Vitiello credits the program with leveling the academic field in a way no other intervention has achieved.“Our students now have the same access to materials that other students have.
Despite its success, the program is not self-sustaining and funding is limited.
After the pilot ended, however, AT&T agreed to work with Alvin Dunn for another school year year.
But what does this mean for the 5 million households with school-age children that do not have high-speed Internet service at home?
The homework gap forces students in these household to head over to the library to squeeze in two more hours of homework instead of going home for dinner after a long sports practice.
In 2015, the FCC announced plans to upgrade its Lifeline plan that provides telephone access to low-income households.
This upgrade would extend support beyond voice service to allow participants to choose between applying the same support to either voice or broadband service.The dilemma has become, says Krueger, “the civil rights issue of today.” For Terrence Vitiello, a 6th grade teacher at Alvin Dunn Elementary in San Marcos, CA., improving student access to technology-based learning is simply a matter of duty.Almost 90% of Alvin Dunn’s students qualify for the federal lunch program and “The world is changing and the skills that students need to thrive are changing,” says Vitiello.” Krueger points to the so-called “homework gap,” or the barriers students face when working on homework assignments without a reliable Internet source at home.This gap has widened as an increasing number of schools incorporate Internet-based learning into daily curriculum.According to a recent study from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Family Online Safety Institute and My College Options, nearly 50% of students say they have been unable to complete a homework assignment because they didn’t have access to the Internet or a computer.Furthermore, 42% of students say they received a lower grade on an assignment due tol ack of access.Our team is seeing our students close the achievement gap.” says Vitiello.According to a report by Project Tomorrow, 96% of Alvin Dunn students specifically impacted by the homework gap stated that these LTE enabled devices helped them to become better students, and 78% stated they “worked together with my classmates more often” as a result of taking a device home.But it is essential that students have access to the proper materials 24/7.” Nancy Hayashi, a Distinguished Teacher in Residence at Cal State and a former Alvin Dunn educator, believes the lack of access to broadband is robbing millions of students of their full potential.“You can have a child, who attends all the intervention programs a school can offer for years, be a highly motivated learner in school and have supportive parents, but is unable to truly reach their academic potential due to lack of access,” explains Hayashi.