Home Access Needs
Assessment Playbook

Identify Students who Lack Home Internet

A step-by-step guide to help school districts identify students who lack a home Internet connection or a dedicated learning device.

Inaccurate responses, inefficient collection processes, and incomplete datasets are common pitfalls for school districts when surveying families about home technology access. Identifying unconnected students is the first step in closing the homework gap. Below you’ll find free tools, templates, and best practices to help you get started.

Step 1 | What Data to Collect

  • Define the data fields you will collect that support your district’s strategic objective to connect every student. With the right plan and fields in place, your school district will be able to identify each student that does not have access to sufficient internet access or a dedicated learning device at home.  
  • Review our question bank, which is aligned with data elements that have been formally approved by the Common Education Data Standards initiative as of May 2021. This set of data elements were identified in collaboration with State Education Agencies, school districts, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and other industry experts (see Blueprint for State Education Leaders)
  • Check with your State Education Agency to confirm any data reporting requirements and processes.
  • Determine a common set of data fields and corresponding response choices that your district will collect for every student to assess home access.  

Step 2 | How to Collect Data

  • Create a plan for collecting home access data that maximizes participation rates with your families and the accuracy of the information collected. Response rates tend to be higher when the data is collected through an existing, required process (e.g., student registration) and when outreach is targeted and direct (e.g., a calling campaign). 
  • Consult with key district stakeholders such as your Superintendent and Communications, Family Engagement, and Data / Systems representatives to get program buy-in and sign-off.
  • Use our question bank to adjust your school district’s registration/enrollment process. If that’s not an option, consider sending a targeted survey campaign.
  • Assemble your outreach team and the resources you’ll need to manage a data collection effort. Conduct a training session and create a schedule for your outreach team.
  • Draft materials to support both one-to-many communications that will notify families of the data collection effort (e.g., social media posts), and one-to-one communications to support targeted outreach (e.g., call scripts). 
  • Set up a data entry and outreach tracking tool to organize responses for each student and track your campaign’s progress. 
  • Launch your outreach campaign to contact families and assess their home access needs.

Step 3 | Where to Store Data

Ideally, home digital access data that has been collected is stored in a common repository that is secure, easy to update, can produce customizable reports, and is readily accessible to school district leaders.

Work with your SIS administrator to add fields that are aligned with your established set of data fields and response choices. Many state leaders have taken action to encourage SIS vendors to add home access fields to their core products.

Reach out directly to your State Education Agency for the status in your state.

Step 4 | Visualize

Use our Home Digital Access Mapping Tool to visualize student connectivity data and find Internet service provider options for unconnected households.

Set up a secure account, load your data, and overlay local Internet service provider options and the location of hotspot solutions.

No matter where you are on your data journey, our tools and resources can help you efficiently analyze barriers to connectivity and devices and design plans to address them. For more information please contact us.