Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-30-2022


The digital divide and digital equity have long been a concern for educators, and public schools. In 2020 when the COVID-19 global pandemic swept across the country, public schools closed for in person classes and moved to a new paradigm of online only classes, issues of digital equity and the digital divide became a critical focus for families and young learners seeking to continue their academic progress. New Mexico with its low population density, rural nature and lack of infrastructure was particularly vulnerable to issues of digital equity when public schools moved to online only classes. This study investigates the relationship between urban and rural schools with respect to digital equity and student academic progress. Data from the New Mexico Public Education Department on rates of absenteeism and dropout rates was examined to determine if there were differences between urban schools with highly available broadband access and rural schools with limited broadband access. The results of this study were unexpected, finding strong similarities in academic progress as measured by rates of absenteeism and dropout rates for both urban and rural school districts.

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Public Education, Digital Divide, COVID-19, Digital Equity

Document Type




Degree Name

Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Trenia Walker

Second Committee Member

Allison Borden

Third Committee Member

Krenare Nuçi

Fourth Committee Member

Debby Knotts