Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

(Photo: audio luci store via Flickr)

Unequal Internet Access "Widening the Gap" Between Rich and Poor Students

A new survey by the Pew Research Institute found that students from low income households are at a "disadvantage" when it comes to technology in the classroom

Lauren McCauley

As many schools are racing to adopt the latest technologies—tablets, e-readers, cell phones—in their classrooms, low income students and poorly funded school districts are being left in the dust. A survey of middle and high school teachers released Thursday found that the growing gap in internet access between rich and poor students is leading to increasingly troubling disparities in education.

Published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the survey found that only 3 percent of students in low income families have access to the internet at home through a computer or mobile device; the number rises to 20 percent for middle income children and half for those in higher income families.

According to the report, teachers in urban areas are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to digital tools in school, compared to rural teachers who are least likely to say their students have sufficient access at home.

The respondents admitted that this growing disparity in access is leading to a gap in performance, with over half saying that "today's digital technologies are widening the gap between the most and least academically successful students."

“Teachers whose students come from the lowest income households feel they are at a disadvantage,” said Associate Director of Research, Kristen Purcell.

Other findings include:

  • About seven in 10 teachers say their students now rely on the Internet to complete their assignments
  • Teachers of low income students, however, are much less likely than teachers of the highest income students to use tablet computers (37% v. 56%) or e-readers (41% v. 55%) in their classrooms and assignments
  • Just 15% of [...] teachers whose students are from upper income households say their school is “behind the curve” in effectively using digital tools in the learning process; 39% who teach students from low income households describe their school as “behind the curve”

Educators from low income schools were also least likely to say that their schools did a "good job" providing the digital resources needed or that they received proper training in the new technologies.

_____________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Greenhouse Gases Trapped Nearly 50% More Heat Last Year Than in 1990: NOAA

"Getting hot in here," said one climate campaigner. "Gotta get congressmen and senators to do more midday outdoor events in their dark suits."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Perverse' Supreme Court Ruling 'Effectively Ensures That Innocent People Will Remain Imprisoned'

"This is radical. This is horrifying. This is extremely scary," said one public defender.

Jessica Corbett ·


Arizona, West Virginia Residents Risk Arrest to Demand End to Filibuster

"Our democracy is on life support," said campaigners. "There's no time to ask nicely."

Julia Conley ·


Campaign Launches 'Summer of Action' to Protect Medicare From Stealth Privatization

Medicare "is under threat today from the constant efforts of private insurance companies and for-profit investors who want to privatize it and turn it into yet another shameful opportunity to make money," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kenny Stancil ·


Florida Student's Graduation Speech About Curly Hair Highlights Cruelty of 'Don't Say Gay' Law

Having to use a euphemism to discuss his identity "was a really dehumanizing decision," said Zander Moricz. "I just had to be clever about it—but I shouldn't have had to be."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo