Broadband in Public Schools

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Broadband in Public Schools

The new 2015 State of the States Report from Education Superhighway tracks the progress of public school districts toward the FCC’s connectivity goals. The data in the analysis is taken from recent E-Rate application data that represents:

  • 6,781 public school districts
  • 49,000 schools
  • 25 million students

School connectivity is often strongest in those states where focused action has been taken by state leadership and state agencies. The report found that executive leadership can significantly accelerate the pace at which school broadband is upgraded.

The map below identifies the 38 states whose governors are committed to finishing the job of upgrading their schools and leading the way by taking state-level action. To be designated a leader requires that the governor’s administration has made a public commitment to improving K-12 connectivity and taken specific actions during the governor’s term.

broadband in public schools

Report Highlights

  • In 2013, Education Superhighway reported that 40 million students were without the broadband they needed for digital learning. At that time, only 30% of school districts were meeting the FCC’s minimum Internet access goal of 100 kbps per student. Over the last two years, an additional 20 million students have been connected.
  • Although less than 300,000 teachers had the digital tools and resources they needed in 2013, approximately 1.7 million teachers now have the broadband they need to deliver a 21st century education.
  • Today, 77% of districts representing 59% of schools and 53% of students meet the FCC’s minimum access goals.
  • However, 23% of school districts still do not meet the FCC’s minimum goal, which leaves 21.3 million students without the connectivity they need to take full advantage of digital learning opportunities.
  • The gains from 2013 to 2015 are a result of significant investment by states and districts in their infrastructure and Internet access as well as a decline in the cost of broadband. The median cost of Internet access declined 50% from $22 per Mbps in 2013 to $11 per mbps in 2015.
  • In schools with a focus on digital learning, bandwidth demand is growing at a rate of 50% per year. In order to ensure that students and teachers are able to maximize the impact of technology in the classroom, the FCC established a future goal of 1 Mbps per student for Internet access. Today, only 9% of districts are at this level of connectivity.

Digital learning and robust technology gives students the opportunity to shift from passive to active learners as it allows for a personal learning path. And best of all, technology levels the learning field by providing equal access to all students.

The report concludes with a state-by-state report card that rates the state based on current bandwidth activities, level of commitment to improving Internet access, number of opportunities for improvement and the current level access to fiber, Wi-Fi installations, and affordability.