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Taking It Forward

Explore resources to take digital equity work forward in your context

This guide exists as a starting point to help school and system leaders have meaningful, actionable, and iterative conversations around digital equity and to develop concrete plans of action. Now that you have explored the content and begun to work through the Self-Assessment Tool and Reflection and Planning Workbook, it is time for you to move this work forward with your team – regardless of where you are in your journey. This final section includes additional resources and resources to allow you to further expand your toolbox and dive deeper into the literature framing this work.

To begin, this checklist from Digital Promise can be used as an additional reflection piece to identify your current status and help you determine where you might need to focus more effort.

A teacher and a little girl looking at a tablet

These additional resources provide additional technical guidance to further support your digital equity initiative:

  • K-12 Leaders’ Guide to Successful Technology Integration: Created by Digital Promise as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program, this guide helps districts create equity-focused school cultures that sustain the integration of one-to-one technology, support teachers in leveraging technology, and ensure that students have powerful learning experiences.

  • Supporting Students & Families in Out-of-School Learning: This toolkit created by the Consortium of School Networking discusses five strategies schools and districts can implement to address the homework gap and four steps school leaders can take to collaborate with local governments and other community leaders.

  • Privacy Jump-Start Guide: Project Unicorn produced this three-page starter guide to help foster conversations around protecting student data and privacy and to provide access to a number of different resources.

  • Delivering on the Promise of Digital Equity: Digital Promise released this whitepaper to help state and local community leaders find innovative and effective ways for investing resources in K-12 education to increase digital equity across nine "big plays" in three critical focus areas.

Quick Links From This Guide:

Although the pandemic has shined a spotlight on the issue of digital equity, researchers have been describing the ongoing disparities for over three decades. Over time, reports have shifted from addressing the digital divide, to the homework gap, to the digital use divide. As you read different reports, think about: how they frame the issue of digital equity; how they offer evidence to support your digital equity initiatives; and how you might carry ideas forward into your context.

  • Closing the K-12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning: This four-part series was produced by Common Sense in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group and the Southern Education Foundation. From describing the state of the homework gap at the start of remote learning to making recommendations to state and district leaders, this series of reports details the challenges of learning while disconnected during the pandemic.

  • Learning at Home While Under-connected: Lower-Income Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Conducted in the spring of 2021, this report presents the results of a nationally representative phone survey of households with school-aged children and income levels below the national median. Although rates of device ownership and internet access have increased, respondents reported that this access was far from sufficient or reliable to meaningfully engage in work or learning. At the same time, despite the challenges of remote learning, many parents reported gaining a greater understanding of their children as learners and stronger relationships with their children’s schools.

  • Students of Color Caught in the Homework Gap: Sponsored by the Alliance for Education, this report analyzes data from the 2018 American Community Survey conducted for the Alliance for Excellent Education, National Urban League, UnidosUS, and the National Indian Education Association. Of note, it includes an interactive map to provide a better understanding of the availability of internet access in each state.

  • Bridging Digital Equity and Culturally Responsive Education in PreK–12: Leveraging Pandemic Pedagogy to Rethink the Status Quo: After conducting a roundtable conversation with digital equity and culturally responsive education experts, New America produced this brief to frame conversations that extend beyond the issue of digital access.

  • Creativity in Learning: This national report produced by Gallup and sponsored by Apple highlights the challenge of the digital use divide. Despite widespread technology access in schools, teachers and students report that its use rarely includes transformative, creative projects. Of note, students and teachers who attend schools that receive Title I funding reported far fewer creative opportunities than their more affluent peers, often citing lack of access as a barrier.

  • The Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology: Though several years old, this was one of the first national studies of technology use among African American teens and their parents. The research found that African American teens do not adhere to gender or racial stereotypes about computer use. However, they are less likely to have been exposed to formal opportunities to learn topics such as coding and less likely to learn about computers through informal sources such as classmates or peers.

  • Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools: Produced by Gallup and sponsored by Code with Google, this report presents findings from a survey to understand student perceptions of and access to computer science. While parents, principals, and superintendents overwhelmingly reported that computer science should be an integral part of K-12 education, students expressed less interest.

  • Moving Forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap: Created as a companion piece to the report above, this resource focuses specifically on students in rural communities. When asked whether they had interest in computer science, or access to computer science classes, rural students reported both less interest and opportunity.

The Learning Accelerator is grateful for the many individuals and organizations whose contributions made this project a reality. In particular, we thank the following individuals for their guidance, insights, and resources.

  • Hali Larkins, former TLA Intern and current Impact Fellow, Office of Educational Technology

  • Susan Bearden, Director of Digital Programs for InnovateEDU

  • Teshon Christie, Executive Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Kent School District

  • Diane Doersch, Technical Project Director at Digital Promise

  • Matthew Hiefield, Digital Equity Champion and District Curriculum Developer in Beaverton School District

  • Nicol Howard, Associate Professor and Associate Dean at University of Redlands

  • Ken Shelton, Digital Equity and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Expert

This resource is offered to the field through a CC-BY Creative Commons License. Suggested citation is as follows: Holland, B., Larkins, H., & Rabbit, B. (2021). Digital Equity: A Guide for School & System Leaders. The Learning Accelerator. Portland, ME.

Do you have your own stories and resources to share? Have questions? Contact the team at