Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prosperity 2020 Academic Excellence Symposium

Following are my notes from the Symposium.  It was a TED Talk set up with each speaker taking about 10 minutes.  You can see news coverage and read the Prosperity 2020 plan.

Attending:  Dr. Johnson, Peggy Jo Kennett, Susan Pulsipher, Todd Quarnberg, Brian Larsen, about 15 UEA members, NEA executive committee member

4th grader John Haugland from Mountain View Elementary asked the question, "Do you believe in me?"  We can reach our highest potential. Students need educators. Believe in your colleagues and yourself. Students need all of us. What you are doing is the most important job in the state.

 Alan Hall, chairman of Prosperity 2020, and Gail Miller, business owner, welcomed all. Need educated workforce. 5 year plan to move Utah to one of the top education programs in nation. Stakeholders must work together to achieve this plan.

 Utah teacher of the year 2014 Mohsen Ghaffari spoke about his background growing up in Iran with parents who did not have a chance for much education. Teaching is not easy. Need collaboration. Education is not I trouble, but it needs help."

 Rob Hutter, Learn Captial, education venture capitalist in technology, spoke about the good and not good.  Great education return on investment, but low pay for teachers. A decade ago, there were no iPhones, Facebook, or social media. There has been an explosion of education technology companies. Responsive education revolution said more money can flow to teachers. Gave examples of lots of programs for education. He said most of the money spent should go to training teachers, not licenses.

Steve Kroes from Utah Foundation spoke about some changes in Utah achievement. Data from 1990s was surprisingly good: 10th highest in reading, and 15th highest in math. Saw elected officials who cared about students' education. The following 10 years there was a slide: now 28th in reading, and 30th in math, just average. Scores have started to rebound. Olene Walker K-3 reading initiative played a part. Back up to 28th in math. Internationally, 22 nations significantly outperform USA in math. Have high quality of life in Salt Lake City.

Natalie Gochnour is dean of U of U business school talked about the economic impact. Deep poverty of most of human history is foreign to prosperous USA. Accelerated change started with Industrial Revolution. We do not know what the future holds. Education's virtuous cycle, where education leads to ideas, which leads to better health, which leads to prosperity. Need investment and productivity. Our commitment to education has fallen from 7th in 1995 to 29th in the nation today. Education equals employment, earnings, upward mobility, tax revenue, and civil society. Utah has 32nd highest tax burden in nation. Tax changes in the last 20 years have resulted in $400 million a year less. Income inequality is growing.

Governor Herbert spoke about high expectations. He said SAGE is designed to give more accurate look at where we are. Cannot compare CRT to SAGE. Not unusual to see a drop in scores when you raise the expectations. Expects scores to climb over the years. Scores do point out that we have work ahead of us. Trust local and state school boards to make good decisions. Utah has best value for education in USA. We are not just throwing money at education. We are last in spending. Need to expand and find better ways to do things. Need to transform, not reform education. "Preserving the good and promoting the better." -- Chase Peterson. He wants to put together a comprehensive, strategic 10-year plan for education. Ambitious goal for one of top 10 states in nation in education outcomes. We can't thank our teachers enough for the work they do. Teaching is a great, rewarding profession, but it is hard. Avoid one size fits all mentality. Find ways to work together and cooperate on 10-year plan.

Greg Bell, Lane Beattie, Dave Dottie, and Richard Kendall presented the Prosperity 2020 5-year plan. Developed and endorsed by the business community. We want to be an economic powerhouse. Utah is ranked 3rd for business, but 46th for education. Good cannot be the enemy of great. Utah has not had a plan for education: growth, minority students, etc. Best education systems pursue reading proficiency by the end of third grade, math proficiency by end of eighth grade. Read by end of third grade, proficiency in math, best graduation rates. Massachusetts implemented an education plan and have seen results (they also spend 3 times more per student than Utah). Takes commitment over time. Every young person needs a certificate or degree after high school to make it. Too many drop out of college. Wasatch Front has the highest number of adults who started college but never finished.

Nadine Wimmer from KSL spoke about the need to have students reading on grade level by the end of third grade. She leads KSL's Read Today tutoring program. Program is particularly effective in 3rd through 6th grade. Program is free, because it is run by volunteers.

Brenda Van Gorder from Granite district pre-school program spoke about the importance of early childhood education. Children who start school behind others their age never catch up. High-quality pre-school makes a difference. Teach alphabet knowledge, book and phonemic awareness, and vocabulary.

Sara Krebbs, literacy coordinator for Cache County spoke about reading. Self esteem suffers when we don't have enough skills to participate. Reading is a gatekeeper skill to 85% of the content in the school day. Same with employment. Every child receives small group reading instruction for 30 minutes every day. Para professionals receive training, literacy facilitators provide that training and make and adjust groups, and classroom teachers work together. Above level readers also receive instruction they need. Must build a foundation in reading first.

Logan Hall from Salt Lake District, with students from Highland High and Hillside Middle spoke about STEM. Students did some science demonstrations.

Robert Goodman from New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (which was developed by NJEA) STEM program spoke about his experience starting a pre-engineering program. has free and editable course content. Need to teach physics in 9th grade, so need more physics teachers. Social justice and global competitiveness are two sides of the same coin.

Senator Howard Stephenson spoke about mastery through personalized learning. Computer assisted instructional software which delivers to each student personalized feedback to every response. He visited a middle school with 75 students in a computer lab working on math software, and it was completely silent. They were getting what they needed with immediate feedback. His goal to teach every Utah student to make dopamine in their own heads. Have a shortage of computers. Students are digital natives who should not have to power down to come to school.

Blake and Bo Nemelka, Riverton High graduates and authors of "Beat the Middle: the Middle School Student's Guide to Academic Success" spoke about starting to think about college in 6th grade. Have conversations about what is needed to go to college at early ages. Students need inspiring parents and mentors. Accountability to the right factors over right period of time.

Gina Buttars, principal at Roy High, spoke about improving graduation rates and helping students be college and career ready. Power of one: child, teacher, town, team, dream.  Everyone graduates! Collaborating within their high school feeder system to focus on one goal of everyone graduating.  Home visits to students who are not coming to school. Volunteers working with elementary students who are struggling. Each staff member is focusing on one student. Increase of 5% in their graduation rate over 5 years. Average daily attendance has increased from 94% to 96%. Immense power and possibility in one dream.

Melissa Kincart is commissioner of outreach and access in higher education system. She spoke about school counselors and how they can be better utilized. Look at systems of how counselors are spending time. Key member of high school leadership teams. Counselor training is lacking in the college and career readiness area. Need more counselors.

Commissioner of Higher Education David Buhler spoke about who students go to college. Only half of students who start college finish. Need 4 years of math in high school and in first year of college. Encourage students to go to school full time, which is 15 credits per semester. You can take 15 credits for the same cost as 12 credits.

David Pattinson from American Future, which is a nonprofit supporting youth. Building relationships is important. Teach entrepreneurship. Education needs to be tied to careers.  Thinks job shadowing should be happening at younger ages. Need to learn soft skills like communication and interpersonal relationships. Tie what you teach to a career, how will students use the info later in life.  Show how exciting different jobs are.

Laura Leon is a juris doctorate candidate at the U.  She is an immigrant from Columbia and talked about her experience integrating into school. Received good support from teachers and knew if she worked hard, she could be whatever she wanted to be.

Eric Hanushek from Stanford said we have underestimated the importance of achievement.

K-12 Goals:
  • Goal 1: Utah ranks in top 10 in reading - K-3 reading curriculum, PLCs, voluntary pre-school, community schools, support for at-risk students, optional full-day kindergarten - $65 million over 5 years.
  • Goal 2: Utah ranks in top 10 in math - technology devices, technology-based math assessment tools, endorsements and technology training for teachers, PLCs, STEM endorsements - $42.5 million over 5 years
  • Goal 3: Utah ranks in top 10 in graduation rates - additional counselors and mentors, counselor training, student advocates, academic coaches, tutors - $20 million over 5 years
  • Goal 4:  K-12 Teacher compensation and PD - $280 million over 5 years
Higher Ed Goals:
  • Goal 1 Higher Ed Compensation - $145 million over 5 years
  • Goal 2: Utah ranks in top 10 in degrees and certificates - rewards for colleges that increase completion rates, access and outreach, initiatives for underserved students, programs that meet high-wage and high-demand workforce needs, financial aid and scholarships or lower and middle income students - $85 million over 5 years
  • Goal 3:  Affordability of college and financial aid - $35 million over 5 years
UEA released the Education Excellence Report in January 2014.  This was research done by UEA Members on what is needed for Education Excellence.  Here is a comparison of the two reports.
  • collaboration
  • focus on student learning
  • professional development
  • providing resources
  • funding

Missing from Prosperity 2020 plan:
  • rigorous pre-service teaching programs
  • effective, valid, reliable teacher evaluation
  • policies to strengthen the teaching profession
  • career options for teachers to stay in classroom
  • respecting teachers as experts

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