Survey explores rural student technology access, advanced course-taking, and extracurricular participation

An ACT survey of rural students finds that although their at-home internet access and advanced math and science course-taking lags behind their non-rural counterparts, they are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities at school.

Of the students surveyed, only 82% of rural students said they had great (36%) or OK (46%) internet access at home, compared to 90% of non-rural students. Internet access was slightly better for rural students than non-rural students at school, but both groups were more likely to report unpredictable or terrible access at school than at home.

For technology devices, rural students were less likely to report having having smartphones (1% gap), laptops/desktops (5% gap), and tablet/Chromebooks (3% gap) at home than non-rural students. At school, rural students were more likely to have access to laptops/desktops, but less likely to have access to smartphones or tablets.

ACT also surveyed students about whether they had taken or were planning to take high-level mathematics and sciences courses (trigonometry, calculus, other advanced math, physics, and chemistry). In all cases, rural students were less likely than non-rural students to report taking these courses. They were also less likely to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, but more likely to take dual-enrollment college courses.

Rural students reported a higher percentage of participation in all the extracurricular activities included on the survey, with the largest gaps occurring in the areas of varsity athletics and music.

Source: Croft, M. & Moore, R. (2019). Rural students: Technology, coursework, and extracurricular activities. Iowa City: IA: ACT Center for Equity in Learning.

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