Data reveals digital divide, despite COVID response
More evidence of the digital divide is emerging as school leaders continue to balance in-person and remote instruction during COVID.
After schools shut down in March, student and teacher engagement with digital tools recovered faster in more affluent school districts, says a year-end report by LearnPlatform, developer of an ed-tech effectiveness system used by states and districts.
By the end of the year, students and teachers in less affluent schools were using instructional technology at higher rates compared to pre-pandemic and to spring 2020, according to the analysis of 2.5 million students and 270,000 educators in 250 school districts
However, the research also reveal usage gaps in districts where at least 25% of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch and their peers in more affluent districts.
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“The COVID-19 pandemic forced K-12 schools to rapidly alter the way they deliver instruction to students, which involved a dramatic increase in the number of edtech tools used by students and educators,” said Karl Rectanus, CEO and co-founder of LearnPlatform. “It’s only when we break down the engagement data and examine it through an equity lens that we can begin to address the digital divide and learning loss.”
In wealthier districts, student use of ed-tech had surpassed pre-pandemic levels by spring 2020. But in other districts, usage didn’t reach pre-COVID levels until the fall.
Teacher’s use edtech usage grew by more than 30% immediately after school closures in more affluent school systems. But teachers in less-resourced district also didn’t outpace pre-pandemic ed-tech usage in the fall.
Overall, use of technology in districts with where more than 25% of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch has been lower, both pre- an post-pandemic.
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