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November 21, 2005

Study: Internet Has No Impact On Student Performance

Courtesy of TechWeb News

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The billions of dollars that the federal government has spent connecting schools to the Internet has had no impact on student performance, a University of Chicago study released Monday showed.

The study looked at the impact of the E-Rate federal program, which has spent roughly $2 billion a year since 1998 to narrow the so-called "digital divide" between schools in rich and poor districts.

While the research confirmed that the number of poor schools going online increased dramatically, the fact that more students had access to the Internet had zero impact on each school's performance on the Stanford Achievement Test, which has been administered in California since 1997.

The study analyzed school data from California, which is the only state that kept comprehensive records of school computer and Internet access before the E-Rate initiative was enacted in 1998.

"We didn't find any evidence that increased access to the Internet led to improved test scores," Jonathan Guryan, associate professor of economics at the university's Graduate School of Business, said.

As to why Internet access didn't boost student learning, Guryan said it was possible the schools did not know how to make effective use of the Web, or it's just not an effective way to boost test scores.

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