America’s Unconnected Students
Students are being asked to work remotely. But 9.7 million don’t have reliable Internet at home.
COVID-19 has forced closures for virtually all of the nation’s K-12 schools. The ability to connect to online education at home has become critical to maintaining a continuity of learning during this crisis.
A Pew Research Center study estimates that roughly one-third (35%) of households with children ages 6 to 17 and an annual income below $30,000 a year do not have a high-speed internet connection at home. Assuming 35% of public school students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch lack Internet access outside the classroom, we estimate that 9.7 million students lack the connectivity necessary to continue their coursework at home during the pandemic.
Use the map below to apply our estimates by state, school district, and school.
ABOUT THIS MAP
This map uses a model designed to help estimate the number of unconnected students at each school.
The model provides an ESTIMATE and not a substitute for robust data collection and surveying at the local level to accurately assess the number of students without connectivity.
This model serves as a starting point to estimate the number of students who need internet connectivity. It is important to consider multiple models and data sources in assessing your school district’s needs and use them in line with intended policy and goals.
Some states have more precise data that show a higher or lower rate of connectivity. For example, see how North Dakota bridged the home access gap.
The student count data for each school was obtained from NCES 2016-2017. With a few exceptions, ESH used USAC student counts if unavailable in NCES 2016-2017 or manually updated if alternate information was provided by a school district.
Free or Reduced-Price Lunch
School Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (FRPL) data was obtained from USAC FY2019. For any missing values, NCES 2016 – 2017 data was used, and then if those were missing NCES 2015 – 2016 data was used. Any other missing values are extrapolated from school district-level FRPL percentages.
Locale Classification – Urban/Suburban/Town/Rural
School locale is determined using NCES 2016-2017 with the Locale Code, Urban-Centric field
- 11/12/13 – Urban
- 21/22/23 – Suburban
- 31/32/33 – Town
- 41/42/43 – Rural