The deadline for districts to file blended learning declarations for the 2021-22 school year is July 1, 2021. As districts are considering their options to best serve students next year, one important factor is understanding the extent to which students can access learning from home.
One tool districts could use to assist with that effort is the recently released data on students’ access to technology and internet connectivity. The data was drawn from the Opportunity to Learn survey of Ohio’s school districts, conducted by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Management Council of Ohio Education Computer Network. More than 85% of districts, representing 1.3 of Ohio’s 1.7 million students, responded to the survey. In addition to seeking information about what percentage of students have access to internet connectivity and technology at home, the survey gleaned information about the types of technology to which students have access.
While the survey results reveal that Ohio has persistent gaps in both connectivity and technology, there is also evidence of some encouraging results. School districts’ remote learning plans show that increasing number of districts are working to improve students’ internet connectivity at home. Further, 85% of district planned to provide technology to students. ODE and a host of partners also launched RemoteEDx, aimed at enhancing remote education opportunities. Among the RemoteEDx resources is Connectivity Champions, a partnership with Ohio Information Technology Centers to offer districts support to overcome barriers to internet connectivity and technology.
ODE recommends that educators can use the survey results to direct their future efforts to:
- Inform their communities about the degree to which students have access to the internet and technology at home.
- Identify whether there are particular subgroups of students with less access and, if so, develop strategies to increase equity across those groups.
- Identify, access and use federal funding and other resources to support these efforts.
OSBA’s division of legal services will continue to monitor ODE for data and analysis and share it with districts as it becomes available.