Rural Success: Affordable WiFi, Laptops Boost Students' Test Scores and Local Economy

Greene county student with laptop

Could wireless internet service really improve a rural community? Greene County, North Carolina, a former stronghold of tobacco production one hour east of Raleigh, now has some compelling answers.

The community showed high rates of poverty, low educational attainment, and outmigration through the 1990s, as declines in the domestic tobacco industry dragged this, "the second most tobacco dependent county in the U.S.," into economic decline. But community leaders made a major investment -- in local citizens and technology.

Since providing all students grades 6 through 12 with laptop computers, beginning in 2003, and installing an affordable countywide wireless internet system so that those computers are easy to use, there have been remarkable changes.

In Greene County "SAT composite scores increased by 41 points....High school proficiency scores increased from 53 percent to 78.4 percent since 2003. More than 80 percent of the 2006 Senior Class applied to college compared to 28 percent of the 2004 Senior Class."

Read more at The Daily Yonder.