- While a survey from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop found 94% of families possessed some level of internet access and a connected device, 52% reported their broadband service was too slow. Also, as many as 24% had seen services cut off at some point in the previous 12 months from not being able to afford it, according to eSchool News.
- In homes that only have mobile access to the internet, students remain "under-connected," as their families are less likely to go online often and likely do so for fewer things, with those children ages 6-13 less likely to use a device daily, do web-based homework or simply seek information on their interests.
- Students from families with mobile-only access are also more likely to be facing poverty or be English language learners.
With FCC data showing 70% of teachers assign homework that requires the use of the internet, "under-connectedness" is among the latest issues to face students from underserved socioeconomic backgrounds and absolutely must be considered by any school or district making a digital transition. The Cooney Center data shows 33% of families with mobile-only access to the internet living below the poverty line, and administrators must account for this when it comes to questions of whether students can take school-issued devices home and if they'll still be able to access the internet to complete work. That 41% of these families are often immigrants presents yet another obstacle, as these students are also likely English language learners, as well.
While technology offers significant possibilities for improving education, ensuring digital equity has become paramount for school success. It was among the top concerns for former FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who told us in 2015 about the difficulties students in these sorts of households would face in not only completing papers and other homework assignments, but applying for things like college and scholarships, as well.
As schools and districts work to address achievement gaps between low-income students and their affluent peers, it's an issue that simply can't afford to be overlooked.