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  • Middle and high school students who do not have access to the Internet from home, or are dependent on a cell phone for access, perform lower on a range of metrics, including digital skills, homework completion, grade point average, and standardized test scores, such as the SAT. Those without fast, home Internet access are also less likely to plan to attend college or university. A deficit in digital skills compounds many of the inequalities in access and contributes to students being less interested in careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math. This report is the result of a collaboration between the Quello Center at Michigan State University (MSU), Merit Network, and fifteen, predominantly rural Michigan school districts. The study was designed to understand the repercussions of poor or no home Internet access on student performance and the associated costs to society. This report examines how differences in the type and quality of home connectivity (e.g., broadband vs. cell phone) relate to school performance and other outcomes in students in grades 8-11, in fifteen predominantly rural and small-town, Michigan, school districts. De-identified student data were collected through: (1) a paper survey completed in class by students aged 13 and older in partner school districts, (2) standardized test scores (i.e., PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and SAT) provided by school districts, and (3) home Internet speed tests. Between May and June 2019, 3,258 students from fifteen school districts in twenty-one schools across 173 classrooms completed the project survey; they represented 70.6% of students aged 13 and older in grades 8-11 in the participating districts.
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