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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Funding Available to Help Schools With Limited Internet Connections

Posted on 08/29/2014

Classroom Technology
OTAN Photo | Randy Bayne

Eligible districts and charter schools are encouraged to apply for new funding to help school sites connect to a high-speed network in time for next spring's new online assessments, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said today as he announced the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG) Program.

"The real world thrives on interconnectivity and so must our children's education in order to prepare them for college and careers," Torlakson said. "With the help of this grant, even children in the farthest reaches of the state will have a chance to connect to the world around them."

The BIIG funding opportunity is being administered by the K-12 High Speed Network External link opens in new window or tab in consultation with the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education. The goal is to help students, educators, and staff connect to a reliable high-speed network so they can implement the new computer-based California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress External link opens in new window or tab (CAASPP) assessments in the 2015 spring testing window. Funding was provided by a one-time Proposition 98 General Fund re-appropriation to support network connectivity.

Local educational agencies are eligible for nearly $27 million in BIIG funding. Priority for funding will be given to those school sites that without such help would be unable to conduct the CAASPP. The grants must be used to enhance school site Internet connections.

Another component of the BIIG Program is a report on the overall status of network connectivity in California's schools. This report will also be completed by the K-12 High-Speed Network, and is due by March 1, 2015, to the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst's Office, and the budget committees of each house of the Legislature.

For more details, visit the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant External link opens in new window or tab Program Web page.

Advancing education technology in California is one of Torlakson's priorities. He convened his Education Technology Task Force External link opens in new window or tab in 2012 to recommend ways to bring 21st century tools into California's classrooms to improve teaching and learning. The Task Force released its blueprint in April entitled, Empowering Learning: California Education Technology Blueprint, 2014 – 2017 External link opens in new window or tab(PDF), which focuses on four key areas: learning, teaching, assessment, and infrastructure.

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