Theme 3: Leverage Technology & Existing Resources in Education

The following goals were established to leverage technology and existing resources in education to expand the use of technology in teaching and learning, better utilize open-source learning materials, and coordinate efforts to generate economies of scale.

Public Education Overview

3A. Invest in early learning programs

Details

Children who come to school unprepared are most likely to fall behind and find it difficult to catch up. Those who fail early are most likely to drop out of school and have economic and social difficulties later in life.

Research suggests that the cost of early learning programs should be considered in terms of their potential savings in government expenditure and benefits to society at large. These programs can result in savings to government by reducing the number of students requiring special education, incidence of early childbearing, reliance on government assistance, and incarceration.

Target Outcomes

Research shows that the return of investment for each dollar put into early childhood education ranges from $1.04 to $8.00. A front-end investment would be required to achieve longer-term savings; targeting the least-prepared children would reduce this initial investment.

Status

The State Board of Education plans to institute a full-day kindergarten in all Title One Schools and at least one full day kindergarten in all other elementary schools. Education has received $7.5 million to fund this project. Implementation began in 2007 and continues.

Target Completion Date

The project is scheduled to be implemented by September 2011.

3B. Optimize the transition from high school to college by aligning public education concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement course offerings with higher education programs and expanding the use of technology for guidance counseling

Details

Utah currently has more than 600 concurrent enrollment courses available to high school students. There are also 36 Advanced Placement Courses (AP Courses). Students find that many of these courses do not transfer in a way to assist them in completing their educational goals. Public education should reduce and align course offerings to be consistent with college and university credit with an emphasis on general education courses.

Technology can be leveraged to help provide students with a clearer understanding of the choices available that could fulfill educational goals in less time and expense.

Target Outcomes

A better coordinated system could result in significant time and dollar savings to students, as well as possible savings to public and higher education.

Status

The Utah System of Higher Education is developing online hybrid general education courses for high school juniors and seniors to take that will advance them toward an Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. The first six classes are currently being developed and will be available in the 2011–12 school year; six additional classes are scheduled to be available in fall 2012.

Target Completion Date

Fall 2012

3C. Expand the use of online remediation modules in higher education

Details

The Board of Regents should consider the use of online modules for remediation in math, science and English to eliminate the need for teachers to teach these courses. Online remediation modules can prepare students while allowing for better use of teaching staff time.

Target Outcomes

Preliminary analysis suggests tuition savings of as much as $7 million annually.

Status

Education is currently implementing this recommendation. The online program will allow students to move successfully from remedial modules into their college-level courses. They will graduate in roughly the same time as students not requiring remediation. Preliminary analysis suggests tuition savings of as much as $7 million annually. Statistical data will be gathered through the tracking of these students’ progress.

Target Completion Date

Target completion dates will be left for each institute of higher education to determine.

3D. Expand the use of online textbooks

Details

Encourage participation in open-source or online textbooks and related materials to reduce costs to school districts and post-secondary education students. Support the Utah Student Association Open Textbook Initiative, which seeks to provide a common open textbook for Math 1050, with materials for additional core courses expected. The initiative requires a one-time investment of approximately $75,000 for administration and development of materials.

Target Outcomes

1. Combined school district savings could eventually be $1 to $2 million annually.

2. Collectively, Utah’s higher education students could save $1 to $3 million annually.

Status

This recommendation is currently being carried out by the Utah System of Higher Education and the Utah State Board of Education. Some of the activities Education is planning to pursue include writing Utah Standards to the Common Core, writing textbooks matching the new Utah Common Core, and increasing students’ ability to access new textbooks online or using notebooks.

Target Completion Date

In Progress

3E. Expand online high school courses

Details

The Governor, along with the State Board of Education, should set a future goal of the number of high school courses to be delivered online by 2015 (e.g. 20%). The Governor, working with the State Board of Education, should evaluate the available online courses and delivery methods.

The Commission evaluated one model with great potential to deliver high-quality, online education with teacher-targeted “just in time and just on topic” assistance to students. The model gathers information that allows educators to know the capabilities of each student and to individualize learning to individual students’ strengths. Through technology, teachers could handle a higher number of students while providing higher-quality instruction to those students on a statewide basis. Consideration should be given to providing some courses in an on-line format only to reduce the need for specialized teachers.

Target Outcomes

Further analysis required. Online instruction should result in savings related to a reduced need for buildings, buses, and administration and a higher student-to-teacher ratio. The value of delivering high-quality courses to underserved areas of the State should also be evaluated.

Status

The Utah Board of Education is writing rules to allow students to take online courses at the high school level. In addition, seven college courses are scheduled to be available during the upcoming school year. These courses can be applied to a student’s completion of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, allowing students the opportunity to get a jump start on their college education. High school students will also have the opportunity to take classes online from state providers.

Target Completion Date

In progress

3F. Promote cooperative sharing of services to attain economies of scale in Public and Higher Education

Details

Utah’s Public and Higher Education Systems should seek to create economies of scale and eliminate duplication in procurement, technology services, financial services, human resources, and energy.

One method to achieve this recommendation would be to create a perpetual shared services fund within Higher Education, through which services would be bought and sold through a competitive bidding process that may include higher education entities and for-profit entities as bidders.

Public Education Service Centers could handle District requirements for administrative activities, where practical. All participants in the Service Center would have voting representation. The Service Centers could bid to assume responsibility for less costly centralized administrative services. Local school boards would be accountable if they reject lower cost services.

Target Outcomes

Further analysis required; preliminary research suggests that savings associated with supply cooperatives can be up to 20%.

Status

Education is planning to streamline technology and efficiencies for all school districts, charter schools, institutes of higher education, governmental agencies, and cities of leagues and towns. Education is also planning to update the Utah Education Network’s accountability and governance.

Target Completion Date

Education hopes to have this item completed by the 2012 legislative session.

3G. Utilize competency-based education models

Details

The State should make better use of competency-based education (moving students through the system more quickly when competency is demonstrated) and include this as an option for both adult learners as well as public and higher education students in our State system.

One model which the Commission evaluated was the model used by the State of Indiana where the Governor, through Executive Order, and with support by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education established a new on-line, competency based university, WGU Indiana. This university was established through a partnership with Western Governors University (WGU) a non-profit, fully accredited entity which is based in Utah. Other models could be developed for existing institutions, directly or through partnerships, to offer certain degrees through on-line, competency-based delivery or a hybrid model providing some portions of the degree through an on-line, competency based delivery system.

Target Outcomes

On-line, competency-based models can provide high quality education available at any location, at any time, on any day. The competency-based education model has lower per-unit costs and shorter completion times which represent a benefit to both students and the State.

Status

Reviewing

Target Completion Date

3H. Make all school days "count"

Details

Ensure high quality instruction each and every day, including reforming minimum teaching and reporting requirements in public schools to better utilize school days at the end of the school year.

Target Outcomes

Better use of $7 million per school day.

Status

Education aspires to ensure high-quality instruction and high-quality teachers, restore 180–school day calendars for all districts, require teaching up to the last day of school, and restore the teacher quality block grant funding. These actions are pending legislation to provide funding for this project.

Target Completion Date

Pending legislative action.

3I. Better utilize public and higher education buildings

Details

Government, non-profit, and other agencies should look for ways to utilize the same buildings. Whenever construction of a new building or a remodel is proposed, both education and non-education entities should be contacted to see if there are ways to achieve co-location or co-use of facilities.

Public institutions should reach out to private entities, including private education providers, to determine if space can be leased during off-peak times.

Higher Education institutions should consider greater incentives to increase the number of summer students and some could consider the Tri-Semester System where students attend two out of three semesters on a rotating basis so the summer semester has substantial use.

Target Outcomes

Based on past building activity, limiting future building by, for example, a target of 5% could result in almost $150 million in estimated savings in Public Education and almost $20 million in Higher Education over the next 10 years.

Status

Education plans to accomplish this goal by educating school leaders, the State Board of Education, the Utah College of Applied Technology Board of Trustees, the State Board of Regents, and others on better ways to utilize facilities and engage in construction projects to co-use facilities.

Target Completion Date

3J. Review degrees and programs in the higher education system to seek better balance

Details

The Board of Regents should perform an in-depth review of degrees and programs with a low volume of student participation. Duplicative programs or degrees could be administered by institutions on other campuses rather than expanding those same degrees or programs within current institutions or changing the classification of current institutions. The Regents should also evaluate general education requirements and adopt competency standards to provide common basic skills.

Target Outcomes

Additional review will determine appropriate changes and quantify associated savings.

Status

The Commission recommended that the Board of Regents perform an in-depth review of degrees and programs with a low volume of student participation. Duplicative programs or degrees could be administered by institutions on other campuses rather than expanding the same degrees or programs within current institutions or changing the classification of current institutions. The Regents should also evaluate general education requirements and adopt competency standards to provide common basic skills.

Target Completion Date

Pending Regent work.