California, home of Silicon Valley, has the worst computer-to-student ratio of any state in the nation. In the District of Columbia, in the region handling 65 percent of the world’s internet traffic, schoolchildren have the worst access to internet-capable computers.

Such disparities are documented in an annual report on school technology released Oct. 26. Many states still lag behind in student computer access, the report said, even though the number of school computers has doubled since 1993 to 8 million nationwide. Furthermore, said the report, if classroom computers are going to make a difference, the nation must focus on training teachers to do more with them than surf web sites and send eMail.

“The public is beginning to ask for proof that their investment in technology has paid off,” according to the report by Market Data Retrieval of Shelton, Conn. “It’s no longer sufficient to point to inventory lists, as important as they are, as the only proof of progress.”

Still, that’s mainly what the Dun & Bradstreet research subsidiary’s sixth annual “Technology in Education” report focuses on as it highlights state-by-state comparisons of student-to-computer ratios. And despite a national low of 5.7 pupils per computer, down from 10.8 in 1993, this year’s results continue to show varying degrees of computer access nationwide.