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Students in the Homework Gap
News Bytes 06/11/2019 37 Comments

When high school senior Raegan Byrd needs to write a research paper, she faces a problem: She doesn’t have a home computer. Raegan isn’t alone. According to a recently released study, nearly three million U.S. students lack access to computers or the internet at home. The phenomenon is called the “homework gap.”

Research shows that students with home internet score higher in reading, math, and science—and in classrooms around the country, access to laptops and the internet is common. That’s not so in many urban and rural communities.

Some school districts, local governments, and others have tried to help bridge the homework gap. They've installed wireless internet on buses and loaned out hot spots. Communities have compiled lists of wi-fi-enabled restaurants and other businesses where children are welcome to linger and do schoolwork.

Still, some students end up studying in the parking lots of schools, libraries, or restaurants—wherever they can find a signal.

English teacher Susan Johnston. “I have kids all the time who are like, ‘Can you just give me a paper copy of this?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no, because I really need you to get familiar with technology because it’s not going away,’” she says.

Students in the homework gap tend to be poor and minority students. But some students don’t have computers because they simply can’t get a strong internet signal.

Many households without home internet cite expense as the main reason, according to federal Education Department statistics. In the area surrounding Raegan’s Hartford, Connecticut, school, less than half of households have home access.

Raegan tries to make as much progress as possible while at school. At home, she uses her smartphone and a data plan paid for by her grandfather. That involves scrolling around on a tiny screen and tapping out papers with her thumbs. Glitches sometimes keep Raegan from submitting assignments electronically, so she writes them out by hand. Her diligence is commendable. She says, “At least I have something, instead of nothing.”

Do you agree with the idea that students need to get familiar with technology? Why or why not?

(Third-grade student Miles Stidham uses an East Webster High School laptop to do homework in Maben, Mississippi. The Stidhams are unable to get internet at their home in the country, so they take advantage of the internet in the school’s library. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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Most recent comments

I think that they should know

I think that they should know how to work computers etc. because if they don't, other people will look down on them, and technology ISN'T going away.

just give them a paper copy

just give them a paper copy what's the big deal

Third Comment

I agree that students should get familiar with technology, but not when they can't afford/have access to Internet. I think it's kind of unfair for those students

Oceana(Osborne's sister)

I agree with Paulus just give them a paper copy!

What about penmanship?

I think that students are already familiar with technology. But I agree they should learn to use Computers, Phones. ect. But If you type all your research papers on the computer once you get out of Elementary ,then you wont have very good handwriting. They have already stopped teaching Cursive in schools.In my opinion I think that teachers should give more paper copy so then you wouldn't have this problem. I thank my mom for in Homeschooling me and teaching me Cursive and printing.


I think the kids need to be familiar with the computers/internet because that is the kind of world we live in nowadays. I think the schools and businesses are doing good by letting the kids come and work on homework. Yeah, doing work on paper is good too, but it's also true that they need to be able to use computers.

@Nadia A

I agree. it's true, if just as soon as they are out of Elementary, they will use computers for everything and won't have good penmanship, not to mention their spelling. With the new tech, spelling errors are corrected by the machine and not by the student himself.


I think it's a good idea to stop teaching cursive and focus on more important skills. I know cursive, and I've never been in a situation in which cursive was needed. Writing and grammar are of course essential skills, but cursive is not.

@Nadia A.

While I agree with you that penmanship and spelling are important, it is also much easier for a middle school or high school student to type out a long research paper or essay on a computer. It is also easier to go back over your paper and edit it on a computer while if you were doing it completely on paper you might have to rewrite the entire page two or three times to get it right. Also, having something like a commonplace or copywork book would definitely solve the problem of not doing cursive.

@ Zack W

When I was getting my photo ID there was a 16 year old girls next to me who did not know how to sign her name on her drivers listens because she didn't know cursive!
I persanoly rite everything in Cursive.

@ Rebecca F

yes But tha'ts why you do a ruff draft.

Nadia A

Yea but lets say you write a paper (in cursive) and you correct all your mistakes, then you start writing it again and you realized you accidentally made another mistake and another and it just keeps going on! In the end you may have 3 to 6 rough drafts and you have wasted hours on something that you could have done on the computer in 1 hour or less. With a computer you only need to write one paper. I do think people should still practice penmanship but sometimes a computer or phone etc. is a lot easier than writing with your hand.

thomas here

hey zach and rebecca, it's write and rough. i'm just telling you this because this is an article about school and you may as well take the time to spell correctly


What? I didn't spell anything wrong.

I am home schooled, so I do

I am home schooled, so I do most of my stuff by hand, plus I have good handwriting and I do calligraphy. But sorry, that's not about the article. Anyway, I think that this issue is kind of unfair for people who can't pick up a good signal or who are poor and can't afford computers and stuff. But, editing stuff on a computer is definitely easier than writing it out by hand, although I wouldn't necessarily say it's better.

Sorry, did my last comment

Sorry, did my last comment make sense? I am really tired so it feels like my brain isn't functioning properly. Anyway, just checking.


I doubled checked my comment before I posted it and I just checked it over again right now and I am almost positive that there is not a single spelling mistake in the entire thing. I think that you might have been looking at the title of the comments and not who the comment was actually by when you wrote your comment. Am I correct?

Yes I think he was talking

Yes I think he was talking about Nadia A when she was talking to you guys

@Lena P.

Yeah, it makes sense and I agree with you. I am also homeschooled and I have recently started writing a lot of my stuff on the computer because I can write longer written narrations that way and edit them more easily. I still write a lot of my exams and commonplace entries in cursive though.

I think that today's students

I think that today's students get enough experience with tech without their teachers refusing to give them paper copies. I would consider it mean to refuse to give someone who can't afford a computer a paper copy.

@Everyone in the penmanship conversation
Maybe cursive doesn't seem to have a ton of practical use but it is much faster to write neatly and it helps me to keep my letters more even and in a line and it also is very beautiful. I write my rough draft in pen and then I type it and make edits on the computer. That way I get the thoughts out without worrying about how it looks and making tons of changes right away, and then when I am ready to edit it is very easy to change one or two words without rewriting a page and a half.

@ Emilia G

then you learn from your mistakes so the next time you write something you will mind you spelling or google or use a dictionary to check your spelling.

@ Lena P

I do calligraphy to!

I find that writing using the

I find that writing using the computer, is a lot easier and way more efficient than writing by hand; writing by hand takes a lot longer and like Emelia commented, it is an easier way to fix mistakes than having to rewrite the same paragraph or essay over and over again.

@ Nadia A.

Cool! What type of calligraphy do you do? I do Gothic and Celtic, both of which are Medieval, and then I do that cutesy cursive calligraphy that is very popular nowadays.

Nadia A and Lena P

I just started learning calligraphy! I don't know what type it is but it's really pretty!

@ Emelia G.

Cool! If you want to describe what the calligraphy you are doing looks like, then maybe I could tell you what type it is (you don't have to if you don't want to).

Lena P

I lokked it up and I am doing traditional (like old day) and modern calligraphy.

*Spelling fix*

Looked not lokked

@ Lena P

I think its the simplist one. I'll find out what one it is and tell you. ok? : )=

@ Emelia G., cool! That's

@ Emelia G., cool! That's awesome! And @ Nadia A., sounds good to me! :-)

I agree that it is MUCH more

I agree that it is MUCH more easier to write on the computer, but learning how to write cursive is also important for signing documents such as your driving permit/license and a check and a lot more. I write about EVERY single thing in cursive.


I write in like 5 or six different ways it drives everybody nuts but I like it........ and you don't need a computer for everything! I mean kids like for thousands of years without Electronics! I kinda feel like so people want electronics to take over our lives!!! (but this is just my opinion)

To above

I agree with you. Kids these days can't live without their phones, laptops, or their videogames. We don't have that kind of a problem at our house. We kids don't have phones of our own, although we have laptops, but that is just for school. AS for videogames, we used to play about two hrs per week, but recently we got grounded from playing videogames indefinitely, so we don't have that problem any more.

@Ana-Paula G

How did you get grounded indefinitely?

To above

Well, every week we had two hours of videogames; my mom didn't really like our playing with videogames from the beginning, but she was looking for a reason so we might not be able to play anymore. So, the last time we played, we played for four hours and well, that's how we got grounded indefinitely.


My mom doesn't let the kids in my family have phones either. I would want one to talk to all my friends (right now I just use my mom's phone for that) but I don't think I really need one. My parents let us play 30 minutes of video games per day on the weekdays and 1 hour on the weekends. I don't really like video games though, I'd much rather watch TV or read. I think using a computer is easier but I really love to write by hand.

@ Ana-Paul G and Emilia G

The kids in our home don't have phones. We don't kneed them! If I want to call a friend I use our Home phone. that doesn't have a screen. And as withe video games. We don't play them. I'd rather read!

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