(TNS) -- Though the number of K-12 students who have access to high-speed broadband has more than doubled nationally in the past two years, about 1 in 10 Washington school districts still don’t meet the minimum standard for Internet access in the classroom.
In Washington, 88 percent of the state’s school districts meet the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Internet access goal — 100 kilobits per second per student. That’s what ‘s needed for adequate digital learning, according to EducationSuperhighway, a broadband-advocacy nonprofit. Washington state ranks 15th in the percentage of school districts meeting the FCC goal.
“Digital learning has the power to transform education in this country, but that can’t happen without first connecting all of our students to high-speed Internet,” EducationSuperHighway CEO Evan Marwell said in a news release.
In Washington, the students in classrooms without access to high-speed broadband typically live in areas with few people, towns far from major transportation, or communities in mountainous or forested terrain, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In Waschtucna, Adams County, students aren’t able to receive information from colleges or stream education videos because of the district’s limited access to broadband, according to OSPI. And teachers in Pend Oreille County’s Selkirk School District have to drive up to 200 miles for continuing education courses, unable to take them online.
EducationSuperhighway’s report cites three main roadblocks to meeting the Internet-access goal: fiber access, broadband affordability and insufficient school district budgets.
The report notes that Washington has lowered the cost of Internet access for schools to meet the goal of $3 per megabits per second. And Gov. Jay Inslee is one of the 38 governors who have committed to improving access in their states’ public schools.
Nationally, the FCC has modernized its E-rate program to expand wifi networks in schools and libraries. Last year, the program set a goal of expanding the networks to 10 million more students and thousands of libraries in 2015. Within five years, the program hopes to provide next-generation broadband to all students.
©2015 The Seattle Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.