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Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994 - 2000


How much progress have public schools made in connecting to the Internet?

What is the ratio of students to instructional computers in public schools?

How are public schools connected to the Internet?

To what extent are public schools making the Internet available to students outside of regular school hours in 2000?

How are public schools preventing students from accessing inappropriate material on the Internet in 2000?



List of Tables and Figures

Full Report (PDF)
line How much progress have public schools made in connecting to the Internet?

By the fall of 2000, almost all public schools in the United States had access to the Internet: 98 percent were connected. In comparison, 35 percent of public schools had access to the Internet in 1994 (table 1). Unlike in previous years, there were virtually no differences in school access to the Internet by school characteristics (e.g., poverty level1 and metropolitan status) in 1999 or 2000.

The increase in Internet access over the years may have been aided by the allocation of funds through the Education rate (E-rate) program. The E-rate program was established in 1996 to make services, Internet access, and internal connections available to schools and libraries at discounted rates based upon the income level of the students in their community and whether their location is urban or rural2. As of February 28, 2001, $5.8 billion has been committed to E-rate applicants throughout the nation3.

Another key measure of Internet access in schools is the proportion of instructional rooms connected to the Internet4. Since 1994, when 3 percent of instructional rooms had computers with Internet access, public schools have made consistent progress in this area: in fall 2000, 77 percent of instructional rooms were connected to the Internet, up from 64 percent in 1999 ( table 2). However, in 2000, as in previous years, there were differences in Internet access in instructional rooms by school characteristics. For example, in schools with the highest concentration of students in poverty (75 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch), a smaller percentage of instructional rooms were connected to the Internet (60 percent) than in schools with lower concentrations of poverty (77 to 82 percent of instructional rooms). A similar pattern occurred by minority enrollment. In schools with the highest minority enrollment (50 percent or more), a smaller percentage of instructional rooms had Internet access (64 percent) than in schools with lower minority enrollment (79 to 85 percent of instructional rooms). Despite these continuing differences, however, the percentage of instructional rooms with Internet access increased between 1999 and 2000 in these schools: from 38 to 60 percent in schools with the highest concentration of poverty, and from 43 to 64 percent in schools with the highest minority enrollment.

1.Throughout this report, poverty level is measured by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
2.The poorest applicants receive the largest discounts (90 percent), and rural communities receive up to a 10 percent additional discount.
3.The E-rate program funding commitment data were found at the Web site of the School and Libraries Division (SLD), Universal Service Administrative Company (http://www.sl.universalservice.org/).
4. Instructional rooms include classrooms, computer and other labs, library/media centers, and any other rooms used for instructional purposes.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education