State Board June Meeting Summary

Utah State Board of Education SealUtah State Board Meeting Summary

June 7, 2013 Meeting

The Utah State Board of Education:
• Altered Utah’s English language arts core curriculum by adding handwriting, both cursive and manuscript, to the elementary standards.
Set cut scores for student achievement growth as part of the new state school grading system, but also asked the Governor to consider calling a special session to make adjustments to the statute on school grading and ask the Legislature to consider reverting to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System for use as a grading system.
• Named Joel Coleman new superintendent of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

Handwriting – Both Cursive and Manuscript – Added to Language Arts Standards

The Utah State Board of Education gave its approval to adding both manuscript and cursive handwriting to Utah’s elementary English language arts core standards. Handwriting was not included in the existing English language arts core standards, but following study and public comment, they were added.

The Utah State Office of Education received 381 comments on the proposed handwriting standards with 83 percent in favor of adding them. Reasons for inclusion most often centered on historical and cultural needs and on handwriting as a skill still needed today. Comments against adding handwriting standards mostly centered on a societal shift to technology and that time would be better spent instructing students on keyboarding.


For Additional Information

Tiffany Hall, English Language Arts Coordinator, at (801) 538-7893.

Sydnee Dickson, Teaching and Learning Director, at (801) 538-7739.

Brenda Hales, Deputy Superintendent, at (801) 538-7515.


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Board Sets Growth Cut Scores, But Calls for Change to New School Grading System

During its 2013 session, the Utah Legislature passed a new statute on grading schools that revised the method for grading schools based on academic performance. Part of that bill requires the Utah State Board of Education to set cut scores that define sufficient growth in student academic performance as part of that grade.

The Board set the cut score for growth at the 40th percentile, meaning that only students whose academic performance has grown sufficiently to receive a growth score in the 40th percentile of students or higher will get credit for the growth portion of the school grade.

The Board felt, however, that there are sufficient concerns over the implementation of the school grading bill, that they called upon Gov. Gary R. Herbert to call a special session of the Legislature to look at amending the bill and called upon the Legislature to consider reverting back to the existing Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS) as the primary school grading mechanism.

For additional information:

Judy Park, Associate Superintendent for Student Services and Federal Programs, at (801) 538-7550.


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Board Names Joel Coleman Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Superintendent

The Utah State Board of Education appointed Joel Coleman as new superintendent of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, replacing retiring Superintendent Steven W. Noyce.

Coleman, of West Jordan, recused himself from the deliberations and vote on naming a new superintendent and will resign as the Board’s District 6 representative before beginning his new job on July 1. Gov. Gary R. Herbert, with the consent of the Utah Senate, will appoint a new member to fill out the remainder of Coleman’s term which ends in 2014.

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Board Gives Tentative Approval to 14 Rule Repeals, Changes and Continuations

The Utah State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the following new rules or rule amendments. Final approval will likely come during the Board’s August 2 meeting.

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Board Sets Position on the Role of Testing and Assessment in Public Schools


The Utah State Board of Education approved a resolution setting its official position on the role of testing and assessment in Utah public schools. The Board reaffirmed its support of computer-adaptive testing while recognizing parental choice in school-wide testing participation.



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Board Approves Four Charter School Amendments

The Utah State Board of Education gave approval to the following charter school amendments:


For Additional Information

Marlies Burns, State Charter School Director, at (801) 538-7817.

Brenda Hales, Deputy Superintendent, at (801) 538-7515.


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Board Honors Utah’s Schools to Watch

Utah Schools to Watch is a member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform which sponsors the National Schools to Watch program. The program recognizes the unique emotional and learning needs of early adolescent students. The Schools to Watch Program requires fidelity to 36 indicators of success in three main domains:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Social Equity
  3. Developmental Responsiveness

Each of these three domains is then supported through the schools’ organizational structures and practices.
Utah boasts eight schools continuing in the National and Utah Schools to Watch Program. Once designated, each school must apply for re-designation every three years. This year three schools are being re-designated for the first time:

Two schools are being re-designated for the second time:

We are very pleased to announce the ninth and most recently designated Utah School to Watch:

Ecker Hill Middle School serves 692 sixth and seventh graders. The student population is 79 percent caucasian, 18 percent Latino, with African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders each making up 1 percent of the population. The dedicated and innovative staff creates a safe atmosphere, which encourages students to take risks and thrive. Through their high-access technology initiative, they are preparing students for the 21st century.


Consent Calendar


The Board approved its consent calendar.

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2 comments to State Board June Meeting Summary

  • In reference to Cursive and Handwriting added to the CC-ELA…

    Which grade/s will this be added to? And, the third grade CC-ELA starts with keyboarding, so will cursive and handwriting still be a core skill in third grade? Will this be included in the end of year testing? I am just wondering how much weight this skill will be considered as part of high stakes testing, classroom assessment, along with school, district, and statewide school “grading ” systems? Our superindentant has been very clear that we teach the Common Core. But for students in my class/school, so much more outweighs the importance of print, cursive, or keyboarding. Things like simple grammar, basic reading skills, vocabulary, and writing in the simplest form. This is because I teach in a Title 1 school with over 40 languages spoken, refugee students (averaging 3 or more per class), immigrant students (almost half of our school population), more and more students with mental health issues – which we simply don’t have the resources to meet their needs – and of course the mass of students who come from unsupportive environments/parents lacking the basic skills of life, and are completely unprepared for any grade at school.

    I am not disputing the opinion that cursive writing is important; I feel the same way about books. But with so many demands on teachers, and more so in a school like mine – which is a Focus School for 2012-13 and 2013-14 – where do I put that into the hierarchy of skills to be taught, while I teach students to have at least one year’s worth of growth, and the small percentage to remain on grade level mastering the skills needed for the next grade? I’m not sure where to put this new Core standard in my “plans for improvement”, so my school can get out of Focus status?

    I would greatly appreciate your expert advice regarding this!

    Thank you for your time and interest,

    Heidi Jensen
    3rd Grade Teacher
    Granite School District