Closing the “digital divide” doesn’t boost test scores, concludes a new study reported in Ed Week’s Inside School Research. Jacob L. Vigdor and Helen F. Ladd looked at North Carolina students in fifth through eighth grades who got home computers from 2000 to 2005; they also studied Internet access.
The news was not good, though: The researchers found that students who gain access to a home computer between 5th and 8th grade tend to experience a slight — yet persistent — decline in reading and math scores. With regard to the introduction of Internet access, the researchers found that the technology had a more negative impact on some students than others — possibly because parents of those students exercised less control of their activities on the Internet.
Apparently, computers are more likely to serve as a distraction than an educational tool for middle schoolers.