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


  • Twenty-five percent of private schools had access to the Internet in fall 1995. Private schools with Internet access enrolled 41 percent of all private school students (Figure 2 and Table 11). By comparison, 50 percent of public schools were on the Internet in fall 1995 (Table 5).

  • Access to the Internet varied by instructional level of the school and size of enrollment. Fifty-seven percent of private secondary schools had Internet access compared with 23 percent of elementary schools and 19 percent of schools combining elementary and secondary grades (Table 11). Half of the nation's larger private schools with enrollments of 300 or more had Internet access (50 percent), while 27 percent of those enrolling 150 to 299 students and 13 percent of schools with fewer than 150 students had access to the Internet.

  • Catholic and nonsectarian schools were about twice as likely to have Internet access as other religious schools. Thirty-five percent of Catholic schools and 32 percent of nonsectarian schools provided Internet access, compared with 16 percent for other religious schools (Table 11).


  • Almost all private schools (95 percent) were equipped with computers in fall 1995 (Figure 1). On average, there were 24 computers per private school and an average of 9 private school students per computer in fall 1995 (Table 10).

  • Nonsectarian schools reported fewer students per computer (6) than Catholic schools (10) and other religious schools (9) (Table 10). There were 7 students per computer in private secondary schools compared with 9 in private elementary schools.

Computers with Internet Access

  • Nine percent of all the computers in private schools had Internet access in fall 1995 (Table 11).

  • Although private schools provided a computer for every 9 students, there were 99 students for every computer with Internet access in private schools (Table 10).

  • The percent of computers on the Internet in nonsectarian private schools was almost four times higher than the percent in schools with religious affiliations. While 6 percent of computers in Catholic schools and 5 percent of those in other religious schools had Internet access, 23 percent of the computers in nonsectarian schools were connected to the Internet (Table 11).

  • Nonsectarian schools reported the lowest ratio of students per Internet connected computer-25 to 1 (Table 10). By comparison, there were 174 students per computer with Internet access in Catholic schools and 171 students per computer with Internet access in other religious schools.

  • The ratio of students per computer with Internet access also varied by instructional level ranging from 48 in private combined schools, to 78 in private secondary schools, and to 206 in private elementary schools (Table 10).

Instructional Rooms with Internet Access

  • During fall 1995, 5 percent of all instructional rooms in private schools had Internet access (Table 5). By comparison, 9 percent of public school instructional rooms were on the Internet.

  • Seventy-three percent of private schools on the Internet provided access in one or more instructional rooms and 93 percent of public schools on the Internet equipped at least one instructional room with Internet access (Table 5).

  • Forty-six percent of private schools with Internet access had Internet in 1 instructional room, 16 percent in 2-3 rooms, 3 percent in 4 rooms, and 9 percent reported having Internet access in 5 or more instructional rooms (Table 5).

  • Nonsectarian schools with Internet access were more likely than Catholic schools to provide classroom access to the Internet. Ninety-one percent of nonsectarian schools with Internet provided it in at least 1 instructional room (Table 13). Sixty-five percent of Catholic schools with Internet had access in one or more instructional rooms.

Internet Services

  • Of private schools with Internet access in fall 1995, 94 percent had E-mail, 72 percent had World Wide Web access, 69 percent had access to newsgroups, and 67 percent had search capability (resource location) services (Table 3).

  • Of private schools with access to the World Wide Web, 70 percent made it available to students, 68 percent of private schools with search capability services made them available to students and students could avail themselves of newsgroup services in 55 percent of schools with this type of service (Table 3). Thirty-nine percent of private schools with E-mail provided access for students.

Connections to the Internet

  • During fall 1995, 94 percent of private schools on the Internet (25 percent of all private schools) connected to wide area networks by modem. Higher speed connections such as Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) or Point to Point Protocol (PPP) were reported by 16 percent of schools. The most advanced connections such as 56Kb, T1, and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) were rare among private schools, 2 to 3 percent for each (Table 16).

Development and Administration of Networks

  • During fall 1995, teachers and staff had the largest role in developing private schools' advanced telecommunications activities, followed by parents. Forty-one percent of private schools reported that teachers and staff had a formal role in initiating and planning telecommunications to a large extent and 15 percent indicated that parents played a large role (Table 4).

  • Fourteen percent of private schools with Internet access had a full-time network administrator (Table 17). Private school networks were most frequently managed by a part-time administrator. Fifty-eight percent had a part-time network administrator (typically a full-time employee with part-time network responsibilities) and 28 percent of private schools had no single individual responsible for the network.

Plans and Barriers

  • Four in 10 private schools that did not have Internet access in fall 1995 had plans to obtain access in the future (Table 18).

  • Funding was the most frequently cited barrier to the acquisition or use of advanced telecommunications in private schools. Sixty-one percent considered this a major barrier (Table 19). Thirty-eight percent cited lack of equipment or poor equipment as a major barrier, and 36 percent cited too few telecommunications access points in the building as a major barrier. These were among the most frequently cited barriers to the acquisition of advanced telecommunications in schools without Internet access and to upgrading and maximizing telecommunication usage in schools with Internet access in fall 1995 (Table 20 and 21).