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Bill to create online student information profile clears committee

Published: Monday, March 4 2013 6:10 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers on Monday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would create a one-stop shop for student performance information.

SB82 would create a comprehensive online learning profile for each student, referred to as a Student Achievement Backpack, that could be accessed by educators and parents. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said the Student Achievement Backpacks will provide a holistic view of a student's progress, allowing for diagnosis of a student's needs in a timely manner.

"It adds transparency to what our education system is doing," Stevenson said. "This provides a one-stop collection point for student education."

The bill includes a fiscal note of $450,000 in one-time funding and $110,000 in ongoing funding, all from the education fund.

Judy Park, associate state superintendent of public instruction, said the cost of consolidating all of the required information at the state level would likely be more than the requested appropriation.

Park said the State Office of Education would comply with the actions taken by the Legislature, but she suggested it might be more cost effective to work with local schools to improve the data access efforts already taking place there.

She also said the bill would require the State Office of Education to undergo a request for proposal process to select new assessment vendors.

"What I would like to encourage is that we continue to use the systems already in place at the schools," Park said. "It's going to be much more costly than what the fiscal note would suggest."

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the bill, including Judi Clark, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education.

"Providing a consolidated location where parents can have access to that information is a really big step," Clark said.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, also voiced his support for the bill, as well as criticism for its opponents. Stephenson said he has been working for 10 years to make consolidated information available to parents, and he's frustrated by the responses that downplay a parent's right to information regarding their own children.

"I just support this bill 100 percent, and I think what we're hearing in opposition to it are excuses for not wanting parents to receive this information," he said. "Parents have a right to all the information in the most easily accessible way."

The bill was ultimately advanced by the Senate Education Committee after receiving only one vote in opposition. It will now go before the full Senate for debate.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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