Connectivity of Kentucky schools shoots from 49th nationally to fifth

Published 10:05 am Friday, December 1, 2023


A national non-profit group based in Bowling Green has released a study showing most U.S. School districts are now meeting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) internet connectivity goal, with Kentucky listed as the state with most improvement over last year.

Connected Nation’s(CN)Connect K-12 Program has released its 2023 Report on School Connectivity, 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 FCC’s bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student.

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The latest data show that 74% of school districts (9,573) across the country are now providing internet access at speeds that are sufficient to support digital learning in their classrooms every day and impacting 27.1 million students, an increase of more than 5 million students since 2022.

Other findings include:

• Sixteen states now have 80% 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% of districts now having access to the FCC benchmark.

• However, 3,330 of the nation’s 12,911 school districts are not yet meeting the goal.

“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, CN’s Vice President of Education Initiatives.

“In fact, the cost is substantially higher for those school districts not meeting that level of connectivity,” she noted.  “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 1 Mbps goal dropped to just 85 cents, while those districts not meeting the goal are paying well above that median price at $1.55 per megabit.

The data 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.