Connect K–12 Report Shows Marked Increase in School District Internet Connectivity
- By Kate Lucariello
In its fourth and final report on K–12 school district internet connectivity, Connected Nation's (CN) Connect K–12 program tracked a 57.4% increase in the three years since 2020, and now 74% of the nation's school districts meet or exceed the FCC's 1 Mbps bandwidth per student goal, an increase of over 5 million students since 2022.
The report was compiled in partnership with Funds for Learning and is based on 2023 application data from the FCC's School and Libraries Program (E-rate).
Under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program alone, $42.45 billion will be invested to enhance broadband infrastructure across all 50 states and the five U.S. territories. While BEAD will focus primarily on unserved and underserved locations, the whole telecom system will also be enhanced, the report noted.
Meeting or exceeding the FCC goal means a cheaper cost, the report revealed. In 2023, the cost per megabit has dropped for those districts to 85 cents, while districts who have not met it are paying a median cost of $1.55.
"This demonstrates that the FCC's goal is not just attainable, it actually benefits school districts in several ways," said Emily Jordan, vice president of education initiatives at CN. "Students and teachers are getting the connectivity they need in every classroom, every day, and the districts are potentially saving money."
Other key findings include:
- In 2023, 16 states have 80% or more of their districts meeting the connectivity goal, as opposed to only nine states in 2022.
- Kentucky's districts made a huge leap in 2023, going from 49th in 2022 to fifth, with 97% meeting the FCC goal.
- Of the nation's 12,911 school districts (representing nearly 55 million students), 3,330 are still not meeting the goal. That translates to nearly half the nation's students (close to 24 million) who still lack adequate bandwidth to take advantage of all the possible digital learning opportunities.
To learn more and download the report, visit this page. The ConnectK12.org website will remain live through the end of the 2024 funding year, but connectivity and cost data will continue to be available for free on Funds For Learning's website.
Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.