H79: Student Digital Learning Access. Latest Version



AN ACT to require the state board of education to maintain a digital learning dashboard updated annually by public school units and to require recommendations to the joint legislative education oversight committee based on information on student digital learning access during covid‑19.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.(a)  Part 3A of Article 8 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

§ 115C‑102.9.  Digital learning dashboard.

(a)        The State Board of Education shall establish and maintain an electronic dashboard to publicly display information related to digital learning. The State Board shall include in the dashboard, at a minimum, the following categories of information to be reported:

(1)        In‑school digital device access, including the following information disaggregated by public school unit, school, and grade level:

a.         Number and percentage of students with access to digital devices within the school.

b.         Source of digital devices, such as the public school unit or the student's home.

c.         Type of device.

(2)        Out‑of‑school digital device access, including the following information disaggregated by public school unit, school, and grade level:

a.         Number and percentage of students with access to digital devices outside of the school.

b.         Source of digital devices, such as the public school unit, the student's home, or both.

c.         Type of device.

d.         For homes with no devices, reason for lack of devices.

(3)        Out‑of‑school internet connectivity, including the following information disaggregated by public school unit, school, and grade level:

a.         Number and percentage of students with internet connectivity outside of the school available by the following categories:

1.         Students with connectivity at home.

2.         Students without connectivity at home but who have regular and reliable access to other sources of connectivity.

b.         For students without home connectivity, primary source for internet connectivity outside of the school.

c.         Type of connectivity, such as broadband, satellite, or dial‑up.

d.         For homes with no connectivity, reason for lack of connectivity.

(b)        Each public school unit shall annually submit all categories of information included in the digital learning dashboard no later than November 15. For subdivisions (2) and (3) of subsection (a) of this section, residential schools shall report on access and connectivity separately for the dormitories and the student's home.

(c)        The State Board of Education shall annually report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by February 15 on statewide trends reflected in the digital learning dashboard, successes and continued challenges in ensuring all students have digital learning access both in and out of school, and recommendations on ways to continue to close the digital learning accessibility gap.

SECTION 1.(b)  G.S. 115C‑75.9 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

(o)      Digital Learning Dashboard. – An innovative school shall annually update information to the digital learning dashboard, as required by G.S. 115C‑102.9.

SECTION 1.(c)  G.S. 115C‑218.75 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

(i)       A charter school shall annually update information to the digital learning dashboard, as required by G.S. 115C‑102.9.

SECTION 1.(d)  G.S. 115C‑238.66 is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

(17)    Digital learning dashboard updates. – A regional school shall annually update information to the digital learning dashboard, as required by G.S. 115C‑102.9.

SECTION 1.(e)  G.S. 116‑239.8(b) is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

(19)    Digital learning dashboard updates. – A laboratory school shall annually update information to the digital learning dashboard, as required by G.S. 115C‑102.9.

SECTION 1.(f)  Section 6(d) of S.L. 2018‑32 is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

(5a)    G.S. 115C‑102.9, Digital learning dashboard.

SECTION 1.(g)  This section is effective when it becomes law and applies beginning with the report due November 15, 2021, based on data for the 2021‑2022 school year.

SECTION 2.(a)  The Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Information Technology, in collaboration with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University (Friday Institute), (collectively referred to herein as the Departments) shall conduct a statewide assessment of data related to out‑of‑school internet and device access for North Carolina elementary and secondary students obtained during the physical school closure and at‑home learning that occurred due to COVID‑19 during the 2019‑2020 and 2020‑2021 school years. Public school units shall provide any relevant data from this period to the Departments upon request at the most granular level available. The assessment conducted by the Departments shall review the available data to identify the scope of students who lack out‑of‑school internet access or devices at home; the reasons students lack such access, including accessibility to adequate broadband in the homes, cost of broadband services, and lack of devices; and the methods students and schools used to address the lack of access during the 2019‑2020 and 2020‑2021 school years. Based on the assessed data, the Departments shall identify and make recommendations for effective programs and policies to close the student digital access gap and shall recommend effective approaches to maintain current granular data on the student digital access gap.

SECTION 2.(b)  The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall coordinate (i) access to available data from each public school unit for the Departments and (ii) the reporting of the recommendations of the Departments as provided in this section. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on the assessment of the student digital access gap no later than October 15, 2021.

SECTION 3.  This act is effective when it becomes law.