Are Classroom Internet Use and Academic Performance Higher after Government Broadband Subsidies to Primary Schools?
Keywords:internet use, subsidies, primary education
AbstractThis paper combines data from a government programme providing broadband access to primary schools in Ireland with anonymised survey microdata on schools’, teachers’ and pupils use of the internet to examine the links between public subsidies, classroom use of the internet and educational performance. The microdata are drawn from the 9-year-old cohort of the Growing Up in Ireland Study. We estimate regression models to identify the factors associated with internet use in the classroom and students’ scores on standardised reading and mathematics tests, and we check whether internet use is endogenous in the test score models. We find that provision of broadband service under the government scheme is associated with more than a doubling of teachers’ use of the internet in class after about a two year lag. Better computing facilities in schools are also associated with higher internet use, but advertised download speed is not statistically significant. Internet use in class is associated with significantly higher average mathematics and reading scores on standardised tests. A set of confounding factors is included, with results broadly in line with previous literature.