- According to new research from data management and learning analytics firm BrightBytes, rural schools are outpacing their urban and suburban counterparts on technology access, eSchool News reports.
- The study's data, gathered from a national survey of 8,558 U.S. schools, compares the top 5% and bottom 5% of schools on classroom use of tech, support for implementation, and student and teacher access at school and at home.
- The data showed rural schools disproportionately filling out the top 5% for tech access at school while suburban schools were unevenly represented in the top 5% for access at home, but the data also show low scores for policies, practices and procedures in schools with high free- or reduced-price lunch student populations.
Access to tech in rural communities has been a significant concern amid the push toward more digital resources in classrooms — especially as high-stakes standardized tests have increasingly gone online. Schools in these locations tend to not only have high low-income populations, but their geography has also hindered schools' access to reliable high-speed internet connections. Some schools and districts in these areas have had to resort to measures like satellite tech, for example, because broadband lines have yet to be installed.
It's not unlikely that those concerns may have led to a greater focus on improving tech access for these students. But administrators must still be sure they focus the right amount of attention to making sure those tools are used most effectively. Low scores on policies, practices and procedures in schools with high numbers of students from low-income families may point to a need for administrators to place more focus on concerns like professional development or students' access to the same tech at home.