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Advanced Telecommunications in U.S. Private Schools, K-12 Fall 1995
NCES: 97394
May 1997

Introduction

The initiative known as the National Information Infrastructure (NII), set forth by the President and the Vice President of the United States, encourages the nation's elementary and secondary schools to connect their classrooms to the "information superhighway." The superhighway is envisioned as an avenue to "global classrooms"- classrooms where students can obtain an array of information available outside the school building by accessing the Internet or other public and private networks through computers. In these networked classrooms students will be able to access online data sources such as public libraries, research libraries, government agencies, or services like National Geographic's Kids Network. Along with access to online information sources, other network services such as electronic mail facilitate two-way communication without regard to geography.

Thus, students can communicate with each other, or with students or experts in other schools, other cities, and around the world. E-mail, electronic bulletin boards and other Internet services also offer expanded opportunities for parent-teacher and parent-school exchanges and among educators, potentially allowing teachers to share teaching plans and strategies.

In addition to broadening the learning resources accessible to students and teachers, it is believed that familiarizing students with various technologies in elementary and secondary school better prepares them for the more technologically sophisticated colleges and work places of today. These potential uses and benefits have led to a national effort to promote the use of telecommunications technologies in elementary and secondary schools and to encourage schools to join the "information superhighway."

Despite the national interest in information technologies and the National Information Infrastructure initiatives, there were no comprehensive national data on the status of advanced telecommunications in elementary and secondary schools until 1994 when a survey of public schools obtained information on the availability and use of various telecommunications technologies. Then, in fall 1995, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Non- Public Education, in cooperation with the Office of Educational Technology and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), commissioned a survey to collect data concerning the status of telecommunications in private schools. A follow-up survey on Advanced Telecommunications in U.S. Public Elementary and Secondary Schools (FRSS 57, NCES 96-854) was conducted at the same time.

Private schools represent 24 percent of all elementary and secondary schools and enroll approximately 11 percent of the nation's students. The information obtained from the private school survey provides information about the level of connectivity in private schools in fall 1995. This information will help policymakers and others interested in developing infrastructures to connect all the nation's schools and classrooms to the information superhighway by the year 2000. In addition to helping determine the activities required for the task, the information will also provide private school associations, administrators, and policymakers with valuable baseline information to use to measure change.

The Survey on Advanced Telecommunications in U.S. Private Schools, K-12 was conducted during fall 1995 for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) by Westat, Inc., a research firm in Rockville, Maryland, through the NCES Fast Response Survey System (FRSS). Questionnaires were mailed to school heads, who were asked to have the staff member most knowledgeable about the school's advanced telecommunications provide information on:

  • The types of telecommunications equipment and services that were available in private schools and the location of the equipment;
  • The types of computer networking capabilities private schools had and their use, administration, and development; and
  • Major barriers to private schools' acquisition or use of advanced telecommunications.

The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of regular private elementary, secondary, and combined schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Special education, alternative, vocational schools, and schools that taught only prekindergarten, kindergarten, or adult education were not represented in the sample. Survey findings are presented separately for all regular private schools, and by the following school characteristics:

Affiliation

  • Catholic
  • Other religious (schools affiliated with religions or with a religious orientation other than Catholic)
  • Nonsectarian (schools that are not affiliated with a church or religious orientation)

Instructional level

  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Combined

Size of enrollment

  • Small: Less than 150
  • Medium: 150 to 299
  • Large: 300 or more

Metropolitan status-locale of school

  • City
  • Urban fringe
  • Town
  • Rural

Geographic region

  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Central
  • West

Percent minority enrollment

  • Less than 6 percent
  • 6 to 20 percent
  • to 49 percent
  • 50 percent or more

Data have been weighted to national estimates of regular private schools. All comparative statements made in this report have been tested for statistical significance through chi-square tests or t-tests adjusted for multiple comparisons using the Bonferroni adjustment and are significant at the .05 level or better. Data are presented in tables appearing both in the text and as reference tables. Tables 1-9 are part of the text and reference tables (tables 10-21) are included in appendix A.

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