This information is especially important for school districts that lack adequate broadband, as it enables technology leaders to demonstrate the need to decision-makers and highlight the opportunities created by network upgrades.
As data published about school broadband networks is often outdated or inaccurate, clean data empowers policymakers to take the steps that are necessary to close the K-12 connectivity gap. It also supports service providers that have traditionally struggled with serving rural areas, or those seeking additional insight into the needs of potential customers.
Building the Foundation for Our Work
The data that we collect and clarify helps our team identify new filing trends, understand purchasing patterns outside of the E-rate program, and advocate for a more effective program to support school district broadband connectivity. It also powers our free tools, including:
- Compare & Connect K-12, our broadband speed and price transparency tool.
- State of the States, our annual report on the state of K-12 connectivity across the nation.
- Policy work, including notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) comments and responses.
Most importantly, it helps our team identify those school districts most in need and make sure they have the resources to take action for their students.
Nationwide Data Accuracy
Every year our organization embarks on an extensive data assurance process to collect, clarify, and update Internet speed and pricing data for America’s K-12 public school districts. We believe that building transparency around that information and making it readily available is essential to closing the connectivity gap; here’s our approach.
1. Open E-rate Data
Thanks to the Second E-rate Modernization order, all E-rate Form 471 data is available to the public. Our engineering team downloads:
- Broadband services, pricing, connection type, and service provider data from the Universal Services Administrative Company’s (USAC) publicly available E-rate Form 471 filings.
- School district demographic information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
- Boundaries for state maps from the U.S. Census.
2. State Partnerships
Our collaboration with state leaders, state agencies, state E-rate coordinators, E-rate consultants, and consortia leaders, ensures their in-depth knowledge of the broadband ecosystem in their region is ever-present in our analysis and insights. While helping us to better understand our data they also contact school districts directly in cases where detailed information is needed, such as the WAN connections between schools at a district.
3. School District Surveys
While open E-rate data has allowed us to understand the national landscape of K-12 broadband data, we know that this process is not perfect; school districts often procure Internet outside of the E-rate process to support their technology goals. To get a complete picture of the nation’s connectivity, we rely on the voluntary participation of school districts to update their data on an annual basis. In the past, we’ve partnered with AASA, NSBA, CoSN, ISTE and AESA to send school districts a brief optional survey on their network upgrade plans for the next year. We corroborate their answers with their E-rate Form 471 data and update our public school connectivity dataset.
We want to extend our sincere thanks to our partners and all of the state, regional, and school district leaders who have helped clarify their broadband data with our team. Your support ensures that school district leaders across the country can make more informed buying decisions and get the bandwidth they need to enable digital learning for all students.
To ensure the accuracy of publicly available data continues to help drive the fight for educational equity, please find your school district on Connect K-12 and update your 2020 district broadband information.