WASHINGTON — Connected Nation’s “Connect K-12” program has released its report on U.S. school connectivity for E-rate Funding Year 2021, which includes findings on the nation’s progress toward meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student. 

In partnership with Funds For Learning, Connected Nation has also refreshed its connectK12.org website, which provides free internet speed and pricing intelligence to help state and district leaders compare progress with their peers, identify potential alternative broadband solutions, and ultimately negotiate better deals for services.

“Our objective is to help every single school in the country achieve the FCC’s bandwidth goal so that immersive digital teaching and learning opportunities are made possible in every classroom, every day,” said Emily Jordan, Connected Nation’s vice president for Connect K-12. “During the pandemic, we have witnessed just how important robust connectivity is to our nation’s students and teachers. And, given the unprecedented level of state and federal investment in learning devices, such as laptops and Chromebooks for student use, it’s now more important than ever that state and school district leaders everywhere strive to achieve the FCC’s 1 Mbps per student bandwidth goal so that poor connectivity is not a barrier to digital learning.”

ConnectK12.org aggregates, analyzes, and visualizes federal E-rate program data at the district and state levels. The site currently reflects school connectivity data for funding year 2021. Key takeaways include the following. 

  • More than half (59%) of school districts nationwide now meet or exceed the 1 Mbps per student — a 25% increase from the number of districts that were meeting the goal in 2020. 
  • The national median bandwidth per student has risen above 1 Mbps for the first time to 1.25 Mbps.
  • The median cost per megabit has decreased from $7.00 in 2015 to $1.39 today.
  • Unfortunately, 1,703 school districts across the U.S. are still paying more than $5 per megabit, and 746 districts are paying more than $10 per megabit.

“While these findings are encouraging, there is still much work to be done. The data show that 27.6 million students in the U.S. still lack adequate speeds to effectively participate in digital learning activities in the classroom,” said Jordan. “The good news is there is an opportunity right now for 1,798 school districts (representing 12.1 million students) that have contracts expiring to pursue upgrades during the 2022 E-rate funding cycle, which is currently underway. That is the equivalent of 14% of all school districts nationwide, and they all can use Connect K-12 to make better purchasing decisions.”

Governors in 43 states have made commitments to ensure their schools have adequate bandwidth to enable digital teaching and learning in every classroom, every day. Those commitments are outlined on each state’s “overview” page.

It takes just a few seconds to access district- or state-level data on connectk12.org. The site was designed to make it possible for district leaders to easily compare their current internet pricing and speeds with those of nearby districts, simply by searching for their district’s name on the home page. 

In addition, state-level leaders can see how their state compares with others by accessing the site’s national dashboard, or they can view their own state-specific snapshot by clicking on the “state” tab at the top of the home page. State snapshots are also available as downloadable PDFs.