Study – As schools close due to the coronavirus, some U.S. students face a digital ‘homework gap’

A recent study by Pew Research Center indicates some students do not have reliable access to the internet at home, therefore creating a ‘homework gap.’

According to the results of the study published by Pew Research Center on March 16th, 2020, the majority of eighth-grade students in the United States rely on the internet at home to get their homework done with 58% saying they use the internet to do their homework every day or almost every day, 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Researchers identified that roughly two-thirds of students attending suburban schools (65%) say they use the internet for homework every day or almost every day, compared with 58% who attend schools in cities, 50% of those who attend in rural areas and 44% of those attending schools in towns.

Students whose parents graduated from college are more likely to use the internet for homework at home. Some 62% of these students use the internet at home for homework, compared with smaller shares of students whose parents have some post-high school education (53%), have only a high school education (52%) or have no high school education (48%).

Researchers indicated that the ‘homework gap’ refers to school-age children lacking the connectivity they need to complete school at home. They noted this gap is more pronounced for black, Hispanic, and lower-income households with around 15% of U.S. households with school-age children lacking access to a high-speed internet connection at home.

Roughly one-third (35%) of households with children ages 6 to 17 and an annual income below $30,000 a year do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, compared with just 6% of such households earning $75,000 or more a year. These broadband gaps are particularly pronounced in black and Hispanic households with school-age children – especially those with low incomes.

Additional key findings include:

  • Some lower-income teens say they lack resources to complete schoolwork at home with one-in-five indicating they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection.
  • A quarter of lower-income teens do not have access to a home computer. This would include those in households with an annual income under $30,000.
Read the full report here.

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