Massachusetts is taking action to improve the digital divide in classrooms across the state

One year ago we launched the Massachusetts Digital Connections Initiative in partnership with Governor Baker’s Office, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and MassIT. Since the initiative launched, EducationSuperHighway and our state partners have focused our efforts on ensuring that every student in Massachusetts gets the bandwidth necessary to support digital learning in the classroom.

Last year, EducationSuperHighway delivered a comprehensive report on school connectivity across Massachusetts. The report showed that 47% of students lacked the minimum connectivity (100 kbps per student) necessary for digital learning. During this time, the state also launched a school technology readiness survey, which was completed by 117 school district leaders and provided insight into the internal network needs across the state. The results of the connectivity report and survey gave us enough information to provide the tools and resources to help close the school connectivity gap. Since the start of our partnership in Massachusetts we have:

  • Held network consultation calls with more than 80 school district technology leaders to understand their unique network challenges and opportunities.
  • Kicked-off 27 projects with school districts like Attleboro Public Schools, Granby Public Schools, and North Reading Public Schools to help them get fiber connections to schools that lack access.
  • Led interactive webinars to improve broadband price transparency and discuss opportunities for school districts to increase bandwidth for little to no additional cost.
  • Collaborated with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), MassIT, and the Department of
    Telecommunications and Cable (DTC) to hold a convening for service providers.
  • Met and mingled with hundreds of education leaders at the annual MassCUE conference in October.
  • Helped state leaders prioritize $2 million in state funding for scalable network infrastructure.

Since the partnership began, we have seen tremendous success with school upgrades across the state. In particular, Andover Town & Schools uses Compare & Connect K-12 to quickly compare Andover’s bandwidth per student to neighboring districts. By using the tool’s sorting features, technology director, Paul Puzzanghera, discovered that while Andover was doing well in terms of the negotiated contract price, the district was lagging behind its neighbors in bandwidth per student. As a result, during the E-rate bid process, he was able to leverage the information to request double the bandwidth to match surrounding school districts.

As we head into 2017, the Digital Connections Initiative continues its focus on getting high-speed Internet access for all schools. We look forward to supporting more school districts, like Andover, to successfully upgrade their bandwidth to support digital learning needs now and into the future.

If you are a school district in Massachusetts and want to learn more about how EducationSuperHighway can help, schedule a call with members of our team using this link or contact a district consultant at greer@educationsuperhighway.org.