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Districts meeting or exceeding this benchmark pay less for high-speed school internet connectivity and access than others.

Majority of districts now meet FCC’s school internet connectivity goal

Districts meeting or exceeding this benchmark pay less for high-speed internet access than others

Key points:

Seventy-four percent of districts (9,573) across the country now have school internet connectivity at speeds that are sufficient to support digital learning in their classrooms every day–impacting 27.1 million students, an increase of over 5 million students since 2022.

Do all students have access to the internet?

The latest statistics come from Connected Nation’s (CN) Connect K-12 Program’s 2023 Report on School Connectivity, released in collaboration with Funds For Learning (FFL). 

The annual report, now in its fourth and final iteration, includes findings on the nation’s progress toward meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student and combating a lack of internet access–and the effects of lack of internet access–for students.

“A critical finding is that school districts that are meeting the 1 Mbps per student goal are also getting access at a much lower rate than those districts not meeting that benchmark,” said Emily Jordan, Vice President of Education Initiatives, CN. “In fact, the cost is substantially higher for those school districts not meeting that level of connectivity. The good news is school and state leaders can leverage CK12’s free and easy-to-understand data to better navigate the market when negotiating new internet contracts — giving them the information they need to obtain better rates for their budgets and better connectivity for their classrooms.”

In 2023, the national median cost per megabit for districts meeting or exceeding the school internet connectivity speed goal dropped to just 85 cents. In comparison, those districts not meeting the goal are paying well above that median price at $1.55 per megabit. 

“This demonstrates that the FCC’s goal is not just attainable, it actually benefits school districts in several ways,” said Jordan. “Students and teachers are getting the connectivity they need in every classroom, every day, and the districts are potentially saving money.”

The data on internet access in schools in the 2023 Report on School Connectivity was compiled and analyzed by CN in partnership with FFL and is available to the public on the website. 

How does lack of internet access affect students?

The free site aggregates, analyzes, and visualizes federal E-rate data and provides internet pricing and speed transparency that equip state and district leaders with critical information on school connectivity and affordability–key statistics that help district leaders advocate for edtech resources as they work to eradicate a lack of access to technology in education. Key takeaways from this year’s Connectivity report include: 

  • 74 percent of all U.S. school districts now meet or exceed the FCC goal
    • That’s an increase of 57.4 percent since 2020 
  • 16 states now have 80 percent or more of their districts at 1 Mbps per student
    • Only nine states met the goal in 2022
  • Kentucky saw the biggest leap from 2022 to 2023
    • Jumping from 49th in the country to 5th with 97 percent of districts now having access to the FCC benchmark
  • 3,330 of the nation’s 12,911 school districts are not yet meeting the goal

How does access to technology affect education?

Access to technology, especially technology and tools powered by the internet, is essential for learning.

Technology transforms K-12 education by enhancing engagement, personalizing learning, and fostering collaboration. Edtech tools like immersive experiences, educational apps, and online platforms empower educators to create dynamic, interactive lessons.

This digital evolution equips students with essential skills, preparing them for a future where technology plays an integral role in every aspect of society.

Why students should have internet access at home

When it comes to digital equity, U.S. schools are well-positioned to help families get online with low-cost, high-speed internet options through the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), according to a new study from Discovery Education and Comcast.

However, the study also found that educators lack centralized resources and direct support necessary to successfully overcome barriers to the digital divide. Released to help support this year’s Digital Inclusion Week theme of “Building Connected Communities,” key findings include: 

  • Nearly all educators surveyed feel strongly that digital equity is more important today than ever before. 
  • 82 percent of families and 80 percent of educators surveyed feel strongly that high-speed Internet at home is extremely important to fulfilling learning outcomes. 

Home internet access is essential if students are to complete homework and assignments, access research tools, and build digital skills to carry them through college and the workforce.

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