education

Week six was the most eventful of the legislature thus far, but somehow much of the hotly contested bills still have a ways to go before reaching the Governor’s desk.

The House has voted down a bill that would have made State School Board elections partisan.

Photo Dean via Creative Commons

Utah lawmakers are forced to find a new way to elect state school board members this legislative session after a federal judge ruled back in September that the current process is unconstitutional.

Brian Grimmett

The Utah Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would help equalize school funding between rich and poor school districts. 

The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would encourage high school students to graduate early.

Ian Burt via Flickr

A bill that would require Utah students to pass an American civics test in order to graduate high school advanced in committee Tuesday afternoon.

Vkem via Wikimedia Commons

A new study shows that children increase their fruit and vegetable intake if they eat school lunch after recess. The study was conducted by researchers at The Veggie Project, a Brigham Young University initiative.

Brian Grimmett

Members of the Utah Legislature discussed how they might handle several key issues they’ll be facing this legislative session at the annual pre legislative conference put on by the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Amy via Flickr

The Utah Board of Education received a first draft Thursday of the state’s new science education standards for grades 6-8. But they won’t be implemented for another three years.

Flickr: biologycorner

The Utah State Office of Education has released the results of the new Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence, or SAGE, testing and proficiency numbers are quite low.

Ogden School District

The Ogden School District Board of Education has appointed a new interim district superintendent to replace Brad Smith.

Brad Smith is leaving the Ogden School District to become the new state superintendent of public instruction. To replace him, at least temporarily, the Ogden School District Board of Education has selected Assistant Superintendent Sandy Coroles. She’s worked in the Ogden school district for 25 years. She also worked closely with Smith in helping implement new programs aimed at improving education outcomes in the district.

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith has accepted a position as Utah’s next Superintendent of public instruction. A divided school board picked Smith out of four candidates on Friday. 

Brian Grimmett

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has completed an analysis of Utah’s involvement in what is known as the common core standards.

Governor Gary Herbert requested the report in order to get to the bottom of the debate over the common core.

“I want the truth and I can handle the truth," he says. "As I know the people of Utah can do so also and want and desire the truth.”

Connor Boyack

 

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in 3rd District Court, the libertarian group Libertas Institute alleged the Utah school board violated state law by adopting the common core state standards. And the group says the governor’s recent call to investigate the standards will likely overlook that violation. 

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert is calling for a comprehensive legal review of the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. He’s hoping a legal analysis performed by Utah’s Attorney General will quash any misconceptions and ease ongoing concerns that the state has lost control of academic standards and curriculum.

The committee tasked with finding a new state school superintendent has hired a private search firm to seek out potential candidates. Salt Lake City-based SEARCH Group Partners will work alongside the committee to help recruit applicants and sift through resumes.

Whittney Evans

Every year, Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, an alternative high school in Salt Lake City awards college scholarships to dozens of graduates. And every year, many of those scholarships go unused. A new partnership between Horizonte and Salt Lake Community College helps grads stay the course and enroll in college, despite the obstacles.

Foxy1219 via Wikimedia Commons

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s education advisor is working to replace Utah’s two school accountability systems with one easy-to-read, yearly report card. The newest school grading system received mostly negative responses when letter grades were first released last fall.

Utah’s school accountability systems use factors like end of year tests, student growth and graduation rates to show how schools are performing. School grading assigns letter grades A through F and the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS grades schools based on a 600-point-scale.

Whittney Evans

The walls are up at the new  Guadalupe School in Rose Park. And school administrators say the fundraising campaign is on target for an August opening. 

Tnvols2 via Wikimedia Commons

An official with the U.S. Department of Education is in Salt Lake City today talking about the impact technology has on young children. Dr. Libby Doggett is President Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of early education. She's at the Hilton Hotel speaking and taking questions.

Doggett’s presentation, called “High Tech Tots: Opportunities and Challenges” explores how ever-increasing screen time can both aid and impair early learning. But she’s focused on helping technology improve education for young people. 

http://schools.utah.gov/superintendent/

The Utah State Office of Education announced today State School Superintendent Martell Menlove will retire after only a year and three months on the job.

Menlove was appointed as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in January 2013 after serving as deputy to Superintendent Larry Shumway, before Shumway, himself retired in 2012. 

Menlove said in a statement his immediate plans are to spend time with family.

The University of Utah is bringing science education to inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail. Starting today, scientists and educators will volunteer to give lectures and arrange hands-on projects inmates can do to get them motivated for life outside.

One by one, cell doors at the county jail open to release about half the inmates lodged in a housing unit of about 64. They take a seat and turn their attention to Nalini Nadkarni, a professor of biology at the University of Utah and director of the U’s Center for Science and Math Education.

About 450 elementary and middle school students were in Lehi today competing to see who could build the best underwater robot.  The event is part of an annual competition that gives students a hands-on introduction to science, technology engineering and math or STEM education.

Ashton Adamson and Brenna Pope are sixth graders at Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi. They’re sitting poolside, where Adamson says they’re preparing to submerge their robot named Nemo into a tiny obstacle course. 

Brian Grimmett

Utah House and Senate leaders have finally come to an agreement on the state budget following a week’s-long impasse. The sticking point was primarily House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s proposed $200 million technological upgrade for public education. But that bill is now off the table.

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says the technology initiative would have required up to $50 million in ongoing revenue to make it worthwhile. But Senate leaders were unwilling to spend more than $26 million.

Brian Grimmett

In an effort to help fight intergenerational poverty the Utah Senate passed a bill to provide grants to schools to create or expand preschool programs that serve at-risk children.

State Library and Archives of Florida

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Utah is about average among other states in how well it covers the civil rights movement in the classroom. But the organization’s  latest report from the Teaching Tolerance Project shows the average grade is pretty poor.

Aleks Dorohovich

House Speaker Becky Lockhart only needed to look at her own children to see kids and electronic devices go together naturally. The insight has inspired her new initiative to transform Utah’s public schools.

Lockhart says parents and teachers need to catch up to children when it comes to technology. That’s what prompted her Public Education Modernization Act. It would put electronic devices into the hands of all 620,000 students in Utah’s schools. Lockhart’s asking for up to $300 million to make her vision a reality.

Tasha Cook

The Utah House threw its support behind new results-based programs to boost early-childhood education. It’s a concept backed by leaders of both parties.  

Republican Rep. Greg Hughes of Draper says all Utahns have a stake in making sure that all children get a good start at school – even before they’re in kindergarten. His bill calls for investors to foot the bill for expanding early education programs like those in the Park City and Granite School districts. Hughes says the $5 million program will provide opportunities for disadvantaged children

Proposed legislation could give Utah teachers more days to train and prepare at no additional cost to taxpayers –but it would mean fewer days in the classroom with students. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance the bill.  

Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Republican Senator Aaron Osmond would give local school districts the flexibility to swap regular instruction days for teacher professional development days.

Utah Fourth Graders are all improving their reading scores, but child advocacy group Voices for Utah Children notes that over the past decade, fourth graders who come from low-income families have not improved as quickly as their peers. 

According to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, from 2003 to 2013 the gap between reading scores from low income children and upper income children increased by 22 percent – meaning kids from higher income households are improving at a faster rate.

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