Internet access remains a problem for millions of Americans, including school age children. Those students without home internet access face increased difficulties completing their schoolwork, often referred to as the “homework gap.”
Earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic brought these problems into focus when thousands of students were sent home early and schools shifted to online classrooms. The homework gap is outlined in a fact sheet released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.
“Students today are regularly tasked with assignments that require the internet to complete,” said Trenton Buhr, policy assistant for the Center for Rural Affairs. “For those who lack access at home, this makes even the simplest homework more complicated. Nearly six million students still find themselves in this situation all across the country.”
An estimated 12 percent of school age children lack access to non-cell phone internet service at home, even while school curriculum incorporates the internet at nearly every level, according to the fact sheet.
“Although most Americans have some internet access at home, far fewer have a preferred wired connection such as fiber or digital subscriber line,” Buhr said. “Other connection types suffer from poor reliability, data caps, or other obstacles.”
Students without internet at home are often forced to identify alternatives, such as relying on publicly available Wi-Fi at restaurants or libraries or receiving adjusted assignments that can be completed offline. School districts have made efforts to provide students with access, but many of these measures fall short of preferred home internet connection.
The fact sheet looks at internet use in curriculum, home access for students, and efforts to bridge the gap in the U.S. and Nebraska. It also recommends steps for state and local governments to improve access in their communities.
To read the fact sheet “The Homework Gap,” visit cfra.org/publications/TheHomeworkGap.
About the Center for Rural Affairs
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.