Bridging the Digital Divide: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Providing Internet Access
A “digital divide” exists in access to technology and internet connectivity. Policymakers argue that this divide impedes lower-income and minority students’ ability to complete schoolwork and succeed academically. This narrative has inspired government and private entities to direct large investments toward bridging the digital divide in the hopes of reducing achievement disparities across socio-economic groups. However, there have been no large‑scale experiments testing the idea that access to the internet improves student achievement. This study identifies the causal effect of bridging the digital divide on student achievement by randomizing the provision of 10,000 smart phones, tablets and hot spots, with 5-year data plans, to high school students who lack home internet access. This project is project is a part of a larger initiative, the Sprint 1Million Project, which is providing these devices and data plans to one million high school students across the country. This study will inform policies that aim to provide internet and digital devices to low-income students.