More than 39 million U.S. students have high-speed internet access at school, and 94 percent of school districts meet the minimum 100 kbps per student goal set by the Federal Communications Commission, according to a new report.
The State of the States report from nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, now in its third year, shows that an additional 5.1 million students gained high-speed access in the classroom.
The report also reveals that the gap between students with high-speed internet access and those without is particularly troubling in rural areas–1,587 rural K-12 schools still don’t have the infrastructure necessary to support the high-speed internet and digital resources educators need to teach students with the latest technologies.
(Next page: States have committed to ensuring all students have high-speed internet access)
Policymakers continue to play a crucial role in expanding these high-speed learning opportunities to students and classrooms. A total of 46 governors have committed to upgrading their schools for the 21st century. Taking advantage of E-rate modernization, governors have allocated nearly $200 million in state matching funds for special construction that can help connect the hardest-to-reach-schools.
“America made a historic promise to our students in 2013 to connect every school district to high-speed internet,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “We’ve made great progress since then; however, our work is far from over. It is critical that federal and state leaders, schools, and service providers continue the hard work necessary to close the connectivity gap.”
In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state connected its final school district awaiting high-speed broadband.
“We have made incredible progress during the past two years and are thrilled that we now have 100 percent connectivity throughout the state for our public schools,” said Governor Hutchinson. “We’re especially proud that all of the rural school districts, which are often the least served and have the most need, now have equal digital access and the world of learning opportunities that high-speed internet provides.”
Arkansas joins eight other states that have successfully connected 100 percent of their schools to high-speed learning opportunities.
Governors work closely with internet service providers to make broadband more affordable for schools. In just the last few years, the cost of broadband has dropped 78 percent from $22 per Mbps in 2013 to $4.90 per Mbps in 2017.
The State of the States report is based on an analysis of 2017 FCC E-rate data representing 11,038 school districts, 72,707 schools, and more than 39.3 million students.