Education Task Force Recommends More Local Education, Assistance for At-Risk Students

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The Utah Legislature’s Education Task Force met Tuesday morning to put the finishing touches on its 2013 report. Comprised of ten Republicans and four Democrats—including leaders of both parties in both chambers—the Task Force recommended that Utah continue to support the goals of S.C.R. 5, which calls for 66% of the adult population to have a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020, and 90 percent of students to attain proficiency in reading by the end of third grade. S.C.R. 5 was passed during the 2013 legislative session almost unanimously, and endorses the Utah Education Excellence Commission.

The task force’s report advocates for numerous other changes to the school system, including increased counseling and support for at-risk high school students, increased focus on alignment of education with workforce needs and opportunities, and continued support for the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative.

The Intergenerational Poverty Initiate is headed by the Department of Workforce Services, and tasked with finding ways to eliminate persistent poverty within families and communities. It advocates for an increased emphasis on providing mental health care services to those in need, and early childhood educational intervention when a child begins to show signs they are slipping away from standards.

Other recommendations include supporting the creation of a governing board to provide policy direction for an integrated database of education and workforce data and supporting an incentive program for students to complete Math 1050 (college algebra) before graduating high school. Concerning Utah’s education system, the report also calls for the “devolution of control from the state level to encourage local governance.” In short, advocating for greater local control instead of sweeping policy from the state legislature.

The Education Task Force was created in the 2013 General Session by S.B. 169, and charged with making recommendations on public and higher education issues, including long-term education policies and long-term priorities for funding and economically competitive standards.

The task force’s report will be presented later this month to the Education Interim Committee and the Executive Appropriations Committee. Recommendations from the report could be carried by lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session.


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