Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom
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Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom


Home internet access is a critical tool for
supporting educational activities at school. But gaps in student access persist. A new report from the National Center for
Education Statistics explores the latest data on student internet access by geographic
locale and poverty status. The report looks at differences in the percentages
of 5- to 17-year-olds with home internet access in 2015. Students access the Internet from home through different methods. Fixed broadband includes DSL, cable modem, fiber-optic cable, and satellite internet service. Mobile broadband includes cell phone plans. “Without a subscription” includes
individuals living in a place that provides free internet services for its residents. “Finally, some homes have no access or
only dial-up access”. About 78 percent of students had access to the Internet at home in 2015 through fixed broadband, 7 percent had access through mobile broadband,
4 percent had access without a subscription, and 11 percent of students had no access to
the Internet or only dial-up access. The percentage of students with different
types of internet access or no internet access at home varied by poverty status. Students below the poverty threshold had lower
levels of access to fixed broadband than students above the poverty threshold. A higher percentage of students in poverty
also had no access or only dial-up access. Student access also varied by where they live. The percentage of students with fixed broadband access at home was highest for students in suburban areas, followed by students in cities. Students in towns and rural areas had lower
levels of broadband access. A higher percentage of students in towns,
rural areas, and cities reported having no internet access or only dial-up access at home compared to students in the suburbs. A higher percentage of students living in
the most remote rural areas had no internet access or only dial up. In these remote rural areas, 18% of students
reported no access or only dial up. If we focus only on students below the poverty level, we see that the percentage with fixed
broadband access at home was highest for students in suburban areas, followed by students in cities, then students in towns, and was lowest for students in rural areas. The percentage of low-income students with
no access or only dial up ranges from 22 in the suburbs to
30 percent in rural areas. And in remote rural areas, 35 percent of low
income students had no internet access or only dial up. The percentage of students living in poverty
with no internet or dial-up only access was higher for students living in remote rural areas
than for those living in all other locales. These data show that student internet access
is a challenge for families living in poverty in many types of communities across the country, and that students in more remote rural areas
face additional challenges. You can learn more about student internet
access by visiting nces.ed.gov to read the full report and explore data for your state.

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