Many students, particularly low-income and those in rural areas, lack access to high-speed internet or technology devices at home.1 These students often miss out on important educational resources, tools, and assignments, which may negatively affect achievement.2
State and local education agencies strive to close digital equity gaps. How can educators and administrators understand the nature of the gaps to inform initiatives and monitor progress? The National Forum on Education Statistics' Forum Guide to Digital Equity offers guidance on gathering data, using data to prioritize action, developing digital equity tools, and closing digital equity gaps.
The guide emphasizes the importance of high-quality data collection to inform decision-making and provides 10 sample questions to ask families about devices at home, internet access, and support for technology.3 Educators and administrators can use and modify the following questions (found in Appendix B, page 61 in the guide) to jumpstart their data collection efforts:
Device Access at Home
Leveraging Technology to Support Student Learning
REL Northwest is leading the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Program working group on Leveraging Technology to Support Student Learning. In collaboration with the nine other RELs, REL Northwest is producing a framework to help district leaders as they adopt, use, and monitor the effectiveness of technology in their schools.
Collecting information on student access to devices, the internet, and technology support can provide meaningful data to education leaders to better understand the state of digital equity in a region. The data can be used to support decision-making, prioritize initiatives, and monitor progress to help close the digital divide and expand students' learning opportunities.
For additional information and guidance on closing the digital divide, review the entire Forum Guide to Digital Equity.
3 National Forum on Education Statistics. (2022). The Forum Guide for Digital Equity. https://ies.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=NFES2022098