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Virginia Implements Statewide Collection of Student Home Broadband Access

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia needed a complete picture of student home access to devices and broadband. The state couldn’t apply resources to address the problem without an accurate understanding of student access. In 2022, Virginia passed legislation requiring every school district to submit an annual report to the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development listing the 911 address of all students who do not have home broadband access, defined by speeds at or above 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. 

Data collection processes can be challenging to establish, and school districts had to devise methods of collecting accurate information from families. In addition, the data includes PII such as student addresses and must be secured. Data collection is more efficient now that systems have been established to gather and protect it. Student information systems must include standardized fields to store the data without requiring districts to make costly custom requests. 

By systematically collecting device and access metrics across Virginia, the state has a comprehensive data set for broadband planning. At the local level, districts can understand better how to serve their students and families.