Connect K-12 to help state, district leaders improve school connectivity

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Nonprofit Connected Nation (CN) announced this morning the launch of Connect K-12, a free website that provides internet speed and pricing transparency information to help schools identify broadband solutions and negotiate better deals for services—with the objective of helping schools achieve the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) school bandwidth goal of 1 mbps per student in every school nationwide.

The site, connectk12.org, was designed to provide insights and includes a national dashboard that tracks state progress toward meeting the FCC’s goal. It was developed in partnership with Funds For Learning Inc. and carries forward the important work of nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, which sunset in August.

“Improving connectivity at school and in the home has become a national priority as our students and teachers navigate a world that has been so deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Emily Jordan, vice president of Connect K-12. “Digital teaching and learning can only happen when adequate broadband is available. Connect K-12 will equip state and school district leaders with the powerful intelligence they need to identify better internet pricing and negotiate cost-effective upgrades to meet this demand.”

In addition to the Connect K-12 website launch, CN released a report that examines the current state of classroom connectivity across the United States. Some highlights include:

  • 47% of districts nationwide are already meeting the 1 mbps per student goal, representing 15.4 million students, 6,132 school districts
  • 31.9 million students do not yet have access to the bandwidth needed for digital learning to happen in every classroom, every day
  • 67% of students still need access to scalable broadband for digital learning
  • With the data available on Connect K-12, 33% of districts can be upgraded in the 2020-2021 school year, about 4,300 school districts nationwide
  • Prior to the pandemic, 81% of teachers said they “strongly agree” or “agree” they see great value in using digital learning tools
  • During the pandemic, 93% of teachers now report providing at least some instruction online

As part of this work, 44 governors have committed to achieving the FCC’s 1 mbps per student bandwidth goal in their states—including governors from both highly populated and largely rural states.

“Connection, communication, and collaboration are critical to both innovation and student success,” said Gov. David Ige, DD-Hawaii. “Hawaii has long been a leader in broadband access for students, with 100% of our schools having fiber access for many years. I am committed to maximizing our students’ learning opportunities and support the goal of every student having access to 1 megabit per second of bandwidth.”

A commitment from state governors, coupled with support from state legislatures, broadband providers, and state education departments, is needed to provide students and teachers with the internet connectivity they will need for the future.

Connect K-12 currently reflects school connectivity data for E-rate funding year 2020 and will be updated next year after the close of the funding year 2021 filing window.