Schools have helped fill gaps in students’ access to computers but not access to the internet
Washington, DC, Feb. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Lower-income K–12 students are less likely than higher-income students to have access to the technology they need for virtual learning, and they have less frequent live contact with their teachers as a result. In the fall, 21% of households with incomes under $25,000 reported that their children had no live contact—whether in person, by phone, or by video—with their teachers in the past seven days, compared to 11% of households with incomes over $200,000. A new analysis from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), Virtual Learning Is Not Child’s Play for K–12 Students, finds that students’ access to computers for educational purposes has improved as the pandemic continues, but their internet access has remained largely the same.
More than 70% of households with K–12 students shifted to some form of online learning during the pandemic. But low-income students in particular do not always have the resources they need for distance learning. In the fall, among households with incomes below $25,000, 61% reported that computers were always available for educational purposes, and 55% reported that the internet was always available. By contrast, about 90% of households with incomes above $200,000 reported always having access to computers and the internet.
“The pandemic is a setback for low-income students not just when it comes to their K–12 education, but possibly for their chances of going to college and eventually entering the middle class,” lead author and CEW Director Anthony P. Carnevale said.
As the pandemic continues, more households with K–12 students have reported having access to computers for educational purposes, with an increase from 70% of households reporting always having access in the spring to 78% of households reporting the same in the fall. At the same time, however, internet access has improved only slightly, with 74% of households reporting always having internet access in the spring, compared to 75% in the fall.
While schools and school districts have helped fill gaps in students’ access to computers, children have mostly been left to rely on their households for internet access. By the fall, schools were providing computers to 65% of households with K–12 students, compared to 39% of households in the spring. However, schools provided internet access to only 4% of households with K–12 students in the fall, compared to 2% of households in the spring.
“Schools have stepped in to help provide students with computers, but lack of internet access remains a significant barrier to virtual learning for many low-income students,” said Megan Fasules, analysis author and CEW assistant research professor and research economist.
To view the full analysis, visit https://bit.ly/3acB1VI.
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