SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, EducationSuperHighway, the national non-profit dedicated to upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America, released the first annual 2015 State of the States report on K-12 broadband connectivity. The data and insights in the report unveil a comprehensive state-by-state review of connectivity challenges and opportunities for public schools across the country.
In 2013, EducationSuperHighway reported that only 30 percent of school districts nationwide were meeting the Federal Communications Commission’s minimum Internet Access goal of 100 kbps per student, leaving 40 million students without the broadband needed for digital learning. Since then, an additional $2.5 billion per year in broadband funding from the FCC and extensive work by EducationSuperHighway, governors, school districts, state-level officials, service providers, and other partners has led to an additional 20 million students getting connected.
Despite this tremendous progress across the country, EducationSuperHighway’s report finds that 23 percent of school districts nationwide are still not meeting the minimum Internet access goal, leaving 21 million students without the connectivity they need for digital learning. Today, EducationSuperHighway announces that 38 governors have committed to finish the job of connecting all students in their states to digital learning opportunities.
“Digital learning has been embraced by students and teachers across the country, but it can't happen without first connecting all of our students to high-speed Internet. By working together to put a broadband foundation in place, we can ensure that every student, in every state has equal opportunity for a world-class education,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway.
“Quality education in our schools is critical to preparing students for successful futures, ensuring a growing economy, and building an increasingly competitive America. Just as the Internet and technology are transforming the business world, they will transform education and unlock opportunity for all students. There is more work to do, but I'm thrilled at the progress schools have made and commend those that have stepped up to connect our students,” said Jim Coulter, Founder and Co-CEO of TPG.
As the State of the States report shows, many states have made great progress toward ensuring every classroom has equal access to broadband. This new level of connectivity has led to great strides forward in digital learning, such as schools in Washington that are using technology to help struggling students and increase graduation rates or real-time classroom polls that help Oklahoma schools adapt lesson plans to meet student needs as they happen.
These gains that have been made in the last two years have been driven in part by dramatic improvements in the affordability of broadband, lowering the median cost of K-12 Internet access from $22 / Mbps to $11 / Mbps.
Key findings of the report include:
- 38 governors have committed to connect their K-12 students.
The top 5 states leading the way in school district connectivity are:
- Wyoming (100% connected)
- Hawaii (100% connected)
- South Dakota (98% connected)
- Connecticut (97% connected)
- Maine (97% connected)
- 1.5 million more teachers now have the broadband they need to deliver a 21st century education – whereas only 300,000 had the tools they needed in 2013.
- The cost of Internet access for schools has fallen 50% over the last two years, but affordability still remains the number one roadblock to connecting America’s students: the average cost per Mbps of districts meeting the FCC’s goals is $5.07, while those not meeting the goals pay $12.33.
Today, 12% of schools that need a fiber connection do not have access
to one, preventing over 4.5 million students from having the broadband
they need. EducationSuperHighway estimates that it will cost $1
billion to connect these schools, a number well within the FCC’s $3.9
billion E-rate program’s budget.
- Gaps in fiber access disproportionately affect schools in more rural areas: 21% of rural schools lack fiber connections, whereas only 5% lack access in urban areas.
Thirty-eight governors have stepped forward to finish the job of connecting America's students to educational opportunity. EducationSuperHighway is calling for governors in every state to take action:
- Provide every school with access to fiber. Governors in California, New York, New Mexico, and Montana have launched programs to leverage the $1 billion of federal funding to bring fiber to all of their schools. This funding through the FCC is available over the next three years to provide every school across the U.S. with access to fiber. To meet federal connectivity goals, 92 percent of schools will need a fiber optic connection.
- Make bandwidth affordable. Washington, Maine, and Georgia have aggregated K-12 broadband demand on statewide networks to lower the cost of Internet access. A continued focus on affordability, with a goal of lowering the cost of Internet access to $3 per Mbps, can enable another 12 million students across the country to utilize technology in the classroom.
- Provide every classroom with robust Wi-Fi. Governors in North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Georgia have created programs to upgrade the Wi-Fi in classrooms throughout their state. With over $3 billion of FCC funding for Wi-Fi connections available over the next four years, every school district should be able to upgrade its Wi-Fi to enable one-to-one digital learning in its classrooms.
The State of the States report, based on a sample of 6,700 school districts representing approximately 49,000 schools and over 25 million students, is intended to help governors and state leaders learn where their public schools stand and identify opportunities for action needed to connect all students to the promise of 21st century digital learning.
To view the full report and view an individual state’s data, visit www.educationsuperhighway.org/stateofthestates
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.
EducationSuperHighway’s data-driven programs accelerate upgrades in America’s schools. We help governors develop strategies to upgrade their schools, get fiber to schools that need it, and make broadband more affordable for school districts. Our work served as a catalyst for the modernization of the Federal Communications Commission’s $3.9 billion E-rate program, earning our CEO the 2015 Visionary of the Year award from the San Francisco Chronicle. For additional information, please visit http://www.educationsuperhighway.org/.