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Digital Divide and 2020 NJDOE Technology Data Collections

On July 16, 2020, Governor Murphy unveiled his Administration’s plan to address unmet pre-K-to-12 student technological needs in New Jersey schools, commonly referred to as “the digital divide.” To equip students with the learning devices and internet connectivity needed to close the digital divide in areas of highest need, the plan leverages innovation and support from private partners; $10 million in CARES Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, plus up to $44 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funds, for a total of $54 million to support public schools; and an additional $6 million in CRF funds available for nonpublic schools.

The State’s plan for reopening schools makes clear that remote learning will continue to play a role in students’ education throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Many districts have opened with hybrid schedules that include both in-person and remote learning components, while others will begin the year entirely remotely as they plan to implement in-person health and safety standards. Additionally, families in every district around the State have the option to select fulltime remote learning for their students according to local district policy. The prominence of remote learning in 2020-2021 education models underscores the importance of prioritizing students who otherwise would lack access to a learning device and/or internet connectivity.

Student Device and Connectivity Weekly Information Sharing

Summary for Week of November 18th  

Beginning in mid-October, each week local education agencies, including charter schools, Renaissance School Projects, and Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (APSSD) are required to share information on the number of Pre-K 3 to Grade 12 students currently needing devices and/or internet connectivity and the barriers preventing students who need a device and/or connectivity from having access to them. The following summarizes the results of this collection.

Response Rate

  • Overall, 97.1% (807 of 831) entities have shared information on student devices and connectivity.
  • “Entities” that are required to report include not only all school districts, but also charter schools, Renaissance schools, and Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (certain non-public schools approved by the state to serve special needs students)

Digital Divide

  • To date 70.4% (568 of 807) of all respondents have shared that they have bridged the digital divide by reporting zero students currently needing a device or connectivity or both a device and connectivity.
  • This number is up 0.2% from last week, when 567 entities reported zero need

Student Device and Connectivity Needs

  • Statewide, entities report 34,538 students (approximately 2.5% of statewide enrollment) currently needing a device, connectivity, or both. This is down 1.4% from last week. The table below provides a breakdown of the numbers.

  Weekly Digital Divide Data Collection*

October 21st

October 28th

November 4th

November 11th

November 18th

% Change Nov. 4th to Nov. 11th

Entities Reporting

685

760

798

807

807

1.1%

Students that Need Both a Device and Connectivity

17,671

13,967

8,066

7,078

7,078

0.0%

Students that Need a Device Only

32,782

28,217

26,505

23,176

22,773

0.0%

Students that Need Connectivity Only

9,150

8,205

5,170

4,757

4,722

-7.0%

Total Need

59,603

50,389

39,741

35,011

34,538

-1.4%

*Note: These data are as reported by school districts or other entities that are required to submit.

  • While the Department continues to refine these submissions and work collaboratively with the entities to better understand their reported data and to ensure that it accurately reflects their needs now, or for this school year, district-reported data might reflect human error or misunderstanding of the requested information.

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