Governors Drive Dramatic Progress in Connecting America’s K-12 Students to High-Speed Broadband

SAN FRANCISCO — January 17, 2017 – EducationSuperHighway, the leading non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America, today released their second annual “State of the States” report on the state of broadband connectivity in the nation’s K-12 public schools. In the past year, an additional 10.4 million students now have the minimum connectivity they need to take advantage of technology in the classroom and as a result, 88 percent of school districts nationally are now meeting the minimum connectivity goals.  

Key report highlights include:

  • 34 governors across the U.S. took bipartisan action to upgrade their schools in 2016 – with 5 states connecting 100 percent of their students to high-speed broadband.
  • 35 million students, 2.4 million teachers, 88 percent of school districts, and 70,000 schools are now achieving the minimum 100 kilobits per second (kbps) per student goal set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • Broadband has become dramatically more affordable for schools, with the cost of Internet access falling 40 percent from $11.73 per Mbps in 2015 to just $7 per Mbps nationally today.
  • 15 percent of school districts now have enough broadband – 1 megabit per second (Mbps) per student – to support the most innovative, video-rich digital learning opportunities for all of their students.

This progress means many of America’s schools are nearing the connectivity levels of top performing schools across the globe, giving our students the tools they need to prepare for and compete for 21st century jobs. In just a few years, America has taken significant steps to decrease its digital learning disadvantage and is now implementing innovative education technology in more classrooms than ever before.

Across the country, governors from both sides of the aisle are recognizing the importance of high-speed connectivity to U.S. global competitiveness and have stepped up to significantly narrow the school connectivity gap. Today 42 governors have committed to upgrading their schools for the 21st century, including seven of the eight newly-elected governors.

“Governors nationwide are leading the charge to connect all of the classrooms in their states,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “We have the power to level the educational playing field and we can make the goal of upgrading the Internet access in every classroom in America a reality.”

“By ensuring that every classroom across the country has access to high-speed Internet, we are giving America’s students more pathways to the quality education they need to succeed in today’s economy,” said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. “As governors, we have made great progress, but there is more work to do.”

Internet service providers have also been crucial in upgrading America’s K-12 schools. By giving school districts more bandwidth for their budgets and extending their networks to underserved schools, service providers have made broadband significantly more affordable and accessible across the country. In the last year, over 3,700 school districts upgraded their bandwidth and 39 percent of them did so at no additional cost.

“Every child deserves the best education possible, and a key part of that is ensuring that every classroom has access to high-speed Internet service. Broadband providers have an unprecedented ability to help school districts provide high-quality education by working closely with them to achieve connectivity goals,” said Jim Holanda, Chief Executive Officer. “At Grande Communications, we’re very proud to be bringing 100 percent of the districts we serve to the 100 kbps goal.”

Despite Progress, 11.6 Million Students and 19,000 Schools Left Behind

While significant progress has been made, 11.6 million students and 19,000 schools are still being left behind without the connectivity they need to take advantage of technology in the classroom. Without access to high-speed Internet, students are at an immediate disadvantage and will have a harder time being successful in today’s global economy. The report also revealed that:

  • 3,723 schools in predominantly rural areas lack the high-speed fiber infrastructure needed to give their students the connectivity they need for a 21st century education.
  • Over 15,000 schools report insufficient Wi-Fi infrastructure in their classrooms to support the 1:1 device to student ratios being used in the most advanced digital learning environments.
  • Not all school districts have access to affordable broadband. School districts that are not meeting the minimum 100 kbps per student goal pay close to 2.3 times more per Mbps than those that are meeting the goal. 7.4 million students would have the connectivity they need if these districts had access to affordable broadband.
  • Fifteen service providers could upgrade 6 million students by the start of the next school year if they joined the 530 service providers that have already upgraded 100 percent of the districts they serve to 100 kbps per student.

“The nation has made huge strides in classroom connectivity during the past year. However, we still have a long way to go to provide every student in America with access to high-speed broadband,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Governors and Internet service providers are driving progress against this goal and are the key to finishing the job so all students can take full advantage of digital learning opportunities.”

The report is based on an analysis of 2016 FCC E-rate data representing 10,499 school districts, 73,000 schools, and more than 38 million students. To access the full State of the States report, visit http://stateofthestates.educationsuperhighway.org/.

 

About EducationSuperHighway

EducationSuperHighway is the leading non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America. We believe that digital learning has the potential to provide all students with equal access to educational opportunity and that every school requires high-speed broadband to make that opportunity a reality.

We catalyze federal and state action on K-12 broadband initiatives and are currently working with governors in 20 states covering 20 million students. We work directly with school districts to accelerate network upgrades by connecting them to competitive service provider options in their areas. Our Compare & Connect K-12 online tool helps schools and service providers view broadband services and bandwidth information for school districts nationwide so they can get and deliver more bandwidth for their broadband budgets. As a non-profit, our tools and services are offered free of charge.   

EducationSuperHighway is funded by national foundations including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and our mission is supported by America’s leading CEOs.