Published: October 1, 2008

Racial Inequality in Computer Access?

Racial inequalities in education are often examined by analyzing patterns of inputs, like per-pupil funding levels, and outputs, such as test scores. However, we can also understand inequality through differences in access to learning tools.

The EPE Research Center explored student access to instructional computers by calculating the number of computers available for a typical classroom (about 16 students at the primary level) and compared those results for schools with high versus low concentrations of racial and ethnic minority students. Nationally, schools with fewer minority students have four computers for every class of 16 students. That compares with 4.4 computers in classrooms of high-minority schools. In 16 states, no effective difference exists in computer access based on race. However, differences at both ends of the spectrum can be striking. In the District of Columbia, for example, classrooms in low-minority schools have three more computers than schools with high concentrations of minority students. But in South Dakota, high-minority schools have nine more computers per class.

For more state-by-state data on computer access and other topics, search the EPE Research Center's Education Counts database.

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