Sheer Access to Tech a Big Part of Learning Loss
- By Dian Schaffhauser
big part of the "learning loss" being identified for K-12
students is due to family income. They can't afford the technology
required for continuous access to classes, teachers and study
resources. A recent analysis found that while more than nine in 10
students (92 percent) in families with household incomes of $200,000
or more always had a computer available for schooling, it was true
for only six in 10 students (61 percent) in families with incomes of
less than $25,000. For daily internet access, the gap was bigger.
While 90 percent of students with household incomes of $200,000 or
higher always had internet available for schooling, just 55 percent
of students in those low-income households did.
K–12 students also had less frequent live contact with their
teachers. In the fall, 21 percent of households with incomes under
$25,000 reported that their children had experienced no live
contact--whether in person or by phone or video--with their teachers
in the previous seven days, compared to 11 percent of students in
households with incomes over $200,000.
research was done at the Georgetown
University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW)
and reported in "Virtual
Learning Is Not Child's Play for K–12 Students."
study also found that more households with K–12 students reported
having access to computers for educational purposes, with an increase
from 70 percent of households reporting always having access in the
spring (between April 23 and May 5) to 78 percent of households
reporting the same in the fall (between November 24 and December 7).
At the same time, however, internet access improved only slightly,
with 74 percent of households reporting always having internet access
in the spring, compared to 75 percent in the fall.
many more households were able to get a computer from their students'
school or district than internet access. While 39 percent of families
had received school-supplied computers in the spring, that had grown
to 65 percent by the fall. Yet, while just two percent of families
had school-paid internet in the spring, that had risen to just four
percent during the fall.
CEW Director Anthony Carnevale and Megan Fasules, CEW assistant
research professor and research economist, suggested that the gaps in
access to the technologies necessary for online learning were
"exacerbating the challenges already faced by students in
lower-income households." They said they expected the impacts of
the gaps to be "felt widely in the wake of COVID-19,"
affecting current K-12 students "for many years."
full analysis is openly available in
an article published on Medium.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.