School Internet connections on the upswing

An overwhelming majority of public schools are now connected to the Internet, and classroom connections have increased dramatically in the past five years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Education Department's National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

The report, "Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-1999," found that Internet access in schools reached 95 percent in 1999, while classroom hookups increased from 3 percent to 63 percent during the same time period.

An increased number of public schools also reported upgrading their network connections. By 1999, dedicated-line networks and other high-speed technologies were being used in 86 percent of schools, and only 14 percent were relying on dial-up connections.

However, the survey did reveal some disturbing trends, specifically with regard to the digital divide. Nearly three-quarters of classrooms in relatively wealthy areas are connected to the Internet, but only 39 percent of classrooms in poorer areas have access.

The NCES survey was sent to 1,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 1999 and is accessible online.

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