Low income students with home computers are not improving with access to the internet.
The surprising test scores – lower after gaining access to the internet, have prompted some educators to reevaluate their stance on the benefits to removing technology barriers.
The study indicates parental involvement along with internet access is beneficial. Internet access without parental involvement leads to games, you-tube, and other non educational purposes.
The elimination of what is sometimes referred to as the ‘digital divide’ – has been a goal of many educators who believe in putting technology into the hands of all children for the purpose of expanded opportunities in education. Access to the internet has been a priority thought to remove limitations on students who are motivated to learn.
However, some unexpected results from a study are indicating the efforts to expand internet access may be widening the achievement gap in math and reading scores rather than closing it. Students in grades five through eight, particularly those from disadvantaged families, tend to post lower scores once these technologies arrive in their home.
Professors Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd analyzed responses to computer use questions included on North Carolina’s mandated End-of-Grade tests (EOGs). Students reported how frequently they use a home computer for schoolwork, watch TV or read for pleasure.
The study from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University covers 2000 to 2005, a period when home computers and high-speed Internet access expanded dramatically. By 2005, broadband access was available in almost every zip code in North Carolina, Vigdor said.
This study allowed researchers to compare children’s reading and math scores before and after they acquired a home computer, and to compare those scores to those of peers who had a home computer by fifth grade and to test scores of students who never acquire a home computer. The reported negative effects on reading and math scores were “modest but significant”.
“Adults may think of computer technology as a productivity tool first and foremost, but the average kid doesn’t share that perception.” Kids in the middle grades are mostly using computers to socialize and play games.
Vigdor and Ladd concluded that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective. In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children’s computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes.
“Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement” was published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The research was funded in part by the William T. Grant Foundation.
Source: The Committed Sardine
Tracy Lynn Cook~Writer
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