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Report: Digital Divide Rooted in Home Computer Ownership

Report: Digital Divide Rooted in Home Computer OwnershipWASHINGTON
While public schools have made significant gains 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 month by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the U.S. Department 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 Roderick Paige. “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 exist within our schools.”
The first 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 a digital divide still exists:
• Many children use technology to complete schoolwork: Forty-four percent use computers, and 42 percent use the Internet for their assignments.
• The digital divide still exists in homes: Forty-one percent of Blacks and Hispanics use a computer at home compared to 77 percent of Whites.
• Income divide related to digital divide: 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 $75,000.
• Racial disparities in computer ownership: 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).
The second 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.
• Eighty-six percent of public schools reported that they had a Web site or Web page (75 percent in 2001).
• 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.
To access the reports, visit

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