How states help K-12 districts support robust and equitable broadband

SETDA report examines state and district efforts to increase connectivity at lower costs
By: | April 11, 2019
Some states use a statewide K-12 education broadband network or they utilize regional networks and alternative connection models. Others purchase network services through a commercial or nonprofit provider, which can be more costly, the report says.Some states use a statewide K-12 education broadband network or they utilize regional networks and alternative connection models. Others purchase network services through a commercial or nonprofit provider, which can be more costly, the report says.

State education leaders can coordinate efforts to support districts and schools in providing digital access both on and off campus, according to a State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) report.

Some states use a statewide K-12 education broadband network to expand high-speed bandwidth options and to lower costs for districts, or they utilize regional networks and alternative connection models. However, some districts purchase network services through a commercial or nonprofit provider, which can be more costly, the report says.

State K-12 Broadband Leadership 2019: Driving Connectivity, Access and Student Success” looks at how states demonstrate leadership in this area to ensure that districts have access to adequate infrastructure, bandwidth capacity and wireless networks.

“All states, in some shape or form, are providing leadership to implement broadband across their districts, but this report highlights what states are doing so that their districts can tap into all the available resources that they’re working to provide,” says Christine Fox, deputy executive director of SETDA and study co-author. “The approaches vary greatly, but from our perspective, we’re encouraged that states are providing that leadership and pushing the envelope so that no district or school is left behind.”


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Some examples of state education department practices include:

  • Internal wireless connection funds: The Massachusetts Digital Connections Partnership Schools (DCPS) Grant is a competitive, matching state grant program that provides funding to public school districts to ensure robust internal and external connectivity.
  • State coordination with libraries: Missouri’s local libraries offer rental devices and mobile hot spots to patrons. Nebraska’s libraries leave Wi-Fi routers on after hours so students can access the internet from the parking lot.
  • Policies and guidance for districts on developing wireless networks: Louisiana has set statewide goals and targets for implementing reliable Wi-Fi, LAN and WAN architecture in schools, from preschool to high school. Oklahoma has produced a Wi-Fi Best Practices guide.
    This fall, SETDA will release a report providing updated recommendations for education broadband capacity targets. The paper will also highlight challenges and recommendations for on- and off-campus connectivity, and examine emerging broadband policies at the state and federal levels.

This fall, SETDA will release a report providing updated recommendations for education broadband capacity targets. The paper will also highlight challenges and recommendations for on- and off-campus connectivity, and examine emerging broadband policies at the state and federal levels.


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