This past spring, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a partnership between the state of Virginia and EducationSuperHighway to work toward ensuring that all Virginia public schools have equal and affordable access to broadband technology. We were thrilled to join Governor McAuliffe in the push for increasing school connectivity and the digital learning it enables, and excited to see recognition that K-12 broadband access is a critical component of creating a stronger workforce and more competitive economy in Virginia.
Virginia was one of two states that we selected to participate in a state broadband project in 2014. For these projects, we work closely with state governments, education agencies, and their partners to develop successful, data-driven strategies for upgrading connectivity in all K-12 public schools.
We commenced Phase I of our Virginia project with a deep dive into the data to discover the current connectivity speeds and costs across Virginia. After six months of collection and rigorous analysis, EducationSuperhighway met with Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, Secretary of Education Ann Holton, and other stakeholders to share our initial discoveries. This was an important milestone of our work in Virginia because, as a data-driven organization, we rely on data to reveal the most effective solutions to K-12 broadband access challenges.
In November, EducationSuperHighway team members premiered the preliminary analysis and visualization of our data on connectivity and cost in divisions (school districts) statewide. Thanks to the participation of 97% of divisions in the data collection, we were able to identify:
- Median cost per Mbps per student
- Divisions with affordable pricing and robust connection speeds
- Cost drivers for high-speed Internet access
So what’s next for EducationSuperHighway and our work with Governor McAuliffe in Virginia? With the blessing of Secretary Jackson and Secretary Holton, we are preparing to launch a second phase of research and analysis to deepen our understanding of the barriers to connectivity among divisions in Virginia. This deeper dive will enable us to develop well-vetted, data-driven solutions to help school divisions lower the cost of high-speed Internet access – and increase digital learning opportunities for students.
We are looking forward to our continued worked with Governor McAuliffe, the Virginia Department of Education, and the Virginia Secretary of Technology, and will continue to share updates as we work towards tangible solutions to the state’s broadband access.
Our other state projects include a comprehensive analysis of Arkansas’ connectivity options—read our recently released report, “Smarter Spending for Smarter Students: Upgrading Arkansas’ K-12 Broadband.” Interested in having your state participate in our 2015 state broadband projects? Please contact our State team by visiting: www.educationsuperhighway.org/state-projects.