California has a strong K-12 research and education network infrastructure for public and private educational institutions. The K-12 High Speed Network program governs participation in the network and is funded by the California Department of Education. This program provides the K-12 system with a dependable source of high-speed internet services, data reporting, teaching and learning tools, and videoconferencing capabilities, among other features – at no additional cost to participating districts. These programs provide valuable support for teachers and students and help improve performance. Currently 79% of California schools are connected – a noteworthy achievement. However, plenty of work remains to bring the benefits of the network to all California students.
CALinnovates believes the state should make expanding access to the K-12 High Speed Network a high priority. This program can reduce the achievement gap by methods of learning to students who otherwise might be left behind. It also provides professional development opportunities for teachers by giving them new tools to complement their lesson plans. Also, the data capabilities provided by the network will make it easier for administrators to evaluate their schools in a number of categories.
The technology industry values its partnership with the education community and believes the potential of this partnership remains untapped. With approximately 1/3 of California students failing to graduate from high school and achievement lagging behind other states, we must find better ways of engaging students academically. Technology like the K-12 High Speed Network is a key ingredient of this.