April 17, 2015
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Reports California Making Progress on School Connectivity
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reported to state leaders today that California is on the right path toward connecting all students to the world through technology.
The California Department of Education, State Board of Education, and the K12 High Speed Network worked together to present its findings in the Connecting California's Children 2015 Supplemental Report: Findings and Observations to the California Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst's Office, and the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees.
"This report provides a snapshot of where we are today, so we can take the steps to ensure no child is left offline and all students have access to the technology that will prepare them for college and careers in our high-tech economy," said Torlakson. "It shows our progress in connecting students and teachers to the Internet thanks to the $27 million state funding last year, while also demonstrating the need for the additional $100 million in technology proposed by Governor Jerry Brown."
Connecting California's Children 2015 reported that the vast majority of schools are able to administer the state's new online tests with minimal disruption, but schools still face challenges in providing adequate and consistent connectivity. These challenges include the need to provide last and middle mile connections, and to upgrade local infrastructure. Rural schools generally reported lower computer connection speeds than urban schools.
"Providing easy access to digital resources and online instructional materials for students, teachers, and schools continues to be a priority," explained State Board of Education President Mike Kirst. "A strong infrastructure also provides access to computer-based test results to teachers much faster than in the past, making it possible for them to adjust instruction during the year to meet the needs of their students."
The report said schools have taken advantage of various state, federal, and local funding sources to improve connectivity, including the federal E-rate program, the California Teleconnect Fund discount off telecommunications services, the Common Core State Standards implementation funds to upgrade technology, and the nearly $27 million in state Broadband Infrastructure and Improvement Grants. Those funds helped 227 school sites enhance their network connectivity.
Torlakson is a strong supporter of the Governor's proposed $100 million in next year's state budget to support investments in Internet connectivity and infrastructure to administer the state's new online tests.
Those funds, in addition to the K-12 High Speed Network's existing operational budget, could help implement the report's observations about how to improve connectivity. These include creating and sharing best practices, educating and disseminating information to schools about future funding for technology improvements, providing continued support and resources to schools, and piloting a voluntary program to report network performance.
The report builds on Torlakson's California Education Technology Blueprint that recognizes California's high-tech industry as a world leader and major driver of the state's economy. The Blueprint calls for implementing Torlakson's No Child Left Offline vision of one-to-one computing ratio for every child and educator to prepare all students for 21st century jobs.
# # # #
Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100