Two Reports: Digital Divide at home and in school

Posted by on November 7, 2003

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 today by the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

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 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.

To access the report, visit

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 77 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 80 percent of those from families earning more than $75,000.
* White students are more likely than black and Hispanic students to use computers for completing school assignments (58 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.

This report can be downloaded at

Posted by:
Thea Kachoris-Flores
Corporation for National and Community Service

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