education

Unified Police are investigating complaints involving the principal of a school for special needs students in Midvale. Multiple police reports have been filed against Jordan Valley School Principal Mark Donnelly. But an internal investigation by the Canyons School District has already cleared Donnelly of wrongdoing.  

Utah Governor Gary Herbert joined statewide education officials Wednesday for a discussion about the state of public education.

Governor Gary Herbert says in the last two years, the state has made strides in funding public education. However he says because of a growing student population Utah continues to claim the title for lowest per-pupil spending and has the largest class sizes in the nation. In addition the high school dropout rate is 19 percent.

Despite few resources, Herbert says there is work to be done. 

The Utah State Board of Education is trying to decide how best to discipline teachers who’ve been involved in misconduct. Specifically, they are asking: under what circumstances should they be expected to permanently revoke a teacher’s educator license? 

Schools across Utah for the first time have been issued a single letter grade for their performance. According to the results of a new school grading system, released this morning, more than half of the state’s public schools got an A or a B, while the rest got C’s D’s or F’s. The education community responded this morning by calling the new system poor policy. But lawmakers contend it shines a light on poor-performing public schools.

The Utah State Office of Education released the letter grade evaluations of Utah Schools today. The grades are based on a combination of student growth and student performance on state testing in language arts, math, and science. The State Office of Education also graded high schools with the additional metric of graduation rates. If a school failed to test at least 95% of their students they automatically received an F grade. That's what happened for schools like Viewmont High School in the Davis School District.

On Tuesday, schools in Utah will be getting evaluation grades A through F to indicate how well their students are performing. Many in the education community say it will be giving parents the wrong impression about some schools. But Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says it will make assessing schools more accurate and transparent.

Critics say the new letter grading system for school performance that was passed into law earlier this year is so narrow in its calculations that it will appear as though schools are doing worse than they are.

Democratic State Senator Pat Jones is working on legislation that would eliminate the Utah personal tax exemption given to those who claim someone in their home as a dependent.

Utah State Office of Education

Next month, schools in Utah will get two sets of report cards outlining their performance for the last year. One report is based on Utah’s Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS, which is a grading method the State Office of Education is already using. The other system, state lawmakers approved during the 2013 legislative session.

With the new system, schools are given a letter grade of A through F to indicate their overall performance for the last school year. With UCAS, each school is graded on a 600 point scale.

While the cost of obtaining a college degree in the United States continues to rise, Utah colleges and universities manage to keep college debt in check. NerdScholar, a website that helps college students make better decisions about higher education is calling Utah the 2nd best state in the nation for low student debt. 

http://www.hces.ogden.k12.ut.us/

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith met with a group of Weber County Democrats this morning who are concerned about how education officials are managing the district. 

Back in June the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus requested information from the school district on testing data, teacher attrition and copies of the budget. 

Jordan School District

Jordan School District is bursting at the seams. Schools there are growing at the rate of nearly two elementary schools a year. They’re growing so fast, that the Jordan School Board voted unanimously Tuesday for a bond measure that will make way for the construction of 11 new schools. 

Anti-Common Core activists and state education officials reached an impasse today when they tried to resolve their differences over Utah’s newly adopted education standards. 

Activists rallied outside the State Office of Education Friday morning to re-affirm their opposition to the Common Core which the state adopted in 2010.  Christel Swasey is a teacher and parent.

Student loan interest rates are set to double on Monday after members of Congress failed to agree on how to keep costs down before a July 1 deadline. 

Next week, interest rates on Federal Subsidized Stafford loans will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.John Curl is director of financial aid and scholarships at the University of Utah, where he says student’s take out between 9 and 10,000 individual subsidized loans each year. But he says they won’t feel the sting of higher interest rates until after graduation.

Many students who are enrolled in charter schools across the nation are gaining on their traditional public school peers in some academic areas. But according to a new independent study out of Stanford University, Utah charter Schools are lagging behind. 

The conservative Sutherland Institute released a report today weighing Utah’s current method for selecting candidates to the state school board against possible alternatives. Some with the think tank say that despite widespread dissatisfaction with the current process, Utah lawmakers have been slow to agree on a new one. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says the county can strengthen its supportive role in education by first investing in early intervention and afterschool programs. McAdams was speaking at the county’s first annual Education Summit at the Granite School District headquarters. 

McAdams is looking for ways to double the number of after school programs in the county.

Granite and Park City school districts expand their pre-k programs thanks to Goldman Sachs, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Utah company can’t patent genes, and Dan Nailen gives us a look ahead to Wing Fest.

Granite and Park City School Districts are getting a funding boost for their pre-school programs, thanks to an investment deal with Goldman Sachs and Chicago investor J.B. Pritzker. The money will provide hundreds of low-income kids in those districts access to pre-school programs for which they might otherwise be wait-listed.

Salt Lake City residents will see an increase in their property taxes next year to help pay for area public schools. The Salt Lake City School Board approved the hike on Tuesday, saying the additional revenues will fill a gap in the statewide education budget lawmakers passed this year. 

Despite a 2 percent increase in per pupil spending by the state for the 2013-2014 school year, members of the Salt Lake City School Board say it’s not enough to pay the bills.

Brian Grimmett

The Natural History Museum of Utah is opening a new exhibit that examines how some of the Earth’s most dangerous natural disasters happen.

At one of the several hands-on learning experiences at the new Nature Unleashed exhibit, a group of 4th graders from Rose Creek Elementary School learn about what happens to buildings built on sandy soil during an earthquake. Lisa Thompson, the manager of public programs, says she hopes hands on experiences like this one help people make an emotional connection with the powerful natural events that help shape the Earth.

Activists are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to halt Utah’s efforts to seize control of federal land in the state. Educators, parents and students gathered at Liberty Park this morning to ask state lawmakers to find realistic solutions to funding education and stop taking aim at public lands.  

Ethan Lake is a senior at West High School in Salt Lake City. He says the state is blessed with a beautiful natural environment.

The Salt Lake City School Board considers a tax increase, the Federal Government will now manage Utah’s high-risk health pool, and Utah’s congressional delegation feels confident about the future of Hill Air Force Base.

Governor Gary Herbert ceremonially signed a package of student safety bills this morning at Cyprus High School in Magna. He also spoke to students about preventing suicide among kids in Utah. 

The new laws are aimed at preventing youth suicide, bullying and teen traffic accidents caused by distracted driving. But the occasion was mostly focused on suicide, which according to the Utah Department of Health is the second leading cause of death among Utah youth and young adults.

Utah lawmakers look into ways to encourage people to buy long-term care insurance, a state Senator suggests that the Attorney General become an appointed position, and the Utah Republican Party considers pushing for the elimination of the Common Core academic standards.

A new charter school in Utah wants to equip students in kindergarten through ninth grade with a solid foundation in business.

Students' daily lessons are peppered with concepts like sales and marketing, finance and entrepreneurship, says first-grade teacher Tammy Hill. "And that plays into leadership and improved math skills. And finance plays into every part of their lives."

Senator Mike Lee speaks out against the common core education standards, the opening of Willard Bay state park could be delayed even more, and animal rights activists celebrate a victory in a case dealing with Utah’s so called “ag-gag” law.

The Navajo Nation now has the authority to access the assessment data of Navajo students throughout Utah.  Navajo representatives joined state education officials this morning to sign a memorandum of understanding that will help the two entities cooperate in sharing the data. 

For years federal privacy laws barred Navajo Nation education officials from accessing student-specific achievement data because it wasn’t considered a state agency. But recent changes to the law have made tribal education agencies eligible.  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its annual general conference, a group of LDS women seek the priesthood, and the Utah State Office of Education questions what type of student data should be public.

The Utah State Office of Education is seeking the Attorney General’s opinion on what type of student data should be published. The board is asking the Attorney General to reconcile two state statutes they say cause the confusion. But not everyone believes a conflict exists.

Some argue classroom-level testing data allows the public to see how teachers perform. While others say the numbers could be read out of context. 

Governor Herbert says he’s close to a decision about the Snake Valley water agreement, the Utah Foundation addresses the conflict between education and transportation, and the Department of Corrections gets a new executive director.

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