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State Wi-Fi Leadership for Fostering Digital Learning Ready K–12 Schools

State Wi-Fi Leadership for Fostering Digital Learning Ready K–12 Schools

Providing access to robust connectivity is critical to ensuring today’s students are college and career ready. As such, federal, state, and district-level leaders have dedicated a significant amount of time, effort, and resources toward improving our schools’ external broadband access, including both Internet access and wide area network (WAN). The integration of digital tools such as mobile devices, adaptive learning software, and real-time analytics has heightened the need to expand the broadband imperative to include access to high-quality, ubiquitous Wi-Fi access. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) addresses this need and recommends that “students and educators have broadband access to the Internet and adequate wireless connectivity.” State education departments are taking note and evaluating the internal accessibility needs of their schools and generating policies and funding pathways to support their growing demands.

This paper explores the steps states are taking to address the wireless equity gaps that exist among their schools. Leaders from Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah outline the planning, policy, funding, and management approaches their state agencies and education technology leaders are adopting regarding Wi-Fi, and they share their recommendations for promoting and/or creating equitable access opportunities to high-quality Wi-Fi connectivity.

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