty-six percent of public
schools reported that they had a Web site or Web page (75 percent
- Eighty-seven percent of public
schools with Internet access indicated that their school or school
district had offered professional development to teachers in
the schools to help them integrate the use of the Internet into
the curriculum in the 12 months prior to the survey.
- Schools used various means
to control student access to inappropriate material on the Internet.
Ninety-six percent used blocking software, 91 percent reported
that teachers monitored students' access, 82 percent had a written
agreement that parents have to sign, 77 percent had contracts
that the students had to sign, 41 percent had honor codes and
32 percent allowed access only to an intranet.
The second report, "Computer
and Internet Use by Children and Adolescents in 2001,"
shows that computer and Internet access has become an important
component of schoolwork, but that a digital divide still exists:
- Many children use technology
to complete school work: 44 percent use computers and 42 percent
use the Internet for their assignments
- The digital divide still exists
in homes: 41 percent of blacks and Hispanics use a computer at
home compared to 77 percent of whites.
- Only 31 percent of students
from families earning less than $20,000 use computers at home,
compared to 89 percent of those from families earning more than
- White students are more likely
than black and Hispanic students to use home computers for completing
school assignments (52 percent vs. 28 percent vs. 27 percent).
- However, racial and ethnic
differences in the use of computers seem largely to be a function
of home access. No significant differences in usage to complete
homework assignments were detected between racial/ethnic groups
who had computer access at home.
Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools
and Classrooms: 1994-2002
Computer and Internet Use by Children
and Adolescents in 2001
Source of News Release:
U.S. Department of Education
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