The Tech Divide

Across the country 63% of schools don’t have broadband speeds required for digital learning and online standardized tests. Schools in rural and low-income areas often have the problem of administering 21st century learning in a 20th century classroom. Some schools test their students in small groups limited by the minimal tech and broadband capacity available to them. Even then students are can be regularly logged offline from a lack of bandwidth while learning or taking tests. Other students are bussed to schools with better connectivity for testing.

Fortunately the Federal Communications Commission approved a $1.5 billion spending cap increase for broadband and wifi in schools last year. In addition, there are state grants linked to Common Core implementation and collaborations with tech and business leaders to help close the gap.

The shift to online testing has revealed how wide the digital divide is between rural and low-income students and their more affluent peers. Students who don’t have computers or Internet at home are at a often at a disadvantage because they have less time and familiarity with computers in an education landscape where computer and technology are paramount. The current tests gauge more than the ability to bubble in the correct answer. They can test more skills and students can be asked to demonstrate abstract concepts, approach questions with more creativity, or how they would conduct a science experiment.

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