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Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994 - 2001

Introduction

Selected Findings

School Connectivity

Students and Computer Access

Operating Systems, Memory Capacity, and Disk Space

Special Hardware and Software for Students with Disabilities

The Internet as a Way to Communicate with Parents and Students

Technologies and Procedures to Prevent Student Access to Inappropriate Material on the Internet

Related Information

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List of Tables


Full Report (PDF)
line School Connectivity

School Access

In fall 2001, 99 percent of public schools in the United States had access to the Internet. When NCES first started estimating Internet access in schools in 1994, 35 percent of public schools had access (table 1). As reported previously (Cattagni and Farris 2001), there have been virtually no differences in school access to the Internet by school characteristics since 1999.

Instructional Room Access

  • Public schools have made consistent progress in expanding Internet access in instructional rooms 1, from 3 percent in 1994 to 77 percent in 2000 and 87 percent in 2001 (table 2).
  • In 2001, as in previous years, there were differences in Internet access in instructional rooms by school characteristics. For example, in schools with the highest minority enrollment (50 percent or more), a smaller percentage of instructional rooms were connected to the Internet (81 percent) than in schools with lower minority enrollments (88 to 90 percent of instructional rooms) (table 2).
  • A similar pattern occurred by poverty concentration. In 2001, schools with the highest poverty concentration (75 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) had fewer rooms with Internet access than schools with less than 35 percent eligible students and schools with 35 to 49 percent eligible students (79 percent of instructional rooms compared with 90 and 89 percent, respectively) (table 2).
  • Despite these continuing differences, however, the percentage of instructional rooms with Internet access increased between 2000 and 2001 in these schools: from 60 to 79 percent in schools with the highest concentration of poverty, and from 64 to 81 percent in schools with the highest minority enrollment (table 2).

Types of Connections

  • Over the years, changes have occurred in the types of Internet connections used by public schools and the speed at which they are connected to the Internet. In 1996, dial-up Internet connections were used by almost three-fourths (74 percent) of public schools having Internet access (Heaviside, Riggins, and Farris 1997). In 2001, the majority of public schools (55 percent) reported using T1/DS1 lines, a continuous and much faster type of Internet connection than dial-up connections, and 5 percent of schools used dial-up connections (table 3).
  • In 2001, 85 percent of public schools used broadband connections to access the Internet (table 4). This is an increase from 2000, when 80 percent of the schools were using this type of connection 2.
  • In 2001, as in 2000, the likelihood of using broadband connections increased with school size; in 2001, 72 percent of small schools reported using broadband connections to access the Internet, compared with 96 percent of large schools (table 4).
  • The likelihood of using broadband connections also increased with minority enrollment and poverty concentration. For example, in 2001, 81 percent of public schools with the lowest minority enrollment used broadband connections when connecting to the Internet, compared with 93 percent of schools with the highest minority enrollment (table 4).
  • The use of broadband connections increased between 2000 and 2001 from 81 percent to 93 percent in schools with the highest minority enrollment (table 4). Similarly, the percent of schools with the highest poverty concentration using broadband connections to access the Internet increased from 75 percent to 90 percent.
1 Instructional rooms include classrooms, computer and other labs, library/media centers, and any other rooms used for instructional purposes.
2 Respondents were instructed to circle as many types of connections as there were in the school. These percentages include schools using only broadband connections, as well as schools using both broadband and narrowband connections. They do not include schools using narrowband connections exclusively. Broadband connections include T3/DS3, fractional T3, T1/DS1, fractional T1, and cable modem connections. In 2001, they also included DSL connections, which had not been an option on the 2000 questionnaire.

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