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One Week Left! - Use The PCE Bill Tracker To Find Out The Status Of Important Education Bills

The 2014 Legislative Session is nearly complete. Use our updated, Bill Tracker to see how education innovation and reform have fared this year. By clicking on the bill number it will take you to the documents page where you can read the bill text and follow the status.
 
 
Bill # Name Description Policy Principles Sponsor Status
HB150S2  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Amendments Includes funding for education technologies for K-6 in mathematics. quality instruction, innovative solutions Rep. Peterson & Sen. Urquhart Passed House, waiting Senate Rules
HB417  English Language Arts Instructional Tool Requires State Board of Education, through a RFP, to provide software licenses for an interactive web-based English language arts instructional tool for students in grades 4-12 efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions  Rep. Moss & Sen. Stephenson Passed House
HB419 Charter School Revisions  Clarifies and streamlines what needs to be in the charter application and what is actually included in the charter agreement and considered the contract between the charter school's governing board the the State of Utah. Ensures that a charter school can make necessary adjustments to it's school process, such as changing a bell schedule, without having to amend the charter of the school.  school choice, empower parents, transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions   Rep. Eliason & Sen. Stephenson Passed House, waiting Senate Rules
SB34 Governance of Utah Education and Workforce Alliance Established the alliance to support the integration of collected data to better serve Utah students transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions  Sen. Stephenson  Senate 2nd Reading Calendar
SB74

PCE Partnered Bill

 

Career and Technical Education Funding for Charter Schools Allows charter schools to contract with a UCAT Campus as part of their CTE Program and receive CTE Add-on Funding
school choice, empower parents, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Adams & Rep. Hughes Passed Committee, On Senate 2nd Reading Calendar
SB80S1

PCE Partnered Bill

Statewide Online Education Amendments Adds Institutions of Higher Education to eligible providers, allows students below grade 9 to participate if their LEA offers high school graduation credit courses to them, clarifies participation for private and home school students. school choice, empower parents, transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Stephenson & Rep. Last Passed Committee, On Senate 2nd Reading Calendar
SB148 Upstart Program Amendments Expands the Upstart Program to serve more students with it's home-based educational technology program for preschool children school choice, empower parents, transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Adams & Rep. Last Passed Senate & House
SB157

PCE Partnered Bill

School-Based Budgeting Requires districts to distribute at least 85% of the Minimum School Program funding to Principals for budgetary oversight by July 1, 2018; allows Principals to opt out on an annual basis. transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Stephenson & Rep. Hughes Passed Committee, On Senate 2nd Reading Calendar
SB171

PCE Partnered Bill

Student-Centered Learning Pilot Program Creates a pilot program that will allow traditional district schools or charter schools to transition to a blended learning model and operate on an extended school year schedule. Awards grants to help schools create sustainable, scalable models that provide enhanced instruction and improved delivery of curriculum; create a culture that supports individualized learning across students, teachers, LEA leadership, and parents; and improve system structure and policy to allow for efficiencies in teacher practice, scheduling, staffing, use of space and the full implementation of blended learning practices. school choice, empower parents, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Stephenson & Rep. Hughes Passed Senate; waiting in House Rules
SB209

PCE Partnered Bill

School Grading Revisions Modifies the School Grading Law; removes the automatic F for schools who fail to test 95% of their students, allows alternative schools to receive a different type of accountability, new charter schools will receive grades in year 2, clarifies that growth points are earned for a year's worth of growth in year's worth of time. empower parents, transparency & accountability, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Adams & Rep. Hughes 
Passed Senate; waiting House Rules
SB240

PCE Partnered Bill

Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments Changes the parent application deadline to August 15th for a full year scholarship in order to give parents more time to apply. school choice, empower parents, transparency & accountability, efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Adams & Rep. Hughes Passed Senate; waiting House Rules
SB258

PCE Partnered Bill

Educator License Amendments Ensures that teachers seeking an alternative route to licensure will be treated the same regardless of the model used at their school, including  efficiency in funding, quality instruction, innovative solutions Sen. Stevenson & Rep. Hughes Passed Senate Committee
 
Action Through Board Rule

During the last several weeks we have worked closely with the State Board of Education and USOE staff on two very important education issues. As a result, USBE leadership have committed to change Board Rules to address these PCE initiated policies rather than continuing to pursue the opened bill files for these respective issues.

 

  • School Accreditation (R277-410.5) - Ensures that new charter schools are given the required two year provisional status in order to have the financial history and academic outcomes necessary for accreditation. (Go HERE to review the March Summary where this was passed.)
  • School LANDS Trust (R277-477)- Ensures that students in Charter Schools receive their fair portion of School TRUST Lands monies including a charter's first year of operation. (April Agenda Item)

 

 


Continue to Stay Involved by Contacting Your Legislators! 

We will send out additional Action Alerts on important policy issues if necessary. We encourage you to actively communicate with your elected officials throughout the session about the education policies that are important to you. As constituents, we must hold our legislators accountable - they are your representatives on the Hill!


        ACTION ITEM          


CONTACT MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TODAY 


Start contacting your legislators today about the bills you support! The education establishment has an internal army protecting both the system and their interests. We need your help to protect the interests of students.
  • Call and email your Senator.
  • Call and email your Representative.
  • Please forward this email to friends and family.

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Go HERE to find your Senator and HERE to find out who your Representative is, their contact info, and tips on communicating with them. Use these links to find the contact information for all SENATORS andREPRESENTATIVES.

Senate Chamber (801) 538-1035
House of Representatives Chamber: (801) 538-1029
You can call the Senate and House Chamber numbers and leave a message
that will be taken directly to the legislator.


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Remember, when contacting elected officials, 
it's appropriate to be firm, but always  be respectful.

The 2014 Utah Legislative Session Is In Full Swing!

February 2013
School Choice Week 2014
 
The 2014 Utah Legislative Session is in full swing...
 
...and PCE kicked things off  in celebration of National School Choice Week by partnering with Governor Gary R. Herbert to declare the week of January 26 through February 1, 2014 as "Utah School Choice Week."
 
  • See Governor's "Utah School Choice Week" Declaration HERE 
  • View the Deseret News Article "Utah takes part in School Choice Week"HERE
 
 
 
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School LANDS Trust Equal and Fair Student Distribution Act
 
 
Most of you know that Utah public schools receive Trust Land monies allocated by the state. What you probably don't know is that not all students are treated equally when it comes to distributing the money. Students attending a new charter school are cheated out of their share of the money - not new district school students - just new charter school students. PCE wants to know why charter students are being treated differently, and we aim to do something about it! In fact, we're wondering why nobody else has up to this point.

That is why PCE has asked Rep. Greg Hughes to partner with us on a bill to ensure that all Utah children receive their equal and fair portion of the Trust Land monies. Interestingly, as a result of this action the State Office of Education has suddenly expressed interest in changing Board Rule to recognize charter students in their first year of operation and discontinue the practice of delaying distribution of their share of funds. We will keep you posted as this process unfolds. Bill or Board Rule - we intend to pursue this until Trust Land dollars are directed to every Utah student every year!

 

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Digital Learning Day on the Hill
 
 
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IMG_0747Week two of the session brought a celebration of National Digital Learning Day with PCE's 3rd Annual Digital Learning Day Event!
 
Thanks to the passage of the PCE initiated Statewide Online Education Program  and other recent laws passed by the legislature, public school digital learning options have grown exponentially! This annual event provides us with an opportunity to showcase to legislators the variety of technologies, programs, and schools serving our students through online and blended learning models and the use of technology.
 
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We would like to thank our legislature for continuing to support policies that provide this generation of digital natives with 21st century learning options!
 
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Provider Attendees Included: Career Path High School, Electronic High School, Imagine Learning, Innovations High School, iSchool, Mountain Heights Academy, Shmoop, STMath, Utah Connections Academy, Utah Online, Utah Virtual Academy, Watereford's UPStart   
  • See Digital Learning Day Event photo album HERE
 
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Based on our policy principles, Parents for Choice in Education in partnership with key policymakers will be working during this 45-day session to enact specific policies that will:
 
  • increase school choice
  • empower parents and students
  • provide transparency and accountability
  • ensure efficiency in funding
  • promote quality instruction
  • promote innovative solutions, including digital learning and technology

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And the Top Picks for the 2014 Session 
in the Category of Education are...
 
 

 
 
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Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship
Sponsor: Sen. Adams
 
Education Savings Account
Sponsor: Rep. Grover
 
 
Educator Licensure Amendments
Sponsor: Sen. Stevenson 
 
Math Literacy - STEM Initiative 
Sponsor: Sen. Urquhart
 
Mission-Drive CTE Funding For Charter Schools
Sponsor: Sen. Adams
 
School-Based Budgeting 
Sponsor: Sen. Stephenson
 
School Grading Amendments
Sponsor: Sen. Adams
 
Statewide Online Education Program
Sponsor: Sen. Stephenson
 
Student-Centered Learning Pilot Program
Sponsor: Sen. Stephenson
 
School LANDS Trust Equal & Fair Student Distribution
Sponsor: Rep. Hughes
 
Appropriations for Early Reading Technology
 @ the Legislature page on our website
 
 
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Action Alerts are Your Avenue to Involvement

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We will periodically send out time sensitive "Action Alerts" on key bills to rally support for their passage. As a grassroots organization, the power to effect change comes from YOU,  our database of parents, taxpayers, voters and citizens. When an education bill needs immediate support and action, we will call on you as constituents to contact your legislators. If it is an issue you feel strongly about, we encourage you to take action. We want to engage you in the legislative process and assist you in letting your voice be heard!

 

Be Our Guest for Lunch! Attend our 4th Annual Education Symposium

 

4th annual education symposium

 

you are invited

Marriott City Center

september 30, 2013

11:45am - 1:15pm  

 

register here

www.gotchoice.eventbrite.com 

  

attendance is free

lunch is provided

limited seating

 

Louisiana does! Earning them the reputation of "The Big Kahuna" of School Choice. State Superintendent John White will share how their state has deployed both public and private school choice and other innovative solutions to help them achieve the goals of "Louisiana Believes", the state's plan to put every child on the path toward college and career.

 


featured speakers   

John White

Louisiana State Superintendent

and back by popular demand  

Dr. Matthew Ladner

 

masters of ceremony

Greg Hughes 

Howard Stephenson

red meat radio co-hosts - KKAT 860AM

(your alternative to those sissy Saturday morning garden shows)

 


 

PCE's 2013 "Advocates for Innovation in Education" will be recognized.

invitees: Legislature and education stakeholders, including the public 

 


 

Each year we select a keynote speaker who is leading the charge in the quest to ensure that all children have equal access to a quality education through innovation and choice. Louisiana Superintendent and Chief for Change, John White is leading one such charge with both equal parts success and challenges. He will share valuable lessons and insight into the Louisiana experience. In partnership with Governor Bobby Jindal they are "pursuing an aggressive reform plan to ensure every child - from birth to high school - is on track to attain a college degree and succeed in a professional career."

  


 

John White began his career in education as an English teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, New Jersey.

He then went to work for Teach for America (TFA) in New Jersey, where he coached and mentored new TFA recruits before becoming Executive Director of TFA-Chicago two years later. Under White's leadership, TFA-Chicago doubled the number of teachers recruited to work in South Side and West Side schools, and the organization established one of the most innovative principal training programs in the country, matching successful TFA teachers with Harvard University and the Chicago Public School System for training as principals. Sixty TFA graduates are currently working as principals in Chicago schools.

In 2006, John White was asked by New York City Chancellor Joel Klein to join the senior leadership team of the largest school district in the country.  There White served as Deputy Chancellor of Talent, Labor and Innovation, leading negotiations for the city with the United Federation of Teachers, implementing a citywide teacher effectiveness system, and negotiating New York State's bid for Race to the Top (R2T). Additionally, as Deputy Chancellor, White launched and led the Innovation Zone, a network of 100 21st Century schools that use technology to personalize student learning.

Prior to being named Deputy Chancellor, White served as Chief Executive Officer for NYC's Portfolio Division, leading the city's efforts to turn around more than 100 failing schools and start 500 new charter and district schools.

White became Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District in May 2011, where he launched "12 commitments to the city of New Orleans." The district made good on each commitment, overhauling the remaining failing schools in the RSD, establishing a unified enrollment system, and expanding the New Orleans school construction program to ensure that every school building in Orleans Parish would be rebuilt or renovated.

White was named State Superintendent of education in January of 2012 and soon thereafter launched Louisiana Believes, the state's plan to put every child on the path toward college and career.

White is a 2010 member of the Broad Superintendents Academy. He received a B.A. in English with distinction from the University of Virginia and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from New York University. 

 

Matthew Ladner is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education and a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute. He previously served as Vice President of Research at Goldwater Institute. Prior to joining Goldwater, Ladner was director of state projects at the Alliance for School Choice. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received both a Masters and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Houston.

Ladner has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform. He has testified before Congress, the United States Commission of Civil Rights and numerous state legislative committees. Ladner is a regular guest blogger on jaypgreene.com.

Update: School LANDS Trust Equal and Fair Student Distribution Act

February 13, 2014

 
 
 
We promised to keep you posted on our efforts and actions to ensure that all Utah children, including the thousands attending new charter schools, receive their equal and fair portion of the funding being generated through Utah's Trust Lands.
 
Earlier today PCE met with Representative Greg Hughes and several others, including State Board of Education Chair, Dave Crandall, and USOE staff to discuss the unfair inequities to students in new charters. As a direct result of ongoing discussions and potential legislation, USOE and USBE leadership have committed that the State Board of Education will change Board Rule to enable new charter schools to receive fair and reasonable funds in their first year of operation.
 
We appreciate Representative Hughes leadership and the commitment from USBE Chair, Dave Crandall, to fairly distribute Trust Land monies to every Utah student. We want to thank them for their dedicated efforts on behalf of Utah children. We will report to you when Board Rule has been changed.
 
Stay tuned for additional updates from the Capitol!

Carson Smith Application - Due July 1st

Apply Today!
Funding Will Allow More Students To Receive A Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship! Applications Are Being Accepted Now For The 
2013-14 School Year 

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If you know of  someone who has a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), please forward this email to them and help us spread the word about the newly available scholarships.

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Go HERE to see the eligible private schools.

 

Governor Herbert Signs Declaration Proclaiming "Utah School Choice Week"

Governor Herbert Signs Declaration Proclaiming "Utah School Choice Week"
 
In support of National School Choice Week, Governor Gary R. Herbert and Parents for Choice in Education join together in declaring January 26, 2014 through February 1, 2014 as "Utah School Choice Week."

School Choice Week 2014

 
 
We are pleased to be partnering with Governor Herbert for the third year in a row as he joins 23 other Governors across the nation in signing proclamations recognizing the importance of empowering parents with a rich selection of school choice options in order to successfully address the individual learning needs of their students.
 
Both Governor Herbert and Parents for Choice in Education have been longtime advocates for empowering parents with the best education options to meet the individual needs of their children. "Utah has a history of being at the forefront of school choice policy," states PCE Chairman of the Board, Robyn Bagley, "Utah families have seen an increase in access to school choice options including private, charter, online, and open enrollment, but choice in education must continue to expand if we are to successfully address the diverse learning needs of our students."
 
View the declaration HERE.
 

 

View the Deseret News Article "Utah takes part in School Choice Week" HERE.

URGENT: Application for Private School Scholarship/Voucher Due July 1st

Apply Today! - Funding Will Allow More Students To Receive A Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship! Applications Are Being Accepted Now For The 2013-14 School Year 

CS postcard pg1 smallThis program has been in a lottery for several years. PCE partnered with Senator Stuart Adams and Representative Greg Hughes to change that! This year our Legislature amended the law through Senate Bill 103. Funding for the program will automatically expand annually making it possible to serve more and more students every year.

CS postcard pg 2 smallIf you know of someone who has a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), please forward this email to them and help us spread the word about the newly available scholarships.

Applications are due July 1st. In order to apply you only have to complete your scholarship application and be conditionally accepted to one of the eligible private schools. You can still be waiting for your evaluation to be completed.

To learn more about the scholarship program go  HERE.

PCE Partnered Policy Brings FREE Online ACT Prep Tool To Utah Students

PCE Partnered Policy Brings FREE Online ACT Prep Tool To Utah Students
 
During the 2013 legislative session our legislature passed SB175, Assessment of College Readiness, which provides funding for all 11th grade high school students statewide to take the ACT for free. As part of this legislation, PCE partnered with the bill sponsor, Howard Stephenson to include language that appropriated funding for an online ACT test prep tool to also be made available for free in conjunction with taking the college readiness exam.
 
Here is the language from SB175 directing the State Board:
 
"requires the State Board of Education to contract with a provider, through a request for proposals process, to provide an online program to prepare students to take the college admissions test that includes an assessment of language arts, mathematics, and science that is most commonly submitted to local universities; $150,000 shall be used for an online test preparation program."
 
At PCE, we are proud to be a part of moving forward initiatives that empower students over their own education through innovative, cost effective solutions. Advancing Digital Learning is a top initiative for PCE, and we are committed to advocating for policies that provide students with 21st century options that individualize and personalize student learning.
 
How does this legislation benefit you? If you have a high school Junior who will be taking the ACT as part of this new law, you need to make sure their high school provides them with their FREE access to this amazing test prep tool!
 
We are so pleased that our innovative friends at Shmoop were awarded the contract by the Utah State office of Education to be the ACT test prep provider!
 
From the USOE Press Release - " We're thrilled to give all 125 of Utah's Local Education Agencies (LEA) a chance to continue their momentum as one of the top test scoring regions in the country," says Ellen Siminoff, CEO and President of Shmoop. "We hope Shmoop can be a tool that students use to become the best that they can possibly be." You can read the entire press release HERE.
 
shmooputahvideoSo, who is Shmoop ? Shmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching materials. Shmoop content is written by master teachers and Ph.D. students from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop Learning Guides, Test Prep, College Resources, and Teacher's Editions balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help teachers help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives.
 
Why is this online test prep tool so cool? Aside from the fact that it is fun, witty, and engaging, it harnesses the power of technology to provide valuable data that informs instruction and individualizes learning. How so? In addition to diagnostic exams, an infinite number of Math Shack drills, and full-length practice exams, Utah schools will also have access to Shmoop's premium analytics product. Teachers, principals, and district administrators can understand what's happening at the individual or school-wide level at a glance, and assign extra drills or review sessions based on a student's strengths or weaknesses.
 
Now Utah students have free access to a high quality digital learning curriculum that is designed to make their ACT test prep personalized, which places them on a more sure path to success. 
 
Contact your student's school today to find out how they can access Shmoop!
 
ShmoopHELLO

Attend Open House - Career Path High - Innovative Early College Charter School

PCE IS EXCITED TO HIGHLIGHT 
ONE OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE 
NEW CHARTER SCHOOL'S IN UTAH
. . 
CAREER PATH HIGH -  OPENING FALL 2013!
 
ATTEND THEIR OPEN HOUSE 
Date: Thursday, May 22
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Davis Applied Technology College, Glass Rotunda
550 E. 300 S., Kaysville, UT 84037
Enjoy a Root Beer Float!
 
If you live in Davis County and have a student in grades 9-12, you are going to want to consider enrolling them in Career Path High, a new Early College Charter High School located on the campus of Davis Applied Technology College. Take a tour during their upcoming Open House or schedule one at your convenience. (go HERE)
 
At Career Path High students Go to High School and Graduate with a Career!
 
Learn more at: CareerPathHigh.org

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PCE Honors Six "Advocates for Innovation in Education" at 2013 Annual Education Symposium

PCE Honors Six "Advocates for Innovation in Education" at 2013 Annual Education Symposium
 
Every year at our Annual Education Symposium, Parents for Choice in Education honors "Advocates for Innovation in Education," We seek to recognize those individuals and organizations whose work is positively impacting one or more of the following areas in K-12 education: 
  • edsympo4Increase school choice options 
  • Promote solutions that personalize instruction
  • Provide greater accountability for student outcomes and instructional quality
  • Engage and empower our students as active participants in their own education
  • Better prepare our students for college and careers
 
edsympo3In order to be selected for this award the recipient must have played a significant role in bringing about innovation in education as well as shifting the paradigm to a more student-centric focus. Additionally, their actions and work must impact enhanced student outcomes and provide quality options that meet the individual needs of All Learners.
 
This year we were pleased to award the following recipients as the 2013 Advocates for Innovation in Education. 
 
 
In the category of Outstanding Legislator:
 
edsympo7Senate President Wayne Niederhauser was recognized and honored for his tireless hard work and dedication to bring transparency and accountability to the citizens of Utah for the performance of our public schools through an A-F School Grading Accountability System. After 2 1/2 years of refining legislation, the first school grades were finally released on September 3rd.
 
In his own words regarding the importance of School Grading the Senator declared, 
"I am a strong believer that accountability and transparency are the springboard from which improvement occurs. Without a clear understanding of how well we are performing, how can we expect to incentivize better outcomes? We've all heard the saying, "If it matters, measure it." What could matter more than the investment we make in our children's future through public education. Our newly enacted School Grading System is not intended to be an indictment of any group or any particular organization. It is a starting point where we as a community begin to have a discussion about how our schools are actually performing."
 
Senator Stuart Adams was recognized and honored for being a true champion of school choice. In the 2013 legislative session he worked to move the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship out of a lottery to allow more families to choose a school that best fits their student's unique needs.
 

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The Carson Smith Scholarship is a state-funded program that provides private school vouchers to K-12 students with disabilities. Signed into law in 2005, the program underwent a mandatory legislative audit that found 100% satisfaction from parents. 
 
This year Senator Adams sponsored legislation that ended the current lottery by establishing a funding formula that triggers an automatic increase in appropriations for scholarships so that the number of students participating in the program can grow year to year. For many parents, having this school choice option provides a literal lifeline for their child. To quote one mother who testified on behalf of the bill, "Public education has been fine for our other children, but for Thomas this scholarship is a life changing answer to our prayers." No other committee meeting during the legislative session was packed with as much emotion and gratitude as was expressed for such courageous policy as this one that empowers parents with true school choice.
 
edsympo5Senator Jerry Stevenson was recognized and honored as a champion of Ed Tech policy and personalized learning. This year he sponsored two important bills that harness the power of technology to improve student outcomes. 
 
The Student Achievement Backpack eliminates silos through a one-stop collection of student information that will provide a comprehensive view of a student's progress and achievement and enable parents, teachers and administrators to diagnose a student's needs and abilities immediately in order to tailor their learning experience. The Backpack is especially empowering for parents, allowing them to play a more active role in their child's education through simplified access to their student's complete learner profile.
 
And for the second year in a row, Senator Stevenson worked to bring more technology into the classroom by continuing the Smart School Technology program to develop and implement a whole-school one-to-one technology deployment in public schools. The overall purpose of this program is to develop and implement tools that improve the learning process for students.
 
edsympo9Senator Steve Urquhart , the Higher Ed guy, who went all the way back to kindergarten in his quest to prepare students for college and careers, was recognized and honored,. As the sponsor of technology programs targeted at both early childhood reading literacy and Jr. High math literacy, Senator Urquhart wasn't just focused on innovation, he prioritized accountability and instruction that is individualized to the student.
 
Here's what's exciting about what the Senator did - He brought increased accountability for the state's dedicated K-3 reading literacy $30M appropriation by turning it into outcomes-based funding, requiring schools and LEAs to meet specified benchmarks for growth and proficiency in order to receive funding. He also required the state to fund only evidence-based interventions that improve student outcomes, including an appropriation for digital tools that provide individualized instruction and inform teaching with data. And for STEM, funding was provided for math literacy technology software for 6th-8th grade students with the requirement that the technology contain individualized instructional support, be self-adapting to respond to the needs and progress of the learner; and provide opportunities for frequent assessments and embedded progress monitoring tools for regular feedback to students and teachers. Now that's student-centric!
 
 
In the Category of Outstanding Educator
 
Superintendent Brad Smith was recognized  and honored. Brad Smith, is a former Attorney turned Superintendent. Selected to be the Superintendent of Ogden School District In September of 2011, Smith had served as a member of the board since 2007.
 

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Just prior to his hire, the Ogden school board grabbed headlines when they announced that, over the next six years, they were phasing out the industry-wide tradition of paying teachers based on experience and moving towards a performance-based pay system, citing challenges with boosting student achievement; an initiative Smith has taken seriously, actively including teachers and administrators.
 
That would not be the last time they made the headlines for education reform and innovation once Smith took over the helm. Smith, with the help of district and school administrators, rolled out a list of "guarantees" or promises of what the Ogden district will deliver to students, parents and taxpayers "come hell or high water," he said in an interview. "We will not use poverty, race, funding, morale or prior history to excuse things within our control," his list of guarantees noted. "We know that history is not destiny." Just one year after taking the job, Ogden District was in the news for double-digit gains in their worst performing schools. The percentage of students proficient in language arts had doubled, while math and science showed modest gains. The jump knocked four of five Ogden schools out of the "bottom 10" designation they had held for years, including Dee Elementary, formally the state's worst performing school. The two lowest performing schools had undergone leadership changes, as had several others. "There's no great magic here," Smith said. "It sounds incredibly simple, and I suppose on some level it is, but which of us are really willing to engage in introspection and correct our behavior and change our ways."
 
Smith had set in place a trifecta of proven strategies, and they are working. They include an intense focus on school leadership, a focus on high quality instruction, and effective use of assessment data. "Data Walls" can be found at individuals schools, breaking down proficiency rates by grade and class and showing trends across several years, in an effort to increase buy-in by parents and students.
 
Smith has worked to strengthen leadership at all levels. Smith, along with some district administrators and principals at Ogden's lowest performing schools, have received coaching from the University of Virginia's school turnaround program, which offers business executive-style training for educational leaders.
 
The Superintendent made the news again this spring as he courageously took the financial challenges facing the district head on and evaluated the most effective way to target dollars to meet the needs of the students.
 
"One of the things I like about Superintendent Brad Smith is I like the idea of high expectations," said an Ogden district fourth grade teacher. "As a teacher, I have high expectations of my students so that's something that's welcome."
 
 
In the Category of Outstanding Company
 
edsympo10Waterford Institute was recognized and honored for their UPSTART Program designed to  prepare pre-schoolers for success in school through an innovative, cost-effective, outcomes-based solution.
 
UPSTART, or Utah Preparing Students Today for A Rewarding Tomorrow, is an in-home preschool program that uses the Waterford Institute's award-winning software. UPSTART recognizes parents and caregivers as the most important factor in a child's education.
 
Children participate in UPSTART the year before they enter kindergarten and are provided with an individualized reading, math, and science curriculum, with a focus on reading instruction. The children spend 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week using the program on a computer at home under the supervision of a parent or caregiver. With research-based programs, UPSTART forms a partnership with parents to ensure their children obtain the education necessary to start them on the path to success in school.
 
UPSTART is funded by the Utah State Legislature at a cost on average of $1,350 per child for a whole year of educational programming. Currently in its fifth year, the program has served more than 7,000 children to date and has a waiting list. This year, at least 70% of UPSTART participants are from low-income families and 20% are from Hispanic and Latino families. 30% of families participating do not have a computer or internet service and are provided with both while they are in the program.
 
UPSTART enjoys an extremely high approval rating from parents (around 99% each year) and exceptional results from its external evaluator. Year-end assessments show that the average UPSTART participant ends the year at a kindergarten advanced level, which means she or he starts kindergarten where most children end kindergarten. These results are regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. UPSTART is shifting the paradigm while providing value to the taxpayer through a proven, outcomes-based solution!
 
Go HERE to read their press release.
 


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