A proposed bill that would allow local education officials to change classroom time requirements unanimously passed out of the Senate Education Committee with a favorable recommendation Tuesday morning.
SB103, which was substituted in committee, would give school boards and charter school governing boards the option to use up to eight days of the year for professional development and teacher preparation.
Bill sponsor, Senator Aaron Osmond (Republican – South Jordan), believes that student achievement would not be harmed by reduced class time. “I cannot find, and I have asked, any longitudinal research that shows that 180 days, 990 hours equates to academic achievement.” In fact, he feels that additional teacher preparation time would improve student achievement. “When a teacher is highly trained, and when they have time to prepare for their classes, they have a significant impact on academic results in the classroom.”
Sara Jones, Director of Educational Excellence and Community Outreach at the Utah Education Association, applauded Senator Osmond for recognizing that professional development for teachers is critical. “However, the concern is that in this case professional development is coming at the expense of student instructional days, and that puts us in a bind at a time when testing is increasingly taking more and more student instructional time away from teachers, at a time when teacher evaluation will be tied to student performance. This is a concern. Teachers need professional development, absolutely. Teachers also need instructional time.”