SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox on Thursday gave the Utah State Board of Education a sneak peek of the "Utah Education Roadmap," which will be released in its entirety in early 2018.
The plan, the product of Gov. Gary Herbert's Education Excellence Commission, has four components: ensuring early learning; strengthening and supporting educators; ensuring access and equity to students; and completing certificates and college degrees.
The 10-year plan was developed by a diverse group of stakeholders who created "a living document," Cox said.
The plan details "where we want to go when it comes to funding education, where we want to go when it comes to providing resources, making sure we have teachers involved, that we have early education, that we have kids involved in technical education, all of those things. Let's make sure we put it in one document," Cox said in a short interview after briefing the State School Board.
Cox, filling in for Herbert who was handling other business, released an early copy of the plan to the board, acknowledging board members and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson who served on the commission.
"The governor's message is the importance of uniting and focusing. This is a message he shares often. He believes that is the Utah way. It's a message he shared with our president when he was here Monday that you get a lot more done when you try to bring people together. That's what we're attempting to do here, bringing all those governance roles together with a vision," Cox said.
The plan is not intended to replace the strategic plans of either public or higher education, the document states.
"Rather it is designed to be a planning guide that brings together the common elements of stakeholder plans, providing greater alignment of the P-20 (preschool through graduate school) system, as well as momentum in the work to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for Utah students," the plan states.
The plan acknowledges that family and community support are "foundational" to the educational roadmap, noting the state's economic future depends on the education children receive and "their readiness to participate as productive citizens in work, civic and home life."
Parents are a child's "first and most influential teachers," and play a role in their education and their transition to postsecondary education.
"Systems must empower parents to assist and lead their children, " the plan states.
With respect to early childhood education, the “Utah Education Roadmap” envisions expanding optional extended-day kindergarten for all students, regardless of risk factors, at a cost of $65.9 million. For some 16,000 students "likely at risk of academic failure," the plan calls for expansion of optional extended-day kindergarten specifically.
This would be in addition to increasing preschool services for at risk students ages 3 and 4.
With respect to educators, the plan seeks to "elevate the education profession" through better pay for teachers in public schools and postsecondary education.
The plan also calls for improved teacher and administrator preparation, providing "high quality and engaging professional growth opportunities" and providing specific compensation for "teacher leaders," who mentor less-experienced teachers and lead learning communities in schools.
The road map also calls for increasing the numbers of other professionals who serve in schools such as school counselors, school psychologists and social workers.
The plan also highlights education access and equity for all students.
While all students need to be held to high expectations, Utah "has the opportunity, and the obligation, to act in a more intentional way" to close the achievement gap, the document states.
"Educational organizations must seek action to remove institutional barriers, particularly in higher education to ensure our best efforts moving forward for all respective students in Utah," the plan states.
The plan envisions additional state funding based on student risk factors, which could be an add-on to per-pupil funding or some other funding stream. Depending on the funding model, estimates range from $98 million to $149 million in additional spending per year.
The last component of the plan envisions increasing the state's educational attainment as a means to bolster lifetime earnings, reduce poverty and improve the state's economy.Comment on this story
According to the Utah State Board of Regents, Utah leads the nation in "some college but no degree."
The plan seeks to hire more school counselors and college-level advisers "to address college and career readiness, at an estimated cost of $81.3 million to $138 million.
The plan also emphasizes the use of workforce-aligned "stackable credential programs" that provide monthslong training for certificates for jobs in high demand but can result in earning credits toward college degrees.