Monday, March 20, 2017

Curriculum Director's Meeting (3/20/17)

For those of you who like to keep up to date on the big picture in Utah education, here are some of the important updates from this month's Curriculum Director's Meeting.

Board of Education Rules: 

The new State Board has worked quickly this year to change and update a variety of rules. While some changes are minor (changing language of "Utah State Office of Education" to "Utah State Board of Education"), others are significant and will impact OPA.

You can track all the rules and where they are at in the process on this website: (This link has been up and down all day, so if it doesn't work, try again later.) Remember that even when rules are passed at the State Board level, most still have to go to the Utah legislature and be passed into law or written into the budget there.

Legislative Updates: 

One of the most important jobs of the Utah house and senate is to pass the budget, which includes the education budget.

  • Highlights of this year: 
    • Utah has moved to cover all future license fees for teachers (my interpretation is teachers will still have to pay for fingerprinting/background checks, just not the license fees - more info on this to come).
    • HB 212 passed, which gives stipends for successful teachers in high poverty schools. The list of schools defined as high Poverty has not been released by the state yet, but I'm hopeful OPA will be included. 
    • Utah now has funding available to cover the cost of teachers who would like to pursue their reading endorsements. See Debbie or me if you are a teacher who is interested in this endorsement.
    • There is an overall 4% increase in school funding for the entire State.
  • Other news: 
    • Utah Futures and the Utah Electronic High School were both defunded. However, Utah Futures has the money to sustain itself for at least another year without additional funding.
  • Non-budget news: 
    • Changes were made to the Health Education standards that positively affect the LGBTQ community. If you have not been following this legislation and want an update, please come see me.
    • Utah now has a state-wide Kindergarten Assessment. This is overall a good thing, but some of the wrinkles of implementation are still being ironed out. OPA was already administering its own assessment as a means for placing students, so the Kinder team will discuss next steps so we can fulfill state requirements and place our target learners into full day kindergarten. 

If you want to read more details, here is a Public Education Budget Handout that is a great snapshot of the session:

Public Media and Public Schools:

A speaker from the State Office discussed how the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 relates to Utah Public Schools. Many citizens don't realize that the public funds from this act are used for much of Utah's online media, including sources vital to our public libraries and schools. These funds have been identified by President Trump as something he recommends removing from the national budget, which is determined by congress. The speaker shared this website, which you can go to if you would like to ask your representatives to keep this funding in the national budget: Of course, regardless of your personal stance, you can contact your representatives and senators at any time to let your opinions be known on this issue and others.

Effective Math Instruction: 

We experienced some professional learning on effective math instruction. Some of the techniques profiled are on this handout, which may be beneficial for some CTTs to discuss:

As always, please come talk to me if you have questions, concerns, or things you would like me to communicate to the powers that be at the state.