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Equity

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights recently released a Dear Colleague Letter on Resource Equity. Excerpts from the letter related to technology are provided below.

OCR Dear Colleague Letter: Resource Equity

This letter calls attention to disparities that persist in access to educational resources so that districts may address disparities and comply with the legal obligation to provide students with equal access to these resources without regard to race, color, or national origin.

The Problem of Unequal Access to Educational Resources

Research confirms what we know intuitively — high-quality schools can make a dramatic difference in children’s lives, closing achievement gaps and providing students with the opportunity to succeed in college and their chosen careers. The allocation of school resources,however, too often exacerbates rather than remedies achievement and opportunity gaps.

In addition to facilities, access to instructional materials and technology for students and teachers can impact the quality of education as well as students’ ability to engage with digital resources outside the classroom. Technology and other instructional tools and materials support teachersin properly delivering, enhancing and personalizing the curriculum. Access to these important instructional resources varies between high-poverty schools that are heavily populated with students of color and more affluent schools serving fewer students of color. While gaps by raceand income in student access to technology are narrowing at a national level, disparities persist regarding the number and quality of computers or mobile devices in the classroom, speed of internet access, and the extent to which teachers and staff are adequately prepared to teach students using these technologies. High-quality instructional materials for students andteachers, including digital learning materials, textbooks, library resources, and other materials, promote rigorous engagement with the curriculum, and so when school districts provide these resources they must ensure that students have comparable access to them without regard to race, color, or national origin.