This is the first year that all Utah Public Schools will receive a letter grade A-F based on the proficiency and learning gains of students. This is an exciting time for the stakeholders of public education, as we await transparencyand accountability for our public schools.
By Lisa Schencker
| The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah schools may get to try a new approach: teaching year-round while mixing online learning with time in class.
The Senate Education Committee has approved SB79, which would provide $275,000 for grants for such pilot programs.
Up to 10 selected schools would have to blend online and classroom learning, extend the school year and teacher pay accordingly; use data to make decisions about instruction; and use competency-based education, in which students move to the next level by showing proficiency rather than just by putting in time.
"We know that when children are born, from the moment they leave the womb they are learning creatures," said bill sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. "Then they enter kindergarten and we command them to stop that self-directed learning because it’s disruptive to the order of the classroom."
Schools could apply to participate, as could parents and students. Up to $75,000 of the money could go toward a consultant to help develop and implement the pilot program.
Several other lawmakers, as well as a representative from the conservative Sutherland Institute, also spoke in support of the bill, which passed 4-1 and now moves to the Senate floor.
"SB79 taps into the power of digital learning, which if done right, can empower children to guide their educations," said Stan Rasmussen with the Sutherland Institute.
But Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, expressed concerns, including the cost of the program. "I’m all for pilots to make sure something works, but it seems like bill after bill, we’re just chipping away at the education fund … and I’m concerned about that," Jones said.
Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, also said the bill, to her, seems unnecessary given that schools can already make such changes without a new, specific program.
Stephenson, responding to the criticism, said he doesn’t believe it’s the legislature’s role to micromanage schools, but sometimes pilots and incentives can lead to great innovations.
The bill would also create an advisory committee of leaders of legislative education committees, including Stephenson, to offer suggestions to the State Office of Education on selection of applicants.
"Parents for Choice in Education, an education advocacy organization, uses the Digital Learning Report Card as a measuring stick to identify areas for personalizing education and shifting the paradigm to student-centered learning in Utah. Seeking constant improvement, multiple initiatives such as competency, blended learning, seat-time removal, and smarter use of student data are currently being advanced through policy in our state," said Robyn Bagley, Board Chair of Parents for Choice in Education (PCE). "PCE appreciates the standards set by the report card and the challenge issued to meet the metrics for integrating technology and innovation into our schools in order to raise student achievement in Utah!"
It's Report Card Time for the 2013 Legislative Session! - How Well Did Your Legislators Score On Important Education Policies?
The Utah Legislature recently completed one of the most successful Legislative Sessions on record for accelerating innovation and enacting student-centric reforms through smart education policy!
See how your Senator and Representative voted on critical education policies by checking PCE's newly released 2013 Legislative Report Card! Go HERE
As we move forward to modernize educationwith policies that create new opportunities for students and explore new models of learning structured to meet the needs of today's next-generation of Learners, Parents for Choice in Education is willing to push to make the necessary changes that will turn it into a reality.
PCE seeks to initiate and partner on policies that shift the paradigm away from an outdated system of batch learning and the funding of seat-time to a model that funds success and competency-based learning that is personalized to meet the needs of the individual student.
This Legislative Session was no exception when it came to advocating for student-centric policies. PCE initiated and partnered on 12 bills and supported 7 others. The success rate for passage was exceptional this year. Of the 12 bills initiated, 8 have been signed into law! Of the 7 supported bills, 6 have been signed into law!
Policy Highlights for the 2013 Session:
School choice options grew through the expansion of the Statewide Online Education Program and the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship; Charter school funding was protected while the Higher Education Charter Authorizer law was strengthened; Accountability to parents and taxpayers will move forward for school performance as the legislature intended through the School Grading Law; Parents will now be empowered with access to the academic information and data the USOE already collects on their student, allowing them to be more informed and engaged in their child's education; Personalized instruction and innovation through technology resources in the classroom were expanded; A paradigm shift moving away from outdated seat-time restrictions and towards competency-based education advanced; Accountability for the $30M K-3 reading program was strengthened by requiring schools and LEAs to meet specified benchmarks for growth and proficiency in order to receive funding...
PCE Policy Principles
Increasing ChoiceEmpowering ParentsTransparency & AccountabilityEfficiency in FundingPromote Quality InstructionPromote Innovative Solutions
Bill # Name Description Sponsor HB171 Screening for Reading Difficulties Early identification and treatment of reading difficulties will enhance the likelihood of reading literacy by the end of the third grade. Districts and charter schools shall provide a screening for dyslexia if the students are determined to be at-risk and provide appropriate interventions beginning in Kindergarten. Rep. Knotwell
Held in Rules
HB293 School Parent Organization Amendments The number of both traditional and charter schools using independent parent organizations in lieu of a PTA has increased extensively. Due to the increase, this amendment recognizes "parent organizations" in Utah Code wherever "parent teacher associations" are referenced. Rep. D Brown
Held in Rules
HB393 Competency-Based Education Amendments Requires the State Board of Education to recommend changing education funding formulas to reflect competency and subject mastery rather than seat time. Allows a school district or charter to establish a program and assessments that will grant credit and advancement upon subject mastery and competency. Rep. Hughes
SB79 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. Sen. Stephenson
FAILED in House
SB82 Student Achievement Backpack Requires the State Board of Education to use the robust, comprehensive state data collection system to provide access to a student's complete K-12 learner profile first and foremost to parents, and to the teachers educating them. The Backpack will eliminate silos, ensure privacy, and end bureaucracy by providing a uniform, transparent reporting mechanism for accessing a complete view (under FERPA) of a student's progress and achievement. This will assist teachers and administrators with diagnosing the students needs and abilities through the use of data, and give parents access to the information they need in order to play an active role in their student's education. Sen. Stevenson
SB103 Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments Modifies the Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act by establishing a growth formula triggering an automatic increase in appropriations for scholarship payments, so that the number of students participating in the program can increase year to year. The program has currently been in a lottery and capped by appropriations, serving only 1% of eligible students. Sen. Adams
SB110 School-Based Budgeting The state distributes funding equitably through the WPU. The districts then distribute it inequitably through teaching positions, ratios, and staffing norms with no fair distribution of revenue generated at the school level. This bill requires funding to follow the student directly to the school, allowing site-based management which empowers principals, parents, and teachers with the autonomy to make the best budgetary decisions to meet the needs of their students and school. Sen. Stephenson
FAILED in Senate
SB151 Authorization of Charter Schools by Higher Education Institutions Makes technical modifications to strengthen Utah's third charter Authorizer law in order to best serve the needs of students. Last year two Higher Education Institutions authorized the first charters under the law - Weber State University and the Davis Applied Technology College. Sen. Adams
SB260 Early Childhood Education Programs Amendments Brings 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 as measured by the state's diagnostic and standards-based assessments in order to receive funding. As part of the statutory intervention component, requires 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. Provides an ongoing appropriation for Early Intervention interactive literacy software for grades K-3. Sen. UrquhartPASSED SB271 School Grading Amendments Makes some final modifications to the 2011 law. School Grading is in effect for the 2012-13 school year. School Grading will provide clear accountability and transparency for student performance by grading schools A-F, based on both student proficiency and student academic growth (performance gains). Sen. Adams
SB272 Public School Funding Amendments Codifies the current practice of funding charter school and ensures they will not experience the $6 Million cut to funding proposed by the State Office of Education. Sen. Bramble
Approps Statewide Online Education Program The Legislature appropriated $150,000 for private and homeschool 9-12 graders to participate in the Statewide Online Education Program! They, like all 9-12 grade public school students, can now take up to 3 full credits online in the 2013-14 school year. PASSED
Bill # Name Description Sponsor HB64 Felon's Right to Hold Office Prohibits an individual who is convicted of a sexual offense against a child from holding the office of State Board of Education member or local school board member. Rep. Moss
HB134 STEM Action Center - Math Literacy Funding Component Provides funding for math literacy technology software for 6th-8th grade students using the following criteria:
(a) the technology contains individualized instructional support for skills and understanding of the core standards in mathematics;
(b) the technology is self-adapting to respond to the needs and progress of the learner; and
(c) the technology provides opportunities for frequent, quick, and informal assessments and includes an embedded progress monitoring tool and mechanisms for regular feedback to students and teachers.
HB344 Establishment of Charter Schools Modifies provisions regarding applying for and approving the establishment of specific types of charter schools in order to meet the unique learning styles and needs of students. Rep. Lifferth
SB81 School Property Tax Funding Equalizes a larger portion of property tax revenue through the Basic Levy over time. Sen. Osmond
FAILED not heard on House Floor
SB169 Education Task Force Creates a legislative Education Task Force to review and make recommendations on public education and higher education issues, including identification of long-term education policies necessary to help job creation and education quality. Sen. Reid
SB175 Assessment of College Readiness Requires all districts and charter schools to administer a college readiness assessment adopted by the State Board of Education that includes an assessment of language arts, mathematics and science. An online test preparation program shall be made available to prepare students to take the college readiness assessment. Assessment scores will be included in the new School Grading calculations. Sen. Stephenson
SB284 Education Technology Amendments Requires the Board of Business and Economic Development to select, through a request for proposals process, a single technology provider with integrated whole-school technology deployment experience to develop and implement a whole-school one-to-one technology deployment plan for public schools. Sen. Stevenson
Bill # Name Description Sponsor SB71 Results-based Financing for Early Childhood Education Government expansion of education down to the Pre-K level is not the solution. The trouble with government-funded preschooling (i.e. Head Start $200 Billion taxpayer investment) is that we have decades of experience with virtually no measurable effects that last to the end of the third grade. Sen. Osmond
FAILED in Senate
Did you know that through the Statewide Online Education Program Utah teens can take Juilliard's groundbreaking virtual music class for free! The choices for online courses just keep on growing.
Go HERE to learn more about the provider and to get the information needed to register for the Juilliard virtual music class. (When completing the CCA, as instructed below, scroll and select "Music Appreciation" under the "Core Fine Arts & CTE" category.)
What else is new about Utah's "choice to the course" program for the 2013-14 school year? In addition to being available to all public school 9-12 graders,home schooled and private school students in those grades can now enroll in courses through the Statewide Online Education Program, too! Best of all, these courses are free as part of our public school system.
But that's not all! Beginning this Fall, students can take up to THREE full credits or SIX half credits online! That is an increase of one additional credit over last year - and, remember, if they are enrolled in seminary during their regular school day, they can take one online course without having to adjust their class schedule.
Right now is the time for high school students to enroll in online courses for the 2013-14 school year!
In fact, enrolling in online courses through the Statewide Online Education Program just got a lot easier!
NEW STREAMLINED PROCESS FOR SUBMITTING YOUR ONLINE COURSE ENROLLMENT FORM (CCA)
No more hassles! Now you can register for online classes in one easy step! After selecting the provider and the course you want to take from their website, simply click on the enrollment form found on the USOE website here. Complete all necessary fields and submit! Be sure to identify the course code on the provider's website, then simply scroll to the appropriate category and select the course in the drop down menu. The State Office of Education will take care of the rest!
Go HERE to Register Now.
How do you register? It's so simple.
Do you have questions about registration or want to read the FAQs? Go HERE
Remember, this Program was created to meet the needs of our next generation learners. Our students need access to the best courses and the best teachers, regardless of zipcode. They need 21st century solutions to prepare them for college and careers. They're already online, now they have a high quality public school option that is, too!
(Additionally, the percentages set in the School Grading Law for what determines an A, B, C, D or F were developed in collaboration with the Utah State Office of Education.)