Accomplishments Over Past 10 Years as President & CEO of the Utah Technology Council (UTC)

INCREASED HIGH SCHOOL RIGOR – Talent Shortage is a top UTC priority via the K-12 Pipeline
With Richard Nelson’s leadership, UTC was the sole organization to strongly advocate this crucial change in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) high school graduation requirements. This enhances the rigor of Utah high school students by requiring one additional year of math, science, and language arts. After six years of deliberation without a decision and with significant persuasion from UTC, the State Board of Education passed this unanimously (2006). It went into effect in 2011.

MAINSTREAMING COMPUTER SCIENCE AS A “SCIENCE” OPTION IN HIGH SCHOOL
In 2014, UTC trustees Aaron Skonnard and Jonathan Johnson and other members were joined by Helen Hu from Westminster College to meet with the State Board of Education, and we achieved a landmark decision in “mainstreaming Computer Science” in high schools! Starting in August 2015, students are able to count a rigorous CS course as one of three science credits required for high school graduation. Students will also have the opportunity to take more rigorous CS courses, such as AP Computer Science.

STRATEGIC WORKFORCE INVESTMENTS, 2016 (SB103 by Sen. Millner and Rep. Peterson) – PASSED
$1.5 Million ongoing funding to Provide Strategic High-Demand Training.

This is an excellent incentive to start creating short-term training options for high paying, high demand, high impact jobs to address the state’s severe IT talent shortage. It will establish a process for investing strategically in workforce development through the development of stackable credentials. This was one of two of UTC’s top 2016 priorities to get long-term funding!

STEM ACTION CENTER, 2016 (by the Executive Appropriation Committee) – SUCCESSFUL
$3 Million ongoing funding for Digital Math Tools – K-12 students and teachers. Over $40 Million in funding since 2014 due to UTC leadership.

Confronted with the possibility of losing future funding and lack of confidence from the 41 school districts and charter schools, we fought to achieve long-term funding for the STEM Action Center to specifically continue its digital math tool initiative! This funding will allow all students to retain access to these valuable learning tools.

$400,000 TO BOOST COLLEGE & CAREER READINESS, 2015
Counselor Professional Development (HB 198 by Rep. Arent & Sen. Urquhart)PASSED

There are roughly 850 active school counselors and CTE coordinators in the state, and many have not had the current professional college and career readiness training to adequately help students prepare for college and careers. This new investment is enough to provide one-time online professional development for approximately 600 counselors, helping bring most of our counselors up to date within a year.

$30 MILLION TO PROTECT STEM ACTION CENTER INITIATIVES, 2015
STEM Action Center Full FundingSUCCESSFUL

Confronted with requests to dilute funding, we fought to maintain the full funding of the STEM Action Center from the prior two sessions ($10M in 2013 and $20M in 2014) and invest these funds to impact the statewide K-12 system. We need full funding in order to execute on important center commitments for students new digital tools and teacher’s digital professional training.

$1.95 MILLION TO STRENGTHEN MATH RIGOR IN 12th GRADE, 2015
Math Competency Initiative (SB 196 by Sen. Millner & Majority Whip Gibson)PASSED

Former Weber State University President Ann Millner said her main takeaway from 10 years in the post was that her freshman college students were lacking sufficient math skills. To overcome the 40% of the state’s students who have to take remedial math when they enter college — a high cost to taxpayers and students — we helped pass this bill to insure all high school graduates have demonstrated appropriate math competencies for success in their chosen pathway. Since the state Board of Education had not acted on this industry priority need, UTC and the new Superintendent Brad Smith testified to pass this bill.

$7 MILLION TO GET FAILING SCHOOLS ON TRACK, 2015
School Turnaround and Leadership Development Act (SB 235 by Pres. Niederhauser & Rep. Last)PASSED

It’s not enough to simply give our schools a letter grade — we need to help the struggling schools become “A” and “B” schools. President Niederhauser asked for UTC’s “high-priority support” in passing this critical bill in the House to turn around the state’s lowest level of failing schools. We helped secure significant resources to bring in outside leadership expertise, train administrators, and help these schools get turned around.

$400,000 TO BOOST COLLEGE & CAREER READINESS, 2015
Counselor Professional Development (HB 198 by Rep. Arent & Sen. Urquhart) — PASSED

There are roughly 850 active school counselors and CTE coordinators in the state, and many have not had the current professional college and career readiness training to adequately help students prepare for college and careers. This new investment is enough to provide one-time online professional development for approximately 600 counselors, helping bring most of our counselors up to date within a year.

SCHOOL GRADING SYSTEM – THE TRANSPARENCY ACT, 2015 (SB 59)
UTC was the strongest advocacy group that championed this bill, which gives every school one letter grade for students’ quality of STEM education and overall preparedness. The goal is to better prepare the state’s 625,000 underserved students so that they can successfully compete in the global economy for the high-demand jobs in our “hot” technology companies (2011 – 2014).

$10 MILLION TO LAUNCH STEM ACTION CENTER EDUCATION INNOVATION IN UTAH –
#1 INDUSTRY PRIORITY, 2013

Additional Impact (a few of the 5+ K-12 bills a year):

HB 277 PERSONALIZED LEARNING AND TEACHING AMENDMENTS, 2016 (by Rep. Knotwell and Sen. Adams) — PASSED
$10 Million ongoing plus $5 Million one-time funding focused on Learning and Teaching

This funding demonstrates one of the strongest signs that Utah is serious about moving its education system into the 21st Century. It will provide teachers with professional development to update technology capabilities within classrooms, and provide the necessary hardware and software to foster an environment for successful learning.

MORE PAY FOR QUALIFIED STEM TEACHERS, 2015
Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments (HB 203 by Rep. Last & Sen. Stephenson) — PASSED

Increasing the number of qualified high school math, science and computer science teachers is essential to our industry, especially to achieve our goal of “mainstreaming” computer science in K-12. This bill adds Computer Science teachers to an existing program which provides supplemental income for high demand math, science and now computer science teachers with appropriate credentials.

GRADUATING MORE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, 2015
Public School Dropout Recovery (SB 116 by Sen. Osmond & Rep. Gibson)PASSED

Utah has too high a dropout rate, even though it is improving. This bill creates a funding mechanism to recover and mentor these students and increase the graduation rate. Funds are available for school districts or independent companies who are willing to help these students prepare for the workforce, college or technical college, including technology programs.

$5 MILLION TO PUT TECHNOLOGY IN CLASSROOMS, 2015
Digital Teaching and Learning Program (SB 222 by Sen. Stephenson & Rep. Gibson)PASSED

We can’t keep using the same antiquated tools to prepare our students for the 21st century. This is an early start of a bold vision to put digital teaching and learning devices in more K-12 students’ hands. We got $5 million for an initial start on this program, and we will gather data to bring back with the aim of rolling out a much larger scale funding next year.