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Despite the mass efforts that states have made to secure digital access for students, some states continue to struggle to ensure equity. Related assessment challenges are sure to follow these instructional obstacles, hence the importance of following the discussion.

See article highlights below:

  • Internet connections falter for many students with poor connections.
  • Class time lost during internet disruptions.
  • Depending on a student’s access to reliable internet, the last year of virtual school has ranged from enriching to impossibly discouraging. 
  • Students in poverty were far more likely to lack basic broadband connection at home.
  • Barrier to access was not a lack of internet infrastructure, but affordability.
  • State’s poor and rural areas are an additional challenge in securing reliable connection.
  • California research revealed that hotspots and discount broadband are often unreliable, leading to disruptions in education.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic brought California’s digital divide out of the shadows and to the forefront of public policy.
  • Black and Latino families advocate for equal access to high quality education online.
  • Lawmakers are now calling internet access a basic civil right.
  • “We need to envision being able to provide affordable, reliable internet for all like we provide water and electricity,” said Assembly member Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrance.
  • At stake is the chance to narrow long-standing achievement gaps that got even worse during the pandemic between internet haves and have-nots.
  • “This is just going to have a ripple effect for generations.” – James Olney, Modesto Middle School teacher
  • Representatives from Comcast Corp., one of the largest internet service providers in the state, contended that a lack of digital literacy, lack of interest,  tech skills and devices, as well as language barriers, were more common obstacles than affordability.
  • Efforts to solve California’s digital divide have often focused on funding broadband infrastructure in remote parts of the state.
  • Research finding indicated that low-income consumers tend to be able to afford $10 to $15 per month plans.
  • New York state just capped the cost of broadband at $15 for low-income people. 
  • Researcher also found that low-income plans, usually priced at $10 per month, tend to be so slow that they cost significantly more for each bit of data than do high-speed plans.
  • The pandemic revealed that California’s K-12 digital divide is as much an urban issue as a rural issue and about poverty and connectivity beyond that.

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