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Internet Use in Schools Continues to Grow, NCES Reports

The percentage of U.S. public school classrooms that were connected to the Internet continued to grow in 2001, from 77 percent in 2000 to 87 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics' annual report, 'Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2001."

That number compares with 27 percent in 1997, the year before the E-rate program was implemented. However, the survey found that in schools with the highest minority enrollment (50 percent or more), only 81 percent of classrooms were connected, compared with 88 to 90 percent of classrooms in schools with lower minority enrollments.

Ninety-six percent of schools with Internet access reported that they used technologies or procedures to control student access to inappropriate material on the Internet. Ninety-one percent reported that teachers or staff monitored student Internet use, 87 percent said they used blocking or filtering software, 80 percent required parents to sign a written contract, 46 percent used monitoring software, 44 percent had honor codes and 26 percent limited student access to their own intranet. The survey marked the first time NCES had collected data following passage of the Children's Internet Protection Act.

In 2001, the majority of public schools (55 percent) reported using T-1/DS-1 lines, while only 5 percent reported that they connected to the Internet through a dial-up connection. By comparison, in 1996, 74 percent of schools with Internet access used a dial-up connection. Ninety-six percent of schools with more than 1,000 students had a broadband connection in 2001.

Nationwide, NCES reported, the ratio of students to instructional computers with Internet access had improved from 12.1 students for each computer in 1998 to 5.4 to 1 in 2001.

Ten percent of public schools said they lent laptops to their students, with a slightly higher percentage (14 percent) of rural schools lending the equipment. Of the schools that lent laptops, about 22 percent said they lent laptops for the whole school year.

Ninety-five percent of schools with Internet access said that administrative staff members may have an e-mail address and 92 percent made e-mail addresses available to teachers. But only 16 percent of schools with access made e-mail available to students. Seventy-five percent of public schools reported that had a Web site.

The survey, reported Sept. 18, 2002, was based on a sample of just over 1,000 schools and conducted in fall 2001. The full report is available here.

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