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59% of u.s. parents with lower incomes say their child may face digital obstacles in schoolwork.

High school senior Jocelyn Hernandez follows a remote class while sitting in a community garden near her home on Aug. 14, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Communities across the United States are facing challenges of remote learning as K-12 schools have shifted to online classes or been forced to go remote after students or staff tested positive for COVID-19 early in the term.

Many of these schools faced similar problems in the spring. A new analysis of Pew Research Center data collected in early April finds that 59% of parents with lower incomes who had children in schools that were remote at the time said their children would likely face at least one of three digital obstacles asked about.

Roughly six-in-ten parents with lower incomes said it’s likely their homebound children would face at least one digital obstacle to doing their schoolwork

Overall, 38% of parents with children whose K-12 schools closed in the spring said that their child was very or somewhat likely to face one or more of these issues. In addition, parents with middle incomes were about twice as likely as parents with higher incomes to report anticipating issues.

Concerns related to the “homework gap” have affected families and driven policymakers for years. After the coronavirus outbreak shut down most of the country, including most K-12 schools, some parents reported worries about how their child would be able to complete their schoolwork from home , according to the Center’s April 7-12 survey of U.S. adults. At the time, 29% of parents with homebound schoolchildren said it was very or somewhat likely their children would have to do their schoolwork on a cellphone. About one-in-five parents also said it was at least somewhat likely their children would not be able to complete their schoolwork because they did not have access to a computer at home (21%) or would have to use public Wi-Fi to finish their schoolwork because there was not a reliable internet connection at home (22%).

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans think about the role of the internet and computers amid the coronavirus outbreak. For this analysis, we surveyed 4,917 U.S. adults from April 7-12, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole U.S. adult population. (See our  Methods 101 explainer  on random sampling.) The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Portions of this analysis cover different income groups. To create the upper-, middle- and lower-income tiers used in this report, family incomes based on 2018 earnings were adjusted for differences in purchasing power by geographic region and for household sizes. Middle income is defined as two-thirds to double the median annual income for all panelists. Lower income falls below that range; upper income falls above it. For more information about how the income tiers were determined, please read this .

Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its  methodology .

Those parental anxieties come at a time when there are debates about the role of schools in providing technology to students. Overall, the vast majority of Americans (80%) said in the April survey that they believed K-12 schools have a responsibility to at least some of their students to provide computers or tablets to help students complete their schoolwork during the outbreak, including 37% who said schools have this responsibility to all of their students.

Parents who anticipated at least one of these obstacles were more likely than others to say schools should provide computers to at least some students during the outbreak (92%) and that the government should ensure high-speed internet access to all Americans during the outbreak (57%). By comparison, fewer parents who expected their child to encounter no such challenges said the same (80% and 34%, respectively).

The internet has been important for many Americans, including non-parents, during the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans said the internet had been important or essential to them during the outbreak as of early April. However, only a minority believed it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure all Americans have a high-speed internet connection at home during the outbreak.

Some groups – in particular, those who view the internet as essential or worry about affording it – were more likely to believe that the government should be responsible for ensuring internet access during the pandemic.

Those who are concerned about paying for internet are more likely to say the government should ensure internet access during the COVID-19 outbreak

Overall, 37% of U.S. adults said in spring that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all Americans have a high-speed internet connection at home during the outbreak, but this varied by people’s concerns about paying for these services.

Broadband users who were concerned a lot or some about paying for their internet over the next few months were 21 percentage points more likely than those who were not too or not at all worried to say the government has a responsibility to ensure internet access for all Americans during the outbreak (52% vs. 31%).

At the same time, the public’s views varied by the level of importance they placed on the internet during this time. While 44% of Americans who said the internet has been essential to them personally during this outbreak believed the government has a responsibility during the pandemic to ensure that all Americans have high-speed internet access, these shares were smaller among those who deemed the internet as important but not essential (31%) and those who described the internet during this time as not too or not at all important (25%).

Views on the issue also varied by partisanship. Overall, Democrats and independents who lean Democratic were more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all Americans have a high-speed internet connection during the outbreak (52% vs. 22%). While the majority of Republicans (77%) opposed this initiative, it is worth noting that about half of Democrats (48%) also did not support government involvement.

Democrats are consistently more likely than Republicans to say the government should ensure internet access for all Americans during the COVID-19 outbreak

When it came to partisan differences on this issue among broadband users, the gap between Democrats who were worried about affording their internet bills over the next few months and those who were not was relatively small. Some 58% of Democratic broadband users who worried about paying their internet bills backed the idea of government ensuring high-speed access during the pandemic, compared with 49% of the Democrats who weren’t worried about their broadband bills – a 9 percentage point difference. Among Republican broadband users in these different groups, there was a 31-point gap.

As many activities have been shifted online , the coronavirus outbreak has sparked debates about the digital divide – the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not. One solution put forth by advocates would be to treat the internet as a public utility to which all citizens should have equal access.

Public support for government assistance on this issue is relatively low when compared with other areas. In a 2019 Center survey, 28% of U.S. adults said the federal government has a responsibility to provide access to high-speed internet to all Americans. Americans were much more likely to say the federal government has a responsibility to provide other support and services, such as high-quality K-12 education (80%), adequate medical care (73%) or health insurance (64%).

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its  methodology .

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Most americans who go to religious services say they would trust their clergy’s advice on covid-19 vaccines, what we know about online learning and the homework gap amid the pandemic, unvaccinated americans are at higher risk from covid-19 but express less concern than vaccinated adults, americans who relied most on trump for covid-19 news among least likely to be vaccinated, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

‘Homework gap’ hurts poor, rural students

Earlier this fall, kids in New Mexico and across the country headed back to school. This has meant a return to the routine of waking up early each morning, juggling extracurricular activities and sports after school and, of course, the nightly ritual of homework.

But for students in 5 million American households, homework represents an especially difficult challenge because they fall into the “Homework Gap” – they receive assignments that require the internet, but do not have broadband access at home.

This is a problem because just as access to broadband has become essential for finding a job or shopping online, it has also become necessary to complete basic school assignments. In fact, 1 in 5 students say they cannot do homework because they lack internet outside of school. Additionally, in another survey, 42 percent of students said that they received a lower grade on an assignment because they did not have access to the internet. The Homework Gap hurts low-income and highly rural students hardest.

These numbers are startling, but they aren’t surprising. Kids have always required access to learning tools to have a fair shot at success. In today’s digital age, that means access to the internet. Old, dusty chalkboards have been replaced by digital projectors and computing devices in the hands of every student. Without the internet, students are at a disadvantage. We must get creative as a nation and find a way to bridge this growing digital divide that is leaving behind students in low-income and rural America.

Our recent visit to rural Hatch confirmed this reality. Against a beautiful agricultural landscape known for producing hot green chile, we witnessed how technology and the internet play a central role in today’s educational experience. At Hatch Valley High School, we saw teachers use technology to measure their students’ performance and better target their lessons as the class unfolded in real-time. We observed the benefits of digital learning first-hand as students were literally connected to an entire world of information via Wi-Fi inside the confines of their classroom.

But we also learned that for many students, that interactive experience is one they only have at school. Once the final bell has rung and school is done for the day, kids and their parents face a nightly challenge of coordinating visits to the houses of friends and relatives with broadband, just so they can do their homework. Some rely on cellphone data, but parents on a budget can’t afford expensive data plans, and these kids are out of luck when they reach the monthly limit. We listened to one student-athlete, Jonah Madrid, describe his odyssey of hourslong travel to play varsity football games only to return to the pitch-black school parking lot late at night so that he can catch an internet signal to do his homework.

These students deserve an A for their efforts. Their tenacity and willingness to help each other is what makes up the best in our country. But it should not be this hard to get homework done.

The good news is that there are local programs afoot across the country designed to narrow the Homework Gap. One great example is that some school districts are beginning to put Wi-Fi on school buses. This innovation can turn ride time into connected time, especially for students and student-athletes with long commutes on the school bus. For a student without the internet at home, access to Wi-Fi can be a game-changer. In fact, over half of us have used Wi-Fi to access the internet. And talk to any student and you will quickly learn it is their preferred way to get online. We should explore how federal efforts like those run by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Education can help pave the way for more Wi-Fi on wheels.

With the start of the school year, it’s time to get to work and close the Homework Gap. After all, our collective future begins with the work that our students are doing each day in and out of school.

Tom Udall, D-Santa Fe, represents New Mexico in the U.S. Senate. Jessica Rosenworcel is commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

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Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

low income students and homework

Schools are getting rid of homework from Essex, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. Although the no-homework trend may sound alarming, especially to parents dreaming of their child’s acceptance to Harvard, Stanford or Yale, there is mounting evidence that eliminating homework in grade school may actually have great benefits , especially with regard to educational equity.

In fact, while the push to eliminate homework may come as a surprise to many adults, the debate is not new . Parents and educators have been talking about this subject for the last century, so that the educational pendulum continues to swing back and forth between the need for homework and the need to eliminate homework.

The Problem with Homework: It Highlights Inequalities

How much homework is too much homework, when does homework actually help, negative effects of homework for students, how teachers can help.

One of the most pressing talking points around homework is how it disproportionately affects students from less affluent families. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained:

“Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs.”

[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >> 

While students growing up in more affluent areas are likely playing sports, participating in other recreational activities after school, or receiving additional tutoring, children in disadvantaged areas are more likely headed to work after school, taking care of siblings while their parents work or dealing with an unstable home life. Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day.

While all students may groan at the mention of homework, it may be more than just a nuisance for poor and disadvantaged children, instead becoming another burden to carry and contend with.

Beyond the logistical issues, homework can negatively impact physical health and stress — and once again this may be a more significant problem among economically disadvantaged youth who typically already have a higher stress level than peers from more financially stable families .

Yet, today, it is not just the disadvantaged who suffer from the stressors that homework inflicts. A 2014 CNN article, “Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” , covered the issue of extreme pressure placed on children of the affluent. The article looked at the results of a study surveying more than 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities.

“Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives,” according to the CNN story. “That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.”

When it comes to health and stress it is clear that excessive homework, for children at both ends of the spectrum, can be damaging. Which begs the question, how much homework is too much?

The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association recommend that students spend 10 minutes per grade level per night on homework . That means that first graders should spend 10 minutes on homework, second graders 20 minutes and so on. But a study published by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students are getting much more than that.

While 10 minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, that quickly adds up to an hour per night by sixth grade. The National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students get an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, a figure that is much too high according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also to be noted that this figure does not take into consideration the needs of underprivileged student populations.

In a study conducted by the OECD it was found that “after around four hours of homework per week, the additional time invested in homework has a negligible impact on performance .” That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but — according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.

What’s more is that homework is, as the name implies, to be completed at home, after a full day of learning that is typically six to seven hours long with breaks and lunch included. However, a study by the APA on how people develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work for about only four hours per day. Similarly, companies like Tower Paddle Boards are experimenting with a five-hour workday, under the assumption that people are not able to be truly productive for much longer than that. CEO Stephan Aarstol told CNBC that he believes most Americans only get about two to three hours of work done in an eight-hour day.

In the scope of world history, homework is a fairly new construct in the U.S. Students of all ages have been receiving work to complete at home for centuries, but it was educational reformer Horace Mann who first brought the concept to America from Prussia. 

Since then, homework’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the court of public opinion. In the 1930s, it was considered child labor (as, ironically, it compromised children’s ability to do chores at home). Then, in the 1950s, implementing mandatory homework was hailed as a way to ensure America’s youth were always one step ahead of Soviet children during the Cold War. Homework was formally mandated as a tool for boosting educational quality in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education, and has remained in common practice ever since.  

School work assigned and completed outside of school hours is not without its benefits. Numerous studies have shown that regular homework has a hand in improving student performance and connecting students to their learning. When reviewing these studies, take them with a grain of salt; there are strong arguments for both sides, and only you will know which solution is best for your students or school. 

Homework improves student achievement.

  • Source: The High School Journal, “ When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math ,” 2012. 
  • Source:, “ Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement? ,” 2014. **Note: Study sample comprised only high school boys. 

Homework helps reinforce classroom learning.

  • Source: “ Debunk This: People Remember 10 Percent of What They Read ,” 2015.

Homework helps students develop good study habits and life skills.

  • Sources: The Repository @ St. Cloud State, “ Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement ,” 2017; Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
  • Source: Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.

Homework allows parents to be involved with their children’s learning.

  • Parents can see what their children are learning and working on in school every day. 
  • Parents can participate in their children’s learning by guiding them through homework assignments and reinforcing positive study and research habits.
  • Homework observation and participation can help parents understand their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and even identify possible learning difficulties.
  • Source:, “ Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework ,” 2018.

While some amount of homework may help students connect to their learning and enhance their in-class performance, too much homework can have damaging effects. 

Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels. 

  • Source: USA Today, “ Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In ,” 2021.
  • Source: Stanford University, “ Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework ,” 2014.

Students with too much homework may be tempted to cheat. 

  • Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, “ High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame ,” 2010.
  • Source: The American Journal of Family Therapy, “ Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background ,” 2015.

Homework highlights digital inequity. 

  • Sources:, “ The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’ ,” 2016;, “ The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind ,” 2021.
  • Source: Investopedia, “ Digital Divide ,” 2022; International Journal of Education and Social Science, “ Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework ,” 2015.
  • Source: World Economic Forum, “ COVID-19 exposed the digital divide. Here’s how we can close it ,” 2021.

Homework does not help younger students.

  • Source: Review of Educational Research, “ Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003 ,” 2006.

To help students find the right balance and succeed, teachers and educators must start the homework conversation, both internally at their school and with parents. But in order to successfully advocate on behalf of students, teachers must be well educated on the subject, fully understanding the research and the outcomes that can be achieved by eliminating or reducing the homework burden. There is a plethora of research and writing on the subject for those interested in self-study.

For teachers looking for a more in-depth approach or for educators with a keen interest in educational equity, formal education may be the best route. If this latter option sounds appealing, there are now many reputable schools offering online master of education degree programs to help educators balance the demands of work and family life while furthering their education in the quest to help others.

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This One Change From Teachers Can Make Homework More Equitable

low income students and homework

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Homework can deepen inequities for low-income students at school if teachers judge students’ effort by their families’ involvement.

That’s according to a new study in the journal Educational Researcher, which found teachers were more likely to attribute missed homework to irresponsibility or parent disinterest with low-income students and students of color than with wealthier or white students.

The study was part of a broader longitudinal study of more than 4,000 middle school students and their teachers. Researchers observed 80 students and their teachers and conducted in-depth interviews with both, as well as with the students’ families.

Across both elementary and middle schools, “teachers were interpreting homework through this meritocratic lens, seeing it as the product of motivation and competence and effort, and not as the product of the kinds of circumstances that students or their families might be facing at home,” said Jessica McCrory Calarco, an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University and the lead author of the study.

“When teachers use that cultural framework to interpret what’s going on in their classrooms, it can lead them to judge and punish students and treat students in potentially harmful ways,” Calarco said.

As one teacher in the study noted, “I’ve had a few students this year who have been reluctant to do homework. It’s been mainly the [lower-level students]. Probably math isn’t their favorite subject, so they wouldn’t want to do their math homework, even when it’s easy. And when it’s not easy, they especially don’t want to do it.”

The findings are “unfortunate but not surprising,” said Joyce Epstein, a homework researcher and the director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in Calarco’s study.

“Parents are in fact interested in their children’s work and success. What they’re not interested in is being told they’re supposed to know how to teach every subject at every grade level, just because somebody said it was a good idea,” Epstein said.

Teachers who took a meritocratic approach to homework were more likely to adopt punitive homework policies: giving extra credit on tests for students who turned in homework, or keeping students back from recess for not completing it, for example. Meritocratic teachers also were more likely to assign homework that students could not complete independently, either because it was too difficult or required input from parents.

One mother of a 5th grader in the study said she barely passed her GED high school equivalency exam, and often struggled to help her son with math. “I still can’t really figure out division. . . . [Jesse will] ask me a question, and I’ll go look at it, and it’s like algebra, in 5th grade,” the mother told researchers. “Sometimes you just feel stupid because he’s in 5th grade, and I’m like—I should be able to help my son with his homework in 5th grade.”

In an earlier related study using the same students, Calarco and her colleagues also found teachers felt significant pressure from affluent and white parents to excuse their children when they failed to complete homework. Existing homework policies tended to be applied in favor of students of parents who were highly involved in the school.

“It wasn’t a consistent application of rules,” Calarco said. “It was much more rooted in the status and the power of families ... not only in terms of who actually was able to provide more hands-on help at home, but also in the extent to which teachers felt that they had to grant exemptions to students from more privileged backgrounds.”

Designing better homework

Prior research suggests the majority of parent homework help ends up being counterproductive, including doing work for a student or providing confusing or inaccurate explanations for a concept.

“Homework is important, proven to be useful for children’s learning, but we can all do better in designing good homework as opposed to just more of it,” Epstein said.

She argued that teachers should be given more time to work with each other and parents to design homework policies and assignments.

“We should never ask parents to teach a school subject. They don’t want to do it, they can’t do it, they shouldn’t be asked to do it,” Epstein said. “What we’ve learned is that to increase the family connection with their child on homework, ... you design homework to help the student become the leader in this work.”

Among the recommendations:

  • Do not design homework that requires parents to teach or check content knowledge.
  • Ensure students can complete assignments at home without help.
  • Design separate, ungraded assignments to engage families (e.g. a family oral history project). “If we design homework so the youngster is showing, sharing, demonstrating what they’ve learned in class, the parent becomes an appreciator of how the youngster is growing their skills and abilities,” Epstein said.
  • Incorporate supplemental exercises or model lessons in separate communications with parents, such as school newsletters or literacy nights.

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Why Millions of Teens Can't Finish Their Homework

The push toward technology-focused education overlooks the students who lack the resources needed to complete their assignments.

low income students and homework

In decades past, students needed little more than paper, pencils, and time to get their schoolwork done. For the vast majority of students, that's no longer the case. Most schoolwork these days necessitates a computer and an internet connection, and that includes work to be done at home. One federal survey found that 70 percent of American teachers  assign homework that needs to be done online; 90 percent of high schoolers say they have to do internet-based homework at least a few times a month. Nearly half of all students say they get such assignments daily or almost daily.

Yet despite the seemingly ever-growing embrace of digital learning in schools, access to the necessary devices remains unequal, with a new report from the Pew Research Center finding that 15 percent of U.S. households with school-age children lack high-speed internet at home. The problem is particularly acute for low-income families: One in three households that make below $30,000 a year lacks internet. This is despite an emerging reality in which poorer students are attending schools that evangelize technology-based learning while their more affluent counterparts, as The New York Times reported this past weekend, are “going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.”

It’s a glaring irony that’s also a major force behind class- and race-based discrepancies in academic achievement. In what’s often referred to as the “homework gap,” the unequal access to digital devices and high-speed internet prevents 17 percent of teens from completing their homework assignments, according to the new Pew analysis, which surveyed 743 students ages 13 through 17. Black teens are especially burdened by the homework gap: One in four of them at least sometimes struggle to complete assignments because of a lack of technology at home. And close to half of teenagers in the bottom income bracket have to do their homework on a cellphone occasionally or often.

Read: The futile resistance against classroom tech

From a history-class assignment on the political debate over immigration to required participation in an online discussion board for AP Environmental Science, access to a functioning computer and high-speed internet is all but a prerequisite for success in high school. This is becoming especially true as schools gravitate toward software where students file assignments and papers virtually, as well as schools that equip each student with a laptop or tablet ; one 2017 survey found that half of U.S. teachers have one device for each of their students, up 10 percentage points from the year prior. Close to two in three teachers use technology in their classroom daily, according to a separate 2017 survey .

The homework gap can have major consequences, with some studies suggesting that teens who lack access to a computer at home are less likely to graduate from high school than their more technologically equipped peers. The “challenge to complete homework in safe, predictable, and productive environments can have lifelong impacts on their ability to achieve their full potential,” wrote John Branam, who runs an initiative to provide lacking teens with internet access, in an op-ed for The Hechinger Report last year.

Although the big telecom providers offer subsidies to low-income families, these programs are generally underused . And while disadvantaged students can resort to public libraries and other venues that offer free Wi-Fi, such alternatives are still major obstacles to finishing homework every night. “Your aunt has internet access [at home] but she lives a 40-minute bus trip across town,” Branam wrote, illustrating the roadblocks for teens without internet access. “The public library does, but it has a 30-minute computer use limit and, as a young woman, you don’t feel comfortable there late at night. McDonald’s has free Wi-Fi but it’s noisy, you have to buy food and you can’t linger there forever.”

Read: When students can’t go online

With a team of researchers, the University of Texas at Austin professor S. Craig Watkins spent a year and a half observing and interacting with high schoolers to better understand the digital divide. The researchers’ forthcoming book, The Digital Edge: How Black and Latino Youth Navigate Digital Inequality , chronicles the ways low-income students of color get around not having access to the internet and a computer. In what Watkins calls “social hacking,” students often “reengineer their socioeconomic circumstances in order to get access to technology that they otherwise would not have access to.” For example, the researchers observed that students without such resources at home were adept at developing relationships with teachers who could, say, give them special weekend access to laptops and software for use at home. They also tended to rely on other needy classmates to find work-arounds, sharing with one another smartphones and tablets that more affluent students often take for granted, for instance. “It was an inventive way of cultivating social capital,” Watkins says, “but it also created a kind of sharing economy.”

Watkins says the digital divide is an “institutional blind spot” for many school leaders and policy makers. “I suspect that people a pay grade or two above teachers likely don’t understand the depth at which this access- and participation-gap divide still exists,” he says.

While embedding technology into the curriculum is all the rage in some schools, “oftentimes there’s a lack of clarity and vision in terms of what learning should look like with technology,” Watkins says. “There’s this assumption that just by providing access to technology you’re somehow creating a better learning future for kids, but that is not always the case.” After all, technology in schools is going to be of limited success if kids don’t have access to the internet and a computer once the final bell rings.


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  8. 'Homework gap' hurts poor, rural students

    ... lower grade on an assignment because they did not have access to the internet. The Homework Gap hurts low-income and highly rural students hardest. These

  9. Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on

    Students in low-income

  10. This One Change From Teachers Can Make Homework More

    Homework can deepen inequities for low-income students at school if teachers judge students' effort by their families' involvement.

  11. More Lower Income Students Rely on Cellphones for Schoolwork

    Homework Gap Research: More Lower Income Students Rely on Cellphones for Schoolwork ... The vast majority of parents with K-12 children (93%) say

  12. The Homework Experience: Perceptions of Low-Income Youth

    Homework is a cornerstone of students' academic lives. using a social cognitive view of achievement beliefs as a theoretical framework, we conducted a

  13. Why Millions of Teens Can't Finish Their Homework

    ... low-income families, these programs are generally underused. And while disadvantaged students can resort to public libraries and other

  14. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    Some researchers believe that students from higher-income homes have more resources (such as computers) and receive more assistance with homework, while low-