SAN FRANCISCO– Today, national non-profit EducationSuperHighway announced, in its “2017 State of the States” report, more than 39 million students in America have access to high-speed Internet at school. In its third year of releasing the status of broadband connectivity in the nation’s K-12 public schools, EducationSuperHighway highlights that an additional 5.1 million students gained vital access to high-speed Internet in the classroom. This year’s results show that 94 percent of school districts nationwide now meet the minimum 100 kilobits per second (kbps) per student goal set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2014.
The report confirms that America continues to make extraordinary progress in narrowing the K-12 digital divide. Overall, 39.2 million students, 2.6 million teachers, and 74,000 schools are now achieving the minimum connectivity goal that gives students equal access to digital learning opportunities. However, 6.5 million students are on the other side of the digital divide without access to high-speed Internet. A divide that is particularly wide in the 1,587 rural K-12 schools that don’t yet have the infrastructure necessary to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn.
“America made a historic promise to our students in 2013 to connect every school district to high-speed Internet,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “We’ve made great progress since then; however, our work is far from over. It is critical that federal and state leaders, schools, and service providers continue the hard work necessary to close the connectivity gap.”
Governors and state leaders across the country have taken notice and played a crucial role this year in bringing high-speed learning opportunities to every classroom. Today, a total of 46 governors have committed to upgrading their schools for the 21st century. Taking advantage of E-rate Modernization, governors have allocated nearly $200 million in state matching funds for special construction that can help connect the hardest-to-reach-schools.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently announced that the state connected its final school district awaiting high-speed broadband.
“We have made incredible progress during the past two years and are thrilled that we now have 100 percent connectivity throughout the state for our public schools,” said Governor Hutchinson. “We’re especially proud that all of the rural school districts, which are often the least served and have the most need, now have equal digital access and the world of learning opportunities that high-speed Internet provides.”
Arkansas now joins eight other states that have successfully connected 100 percent of their schools to high-speed learning opportunities, opening a new chapter for each and every student.
To make this possible, governors are working closely with Internet service providers to make broadband more affordable for schools. In just the last few years, the cost of broadband has dropped 78 percent from $22 per Mbps in 2013 to $4.90 per Mbps in 2017.
“We recognize the critical role service providers play in closing the digital divide for America’s students. As a result, our school customers are some of our most important customers,” said Barry Adair, Executive Vice President of Wabash Telephone Cooperative. “We are proud to be delivering high-speed broadband to all of the school districts we serve and eager to expand our network to connect even more students.”
While dramatic progress has been made in the last year, continued action is crucial in connecting the 6.5 million K-12 students who still lack access to high-speed classroom Internet. Only by working together can governors, state leaders, and school districts succeed in closing the connectivity gap and providing all students with equal access to digital learning opportunities.
The State of the States report is based on an analysis of 2017 FCC E-rate data representing 11,038 school districts, 72,707 schools, and more than 39.3 million students. To access the full report, visit http://stateofthestates.educationsuperhighway.org/.